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Old March 31st, 2009, 04:03 PM   #76
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So a $6.99 adapter can give me the same capability (with a non-Sony recorder, of course) as the Sony adapter?

It appears to be so.

You are referring to this, I assume:

"The optional XLR-1 mic adapter ($499.95) runs on four AA batteries, providing phantom-powered XLR inputs. It bolts to the back of the D50."

Wow. I think someone at Sony seriously misjudged their market this time.

Yes, phantom power is built in to the MicroTrack, H4n, and others. I think I need to sit down after reading that price ;-)

I agree with Rick about the cabling on the MicroTrack. I would probably solder two right angle plugs to a couple feet of lightweight Mogami twin pair, so as not to stress the connectors.

-Mike
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Old March 31st, 2009, 04:58 PM   #77
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Dan:

I agree with you, when I had the H4, the best recordings were line level in using an outboard mixer. Mic input as you mentioned was pretty noisy.

So far I've only tried the onboard H4N mics and subjectively it sounds better than the same recording with the H4 onboard mics. I don't have the H4 anymore, so I can't do more side by side recording/listening.

Ergonomically, the H4N is so much better though.

Sounds like from a later msg that you are now convinced and ordered one!
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Old April 1st, 2009, 05:11 AM   #78
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No, that's specifically for the Sony recorder. The Sony XLR-1 mic adapter. It's $450 and is as big as the recorder itself. Crazy.

So a $6.99 adapter can give me the same capability (with a non-Sony recorder, of course) as the Sony adapter?
The Sony adapter is an actual phantom power supply and preamp add-on for the recorder, not just a cable connector adapter, hence the much higher price, but it's true, the bottom line is the same. The Microtrack provides phantom on its TRS jacks but the Sony recorder doesn't have a phantom supply, hence the need for the circuitry in the XLR-1 to add it on. The XLR-1 is more akin to a Juicedlink than it is to a cable adapter. As to whether the $6.99 adapter will work with to connect an XLR mic to any non-Sony recorder, it all hinges on whether the mic has an internal battery for power and/or the recorder in question provides phantom. In the case of the Microtrack, it works because the recorder's TRS inputs are 1/4 inch, balanced, mic-level, with phantom. This actualy is quite unusual - 1/4 inch inputs are most often line level and may be either balanced for device interconnects or high-impedence, unbalanced instrument inputs intended to work with guitar pickups and the like.
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Old April 1st, 2009, 06:44 AM   #79
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...Sony adapter is an actual phantom power supply and preamp

You would think so. But read closely the description.

No preamp. Transformers. Totally passive device for the audio.

At that price, they had better be some top of the line Jensen transformers in there, too.

Pretty limited market for this, I should think, since you can buy a Fostex FR2LE for $600. And those two together seem to be pushing size and weight for a 'handheld' just a bit.

-Mike
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Old April 1st, 2009, 11:44 AM   #80
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Zoom has responded on the BWF timestamp issue with "our technicians are looking into it".

I remain hopeful!

Further use of the H4n has confirmed my initial impressions and more:

The new display is nothing short of awesome - you really can see the meters and status from several feet away, even with old eyes like mine. As with the H4, I've switched the display light to "on", which of course uses more battery. The factory default switches off the light after 15 seconds.

That teeny built-in speaker is very handy for quick recording checks.

The 3.5mm mic input worked with ease - just plug a mic in, select plugin power if needed, and away you go. I ran some recordings with a small sony MS mic that was very popular in the minidisc era - it worked just fine.

I've been a little hesitant about the lack of pads for input attenuation. Haven't had a chance to properly benchmark this, but at this point I've recorded moderately loud sound with the internal mics, with the sony mic mentioned above, with a condensor instrument mic using phantom, and with a dynamic Shure SM58. I found recording levels between 50 and 70 to be entirely adequate. So far, I've not needed any padding - the condensor mic was close-micing a loud instrument; I'll speculate that turning on phantom may engage a 12db pad, as condensors tend to run hotter than dynamics, but don't really know - will test that one of these days, as well as the 1/4" inputs (which were the only way to appropriately bring in line-level on the H4).

