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Zoom H4n recording levels?

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Ross Williams
Zoom H4n recording levels?
on Sep 16, 2011 at 11:51:19 pm

I'm using the H4n to record audio to go with my Canon 7D footage. I have the Azden SGM-2X shotgun mic plugged into the XLR input on the bottom of unit. It seems to have recorded good clean sound. When I play the audio back it shows up from -24db to -6db while someone is talking, but the odd thing is, to my ear it just sounds a lot lower than what the little shotgun I have plugged into the 7D was picking up, which also plays in the -24db to -6db range. Also when I look at the waveforms... the 7D footage shows much thicker waveforms than what the H4n audio shows... almost like it barely recorded anything. Adding some gain to it helps a lot, but I don't want to have to always fix it in post.

I've tried it twice now, the first time I think I had the recording level on the H4n set at like 90% and the 2nd time I turned it all the way up to 100%. It didn't seem to make any difference. Is there something else I should be doing?

I've searched a lot for this question and can't find any info. Please help!

Thanks!


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Eric Toline
Re: Zoom H4n recording levels?
on Sep 17, 2011 at 12:53:53 pm

The Azden SGM 2x comes with two capsules, the shorter one is an omni capsule and the longer one is the very directional shotgun capsule. Which one are you using?

Eric


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Eric Toline
Re: Zoom H4n recording levels?
on Sep 17, 2011 at 1:14:47 pm

The Azden has a switchable low cut filter that rolls off the low end at 200hz by 6 db, make sure the filter is in the OFF position. That should help to "thicken" up your tracks.

Eric


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Ross Williams
Re: Zoom H4n recording levels?
on Sep 17, 2011 at 4:26:44 pm

I've been using the longer one.


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Jordan Wolf
Re: Zoom H4n recording levels?
on Sep 17, 2011 at 9:19:42 pm

Ross,

Can you post a sample of each microphone for us to listen to? That may be helpful.

Wolf
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Ross Williams
Re: Zoom H4n recording levels?
on Sep 19, 2011 at 12:19:49 am

Ok... I'll get a couple of samples up tomorrow. Thanks!


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Andrew Rendell
Re: Zoom H4n recording levels?
on Sep 19, 2011 at 12:04:40 pm

I think your assessment of one mic sounding fuller than the other is probably due to different frequency responses rather than levels. The difference between 90% and 100% in recording level really is very little, so I'm not surprised that it sounds the same.

As someone who sometimes fixes things in post, my opinion is that adding 6 to 10dB of gain and doing a little eq to match mics isn't "fixing" something, that's just regular post production.

But if you've got levels that are way out, you need to work through your recording chain carefully to find where the problem is.


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Ross Williams
Re: Zoom H4n recording levels?
on Sep 19, 2011 at 9:56:00 pm

I agree that it's just part of post-production and I don't mind fixing things, I expect too. I guess I just want to make sure I'm getting it right to begin with. I recently got the 7D and the H4n and just started the workflow of having audio tracks separate from my video... so it's new territory for me.

Here's a couple of very short samples and a screenshot of the what the waveforms look like in FCP:

http://xrats.net/test/waveforms.jpg - You can see here the waveforms for the H4n are much thinner.

From the 7D: http://xrats.net/test/audio-test-7D_1-2.aif

From the H4n: http://xrats.net/test/audio-test-H4n_1-2.aif

I think the H4n stuff sounds better, it's certainly much cleaner... but that's because of the better mic. I guess I was mostly freaking out visually, because I could barely see the waveforms when I imported them and I was afraid there was nothing there to work with.


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Eric Toline
Re: Zoom H4n recording levels?
on Sep 19, 2011 at 10:21:26 pm

There's very little low end on the 7D track so it sounds tinny. The H4n track sounds much better. Use the built in mic of the 7D to create a guide track for the H4n track so they will sync to picture with Pluraleyes.

Eric


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Ross Williams
Re: Zoom H4n recording levels?
on Sep 23, 2011 at 10:56:36 pm

So should I not be concerned about the "skinny" waveforms? Listening to it, it sounds fine. But somehow it just seems to be recording "less" sound than anything else I've ever used.


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Eric Toline
Re: Zoom H4n recording levels?
on Sep 24, 2011 at 5:45:37 am

You're recording sound not picture. Don't look at it, listen to it.

Eric


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