How to Improve the audio quality of the Panasonic GH2

Improving the audio quality of the Panasonic GH2 can be done with the hack via Ptool to increase the BPS of the audio from 192,000bps to 440,000bps. Just add it to the patch you are currently using. You will lose the ability to preview the videos on camera but its not a bad trade off. That’s the simple method via in camera settings but what about external methods? Syncing in post is common in the film world and big names include the infamous marantz and the zoom products for the indie crowd. Only one of these is perfect to keep on board or on a shoulder rig / cage offering the unique opportunity to feed directly into the camera and avoiding post syncing.

The Zoom H4n Handy Mobile 4-Track Recorder

Zoom H4n Handy Mobile 4-Track Recorder

The zoom h4n is a great tool for recording audio on set while you film with The Panasonic GH2. The downside used to be having to sync in post and while this is a common practice when shooting with film, the digital crowd may not be as patient. As a result you may want to plug in an H4n directly into the camera. This is a great idea but the only problem is losing the ability to monitor audio with your headphones/line output plugged into the gh2 or the h4n. There is also a difference in the line level between the H4n and the gh2. The solution to this is the wonderful Sescom cable that will give you a headphone tap as well as get your line into the gh2 from the h4n. Sescom has designed this cable specifically for the Panasonic GH2 and it handles the audio and level difference while giving you a headphone tap! Fantastic.

The Sescom LN2MIC-ZMGHN-MON

Sescom LN2MIC-ZMGHN-MON
Sescom LN2MIC-ZMGH-MON 3.5 Line to 2.5 Mic 25dB for Zoom H4N with Monitoring Tap Cable, 1.5 Feet

Combining the two you will now have the ability to use professional microphones via the h4n and not worry about syncing! Thanks to this cable design you can still monitor audio from the h4n but Depending on the microphone you use, on board mics, or externals you will have to readjust your levels (volume) to match but that’s just about as complicate as it will get.

I highly recommend using the hack for audio in Ptools for your GH2 and setting it to 448000 bps. This will allow you to use higher quality audio settings in the h4n and maintain fidelity when running the line into the GH2 but it is optional.

For more information on hacking the GH2 see my tutorial which now includes a concise hack pack! All you have to do is add the audio setting to the patch, or w.e patch you intended to use. Keep in mind you will no longer be able to preview video with the audio quality so high. A small trade off for professional audio if you ask me. If you don’t use the audio hack because you absolutely need the in camera previews that’s ok, the above h4n Sescom combo still greatly improve the audio quality. I personally don’t have to review every shot on set so its a non issue for me to use the added bps for the audio via the hack. It provides a remarkable boost in audio quality but either way you will be very happy.

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Comments 29

    1. Post
      Author

      No i do not but i should tell you while it is noticeable to an audiophile the main difference will be noticeable to you if you do any adjustments in post, the audio will be far more flexible to editing. Posting videos to show the sound on youtube or similar will probably compress the difference anyway. If i have time i will upload some raw aff or wavs this or next week instead.

  1. Thanks for this blog post.

    Do you think the H4n is better than the Rode VideoMic Pro? That’s what I use with my GH2. The VMP is much better than the oem mic but I’m wondering if the H4n is going to be different/better.

    1. Post
      Author

      The H4n adds xlr inputs sorely missing from a professional camera, allowing you to use variety of really fancy high quality mics. I do find that even the on board H4n mics clearly surpass the GH2’s but i have not used a Rode VideoMic Pro for a direct comparison.

  2. Naive question perhaps – Where is this audio hack located? I do not see a link in your article. Also – will the GH2 retain the Audio hack after I install and try out various Driftwood picture hacks?

    1. Post
      Author

      The Gh2 does not stack up firmwares. if its not in that edition then its not there. By that logic you would have stock settings even tough you installed the hack… at the same time. no.

      In ptool you enable it under audio patches.. its in there. i’m not home at the moment but i will tell you exactly where tonight. its not hard to find thought, take a look at your options.

  3. Have just purchased an H4N. Is there a patch to improve audio quality on Panasonic Video Cameras other than the GH2? My camera is Panasonic HD700.

    1. Post
      Author

      I cant speak for camera hacking outside the gh2 but i will say Cameras are unique in their technology hardware and as a result, Their firmware. A patch using my tools is useless to you, you would need someone to take a huge investment in creating tools for hacking your specific camera the first place let alone any patches. Short answer no.

    1. Post
      Author

      can you combine this audio patch with the span my bitch up v2 patch i provide in my guide with out ill effects? if so i am interested in testing it. That would make for a nice middle ground for everyone not on extreme cards.

