Tentacle Sync E MkII Review
These tiny sync boxes are incredible problem solvers. With their built-in rechargeable batteries lasting 35-hours on a single USB charge, you can mount them anywhere and cable them to virtually any device with an audio or time code input (including phones). They sync via Bluetooth to an app you install on your phone/tablet or can be jammed to an external time code device or recorder employing SMPTE time code (like my Sound Devices 633). Just set and forget —it’s that simple!
The Sync E’s provide audio timecode out on CH-1 and have a built-in reference mic audio out signal via CH-2 when using the provided 3.5mm TRS audio cable. Tentacle also sells other accessory audio and time code connecting cables to adapt to virtually any camera.
The synching software that Tentacle provides (Tentacle Sync Studio) makes synching files as easy as dragging and dropping them onto the main sync window. You can then export the file pointers to your NLE of choice as XML (Adobe Premier Pro or Final Cut Pro) or as AAF (Avid Media Composer), or export them as media (self-contained QuickTime movie clips). So versatile is this system, especially in creating Multicam Clips, that you could literally sync a hundred different cameras together in an instant! Of course though, you’d need a hundred Tentacles! ;-)
Believe me when I say that these are indispensable tools. As a production sound mixer, I spent many years working in the trenches managing sync sound issues, and my weapon of choice when dealing with DSLR or mirrorless video has always been the professional double-system digital sound recorder with time code for capturing primary audio. Even professional camcorder designs often do not measure up to matching the same high-level signal to noise ratios and recording redundancy options as the professional digital recorder.
Now with the Sync E’s, mostly gone are the days of trying to get usable sound directly into these cameras with their tiny, noisy and fragile inputs. Mirrorless/DSLR/Hybrid cameras, by nature, are designed to be smaller, lighter and less cumbersome than professional cinema/video camcorders. This is the beauty of their design. Therefore, there are quality trade-offs and compromises inherent to their audio circuitry and input design. Bypassing camera audio in favor of recording to a separate professional digital recorder is always preferable.
However, that is not to say that it is always practical. There will likely still be instances where you must send audio to these cameras. In past attempts, I achieved fairly good results sending a useable wireless reference audio feed to camera via a tiny Sennheiser AVX wireless camera microphone system —but I always, always, ALWAYS recorded redundant double-system sound on my primary recorder.
The Tentacle Sync E’s are a superior solution for synching audio with frame accurate time code. No more setting audio levels, monitoring battery condition, listening for dropouts… no more cumbersome mounts and specialty cables to deal with. Do yourself a favor and order the Standard Set. Time is now on your side.
Keywords: Audio Time Code Solution, Brent Lestage Blog, Tentacle Sync, Tentacle Sync E, Tentacle Sync E MkII Review, Time Code, Time Code Sync
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