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Old June 8th, 2010, 06:27 PM   #1
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Muddy Zoom H4n Audio - Ideas?

So I purchased a Zoom H4n this year to place on speakers during the ceremony and reception at weddings. I used to use an Olympus DVR for this, and the sound was generally great, but sometimes had clipping issues.

With the Zoom, I had pretty high expectations for great audio, especially given that you have control of the levels. But after 3 weddings I've found that my Zoom is delivering audio that is kind of 'muddy'. In other words, there's seems to be too much in the lows and not nearly enough in the highs. It sounds like I'm recording the audio from the room next door, through a wall ... if that makes sense.

Anyone else experience this? Any solutions?
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Old June 8th, 2010, 09:25 PM   #2
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If I read your post correctly, you're putting the H4n on top of the the speaker, not in front of the cones? If you are, that's the reason why you're getting muddy sound.
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Old June 8th, 2010, 11:43 PM   #3
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Warren, what I've been doing is placing the Zoom right on the edge so that the built-in mics hang over the edge of the speaker (right above the tweeter). So the Zoom is indeed on top of the speaker unit, with the mics hanging over the edge.

I guess I'm not understanding why I did this in the past with a digital voice recorder that has no level control and costs half as much, yet I got great results. It seems to me that the Zoom should be able to do just as well at least.
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Old June 9th, 2010, 02:40 AM   #4
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The way you've got the recorder laying down, would suggest that you are getting the pick up pattern aimed at the room. I used my H2 next to some speakers for a gig recording last year, with the mics off axis from the speakers. It sounded like I'd put the recorder in a cupboard.
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Old June 9th, 2010, 04:27 AM   #5
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Travis,
If I understand you correctly, your mics are hanging over the edge of the speaker, but the capsules are pointing away from the cone/tweeter? If so, that's the problem. The h4n mics are not omni directional. The mics must be pointing directly AT the sound source. In your case you're pointing away from the source. Your recording sounds like it's from another room because what you're actually recording now is the speaker's reflection off the opposite wall...or wherever the mics are pointed at. Think of the pair of mics as a pair of eyes. Whatever the eyes are looking at is what you're going to record.

Your Olympus DVR sounded fine because it's mics were omni directional, which means it didn't matter which way the recorder was facing.

H4n is different. You need to "aim" it at your sound source. You could try putting it on a light stand, in FRONT of the speaker with the mic capsules "looking" directly towards the cone/tweeter. Hope this makes sense.
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Old June 9th, 2010, 12:45 PM   #6
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You can do this very simple test to see what I mean about aiming the h4n. Hold the unit about a foot away from you, with mics pointing at you. Speak clearly, and as you continue talking, rotate the unit around 90 degrees, say you're at 90 degrees, then 180 degrees, and so on. When you play back, listen carefully to hear how clear it sounds on axis, and less so off axis. There is a big difference in sound quality.
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Old June 9th, 2010, 06:53 PM   #7
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Warren, that makes sense. Thanks for the explanation. Sounds like the only solution is to get the H4n in front of the speaker with the mic's aimed at the speaker. I had some others tell me to also put the Zoom at a 45-degree angle to the speaker stack. Again, thanks for the information. Very helpful!
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Old June 9th, 2010, 06:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adrian Frearson View Post
The way you've got the recorder laying down, would suggest that you are getting the pick up pattern aimed at the room. I used my H2 next to some speakers for a gig recording last year, with the mics off axis from the speakers. It sounded like I'd put the recorder in a cupboard.
Thanks! You are correct.
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Old June 9th, 2010, 07:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Travis Cossel View Post
I had some others tell me to also put the Zoom at a 45-degree angle to the speaker stack.
Yes, this is true because the "cross eyed" mics are offset 45 degrees relative to the line of sight. With the 45 degree setup, one mic is getting the speaker, the other is getting ambiance.

Here's something I've thought about but never tried yet: Mount the h4n on it's side, in front of the speaker. This way, one mic will be recording the tweeter, the other will be recording the woofer. Then mix in post to balance highs and lows. DJ systems vary quite a bit. Sometimes they're very heavy on the bass, sometimes not.
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Old June 9th, 2010, 11:19 PM   #10
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That's a fantastic idea, since I'm usually getting ambiance from a few other sound sources anyways. I'll try it out a week at the next wedding.
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Old June 10th, 2010, 07:18 AM   #11
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Hey Trav,

What I've done is used a bogen magic arm, clamp it to the speaker stand, mount the h4n on the business side of the arm, point it at the speaker, adjust the levels for whats coming out of the speaker, and wham bam, bobs your uncle.

Works pretty well when I have the luxury of a speaker stand other than just house mics. :S

BTW, Warren, did you ever get a chance to see the piece I shot with you in it? I was sent the edited piece (as I just shot it).
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Old June 10th, 2010, 02:20 PM   #12
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Randy baby, yeeaaaa! That sounds like a good plan. If the speaker isn't on a stand you could still mount the arm to a lightstand and have it next to the speaker. I also have a stand with a boom arm and I'm thinking about using that because I could set the stand up behind the speaker (out of the way of guests).

By the way, I did gaff-tape the H4n to a speaker stand (about 2-3 feet down from the speaker) at the last wedding reception and the sound came out better.
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Old June 10th, 2010, 02:33 PM   #13
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Why don't you just plug the h4n directly into the sound system?
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Old June 10th, 2010, 02:55 PM   #14
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Because Travis like myself very well might not trust who is running the board.
As you could easily have distorted audio or no audio at all during the night. You never know how capable a DJ might be and one could easily mess up your recording. After all he doesn't work for you or with you, so you really aren't on his mind while he's working the gig.

I am a control freak and like to have as much control over the shoot as possible. So I use self powered remote control lighting, and pre-placed off camera audio for capture. This way I get no surprises and can get a constant look and feel to my productions.
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Old June 10th, 2010, 02:56 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Panado View Post
Hey Trav,
BTW, Warren, did you ever get a chance to see the piece I shot with you in it? I was sent the edited piece (as I just shot it).
Yes, I saw it on Brad's website. Good job editing! I'm much better behind the camera than in front...lol
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