You are here

Zoom H4N

All about the tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

Zoom H4N

Postby Doublehelix » Sat Jul 25, 2009 1:29 pm

I decided to buy myself a Zoom H4N to capture some live gigs, and felt pretty comfortable after reading Paul White's review HERE .

However, one thing that Paul omits in his review is the horrible Japanese-to-English translation in the manual. It is very difficult to understand and follow, and I am having a tough time following it all.

I haven't seen a translation this bad in a manual in a long time, and I really thought we were past all of these types of things. It reminds me of a very poor Babblefish translation.

Other than that, the unit looks nice, although I am still wading my way through the muck that is the manual to get the feel for how to operate the danged thing!

A funny story, as I was walking out of the store with my brand new H4N in hand, there was a woman at the counter with the same unit. I made some comment about "great minds thinking alike" or some such witty comment, but then she said, "No, I am returning mine." OUCH! So now I get a slight feeling of panic, and she tells me that it is just too complicated to operate, and she couldn't figure it out. She did say that she is not very technical, and that most folks would be OK. I was a bit taken back, but I also know that I consider myself to pretty tech-savvy for an old fart, and decide to press on.

In retrospect, it is no wonder that technically-challenged folks would have a problem with this guy. There is a lot more to operating this thing that meets the eye, and with the manual translation being the nightmare that it is, I can see where she might have struggled.

I'll let you know how I get on with the thing...
Doublehelix
Frequent Poster
Posts: 913
Joined: Wed Dec 04, 2002 12:00 am

Re: Zoom H4N

Postby simple » Sun Jul 26, 2009 12:49 am

I imported the H4n a few months back (a great deal from america)

so far I found the unit VERY easy to use. far better than the predessor (H4)

my only squirms so far with it are that you cannot address the record levels of the 2 inputs & the 2 mics seperatly (which would be of big help) & that you cannot manually pan the each of the 4 sources in seperatly either (in stereo & 4 channel mode)
User avatar
simple
Poster
Posts: 44
Joined: Tue Mar 18, 2003 12:00 am

Re: Zoom H4N

Postby Doublehelix » Sun Jul 26, 2009 3:40 am

I have decided just to dive in and play with the unit a bit, and you are right, it is VERY easy to operate. I recorded a quick 4-channel drum bit using the built-in mics back about 10 feet or so from the kit, and then a couple of OHs over the drums into the other two inputs.

It sounds surprising good, especially since I really just literally threw the mics up just so I could test out the 4-track recording capability... no measuring, phase testing, mic placement choices, nothing. Just about 5 mins to setup or less, and pressed RECORD.

So far, so good.

Trying to get my head about the MTR mode. Not exactly sure if this can be used to get 4 mono tracks rather then 2 stereo tracks, especially with the poor manual. It will take some more playing around to figure that out, but it is surprising simple to operate, even though reading through the manual makes it seem more complicated than it really is.
Doublehelix
Frequent Poster
Posts: 913
Joined: Wed Dec 04, 2002 12:00 am

Re: Zoom H4N

Postby simple » Sun Jul 26, 2009 5:45 am

should have used the onboard as stereo overheads, 1 mic kick, & 1 on the snare... nice!

actually I'd be interested to hear that drum recording, upload a simple balenced mix of it somewhere

the manual wasnt that bad, could have been slightly better but overall it answered any questions I had. I tend to use mine for location recording on film sets (1 boom into input 1, & a radio lav mic pumped into the mic input on the back)

still tho... I wish they'd allow for all the channels to have they're record levels & monitoring panning positions set indidually, as would allow me then to pump 2 boom mics & 2 lav mics into this thing at once & easily monitor whatever I want quicker!)
User avatar
simple
Poster
Posts: 44
Joined: Tue Mar 18, 2003 12:00 am

Re: Zoom H4N

Postby Doublehelix » Sun Jul 26, 2009 2:08 pm

simple wrote:the manual wasnt that bad, could have been slightly better but overall it answered any questions I had.


Just to be clear on my thoughts here... the manual is *very* complete and detailed, just hard to read and follow. Sorry if I was not 100% clear on this...


simple wrote:still tho... I wish they'd allow for all the channels to have they're record levels & monitoring panning positions set indidually, as would allow me then to pump 2 boom mics & 2 lav mics into this thing at once & easily monitor whatever I want quicker!)


I am thinking that the MTR mode will allow you to do this. I need to try it out today again and see how that mode works. The manual is once again very difficult to understand for this feature, and make it sound like you can only record one track at a time, and then layer additional tracks, but I am thinking that you can also record 4 at once with individual level and pan control.

Have you tried the MTR mode, or just the 4-Channel mode? (I don't even know what MTR stands for!)

I am going to try some more drums today before I actually have to take it out for a live recording. My first opportunity will be this coming Thursday, so I want to have some practice in before then. I will try the mic setup as you suggest. I was thinking along the same lines last night!

I am also going to check to see if there is a Zoom forum that might have some more info on the MTR mode.
Doublehelix
Frequent Poster
Posts: 913
Joined: Wed Dec 04, 2002 12:00 am

Re: Zoom H4N

Postby simple » Sun Jul 26, 2009 3:24 pm

yea I went through MTR mode extensively. on 1 hand it does exactly what I wanna do, but the draw back is it will only allow you to record 2 tracks at once (4 channel mode would allow me to gather content on set with alot more versatility, as everything needs to be recorded at once so to speak)

also the way that MTR mode generates & handles files wouldnt be managable in my context, as with each take I need to ensure a seperate sound file is created, so that easy labelling & sync can take place later, where as MTR mode simple adds onto existing sound tracks within a project (extends a sound file)
User avatar
simple
Poster
Posts: 44
Joined: Tue Mar 18, 2003 12:00 am

Re: Zoom H4N

Postby Doublehelix » Sun Jul 26, 2009 7:07 pm

I see what you mean about not being able to set the levels separately for each of the 4 tracks. In 4-track mode, you can only set the levels for each of the two stereo tracks. I just did a quick drum test with the built-in mics as the OHs, and then a kick and a snare mic (as you suggested earlier). With the current setup, I cannot set the levels individually for the kick and the snare, the levels are set as a combined pair for the stereo track with the kick on the left and the snare on the right.

I am posting a quick sample here, but I need to explain the condition of this sample!!! It has been pretty mangled getting here, so it is really not the best representation of what is possible.

1) The drummer is my 16 YO son playing along to a song that was recorded by another band in my studio, so I am feeding him the song into his headphones (original drums muted), while recording his playing on the Zoom. His drum kit is not well tuned, and there is no hole in the kick drum head, so I had to stick the mic outside the resonant head. We need to burn a hole for that head, but today we were in a hurry.

2) The file was converted all over the place! I recorded it at 24/44.1, but after the recording, I imported it into the song that he was playing to, which was recorded at 24/88.2, so I went ahead and let Cubase upsample the parts, which means it went through the crappy Cubase SRC program! (OUCH!) Then I converted it back to 16/44.1 for posting after the mixdown! What a mess!!!

So the files went:

24/44.1 -> 24/88.2
mixdown to stereo
24/88.2 -> 16/44.1

If I had been thinking clearly, I would have originally recorded the parts at 88.2 knowing that I was going to import them into that song, but this was just a quick and dirty test of the Zoom, not meant to be anything real.

Unfortunately, by doing it this way, I have probably mangled the file beyond recognition...

Oh well...

Here it is anyway:

http://www.helixrecording.com/Music/ZoomDrumTest_16.wav
Doublehelix
Frequent Poster
Posts: 913
Joined: Wed Dec 04, 2002 12:00 am


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests