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Old March 22nd, 2010, 06:09 PM   #1
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Zoom H4n - very tiny on the sony vegas timeline

HI,
I just recently bought a H4n and when I drag it on the timeline, it is really tiny.
The audio quality is great but, I the waveforms are really small.

I just want to know if this is normal?

thanks,
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Old March 22nd, 2010, 08:54 PM   #2
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The waveforms are tiny because you've recorded low-volume audio. . You can turn up your recording levels (so long as it doesn't produce more of a noise floor next time.

For your current project, you can right click on properties and choose "Normalize." and if that's not loud enough, you can increase the volume using the slider for that track.
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Old March 22nd, 2010, 09:46 PM   #3
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That would indicate a fairly low recording level. Not unusual when you're setting record levels conservatively.

This is mostly my opinion, as different recordists have different approaches that work for them:
"conservative" puts peaks at -18 or -20.
"normal" (quite debatable) puts peaks at -12.
"aggressive" puts peaks at -6 (better be using the H4n's built-in limiter).
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Old March 22nd, 2010, 10:18 PM   #4
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Do most of u set it on manual levels or auto levels?
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Old March 23rd, 2010, 08:34 AM   #5
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I always set my levels manually.
I also tend to record with higher levels because I'm controlling the signal sent to the H4n using an external mixer and an external compressor. The external compressor is set with a high threshold to act as a soft limiter with little or no compression on regular program levels.
I also engage the H4n's on-board limiter.
I routinely run peaks to -6 or even a little hotter, but I can do that safely with the equipment I use and I'm the one personally controlling the feed.
I wouldn't recommend running that hot otherwise and would say keep your peaks above -12. You must record safely (not overdriving the inputs or hitting 0 recording level), but unless you have very low-noise mics and a quiet environment, boosting the levels a lot in post-production will raise the noise levels that are in your original recording. So it takes some experience and practice with each new project to hit a happy medium.
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Old March 23rd, 2010, 11:01 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean Seah View Post
Do most of u set it on manual levels or auto levels?
Manual all the time. Automatic might be good for reference audio sometimes, certainly not for production audio.

What Jay wrote above closely matches my experience and practices across all digital audio recorders.
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Old March 23rd, 2010, 11:29 AM   #7
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Normalise Audio in Vegas

If you right click on the audio clip on the time line, select SWITCHES >> NORMALIZE

That should make the waveform bigger and louder, it will only do anything as long as there is no large peak preventing it.
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Old March 23rd, 2010, 11:41 AM   #8
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Im just worrie that I will get clipped audio if I increase the record levels to almost close the maximum.

Thanks for the tips guys! I will definitely try this one out!
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Old March 23rd, 2010, 07:51 PM   #9
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We discuss this in another thread -- I'm guessing you had the Zoom on Auto Levels. When you do this it lowers the recording levels in response to loud sounds but never turns it back up. When I do this the waveforms are close to zero by the end of the show.

"Normalize" doesn't always work because there may be a loud peak at the beginning, which the Normalize function would use as a reference. I find I have to razor the clip every time it ratchets down a notch and Normalize each segment individually. By the end of my last project, Normalize was boosting the last clip by +42 dB.

Use Manual, and to avoid clipping use the Compressor or Limiter function.

Auto Levels on Zoom H4n
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Old March 24th, 2010, 01:11 AM   #10
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Yeah Adam is right, I do use the auto levels when recording wedding ceremonies. I use an external PAD (-25dB) to limit the ceiling levels to prevent the signals from getting to hot but it looks like I should go on manual levels.

I too realise the normalise function doesnt work well because of the reasons Adam said. I will boost the volumes. Only thing is I have not found it possible to boost the vol of individual audio clips with plugins. Can it be done? I can only do it at track level now
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Old March 24th, 2010, 10:04 AM   #11
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In Vegas you can right-click an audio event and select "Apply Non-Real-Time-Event-FX".
Then add the "Volume" plug-in from the list and set it appropriately while listening to a looping playback. Then save the resulting change to the event.
However it is smoother to insert a "Volume Envelope" to the track and rubber-band the volume levels throughout the program as needed. That's more work of course but you have full control over the smooth progression (or sharp dipping) of audio levels.
It's one of the last steps I do in a project after adding music.
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