Disclaimer: I purchased the X-T3 at full auction price, sometime in July of this year. It came with five proper 126S batteries and six no-name nasties. Also with it came the 18-55 kit lens and a small rig cage. The 16-55/2.8 XF lens is leftover from my X-H1 days.
Enter: Fujifilm X-H1
Fujifilm X-H1 VS Leica SL PT 1 - basic handling
RMAA: Cowon Plenue D2 24-bit
RMAA and review: Sharp MD-DR7 1-Bit Auvi Minidisc recorder 16-bit
RMAA and review: Sony MZ-EH1 24-bit
RMAA: Astell & Kern SPM1000M 24-bit
RMAA: Fiio M6 24-bit
RMAA: HiFiman Megamini 24-bit
RMAA: iPhone SE 24-bit
RMAA: Linear Tube Audio MZ2-S 24-bit
The X-T3 is a hardy camera whose quirky hardware interface - tangled with myriad UI inconsistencies - is glued to hella responsive AF and general operation. It’s a lovely machine whose whizz-pop internal computers chirp and chirp under a handsome fascia. It’s also known as a movie camera and bristles with necessary features. One of these is what has been rumoured to be a damn good microphone and headphone pre-amp and amps. I say rumoured because there’s not a lot of concrete information out there.
So, here comes Nathan, amateur documenter of various headphone outputs from DACs to DAPs and Minidisc players/recorders. And now camera microphone/line pre-amps and headphone outputs. Seems silly doesn’t it? Well, if you consider that part of capturing film is sound, it doesn’t.
Here’s what I did:
Basically, I treated the X-T3 like a Minidisc recorder. I plugged a favourite DAP into its microphone/line input, dialled the volume to a level that wouldn’t clip the input pre-amps, and then did the same to the output, monitoring levels through a Lynx Technology Hilo. I saved the file to an SD card. I tested the X-T3’s headphone output the way I test all sources/output devices: in parallel, running load-less signals and headphones of various impedances, drive types, and sensitivities.
The test file is a hi-resolution RMAA 24-bit 44kHz .WAV file. I also dubbed some Iggy Pop and Morissey to the X-T3. The rub, of course, is that instead of just a sound file, a hi-resolution video is attached. (Did I just invent MTV for a silly RMAA measurement?)
If you’ve gotten this far, let me DR my findings: the X-T3’s low amp hiss combined with ample current to voltage ratios keeps signal strong no matter the output can. It runs the Earsonics SM2 stage monitors just as well as it runs hi-fi home headphones; and its microphone input, while super sensitive and lacking much headroom, is clean, and picks up plenty of detail. Had I figured a way to get files from my computer onto the X-T3, I might have found a higher ceiling than the paltry -89,5dB my results show, but I’m a video newb. (If anyone knows how to export an X-T3-readable audio file with video attached, do tell.)
Interestingly, the X-T3’s headphone amp is more powerful than some mid-range DAPs out there, and is less hissy than several released in the 100-700$ price range from 2011 to 2019. That is, while its output DR isn’t super high, its amp is good. In fact, it is able to drive (re: voltage and current) headphones about as well as an iPhone SE, which is no mean feat. Colour me impressed.
Note: X-T3 NL results VS those from the Plenue D2.
Anyway, here are the results:
Source: Fujifilm X-T3 (Fed by a Cowon Plenue D2 Hi-Res player)
ADC: Lynx Studio HILO LT-TB
Computer: 2017 iMac Pro
Cables: 1,5m Hosa Pro 3,5mm stereo to dual 3-pin XLR (around 8$); bespoke y-split 2,5 TRRS to dual 3-pin XLR made by Musashi Sound Technology.
NL - no load
SM2 - Earsonics SM2
ES7 - Audio Technica ES7
DT880 - Beyerdynamic DT880/600
24-bit (Plenue @965, X-T3 Mic -30, X-T3 HPO 10) +0dB - all targets and control (Plenue D2@95)
24-bit (Plenue @95, X-T3 Mic -30, X-T3 HPO 10) +0dB - NL summary
Yes, the X-T3 performs as well as a low-end DAP. While my current methodology can’t test whether or not the X-T3 is capable of outputting signals which surpass 16-bit spec, I can say this: it gets loud, is only moderately hissy, and it holds signal well no matter the headphone or earphone plugged into it. It’s a bugger to access headphone and microphone controls, but that’s a problem endemic to Fujifilm’s X camera lineup.