so so results from Zoom. What am i doing wrong? at DVinfo.net

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Old October 6th, 2011, 11:23 PM   #1
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so so results from Zoom. What am i doing wrong?

I've had a Zoom H4 for sometime and am generally happy with it. The build quality is rubbish and the ergonomics fiddly but i picked it up on ebay half price so i can't complain. I believe this model has now been replaced by an N version that looks a lot better build and ergonomics, but for now i'm happy to soldier on with the old version.

Unfortunately, whenever i record interviews through a lapel mic i get extremely low recording levels, even though it sounds fine through my headphones. I'm able to bump up the volume in post using normalisation filters etc, and end up with usable results but clearly i'm doing something wrong.

Here's what i'm doing:

Shooting at 25p on 5d mkii and capturing the audio separately to the H4.

Sennheisser lapel mic is plugged in to XLR input 1 via mini jack to xlr adapter.

Input 1 switch on the side is set to Medium

Settings for lapel mic set up.

48/16
source - In1&2
Input level - -6db (only channel 1 has the meter working)
phantom - +48v
monitor - off
auto gain - off
comp/limit - off

I'm also getting low recording levels for the onboard mic recordings (i'm filming classical music concerts with interviews cut in and the device is around 6-8 feet from the grand piano at the front of the stage). The settings are as above except i have input set to Mic and the phantom power off. Levels are set to -12. The switch on the side saying Mic is set to Medium gain.

Hope there's enough info here to get advice on where i'm going wrong, and thanks in advance to anyone who has the time to help out.

Dom
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Old October 7th, 2011, 04:42 AM   #2
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Re: so so results from Zoom. What am i doing wrong?

Alarm bells started going off when you said you were using a lapel mic with a miniplug to XLR adapter. Is the mic from a wireless set where the miniplug originally would have plugged into a Sennheiser wireless transmitter? Exactly what kind of adapter to you have? Is it something like the Rode VXLR that is a simple straight-through cable adapter or is it a XLR phantom power supply such as this one from Sennheiser Sennheiser USA - Phantom Power Adapter, MZA 900 P - Professional Audio ? Your phantom voltage on the XLR output is 48 volts. The mic capsule is expecting about 3 volts for its power. A simple passive cable adapter won't work properly, you need a proper power supply module to drop the phantom down to the voltage the mic needs and send it to up the right wires to the capsule

Setting or quoting levels by the displayed manual input level setting numbers is meaningless ... what counts are the meter readings when recording.

You can't judge recording levels with headphones. Let's say it sounds too soft in your phones. Is that because it is being recorded too low or is it an artifact because your headphone output volume is set too low? There's no way to know which it is
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Old October 8th, 2011, 03:22 AM   #3
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Re: so so results from Zoom. What am i doing wrong?

Hi Steve. Thanks for getting back. The adapter i have is from a company called Canford and the model no is 20-769 2 wire
Here's a link to the page:

CANFORD ELECTRET MICROPHONE ADAPTER 3.5mm jack

Thanks for any help

D
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Old October 8th, 2011, 08:24 AM   #4
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Re: so so results from Zoom. What am i doing wrong?

That oughta work as it is a power supplty as I was referring to above. Again, saying your level is set to -6 or -12 and the mic switch is on medium doesn't actually convey any useful information. The correct settings for those adjustments depends on the mic output level (for your external mic) and the loudness of the sound source. There is no 'one size fits all' setting for a certain type of situation. For your lav, different people will speak at different levels and your input gain setting will have to be adjusted individually for each one of them. Think of the mic switch setting as being a coarse adjustment for the mic type to get you into the range where you can use the input level control to hit the right mark. When the person you are recording is speaking normally, the meter should be hitting around -12dBFS, maybe a little hotter if you don't anticipate they'll have any sudden loud levels you need to leave room for. Set your input level numbers so that's what you see on the meter.

Forget trying to set initial levels by listening in the headphones, it can't be done reliably that way because what you hear is dependent on the headphone volume control ... with certain combinations of low input gain and high playback level settings, for example, you could be recording too low for the file and yet it sound too loud in your headset, prompting you turn down the input even more. Monitoring on cans is so you can catch problems as the take progresses. Once you know what the original optimal setting sounds like at your preferred listening levels, you can monitor for excursions from that and ride gain accordingly but your initial setup needs to be via the meter.
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Old October 8th, 2011, 12:53 PM   #5
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Re: so so results from Zoom. What am i doing wrong?

Thanks Steve. I think perhaps i'm paying too much attention to the headphones, which as you say, are unreliable.
Thanks for your helpful reply.
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