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Advice sought on H4N settings for interview

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Mary Pratt
Advice sought on H4N settings for interview
on Jul 28, 2015 at 4:12:20 pm

Hello all,

I just upgraded my sound kit to an H4N and NTG3B, which I'd like to use for a one-person on-location interview for a documentary I'm shooting, but I'm not sure which settings on the H4N to use. I will only have one mic going into the H4N, the recorder will be battery-powered, and the interview will last no more than an hour.

Which H4N settings (recording mode and KHz/bit) would make sense for this setup? Any insights from the more experienced would be very appreciated. :)

Thank you,
Mary

http://goforwardfilms.com


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Allen Cavedo
Re: Advice sought on H4N settings for interview
on Jul 29, 2015 at 12:05:33 am

Nice mic.

Regarding set up for the H4n, read the manual, seriously, read it twice, then you become the expert.

I have used an H4n for about 4 years off and on mainly as a backup unit but it has saved my rear on several occasions in the field.

Press the INPUT 1 2 button so you can use your external mic in the XLR mic connector.

Select MODE STEREO.

I usually set FREQUENCY to 48kHz sample rate and 24 bit recording for anything I did because I usually ran a video camera of some sort and 48 kHz is what you want there. You can safely run at 16 bit recording because the mic pre-amps and inherent noise floor of the H4n do not provide 24 bits of resolution so why waste the file space? A 16 bit and 24 bit recording will sound exactly the same quality-wise. 24 bit recording is only useful when the electronics support that huge dynamic range (Sound Devices 702 for example) and the H4n does not.

REC SETTING -> REC FORMAT -> WAV48kHz/16bit, unless you know you want to record MP3 files for web use, then use 128 or 192 kbps.

Also a good idea to turn on Limiting to prevent signal clipping when unexpectedly loud sounds occur. INPUT SETTING -> COMP/LIMIT -> LIMIT1 or 2.

You will need to set PHANTOM to +48 to power the shotgun mic from the XLR input. You will either need a good supply of AA batteries or use the H4n AC power supply. Lithium AA or rechargeable AA Sanyo Eneloop batteries work well. But if you are only recording for an hour, you will be fine with one set of good new batteries.

Set INPUT SETTING -> MONO MIX ON if you want to have the one mic channel recorded in both Left and Right channels. You don't need to do this but typically it makes listening and editing easier.


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Allen Cavedo
Re: Advice sought on H4N settings for interview
on Jul 29, 2015 at 12:12:24 am

I meant to say, when setting record level for the mic, press REC once to go into standby mode. This turns on the pre-amps and the recording system and headphone output, but does not record yet. position the mic above the talent's head just out of frame, point mic at chest just below mouth. Have talent speak normally and adjust record level input so the meter bounces around -12 dB. Have talent speak as loudly as possibly will speak during interview (they always speak louder than in a test) and set max level so it does not go above -6. Press REC a second time to roll sound (record). Press the little square to STOP. Press > to play back recording.

You will have a nice recording.


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Mary Pratt
Re: Advice sought on H4N settings for interview
on Jul 29, 2015 at 12:26:13 am
Last Edited By Mary Pratt on Jul 29, 2015 at 12:46:18 am

Thanks so much, Allen, for the advice.

I had thought MONO MIX was the was the right choice, but wanted to make sure I was reading the manual correctly.

I hadn't read anything yet about the lack of difference between 16 and 24 bit until you pointed it out, so thanks for bringing that to my attention, too.

Really appreciate your help!

Best,
Mary


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Allen Cavedo
Re: Advice sought on H4N settings for interview
on Jul 29, 2015 at 1:09:08 pm

This is an in depth review of the H4n from a technical viewpoint.
http://www.kenrockwell.com/audio/zoom/h4n.htm

This is a review where Ken discusses the 24 vs. 16 bit setting which applies to the DR100 and even more so to the H4n.
http://kenrockwell.com/audio/tascam/dr-100mkii.htm

I recently upgraded to the DR-100mkII from the H4n.

The H4n was designed for musicians singing and playing a guitar which is why there are so many music related features. But the H4n when set up properly is just fine for your intended use.


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