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How to use wireless lav with Zoom H4N

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Jordan Wilson
How to use wireless lav with Zoom H4N
on Aug 28, 2010 at 5:41:49 am

I just picked up the Shure PG14/185 wireless lav.

Also have the Zoom H4n.

Read through the Zoom manual, but it's a little hard to understand and I have a shoot in the morning.

I've ran a couple tests through, and the quality is really good. Problem is I'm getting a lot of hiss when I play it back (and it's mono, which I guess is easily fixable in FCP). I don't know why I'm picking up so much hiss from the lav. The recording from the onboard mics (obviously) has no hiss. The hiss is present from close distances to long distances. I have the windscreen on the mic itself. I've even tried enclosing the mic with my hands.
I went through in Soundtrack Pro and removed most of the hiss. Which is fine. I just want to avoid this process at all costs to streamline my workflow.

Here's what I know/what I've tried.

1. I'm recording in 4CH
2. I have the recording level set to auto (which I think may be one of the problems? Would manually setting the levels solve this?)
3. I've tried XLR out on the Shure to XLR in on input 1 and input 2 on the Zoom
4. I've tried 1/4 out on the Shure to 1/4 in on input 1 and input 2 on the Zoom
5. I've tried using both the XLR out and the 1/4 out on the Shure at the same time to XLR in and 1/4 in on the Zoom (this gives a recording in stereo)

So a few questions --

Is it possible to remove this hiss?
What should I do differently?
What settings are best on the Zoom when using a wireless lav?
Is it better to use the XLR, the 1/4 or both?

Thanks!


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John Fishback
Re: How to use wireless lav with Zoom H4N
on Aug 28, 2010 at 7:12:32 pm

I'd advise against using the auto setting because when the input signal is low it will automatically increase the gain possibly raising the noise level. Where you may be running into trouble is sending a mic-level signal (low) from the wireless receiver to a line-level input (expecting high) on the Zoom. In that case when you raise the gain (volume) you increase the signal, but also increase the hiss. You want to match output and input. So, if you send a mic-level from the receiver make sure the Zoom is set for mic-level in.

John

MacPro 8-core 2.8GHz 8 GB RAM OS 10.5.8 QT7.6.4 Kona 3 Dual Cinema 23 ATI Radeon HD 3870, 24" TV-Logic Monitor, ATTO ExpressSAS R380 RAID Adapter, PDE enclosure with 8-drive 6TB RAID 5
FCS 3 (FCP 7.0.2, Motion 4.0.2, Comp 3.5.2, DVDSP 4.2.2, Color 1.5.2)

Pro Tools HD w SYNC IO & 192 Digital I/O, Yamaha DM1000, Millennia Media HV-3C, Neumann U87, Schoeps Mk41 mics, Genelec Monitors, PrimaLT ISDN


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Lance Warren
Re: How to use wireless lav with Zoom H4N
on Apr 4, 2012 at 7:11:23 pm

Jordan,

Nearly two years after you posted this very good question, I'm wondering -- how have your tests and John's advice worked out? Have you been able to avoid that hiss during recording? Did you find the solution in setting the output volume and record volume to the same levels?

I'm having similar problems with hiss and wonder whether I have mismatched output and record levels, as John guessed, or if my wireless system simply has too low of a frequency (it's about 170 Mhz).

Thanks for any guidance you can offer.

Lance


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John Fishback
Re: How to use wireless lav with Zoom H4N
on Apr 5, 2012 at 1:14:33 am

The frequency used shouldn't affect the noise. But if the receiver isn't tuned to the same freq as the transmitter, you'd have noise similar to the sound of a radio just before you tune to a station. Another possibility is bad phantom power to the mic (if it needs it). If the mic uses a battery for power, check it.

John

MacPro 8-core 2.8GHz 8 GB RAM OS 10.5.8 QT7.6.4 Kona 3 Dual Cinema 23 ATI Radeon HD 3870, 24" TV-Logic Monitor, ATTO ExpressSAS R380 RAID Adapter, PDE enclosure with 8-drive 6TB RAID 5
FCS 3 (FCP 7.0.3, Motion 4.0.3, Comp 3.5.3, DVDSP 4.2.2, Color 1.5.3)

Pro Tools HD w SYNC IO & 192 Digital I/O, Yamaha DM1000, Millennia Media HV-3C, Neumann U87, Schoeps Mk41 mics, Genelec Monitors, PrimaLT ISDN


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Lance Warren
Re: How to use wireless lav with Zoom H4N
on Apr 5, 2012 at 2:23:51 am

Thanks, John. It's good to know that the frequency shouldn't affect the noise. The thing is, I'm getting nice, round, detailed audio from this setup, but there is a hiss floor that I can't seem to prevent during recording.

The one time recently when I captured clean audio, it only sounded hiss-free when the peaks were between -20 and -30 (as they were in the raw track). When I raised the levels for the web -- a recent video series I completed is being delivered only online -- the silence turned into a constant hiss.

To possibly complicate matters a bit, I'm finding this problem with my wireless lav system (Audio Technica Pro-88W) and a wired, handheld mic (Shure SM58). While the former is admittedly a bit humble, I'm under the impression that the Shure is actually a very good mic -- so I'm particularly confused.


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