  4. great article! Do you know if this cable also works with the new Tascam DR-40 audiorecorder?

    cheers,

    Peter

    1. Post
      Author

      It will but maybe not the same version with the built in attenuation.. i’m not sure if the Tescam DR-40 needs that feature.

    1. Post
      Author

      Yes you can but you should not keep your headphones attached to it or you will never balance it. So while you may enjoy better audio if you manage to balance the H4n on it you cannot monitor it with a headset like i suggested above or you will keep it from getting stabilized.

  5. Why the hell You wanna change bitrate to audio? You will never hear any difference.
    The same with video. It only generates huge files with bad motion. Stop stressing Your camera and start shooting real movies!

    1. Post
      Author

      Are you you telling me you cant tell the difference between the stock video bit rate and say… the Mysteron or sedna patch? You may need to get your eyes and ears checked. Here are some examples.
      https://vimeo.com/30598805
      https://vimeo.com/40277645
      https://vimeo.com/39848841
      Vimeo may hide the extra quality due to re-compression but some of those videos you can download and see the original. PLEASE DO SO. download is a must for the ones that have the option.

      Is the “start shooting” directed at me? I do shoot real movies, among all sorts of client video. I shoot like 3 projects a week right now. I have benefited greatly over stock bit rates. I LOVE the extra detail. Its very clear comparing the same shot stock settings vs patched and in all my tests its very clear. you don’t even have to pixel peep, its pretty obvious! I’m going to guess you haven’t projected gh2 footage on the big screen either, i have. Its very apparent how it is improved in this scenario. On Your small monitor its negligible but the quality does take a great boost with the patches. Especially for the big screen. Real movies. you ever shoot one? Its not even about just movies ANY work you do will benefit from the boost to video quality. Commercials music videos etc etc You sound like a hobbiest. Some of us want the best out of our tools, Happy Clients keep my bills and studio payed. Acting like an ass doesn’t. If you don’t do professional grading you don’t really need the patches. If you do however, there is no contest.

      Audio is far more subtle but Running the HD audio quality from the H4n or your wireless lavs into the GH2 with LESS compression within the Gh2 codec is certainly going to preserve it better. The on camera mics may not benefit much since they aren’t that great so they are pretty much at max quality as it is. It sure does help when you line in higher quality audio sources be it H4n, wireless lavs or w.e system you want to run into it. Its more of an audiophile thing perhaps but you cant say its not noticeable when working in post. When you hear your favorite song in an Uncompressed FLAC vs the average 192 MP3, cant you tell the difference? Generally this is going to handle better in post.

      Even if you don’t up the audio bit rate that’s ok, Especially these days, Senda and Mysteron have audio patching built into it already! So did you notice is have a negative effect on the above videos as you claim? motion was hindered somehow? i think not, not in the least. Watch them carefully how is video being hurt in the above videos? they have audio bit-rate patching and motion looks fine, in fact the intra avchd patches above imo has much better motion than the avchd the Gh2 comes with. At least you just learned how to attenuate the source with the right cable for the gh2 since you clearly don’t believe in audio improvement. I admit the Audio boost is more subtle than the OBVIOUS video quality from 24mbs vs 120mbs. The sensor capability is not maxed out at 24mbs!! you get that right? Ever overclock a cpu processor? My ivy bridge 3770K came in i think at 3.5 mhz stock settings, don’t recall exactly but it was not its max capability that’s for sure. I run at it 4.7mhz right now with a little water cooling and i would say yup, just like GH2 Patching. SO WORTH IT!

  6. No personal offence to anybody 🙂 but
    I dont see any comparison hacked/unhacked in this videos. Unhacked HBR image quality is very very good. From test performed in our studio we dont see any benefits form hacking gh2. Its still the same color space.
    We also noticed that motion blur is worse in hacked footage and it can be seen in above clips.

    As to audio bitrate – You wont hear the difference unless You record with Neve/Chandler type preamps :> ZOOM or Tascam portable recorders(we own) are little plastic crap compared to real pre-s. In any case You have to use good pad cable to go back to mic level.

    My point is You dont need the super-duper extra details to make good movies.
    All You need is to focus on story and proper motion, being sure that Your camera/sd card wont broke up in the middle of the shot.
    Playing with silly patches this is what I call hobby.
    I dont know pro-s who change anything inside their cameras just to get little sensation.
    More bitrate- bigger chance Your sd card will be damaged faster.

    This is my subjective opinion.