Menus have proved to be very intuitive, a great redesign. I can find stuff when I need it very quickly, and the old thumbwheel that is used for selection of menu items is greatly improved and very quick to use.

The "stamina" mode is a good thing! Unfortunately, it restricts you to recording wav/bwf at 16/44. It would be nice for use video guys and gals if it would also work at 16/48. But yes, it does (about) double battery life.

I found radioshack parts to build an external high-capacity NiMH battery pack that was so handy for the old H4 - this is not going to be quite as easy for the H4n. Of course 5v NiMH packs do exist, you just don't find them at radioshack, apparently there are some RC aircraft control systems that run off 5v. Web sellers have the batts, but I'll be checking RC/hobby shops.

The Linder blog referenced above takes issue with the SD cardslot door. I tried to eject the card with the door closed - it can be done, but on my H4n it takes a very deliberate action, a hard push with a thumbnail directly in the center of the door. I don't think this is going to be a problem, at least for my use.

All in all I am very happy with features & the results of the limited use I've done so far.
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Old April 1st, 2009, 12:00 PM   #81
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Originally Posted by Mike Demmers View Post
...Sony adapter is an actual phantom power supply and preamp

You would think so. But read closely the description.

No preamp. Transformers. Totally passive device for the audio.

At that price, they had better be some top of the line Jensen transformers in there, too.

Pretty limited market for this, I should think, since you can buy a Fostex FR2LE for $600. And those two together seem to be pushing size and weight for a 'handheld' just a bit.

-Mike
On re-reading, you're right. They state "Totally passive signal path" BUT it does provide the 48v phantom as well so there is a power supply in there. It better be a darned good along with the best transformers made for that price!
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Old April 2nd, 2009, 07:30 AM   #82
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The 3.5mm mic input worked with ease - just plug a mic in, select plugin power if needed, and away you go. I ran some recordings with a small sony MS mic that was very popular in the minidisc era - it worked just fine.

Please confirm this: you can turn the 'plugin power' off?
If so, that means this could be used as a general purpose input. With a resistive pad, as a line input. With something like a JT-13K6-C transformer ( JENSEN TRANSFORMERS, INC. - MICROPHONE INPUT TRANSFORMERS ), a quiet, balanced, dynamic mic input. (You get 13 db of 'free' noiseless gain this way.) No phantom, but it doesn't cost $499.95 either. ;-)

No input pad - Lots of mics have pads built in, plus this is a cheap and simple thing to add to the cable anyway. Not a serious worry to me.

This keeps looking better.

-Mike
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Old April 2nd, 2009, 10:40 AM   #83
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Originally Posted by Mike Demmers View Post
The 3.5mm mic input worked with ease...

Please confirm this: you can turn the 'plugin power' off?...
If so, that means this could be used as a general purpose input...a quiet, balanced, dynamic mic input.
I'm talking about the Zoom H4n here:
Yes, the plugin power is defaulted to "off", it can be turned on in the menus (right next to phantom power controls).
The H4n has a good assortment of inputs - 3.5mm "consumer", dual XLR, dual 1/4", as well as its two built in cardoid xy mics. The XLRs provide dual "nice quiet dynamic mic inputs"!

As to using the 3.5mm as a general purpose input, I suppose so, if the signal is at the right level - but then we've also got those 1/4" inputs which were very handy on the original H4.

Regarding built-in pads - I'm trying to apply my experience from the original H4, which had three levels of pad (H, M, L) on the internal mics and the external inputs, which were very much needed because the recording level control was awful. Now, on the H4n, we've got recording level control which seems to be pretty good... my hope is that I won't need padding, internal or external, period. Will probably work on this over the weekend.
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Old April 7th, 2009, 07:28 AM   #84
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Finally put my $ on the H4n 3 hrs ago and its a BLAST. The onboard mic works pretty well so far, picking up voices clearly even with a loud TV blasting in the background. It also works perfectly with the condensor AKG-3000B. There is an option for mono mix so I can record on 2 channels in stereo mode directly into it, making it a portable Voice over station!

