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Old August 6th, 2007, 10:03 PM   #1
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Advice on the zoom h4, M-Audio Multitrack 24/96

I am going to be using this for short films. I don't have a mixer and I would prefer not to record to camera. Are one of these a good substitute? I like the portability and the fact that they record to both WAV and MP3. I am leaning more towards the Zoom because of the XLR inputs. Now, I have also read that some people are buying the iRiver and using that, but I wonder how much of a difference am I going to get with an $80.00 iRiver or a $400.00 Zoom h4?
Any experiences using any of the above with films?
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Old August 6th, 2007, 11:38 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by David Delaney View Post
I wonder how much of a difference am I going to get with an $80.00 iRiver or a $400.00 Zoom h4?
Any experiences using any of the above with films?
I own both an iRiver and the Zoom H4. The H4 is pretty good unit for the price, but it has a couple of significant drawbacks that need to be worked around:

- The clock on the H4 is about 5 seconds slow per hour, which means that you will have to correct for this in post. ( the iRiver keeps almost perfect time )

- When running on internal batteries, the H4 often produces a -40 dB beep on any settings other than 96K 24bit. Switch to an external battery pack, and everything is fine. I built a 6 C-cell battery pack for less than $10, that powers the H4 and one 48v phantom mic for 28+ hours. ( yes it's klunky, but it works quite well )

...Once you've worked around these two issues, the H4 records great sound with external mics. ( the built-in mics are ok, but not great )

It's definitely a fragile and finicky piece of equipment, but so is everything in it's price range.
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Old August 7th, 2007, 02:39 AM   #3
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Hi David.............

I don't know why you don't want to record to the camera, but it's usually always the best option for two channels, if it can be done, at least it's in sync!

The H4: (I have one). Gotta go with Guy on this, it's clunky and only really usable with external mic's, which would be better suited plugged straight into the camera, rather than the H4. I personally have not experienced the "beep" problem with the unit, but it is well documented.

Can't comment on the other unit as don't have one, never seen one.

As for Wav & MP3 files, well, if you're serious about your sound for films, do not go there.

If you're after a "good all rounder" for sound recording, that's a different story, but for video sound, IMPO, you can't beat the "straight to cam" option if it is available. May not be Warner Bros. but it's better than un- synced off a cheap external recorder, with all the problems that entails.

I've tried to sync the H4 tracks to video and given it a big swerve, hey, life's only so long, and I ain't getting any younger (I'm also the worst video editor in the entire Universe, so don't let that deter you).

CS
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Old August 7th, 2007, 07:18 AM   #4
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I am going to be using this for short films. I don't have a mixer and I would prefer not to record to camera. Are one of these a good substitute? ...?

I gotta go with Guy and Chris ... unless your camera has appalling audio it just doesn't make sense to go double system with either one of those devices. IMHO, your money would be much better spent investing in a mixer and other soound gear so you can really optimize the audio going to your camera.
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Old August 7th, 2007, 10:12 AM   #5
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Additionally, the H4 (just like a camera) is much easier to feed using a mixer rather than adjusting the onboard controls. So I agree that a small, high-quality mixer is more important first than an outboard recorder for most situations.
There's a lot in the chain from the windscreen all the way to the headphones attached to the camera that will be more important than an outboard audio recorder for most short films, unless you're doing a lot of stedicam shots.
So try for the best possible audio recording to your camera. It will pay a lot of dividends during post-production.

I'd also like to know for sure whether I'm just missing it or if the H4 really doesn't have any way to set a time of day clock in order to keep organization while doing double system?
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Old August 7th, 2007, 10:33 AM   #6
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I'd also like to know for sure whether I'm just missing it or if the H4 really doesn't have any way to set a time of day clock in order to keep organization while doing double system?
Ah yes, no date stamping on the files the H4 creates, which makes sorting multiple takes a bit of a pain.

It would be nice if Zoom came out with a pro vesion of the H4 that fixed all of these problems, but I'm not holding my breath.
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Old August 7th, 2007, 10:54 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Guy McLoughlin View Post
- The clock on the H4 is about 5 seconds slow per hour, which means that you will have to correct for this in post. ( the iRiver keeps almost perfect time )
- When running on internal batteries, the H4 often produces a -40 dB beep on any settings other than 96K 24bit. Switch to an external battery pack, and everything is fine. I built a 6 C-cell battery pack for less than $10, that powers the H4 and one 48v phantom mic for 28+ hours. ( yes it's klunky, but it works quite well )
Mine is about one second slow per hour but there is an easy tutorial on this site to correct this afterwards, once you have determined how much slower it exactly runs compared to your camera you can correct it within 2 minutes after each recording.

I have not heared any "beep" sound yet, now I use 2 AA lr6 1,5 volt batteries and they last for about 3 hours.
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