    1. Post
      Author

      No one said that, only an idiot would think what you just sad. Just like only an idiot would assume dslrs cant make good films period because actual film quality is much higher ETC. No one thinks a camera alone makes good movies. You sound like you bought a dslr… yesterday. Film is good story? good motion? good cinematography? you don’t say. did you JUST figure that out too? … state the obvious some more. No offense taken, Its not as offensive as it is annoying but it is indeed, pretty annoying. If anyone thought that, cinematographers would only learn how to use one camera and practically never get hired. If you cant tell the difference fine don’t use it. But don’t pontificate on what makes good film. I find stating the painfully obvious, well painfully annoying. Are you new to film school or something?

      If you don’t know any professionals that use it, that’s fine too. My peers (professional cinematographers) on the Zucato Shootout (comes out in june and btw… I DON’T WANT TO RUIN IT FOR YOU BUT THE HACKED GH2 SCORES MUCH HIGHER THAN UHACKED) so there that, they agree with me, Phillip bloom too, and a couple of hundred people here : http://osgfilms.com/hack-the-panasonic-gh2/ or the guy in the video who by the way does not work for me. He made that video of my website and hack all on his own. Just to mention a few. OK ill admit it you are right, I totally get a thrill from the improved quality. i LOVE the better quality the hack offers. love it.

      You are also dead wrong about the SD card getting damaged, Quicker OR AT ALL. Did you know that Megabytes and megabits are two very different things. The GH2 shoots at 28mbs or 28megabits a second un-hacked, one of the best patches pushes that to 120megabits. 120mbs or 120 mega bits a second in megabytes is only 15 megs a second. Even my slower sandisk card writes at 32megabytes and the other my usual card at 45 megabytes a second. Are you trying to tell me that writing at 15 megs a second on a 45 or 32 megabyte a second card will somehow damage it?… I’m not even writing at HALF the cards max speed. Get your facts straight and don’t pontificate like a newbie, stating the obvious or your misinformation is not a subjective opinion. Its annoying unenlightened one. Especially don’t pontificate to someone doing this for 8 years, consistently hired to shoot almost every film camera out there including the digital ones.

  7. I’m recording with the GH1 and a Rode SVM and my main complaint is the low end – drums and electric bass just get hacked away, more likely by the camera than the mic (this is with the low cut OFF on the SVM), especially at louder volumes (like anywhere on stage, even with the SVM -10 dB active). Does the GH2 have better low frequency capability (with external mic)? Or do I have to get an external recorder and synch up the sound track after the shoot? I don’t have a dealer here to try a GH2.
    Thanks…

    1. Post
      Author

      Any time i shoot a band or musical performance i dont go directly into the gh2. The mic you are using is decent but im not sure i can tell if its the mic not handling it or the gh2 falling short of handling the mic at its best. Generally The Gh2 will certainly fall short of using a professional mic to its full potential in general. Recording to the H4n and syncing up and post is the best way to go. Especially since you get a better signal, balanced better and at the highest bit rate and like 4 mics at the same time. A Way better mix =) The H4n does a respectable job with the mix, i mean at least at the price point i say its hard to do much better in that price range. So yes i say running the mic to the H4n or other outside system to manage your audio when it really counts the best way to go about it. I would not trust the gh2 to get the audio to perfection its not really meant to. It can do a great job sure and is very good with many mics for many situations, but a musical performance has so much going on, no its not quite THAT good.

  8. I got the Sescom cable with headphone jack for the H4N/Gh2. Works fine, except I can’t get a good level on the headphones?

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi i am not sure why you are not getting a good level on the headphones. Are you at least getting a good signal to the gh2 for when you need to edit? that’s mainly the most important. It sucks if the headphones are getting a strong enough line. Which ones are you using? This can happen with really beefy ones but over all i would say if its not the cable defect then not much you can do. At least you get to monitor the feed somewhat? let me know!

  9. HI sir, just ordered my GH2, question, is there a diagram that i can follow to make the Sescom cable? tnx and more power…

    1. Post
      Author
  10. I agree that I would rather not have to synch an audio signal in post from a second source – way to involved for me to mess with. So in the above chapter 5 (with Sescom cable), you are just using the zoom as a device to allow high quality mics to be used for recording? You are not actually using the stored audio data on the Zoom itself since with that cable you are giving an audio feed to the GH2 and its actually recording on the GH2 as the final audio. If that is the case, why not just get an adapter from a battery powered high quality mic that goes from XLR to 2.5mm input of the GH2? What is the zoom actually adding to it other than signal conversion?

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