FMX- DSLR XLR audio adapter (5 of 9)

Here we have (from left to right) the Juicedlink RM333 “Riggy” ($399), the Azden FMX-DSLR ($261), and the Beachtek DXA-SLR ($285) audio adapters. It’s easy to see that all three of these units are very similar in design, square boxes that are about the same form factor with a handful of volume control knobs on the front. The most expensive unit (RM333) is slightly thinner than the other two and it offers up the least amount of control from the front of the box. Unlike RM333, the FMX-DSLR and DXA-SLR have most of the common controls placed in an easy to reach location and full sized knobs on the FMX-DSLR and DXA-SLR are easy to identify and use.

FMX- DSLR XLR audio adapter (7 of 9)

The Azden FMX-DSLR has it’s 48v phantom power and AGC disable switches located on the bottom edge of the unit which allows room to access the switches even with a quick release plate installed. The Beachtek DXA-SLR takes a similar approach to the FMX-DSLR with two high/low gain switches as well as a ground lift switch on the bottom of the unit. Again these switches are placed off to the side for access even if a quick release plate is installed.

Juicedlink Riggy RM333 (4 of 5)

The RM333 jams pretty much every possible setting you can think of into 15+ tiny dip switches in a few inches of space on the bottom of the unit. Put a quick release plate on it and you’ll have a pretty hard time accessing any of these little micro switches.

Do you need to turn on phantom power? Remove the QR plate. Need to adjust the gain from low to high? Remove the QR plate. Need to select between line and mic inputs? You guessed it, remove the QR plate. The RM333, in my opinion, is the least user friendly and design conscious of the whole bunch and it’s the only one of the three that doesn’t come with a paper manual. I work with audio gear all the time and even I have to spend a minute thinking about what the heck is going on in this mess of switches.

FMX- DSLR XLR audio adapter (6 of 9)

The Azden FMX-DSLR is the winner in the input department, followed closely by the Beachtek DXA-SLR and trailed by the RM333 “Riggy”. Both the DXA-SLR and FMX-DSLR offer up 3.5mm auxiliary inputs that allow you to bypass the right XLR channel, and both of them offer return audio monitoring. Where the FMX-DSLR pulls ahead is it’s “MIC 2” 3.5mm stereo input that provides 3.5 volt input power and the ability to mix that stereo input down to either the left or right channel.

The RM333 “Riggy” has 3 XLR inputs, but basically mixes “L1” and “L2” into a single channel. There is no 3.5mm inputs, no return source monitoring, and no 3.5 volt input power. Want to plug the RODE videomic pro into the RM333? You’ll need an adapter.

One other thing to note is that all three of these units are designed to be mounted under your DSLR. The Beachtek DXA-SLR is the easiest to mount with its large thumb screw, the Azden FMX-DSLR has a common flat head screw for attachment, and the RM333 “Riggy” uses an allen head. While the thumbscrew on the DXA-SLR is my favorite, you can still easily install the FMX-DSLR with a penny or the edge of your car keys. On the other hand, if you forget to bring the appropriately sized allen wrench with you and you won’t be mounting the RM333 “Riggy”  on anything. Also for mounting, both the DXA-SLR and FMX-DSLR have rubberized grips that press up against the bottom of the camera to keep the unit in place. The RM333 has no rubberized grip. Instead you have a smooth metal surface that easily spins loose from the bottom of your camera.

When I get a chance to start recording audio samples i’ll be sure to add the cheaper Tascam DR-60D and extremely cheap hacked iRig pre into the samples list. I’m interested to see how well the extremely cheap iRig pre stacks up. I’ll keep you posted.

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