Audio is a weak point of many – perhaps all – cameras designed first and foremost for stills work. The GH4, though, tackles audio in two distinct ways.
The first is via a standard 3.5mm audio jack, the second via the YAGH adapter, which provides two XLR inputs with switchable levels for line, mic, and mic with +48V phantom power. The YAGH adapter has a series of LEDs for audio level monitoring, which also show the levels from the 3.5mm jack or the internal microphone.
The Panasonic’s 3.5mm jack uses Plug In Power, similar to the input on consumer camcorders, and designed for consumer mics. This means that the GH4 can power mics such as the Røde Video Mic Go, as well as some lavalieres, without the need for any other hardware.
On the other hand, it can cause interference with some microphones, a situation made worse by the relatively “hot” (or high) input signal of the GH4, and some reported issues with a digital hum or interference.
Our tests with the GH4 and a Røde Video Mic Pro produced a less than ideal result, not least because it is hard to turn the GH4 audio input on the camera down low enough to take advantage of the Røde’s +20dB pre-amp.
The Video Mic Go, which works with the Plug In Power, produces a much cleaner sound, although our view is that it is best to be cautious about recording any primary dialogue just on the GH4 (although this is a note of caution which applies to many DSLRs).
As yet, we have not been able to fully replicate some of the digital noise or hiss issues which other GH4 users have run up against, perhaps because we are not using the camera as the main source of audio, but instead use the GH4 and the Video Mic Go to record a reference track, and a separate recorder, or broadcast camera, for the main dialogue.
We do plan further tests on the GH4’s audio; it is worth noting that Røde’s new, but expensive, Stereo Video Mic X produced a reasonably pleasing result on the GH4, again allowing for the fact that the input signal is slightly hot.
The YAGH adapter’s audio inputs are quite a different proposition, and should allow for the connection of both higher quality and more sensitive mics, and those that need phantom power.
Having XLR inputs transforms this class of camera, although the powering issues, which we will address in our YAGH review, do go some way to cancelling out the advantages.
In the US, Panasonic has provided a fix for audio interference issues, although this does require the camera to go back to Panasonic.
Next: The GH4 in extended use