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Old April 19th, 2011, 10:08 PM   #1
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mixer into zoom H4n

To get a clean signal from a field mixer into a Zoom H4n, what's the best route? I have dual XLR outs from the mixer. Should I be looking at cables that are XLR female out from the mixer into a 1/4" male plug for the Zoom to bypass the Zoom's pre's? My mixer is line out only. Will this work? Tried it just running XLR out from the mixer and into the Zoom, dialed down the record level on each channel of the Zoom to around 0.5 or so, but I still get clipped audio when I try it out.
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Old April 19th, 2011, 11:58 PM   #2
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Re: mixer into zoom H4n

According to the H4n manual, the XLR inputs are balanced mic level, and the 1/4" inputs are unbalanced line level (sort of --- more on this below). If your mixer is line level output only, you should go to the Zoom 1/4" inputs.

Now... what are the actual levels involved? The H4n pdf manual says the unbalanced input level is "+2 dBm _ -32 dBm" but what does that mean? Does the underscore character mean that the input level range is from +2 dBm to -32 dBm? And if so, what do those levels represent? Clipping level? Nominal "zero" level? Or what?

Also, is the output from your mixer balanced or unbalanced? If balanced, is it transformer isolated, or is it active balanced? And what output level corresponds to zero on the mixer's meter?

The bottom line is that, without knowing answers to all the above questions, we can't exactly predict what sort of cable you need. Certainly it would be safest to connect the mixer's output pin 2 to the tip of the Zoom's 1/4" input. Leave mixer's output pin 3 unconnected; then if it's an active output you won't worry about driving that output into a dead short.

But depending on the mixer's output level and the Zoom's input sensitivity, you still might need to have a simple resistive pad inserted in your connecting cable(s). For example, if the mixer has a typical (slow) VU meter, and the mixer's output is +4dBm when the meter reads "zero VU" then you might easily have peaks 10 dB hotter than that, if not higher... in other words brief output peaks of +14 dBm or more. If the Zoom input clips at +2 dBm, then you would want at least a 12 dB pad in the connecting cable.

If you can't find specific information elsewhere, you might make a few test recordings, while watching the "clip" lights on the Zoom. If no reasonable combination of adjustments will stop them from flashing, then it's a safe bet that you need a pad in your connecting cables.
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Old April 20th, 2011, 02:48 AM   #3
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Re: mixer into zoom H4n

Do you happen to know whether the Zoom 1/4 inch inputs really bypass the preamp or just pad the level down?
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Old April 20th, 2011, 10:47 AM   #4
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Re: mixer into zoom H4n

Jim, I'm not 100% certain about that. I'm thinking I'll order a couple of these guys to test it with...
Hosa Technology MIT-435 - Female XLR Low-Z to Male MIT-435 B&H
Hopefully that will solve the clipping I've had so far.

Last edited by Andy Balla; April 20th, 2011 at 02:52 PM. Reason: typo!
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Old April 20th, 2011, 10:13 PM   #5
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Re: mixer into zoom H4n

Turns out I hadn't realized that my new mixer has switchable output, between mic and line. Once I got everything configured right it was all friendly. The 3 channel Twelco mixer plays nice with the Zoom H4n. Very pleased with the Twelco mixer so far, in home tests. Real shoot test is Saturday...
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Old June 8th, 2011, 07:13 AM   #6
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Re: mixer into zoom H4n

Andy.

I've just bought a 3 channel Twelco as well. Are you running mic level (XLR) out of the mixer into the H4N or did you manage to get a TA 5 connector for line out?

I'd usually try to get line out from the mixer and into the flash recorder, but my Tascam DR100 recorder has 3.5mm line in and I'm concerned about how robust 3.5mm connectors will be in the long run.

Thanks,

Ben.
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Old June 9th, 2011, 10:15 AM   #7
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Re: mixer into zoom H4n

Hi Ben. For now, I'm running mic level XLR's out to the recorder. Eventually, I'll look at using the TA-5 output to my recorder. That way I can run the XLR outs to camera, and the TA-5 to the recorder as a backup device. For the H4n, it would need to be a TA-5 out to dual 1/4" male at line level, I think. I'm also thinking about using the 10 pin Hirose as a send to camera and return for monitoring. Not even sure where to get such a cable, though. Need to research that...
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Old June 9th, 2011, 10:38 AM   #8
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Re: mixer into zoom H4n

Incidentally, Ben, how are you liking your Twelco. I couldn't be happier with mine. I looked into it, and Remote Audio makes a breakaway cable that uses the 10 pin output. I'll probably get one of those, and for the time being, use the XLR outputs for the backup recorder.
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