Tascam DR-70D on Canon 7D Mark II Sescom cable

Tascam DR-70D noise issue + how to fix it

While the Tascam DR-70D is an excellent audio recorder for use in video production, it does have one glaring flaw: its “camera out” jack introduces an entirely unacceptable amount of noise to the audio, but only when the DR-70D is set to send “Cam” audio out of this jack. Okay. That last sentence was really alien sounding. What the heck are you talking about, Sam? Let me try to simplify this…

In my in-depth review of the Tascam DR-70D, I discuss the virtues of the camera In/Out section of the DR-70D in great detail. Basically, these jacks make it possible to make a copy of the same audio you’re recording in the DR-70D in the camera that you’re using. This makes it easier to sync the audio in post, and it gives you the option of not having to sync the audio, if you’re happy with the sound quality of the audio you recorded directly into your camera.

Here’s the problem: DSLR and mirrorless cameras only have mic-level inputs. The DR-70D lets you adjust the camera out jack down to mic-level, but, when you do this, the audio it sends to the camera gets really hissy and noisy. It’s terrible. It defeats the purpose of using this feature.

The good news is that the hiss problem goes away completely when you adjust the “Output Gain” setting on the DR-70D to LINE instead of CAM, and you use a Sescom cable to connect the “camera out” jack on the DR-70D to the “mic input” on your camera. The Sescom cable is mandatory. Using a $2 mini-to-mini cable is not an option here.

Sescom cable

What does the Sescom cable do?

The Sescom cable transforms line-level signals to mic-level. Line-level audio signals are MUCH stronger (or louder) than mic-level signals. In order for a cable to transform a line-level signal into a mic-level signal, a “in-line attenuator” needs to be built into the cable. Sescom cables have these built in, which is why they cost around $30.

Will Tascam fix this problem with a future firmware date?

I have no idea. It would be nice if they could do that. If they do, I will certainly write about and test it out.


Stay tuned to my blog. I am planning on shooting a comparison video next week between the Tascam DR-70D and the Zoom H4n, and the Tascam DR-40. I actually already shot this once, and on one take the input level clipped on the DR-70D. It ruined the whole shoot. See? Audio for video is difficult, even for people like me. I even blew the test video that I shot for this post, because I had the DR-70D set to “CAM” instead of “LINE”.

Oh well. Thanks for visiting! See you soon…Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 12.03.21 PM

Also.. it’s 9/11. Never forget it.


Purchase links:

Tascam DR-70D - Amazon USA, B&H Photo, Amazon.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr
Sescom Cable - Amazon USA, B&H Photo, Amazon.uk
Sescom Cable (with headphone jack) - Amazon USA, B&H Photo, Amazon.uk


Published by

Sam

Writer, musician, photo taker and video maker. When not writing somewhat longish articles for this blog, I write incredibly short things on Twitter: @SamMallery

13 thoughts on “Tascam DR-70D noise issue + how to fix it”

  1. Thanks for the review Sam! It’s all about the stories :D I’ll probably wait for your review on the sound quality before buying.., if you don’t take too long to publish it, hehe

  2. Thanks for a great reviews, Sam!
    I’m just a novice user trying to shoot home videos with my Canon EOS 70D. There are suggestions that you might be able to eliminate the noise coming from the DR-70D’s LINE out (without the need for a Sescom cable) by playing with the sound-recording level and enabling the attenuator function of the camera. Would you be able to confirm this setup?
    My issue with audio “in-line attenuator” cables is that they are not readily available in our local shops and the Sescom one can cost upward to CAD$72 on amazon.ca which forced me to even think about making one DIY cable myself :-)

    Regards,
    Dao

  3. If you have the chops to make one yourself (or if you know someone who is skilled), by all means go for it. Failing that, if you’re in Toronto, stop by the Trew Audio shop. They mostly deal with pro location sound people, but I’m sure they’re friendly and they may be able to get you a Sescom-esque cable for the normal US price. If you’re not in Toronto, give them a call at (866) 778-8739. They still may be able to help you out. Why not, right?