Still trying to figure out if auto of fixed rec levels is better. I must say I'm very pleased with it so far. Built quality is good and price is reasonable. The only thing is it doesnt come with the mini tripod stand by default. But you could get a great package with that on Ebay.
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Old April 7th, 2009, 09:54 PM   #85
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I'm enjoying my H4N as well. Since I play first and read manual later. It's been all the joy of exploration the past day or two. I'm amazed at how much you get for the money - not only feature wise, but quality wise. As a GUI/SUI SME by trade, it's great to see someone in electronics getting the user interface right for a change. It's not perfect but better than the rest and Sony is always a PAIN IMHO.
Just tested it doing some VO. Will grab some field recordings to back up my crappy HV20 takes.

For VO I use my DIY version of the PortaBooth and I picked up a terrific tripod from Amazon that is a height adjustable desk mike as well. Make & Model on request since I can't remember it.

I'll make a 'deadkitten' wind cheater for this next.
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Old April 8th, 2009, 11:22 AM   #86
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Originally Posted by Sean Seah View Post
Finally put my $ on the H4n 3 hrs ago and its a BLAST. The onboard mic works pretty well so far, picking up voices clearly even with a loud TV blasting in the background. It also works perfectly with the condensor AKG-3000B. There is an option for mono mix so I can record on 2 channels in stereo mode directly into it, making it a portable Voice over station!

Still trying to figure out if auto of fixed rec levels is better. I must say I'm very pleased with it so far. Built quality is good and price is reasonable. The only thing is it doesn't come with the mini tripod stand by default. But you could get a great package with that on Ebay.
Funny you should mention that because my Ebay purchased H4n arrived today (along with mini tripod and 16GB Transcend SDHC card).

I agree with all that has been said so far, as the pre amps do appear improved, the construction and display are MUCH better and robust, manual controls are easily accessible now. And most important the circuitry seems to be laid out properly. So when you adjust teh level input down, then the input gain actually is lowered. So if your audio clips, do this will prevent clipping, rather than giving you lower recorded clipped audio like with the H4 or H2. This might be why there are no L/M/H gain switches on the unit. I must say though that I like the option of having switchable gain on the unit. I'm going to have to do some testing to see which Limiter setting (I have heard Limiter 2 Concert) is best for loud environments.

I am curious of one thing though. I am planning to use the H4n to record PA stacks at receptions, and also use the onboard mics to record ambient reaction audio. I plan on using the 1/8 "Line Out" port to send a wireless feed to my camera for backup/sync purposes. I wonder if I am recording in 4 Channel mode (using 2 mics and built in mics), which signal is being sent out of the "Line Out". Is it a mixed down 4 channel or simply 2 channel from either the onboard mics or XLR/1/8 input. If it send the onboard mics only, then that would suck, and do me no good, as I would want the miced PA stack and not the crowd reaction onbaord mics. If it's a mixed down 4 channel, then that's ok.

Gonna have to test this one.
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Old April 8th, 2009, 01:54 PM   #87
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Also check the line out to see if it contains any delay since your intention is to send that signal to the camera. A significant delay would require slipping the camera audio in relation to the matching video when you edit.
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Old April 8th, 2009, 04:02 PM   #88
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Interesting thought on the delay. Would be easy to fix in post, but I wonder as well. I also wonder how well the audio recorded to the unit inself will stay in sync over time with the audio from the camera. Time will tell............

Ben
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Old April 8th, 2009, 07:15 PM   #89
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Well, I don't rely on using very long stretches of audio for my edits.
So, even though sync is easy t do in post, I don't worry about drift too often.

As for delay, his is also not a concern, as I'm not working with timecode for the audio from the H4n and my camera. I simply line up the waveforms in my NLE and I'm good to go.
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Old April 8th, 2009, 08:09 PM   #90
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What I think Jay meant by delay was not recorder to camera delay, but actual delay of the audio track on the video itself. If the audio is being delayed at the H4 and then sent over the wireless to the camera it may be out enough to cause a lip sync issue. Still fixable, but I have never had to adjust the audio track from the camera's sound to match the video track from the same camera. But in this case I think its possible to have to if its delayed enough. Though I have never heard of it being and issue.

Ben
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