BeachTek DXA-Connect DSLR Audio Adapter Review

This is BeachTek’s latest, portable DSLR audio preamp – the DXA-CONNECT (one of the first batch, as a matter of fact).

If you’re familiar with other BeachTek adapters, the Connect looks nothing like any previous offering. Strange appearance notwithstanding, it is an ideal unit for users of Canon cameras with Magic Lantern, those who utilize Zoom H4N/H6 external recorders, and any other DSLR that has onboard preamp control and shutoff.
DXA-CONNECT – LISTEN TO IT:
For those who want to hear it before anything else:
 

DXA-CONNECT – INTERNAL TECH:

DXA-CONNECT at left, DXA-SLR at right

As an indirect successor to the DXA-SLR, the DXA-Connect improves upon it by providing a comfortable range of gain with three selections: 0dB, +20dB, and +30dB; individually adjustable on each channel. This amplification alone (the DXA-SLR has a maximum gain of +15dB) is worth the price of admission for those users running cheaper dynamic microphones due to cost, and allows one to ramp down the camera’s preamp to 10-20%.

The Connect was designed with the latest generation of equipment in mind and the execution of such is evident. Though we lose the AGC Disable function of the earlier BeachTek units, the point is moot with the number of cameras that now have AGC shutoff included directly in their firmware, plus the Canon bodies supported by ML.

Phantom power is available in 12 and 48V, with a single switch for voltage selection, and an on-off switch under each gain knob to control phantom power supply per individual channel.

DXA-CONNECT – USABILITY:

Standing tall and proud on the 5DM2
The DXA-Connect does away with the bottom-mount orientation, and slides directly into your flash shoe. Though this new mount takes a bit of getting used to – mainly because I’m accustomed to the old design – the new position is far more workable over the old “box-on-the-bottom” ergonomics.

To begin with, the removal of the unit from the bottom keeps the weight of the camera low (43cm lower than when running a conventional DXA-SLR under the camera body), providing a significant benefit in weight distribution.

Secondly, the DXA-SLR gets in the way of any follow focus rings mounted close to the camera body. The DXA-Connect doesn’t even come near them.

Perhaps the best benefit of all is that you don’t have to pull the camera body off the unit to change a battery. What a joy!

The loss of one flash shoe is irrelevant, because you get FOUR MORE from the one you had to give up. You can mount ANYTHING to this thing (light units, microphone receivers, audio recorders, hood ornaments, worry beads, and Donald Trump’s ego, to name a few things – though I wouldn’t necessarily suggest trying it), and in just about any direction.

The DXA-Connect does not have an onboard V/U meter, but with the number of cameras that are coming with live view meters (plus those supported by Magic Lantern), you do not need a superfluous display to begin with.

However, we have since lost the ability to monitor the audio directly from the DXA-Connect without plugging a TRS 1/8″ T connection between the adapter and the camera. It may not be live monitoring, but being able to double-check the adapter’s output against the camera gives me some peace of mind.

The only thing that I’ve yet to get used to is the orientation of the controls vs. the XLR input plugs. Quite logically, the left channel controls are to the left, and the right channel controls to the right. This is repeated on the opposite side with the XLR input plugs.

Problem is, this means the left XLR plug’s direct opposite are the controls for the right channel, and the right XLR plug is opposite the left channel controls. Given the unusual shape of the unit, I envision the controls based on their vertical placement on the unit, rather than from the side, which leads to a fair amount of confusion:

Erm…

As simple as this was to figure out, I was completely mystified for the first 5 minutes of using it and I’m still getting used to it. You’d think the clear-cut “LEFT” and “RIGHT” markings on the unit would make it easy, but the human mind is sometimes less logical than the conscious efforts of careful engineering.

I’m sure that there are many others who would feel the exact opposite if the adapter had been set up the other way around. To each their own.

DXA-CONNECT – FINAL THOUGHTS:

HAL9000 or a new Pixar character?

For me, the DXA-Connect does all I could need in the field. It may appear to be stripped down at first glance, but – for the most part – in all the right places.

For those of us with cameras and audio recorders that feature gain correction control, the DXA-Connect is amongst BeachTek’s best. Functionality is just as good as previous models, and the 30dB of gain is reason enough to have it.

-Kurt “Man with the 5D”

The DXA-CONNECT shown here was supplied to me by BeachTek. No monetary compensation was provided for this review. The comments above were not screened by BeachTek prior to publication and reflect the actual views of the author’s experience with the product.

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