    I don’t know of any ways to fiddle with the sound level settings. I would assume that any you were able to come up with will likely be a compromise. But, if you have time to experiment, see if you can figure something out. I would be interested in hearing about how you resolve this.

    Thanks for visiting the blog!

    Sam

  4. I’ve been putting off my DR-70D purchase because of this issue (people reported this issue since 2014 and, yes, there was mention of the Sescom cable + “LINE” out as a work around). Until now, we haven’t seen if Tascam has any intention to address this issue and whether they can fix it with a firmware update. It would be great if they could. Otherwise, a costly recall might be needed in order to keep up the customer trust and confidence. After all, the “CAM” out feature of this unit is, more or less, specifically designed for the indie DSLR shooters; so it seems like a major oversight to me.
    I’ve always enjoyed your reviews. Thanks for the great work.

  5. Yeah, I saw that the other day. I haven’t had a chance to download the new firmware and test this out, but I suspect it won’t fix the problem. It looks like they fixed a specific bug with how the 2MIX file setting interacted with the CAM output level. The problem my post points out is the unreasonable amount of noise introduced into the signal when you use ANY of the file settings, 2MIX or otherwise. Anyhow, hopefully I’ll get a chance to test out the new firmware soon.

    Thanks for posting!

  6. thank’s for the review Sam,

    2 questions:

    I’ve read about a similar issue with their previous D60, which turned out to be a grounding problem: from the moment de D60 was physically disconnected from the EOS5DII, the noise went away.

    Have you tested if this is the case on the 70D as well?

    Secondly, you reviewed the 701D as well. Did you test for this problem?

  7. Hi C of DB,

    The noise issue arrises in the audio that is recorded into the camera — not the audio recorded into the DR-70D. So your question doesn’t apply. If you disconnect the DR-70D from the camera, there will be no audio recorded into the camera, and hence, no noise issue. But, the whole point is to be able to record audio into the camera.

    I wrote a post sharing my initial thoughts on the Tascam DR-701D. It was not a review. I haven’t been able to use one and test one. If I eventually do get to use one, I will certainly test this out and share the information on this blog.

    Thanks for commenting!
    Sam

  8. Hi Sam,

    I understand, but I guess I expressed my question rather badly, reading your answer.
    When talking about disconneting, I meant the housing only (tandem mounting), not the audio cable, which is indeed the whole point of the test/setup.
    But then it hit me that in the video on top here, the camera isn’t sitting on top of the tascam anymore, like in the initial review. So that answers the question.

    FYI, I referred to this DR60 article: http://www.trewaudio.com/2013/08/21/tascam-dr-60d-mixerrecorder-problems/

    cheers,
    Christof

  9. Hey Sam

    I have spent over 3 straight days fine-tuning the settings on the Tascam DR-70D, with no definite success. i downloaded the latest firmware released in June 2016. it makes a bit of difference but the noise is still there.

    I live in South Africa and we do not seem to have a local Sescom cable dealer…i guess I would like to find out if there is an alternative cable option to address the same noise issue.

    the gear i am using is a Canon 5D mark II, Tascom DR-70D and Rode NTG-2

  10. Hi JC,

    Sorry for my late reply. Are you still having trouble with the settings on the DR-70D? You’ve got a decent shotgun microphone. It seems like you should be able to get nice sound. How audible is this noise you’re hearing? Is the overall sound any good, or is it hampered by the noise?

    As far as finding a Sescom dealer in South Africa, I’m afraid I can’t help you there. But, the good news is that a Sescom cable isn’t doing anything revolutionary. It’s a simple audio attenuator. That means it decreases the incoming audio signal (usually by -25dB or so), and that’s it. What I would do if I were you would be to either find a pro audio store of some kind, or, find an experienced audio person. They will be able to help you find or make your own audio attenuator cable. The final product may not be as sleek as a little Sescom cable, but it will get the job done. A good way to go would be to find the people in your area who do “location sound” for TV and film productions. Find them, contact them, tell them your situation, and ask how you can find a comparable solution.

    Thanks for commenting!

    Sam

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