4 Channel Audio on the Sony FX3

In this post I’m going to describe how to set up 4 channel audio recording on the Sony FX3. If you’re not familiar with using the audio handle on the Sony FX3 then I recommend reading my previous post entitled How to use the Sony FX3 Audio Handle. That post includes some of features of the Sony FX3 audio handle that are not going to be covered here.

4 Channel Audio on the Sony FX3 - Setup Guide
4 Channel Audio on the Sony FX3 - Setup Guide

Setting 4 Channel Audio in the Menu

In order to use 4 channel audio on the FX3 you’ll need to enable it in the menu as follows…

Menu > Shooting > 6 Audio Recording > miShoe Audio Set > 48kHz/24bit 4ch

4 channel audio sony fx3 - menu setting

Once enabled the FX3 should show four meters on the display relating to each channel. If you cannot see any meters you may need to cycle through your display settings to see it by pressing the display button.

 

Setting 4 Channel Monitoring in the Menu

Next you need to be able to hear those four channels if you’re using headphones. To enable that change the following in the menu…

Menu > Setup > Sound Option > 4ch Audio Monitoring > CH1+3/CH2+4

 

Sony FX3 - Monitor 4 channel audio

This setting will do exactly as described and combine channels 1 & 3 in your left ear and channels 2 & 4 in your right ear. This is the best option for monitoring all of your inputs at the same time however if you do need to isolate a specific channel or pair of channels you can change this settings whilst recording.

Stereo 3.5mm Input Options

One of the benefits of 4 channel audio on the Sony FX3 is that you are able to combine an xlr microphone with the stereo 3.5mm jack in input 3. This isn’t possible without 4 channel audio.

If you need to connect two 3.5mm mics to Input 3 this can be done by way of a dual mono to stereo splitter cable.

 

 

Using a splitter cable will put one mic on to the left channel and one on the right allowing them to be edited separately in post production. It’s worth remembering that there’s only one level control for input 3 though so these will need to share that control. Some mics do have built in attenuators which would help to control levels.

Another popular option is to use a stereo wireless mic unit such as the Rode Wireless Go II or the new DJI MIC. Both of these units use two separate wireless transmitters and a single receiver that sends each signal to the left and right channels of a single stereo 3.5mm jack.

 

Rode Wireless Go II with Sony FX3

 

Using 1 XLR Mic & the Stereo 3.5mm Input

For this configuration I used my Rode NTG3 shotgun mic in Input 1 and a Rode VideoMic Pro in Input 3.

INPUT SELECT

First set the Input select switch on the back of the audio module to IN1. This will send input 1 to channels 1 & 2 and allow you to adjust the levels of each channel individually.

 

Sony FX3 Input Select Switch to IN1

 

Sony FX3 4 Channel Audio - Settings

Input 1 ATT

Set the attenuation switch depending on the levels being received by the camera. I leave mine at 0dB but if you’re in a loud environment and you need to increase attenuation using this switch.

Input 1 Signal Level

I set signal levels for my Rode NTG3 to Mic+48v because it requires Phantom Power. If your mic doesn’t require Phantom Power then use the normal MIC setting.

Input 1 Level Switch & Dial

This can be set to either Auto or Manual, I set mine to manual and dial in the levels using the Input 1 level dial.

Input 2 Signal Level & Level Switch

Neither of these options are used in this configuration because we are only using XLR input 1.

Input 2 Level Switch & Dial

I’ve set the input 2 level switch to manual so that I can control the level of channel 2 with the input 2 level dial. Even though we are only using a single xlr mic in input 1, with this configuration we can set separate levels for channel 1 & 2.

Low Cut

Not used in my example.

Input 3 Level Switch & Dial

I’ve set the input 3 level switch to manual so that I can control the levels manually with the input 3 level dial.

Setting levels

With all of the above options set you should now be able to dial in good levels for all four channels using the three level dials on the XLR handle. It’s worth remembering that Channels 3 & 4 share the input 3 level dial and cannot be set individually.

Swapping channels

With the listed settings the FX3 will be recording the XLR Mic to channels 1 & 2 and the 3.5mm Mic to channels 3 & 4. If you would prefer to swap these then simply change the INPUT SELCT switch to IN3.

 

Using 2 XLR Mics & the Stereo 3.5mm Input

In this example I show how to use two XLR mics as well as the stereo 3.5mm jack in Input 3. I used a Sennheiser MKH-416 shotgun mic in Input 1,  a Rode NTG3 shotgun mic in Input 2 and a Sony UWP-D21 Wireless unit in Input 3. While my Sony wireless does use a stereo jack it will send the same signal to channels 3 & 4.

4 Channel Audio - FX3 Inputs

INPUT SELECT

First set the Input select switch on the back of the audio module to IN1 • IN2. This will send input 1 to channel 1 and  input 2 to channel 2.

Sony FX3 Input Select set for 4 channel recording

Input 1 & 2 ATT

Set the attenuation switches depending on the levels being received by the camera. I leave mine at 0dB in this example but if you’re in a loud environment and you need to increase attenuation using these switches.

Input 1 Signal Level

I set signal levels for my Sennheiser MKH416 to Mic+48v because it requires Phantom Power.

Input 1 Level Switch & Dial

This can be set to either Auto or Manual, I set mine to manual and dial in the levels using the Input 1 level dial.

Input 2 Signal Level

I set signal levels for my Rode NTG 3 to Mic+48v because it requires Phantom Power.

Input 2 Level Switch & Dial

This can be set to either Auto or Manual, I set mine to manual and dial in the levels using the Input 2 level dial.

Low Cut

Not used in my example.

Input 3 Level Switch & Dial

I’ve set the input 3 level switch to manual so that I can control the levels manually with the input 3 level dial.

Setting levels

With all of the above options set you should now be able to dial in good levels for all four channels using the three level dials on the XLR handle. It’s worth remembering that Channels 3 & 4 share the input 3 level dial and cannot be set individually.

Swapping channels

With the listed settings the FX3 will be recording the XLR Mic to channels 1 & 2 and the 3.5mm Mic to channels 3 & 4. If you would prefer to swap these then simply change the INPUT SELCT switch to IN3.

 

Post Production

The great thing about shooting with four audio channels is that when you get to post production you can choose between each channel and adjust them to suit. In the video above I show this being done in FCPX however the same will apply to most decent editing applications.

Editing 4 channel audio in FCPX

 

HDMI Output

One final thing to be aware of is that it’s only possible to send two channels of audio out via HDMI. This becomes important when using an external recorder such as the Atomos Ninja V because you’ll only get two channels of audio in the files from the recorder.

If shooting four channel with an HDMI recorder you’ll need to remember to save the clips from the FX3 as well as the files from the external recorder so as not to lose the additional two channels of audio.

One thing you can do however is choose which channels to send out via the HDMI port as follows…

Menu > Setup > External Output > HDMI Output Settings > 4ch Audio Output

Sony FX3 4 Channel HDMI Settings

Final thoughts

I think the ability to shoot four channels of audio super helpful. It’s not only microphones that can be connected either. You might want to feed a stereo music track to input 3 or even use it for a timecode signal so this really does add a lot of options to the FX3.

If you found this post useful or you have any questions then please leave a comment below.

 


Kit featured in the video

Sony FX3
Sony 50mm 1.2 GM
Sony UWP D-21 Wireless Kit
Sennheiser MKH416 shotgun mic
Rode NTG3
Rode VideoMic Pro
Rode Wireless Go II

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