Preamp noise comparison of field recorder (Zoom H4/H4n and Edirol R-4) at DVinfo.net

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Old December 24th, 2009, 01:47 PM   #1
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Preamp noise comparison of field recorder (Zoom H4/H4n and Edirol R-4)

For those interested I have recently made a comparison of the three recorders:
Field Recorder Preamp Noise
Comments welcome.
Martin
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Old December 25th, 2009, 08:00 PM   #2
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Both Zooms showed quite a bit of very low frequency noise, mostly due to SD-card access and other internal controller circuits. Some recordings also had a notable DC-offset. I applied a 50 Hz 24dB/oct roll-off filter to see what difference that would make. It turned out the filtered noise was a lot better. I would definitely recommend using this all the time with the Zooms.
The Edirol R-4 showed no such problems and a low-pass filter makes little difference on this unit.
You don't compare the preamp noise between the H4 and H4N. Or if I read it correctly there is no difference? You conclude the Edirol R4 performance was superior. Well I should hope so considering the R4 costs $2,000+ more. While I appreciate you taking the time to post the review I'm not sure what value it has considering the devices are not even remotely in the same class.
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Old December 26th, 2009, 02:25 AM   #3
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Well, If you read more carefully you might find that I am comparing the preamp noise between H4 and H4n in great detail. That is the whole purpose of the test...
The Edirol R4 is NOT superior to the Zooms. Its noise is about the same level. Just the type of noise is 'better' - read: cleaner. But the R4 (not the R4 pro) does not cost 2000$ more. It sells now for about 1000 incl. VAT.
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Old December 26th, 2009, 11:20 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Martin Doppelbauer View Post
Well, If you read more carefully you might find that I am comparing the preamp noise between H4 and H4n in great detail. That is the whole purpose of the test...
The Edirol R4 is NOT superior to the Zooms. Its noise is about the same level. Just the type of noise is 'better' - read: cleaner.
sorry wasn't clear to me
Quote:
But the R4 (not the R4 pro) does not cost 2000$ more. It sells now for about 1000 € incl. VAT.
Zoom | H4n
Edirol / Roland | R-4
$2,295 (R4) - $299 (H4N) = $1,996
The H4 is even cheaper. Its fair to say no matter what currency you would like to put it in they are worlds apart.
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Old December 27th, 2009, 01:29 AM   #5
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Pete, please look at the R-4 and not the R-4pro: R-4 Four Channel Portable Recorder and WAVE Editor
The R-4 doesn't seem to be available from B&R any more. In Europe, the R-4 is now selling for 995 Euros (it used to be 1200 when it was new) while the H4n is 345. The R-4pro (which I don't own) sells for 2099.

Anyway, I have now added a comparison of the harmonic distortions when recording line signals over the unbalanced 1/4" TSR inputs and the result was an eye opener.
It turned out the R-4 (not the pro ;-) produces very, very low harmonics but the H4n was a disaster.
At the lowest recording level setting (1) the harmonics were at a level of -45 dBFS, which can clearly be heard in the recording. This is unusable for me.
Only after the record level was increased to a setting of 40 (and the input level reduced accordingly) the harmonics came down below -60 dBFS. This is far from excellent but at least acceptable.
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Old December 27th, 2009, 09:44 AM   #6
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Sorry if my comments came off as harsh. I need things to be broken down into less technical terms when it comes down to audio. It be nice if you had audio samples comparing each. I'd be more interested to know whether the mic pre amp in the H4N is better than the H4 when using either the internal mics or the xlrs. I use the H4 to record unattended and find that the H4 preamp gets overloaded very easily, which then leads me to set the preamp to low, which then needs lots of post amplification leading to noise.
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Old December 27th, 2009, 11:33 AM   #7
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Hi Martin. Thank you for the detailed report. I am trying to utilize the 50HZ 24db roll off filter as you suggested, but I cannot locate it in the menu setting of my H4n. I am still trying to understand the operation manual. Would you kindly assist me.
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Old December 31st, 2009, 06:53 PM   #8
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Dennis,
the H4N does not have a 50 Hz roll-off filter. I'm sorry if that didn't come out clearly in my report. I applied this filter later in my computer using Apple's Soundtrack Pro software.
But you can use pretty much any DAW-software (Logic, Soundforge, ...) - they all have roll-off filters.
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Old December 31st, 2009, 10:38 PM   #9
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Martin

Thank you for the comparison tests. I found the results very interesting. It confirmed a lot of the admittedly unscientific feelings I've had about my Sony d-50.
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Old January 2nd, 2010, 11:44 AM   #10
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Martin
Thank you for making this clear. I will take your advice when editing.
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Old August 14th, 2010, 04:42 AM   #11
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forgive me

Martin,

I reviewed your comparison and I need to say that your harmonic distortion test is flawed. (not that you meant to)

The H4N does not have ANY line inputs at all. The XLR combo jack is either MIC level or Instrument (HI-Z level). I've searched the manual, and no where does it state the combo jack supports a line level signal.

I even searched on B&H, Sweewater, and ZZounds for evidence that the H4N support line level, however I did not find such.
I've even attached a pic which shows the entire unit, but does not list a Line Input.

I wanted to make sure I wasn't being a complete butthead, so I researched the Sony PCM-D50 & Edirol R-4, and for those specific models, they DO directly support line level signals. This of course skews the test.

As an H4N owner, I bought the H4N KNOWING it could not directly support a line level signal.

Just wanted to bring it to your attention.
Attached Thumbnails
Preamp noise comparison of field recorder (Zoom H4/H4n and Edirol R-4)-h4n_27-1-.jpg  
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