The Panasonic GH4’s audio meters are essential to recording great in-camera audio. You just have to know how to read them.
The Panasonic GH4 has audio meters. Awesome.
Some of the meters’ blocks even light up red, which probably means something bad. That’s useful.
But what do the rest of the blocks mean? Where is the sweet spot on the meters for your audio? If you’re monitoring with headphones, do the meters even matter?
Yes, yes they do.
Today we’re cracking the code and deciphering the GH4’s audio meters.
Get the GH4 Audio Meter Pocket Guide: Make sure you have the information you need to get great audio when you’re out in the field with this handy-dandy quick-reference pocket guide.
Important: Before proceeding further, ensure that audio level meters are enabled on your GH4.
Menu/Motion Picture/Page 5/Mic Level Display: On
Audio Level Range
The GH4’s audio meters represent a range of levels from -30dB to 0dB.
Anything quieter than -30dB and it won’t register on the GH4’s audio meters. This isn’t a problem as you wouldn’t want to record anything important– such as dialog– at such low levels anyway.
Anything louder than 0dB means that the audio is too loud and will result in distortion. Clipped audio is completely unusable, so you should avoid audio that crosses this limit at all costs.
Meters: Block by Block
As audio levels increase, the GH4’s audio meters light up block-by-block from left to right. Here are the levels that each block represents:
- No Blocks: -30dB and lower
- Block 1: -30dB to -26dB
- Block 2: -26dB to -23.5dB
- Block 3: -23.5dB to -17dB
- Block 4: -17dB to -14dB
- Block 5: -14dB to -9dB
- Block 6: -9dB to -5dB
- Block 7: -5dB to -1.5dB
- Block 8: -1.5dB to 0dB
Set Your Target Levels
In general, audio levels should average around -20dB, with peaks at -12dB. This provides a good signal-to-noise ratio, while also maintaining headroom from the clipping limit.
Using the GH4’s audio meters, target block 4 for general audio. -20dB falls within block 3 on the meters, but levels in this block could also result in lower levels than desired, so targeting block 4 is recommended for most situations.
Furthermore, audio peaks should not exceed block 5.
Finally, activate the GH4’s limiter for an additional layer of protection against clipped audio in the event of unexpectedly loud sounds.
Get Great Audio with the Panasonic GH4
Recording solid in-camera audio for your projects is possible with the Panasonic GH4, especially now that you know how to read the audio meters and where your levels should be on the meters.
Future guides in this series will cover how to calibrate your audio equipment with the GH4 and maintain proper audio levels. Sign up below to be notified when new guides and other resources are available.
Bonus: GH4 Audio Meter Pocket Guide
Get all the information in this guide neatly laid out in a printable quick-reference pocket guide.
Download the pocket guide to make sure you have the GH4 set up properly for great audio when you’re out in the field.
Panasonic GH4 Audio Resources
- Cracking the Code: Panasonic GH4’s Audio Meters Explained
- It’s All About the Levels: How to Set up the GH4 for the Best Audio
- The Definitive Guide to Audio Input Options
- Zoom H5: Run & Gun Audio Recorder
- Review: Beachtek MCC-2 Audio Adapter
- Panasonic GH4 Audio Buzz
- How to Fix the Panasonic GH4’s Audio Buzz
- Panasonic GH4 Audio Buzz Fix: The Good, the Bad, & the Strange
More Panasonic GH4 Guides
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- Memory Cards for the Panasonic GH4 — Get the right memory cards for HD and 4K.
- Configuring the Panasonic GH4 for Video Production — Set the GH4 up for filmmaking.
- Rigging the Panasonic GH4 — Cages, Rigs, Components, Gear, and Reviews.
- Stabilizing the Panasonic GH4 — Tripods, Monopods, Sliders, 3-Axis Gimbals, etc.
- Maximizing the Panasonic GH4’s Audio Performance — Sound matters.
- Powering the Panasonic GH4 — Keep the GH4 shooting all day.
- Should you buy the YAGH for the Panasonic GH4?
- 6 Reasons Why DSLR Shooters Love the Panasonic GH4