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Old May 4th, 2015, 12:12 AM   #1
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H4n no longer in wide use by industry?

One of my friends had a chat with a sound designer for video games and he said the H4n is no longer industry standard for sound acquisition.

I was going to get an H4n for any situations where I'm hired on a DSLR shoot (very common nowadays) but with it no longer being industry standard, I'm wondering what is the new industry standard portable recorder?
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Old May 4th, 2015, 07:12 AM   #2
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Re: H4n no longer in wide use by industry?

The H4n has been replaced by the H5 and H6, depending on how many inputs you need.

And the preamps are significantly better in the H5/H6, I definitely recommend one of those over the H4n.
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Old May 4th, 2015, 12:43 PM   #3
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Re: H4n no longer in wide use by industry?

IMHO, all the a above are hobbyist level, with prices to match.
Though, in the hands of a pro audio person... VMMV.
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Old May 5th, 2015, 06:28 PM   #4
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Re: H4n no longer in wide use by industry?

What brand other than Zoom would be considered industry standard at the moment? And I need 2 opinions: A freelancer's opinion and a sound guy's opinion.

My budget is $300. If there's nothing better than Zoom, I'll seriously consider the H5.
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Old May 5th, 2015, 06:37 PM   #5
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Re: H4n no longer in wide use by industry?

Why is it so important that it is "industry standard" if the h4n does what it needs to do for your purpose?
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Old May 5th, 2015, 06:48 PM   #6
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Re: H4n no longer in wide use by industry?

I think Sound Devices has been a standard with the pros for years. I see more of that than any brand of stuff in the audio bags of the guys working it day in and day out.
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Old May 5th, 2015, 07:20 PM   #7
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Re: H4n no longer in wide use by industry?

I agree with Chris, Sound Devices is the "industry standard" for pros. Just imagine that you're doing the sound for "24". Jack Bauer whispers his dialog. You need a very clean recorder to capture good whispers.

Zoom and Tascam share a good piece of the hobbyist/indie market. $300 is about right. The quality is very good for the money, but not great.

In the gap, we bought the Fostex FR-2LE. It's quite clean and can be even cleaner with some 3rd party mods. That said, compared to a Sound Devices product, the Fostex is flimsy plastic. I haven't tried their DC-R302 so I don't know if the sound is better or not, but it's newer and looks to be more robust. It's packaged to mount to a DSLR. The FR-2LE is better suited to a dedicated audio operator (who is very gentle with the equipment. We haven't had any problems but we haven't dropped it either.)

I think the confusion is about the term "industry standard." That tends to refer to products used widely by top professionals, not to products that are purchased on a budget - even though the budget products might sell in higher volumes than the pro products.
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Old May 5th, 2015, 08:04 PM   #8
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Re: H4n no longer in wide use by industry?

DSLR format maybe a common format but it's not regarded as 'industry standard' for broadcast and above, yes it might be the standard for new people into the industry but people rarely produce more than one thing on this format. It's more suited to the hobbiest level where time is of little concern and $$$ are low.
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Old May 5th, 2015, 11:18 PM   #9
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Re: H4n no longer in wide use by industry?

Then I should re-phrase that by "Best in indie standards."

Looked at the Fostex and they are all 2ch recorders, but the key difference is great pre-amps.

For my situation, a 4ch setup is more of what I'm looking for so I'm leaning towards the H5.
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Old May 6th, 2015, 01:07 AM   #10
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Re: H4n no longer in wide use by industry?

Nowadays the concept of industry standard has gone away, because the industry seems to have such wide and variable budgets. Broadcast quality was another old term, that now means little. Industry standard for big budget productions is different, ands goes up against industry standard for low cost budgets. The zooms do a pretty good job at their price point, and the quality of the expensive ones is better, but nowadays the difference is less than it used to be.
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Old May 7th, 2015, 12:47 AM   #11
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Re: H4n no longer in wide use by industry?

The Tascam 70D might be worth looking at. I've used the Zoom H6 and it's a nice step up from the H4n, but some folks are saying that the preamps in the 70D are better than those in the Zoom.

Product: DR-70D | TASCAM

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Old May 7th, 2015, 09:59 AM   #12
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Re: H4n no longer in wide use by industry?

I've owned the H4, H5 and a variety of Tascams as well as a 661 and a bunch of others that have been loaned to me. The H5 is a swiss army knife of a low end unit, and I like and use it for just what you are wanting to do. I used it a lot. You will spend more than $300 to kit it out with it's various options (like the additional xlr adapter if you need 4 channels). I feel that the recordings are a bit harsh (and have been on the H4 as well. Your other option would be to look at the Tascam 70d which is likely to have a bit sweeter tone. The Marantz has the best tone of the batch, IMHO> Farther up the quality and price range, without breaking the bank, is the DR680 is an 6/8 track unit. A very picky sound engineer I know loves this unit and feels it is as good as much of his studio gear, which really surprised me. I have also used, and really like the sound from the Edirol R44. It's probably the best sound under $1000 that I've personally heard. It might all be lost on you if all you are looking for is dialogue, so clearly define your requirements. I do a lot of live stage shows with pro musicians so they are *very* picky.

Whatever, the H4 was not even that good in it's day. It's the only unit that failed utterly and needed to be thrown out. All the rest have taken lots of abuse and never failed.

If you really want the best, Sound Devices are the way to go. You can often find them on Ebay for a lot less than list if you can do used.
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Old May 7th, 2015, 11:11 AM   #13
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Re: H4n no longer in wide use by industry?

Ty Ford did a very comprehensive review of the H5 here:

Ty Ford Audio and Video: ZOOM H5 - Somewhere Between H4 and H6

I recently picked up a H6. I have only used it on a few gigs but am very happy with it. If you are interested in using the -12db back up feature you need to know it only works on the top L/R inputs. That means you will need the XLR adapter or else your stuck with the onboard mics I have little use for. That is how the H6 works, I don't know if the H5 is the same. Great feature though.

I am not good enough to discuss the "sweetness of tones" and such. I can tell tell you I like the preamps because they are clean enough for me.

I also love the fact you can power it from any 5V USB mini source. That rocks!

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Old May 7th, 2015, 01:24 PM   #14
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Re: H4n no longer in wide use by industry?

I recently had an audio issue with both my camera and H4N involving high sound levels and their preamps. My Sound Devices 302 puts them both to shame. That being said my H4N has saved my bacon on a couple occasions. Sometimes it's better to have some audio than none. Or in a given venue the quality of the audio isn't as crucial. There is no shame getting lower end equipment and upgrading to something better when your budget permits or you find your equipment doesn't do what you need.
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Old May 7th, 2015, 05:19 PM   #15
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Re: H4n no longer in wide use by industry?

It's all relative isn't it?

Compared to a distant, noisy camera-mounted mic in the wind, an H4n with a properly used, good mic sounds fantastic!

Compared to old, battery-powered, analog tape-based recorders, the fidelity of mid-grade digital recorders gives amazing value with high quality, low size and weight and long battery life at crazy low prices (considering inflation.)

Of course, the best pro equipment has higher quality, but often mid-grade quality is more than good enough. If there's no audible buzz, hiss or wind buffeting, and the dialog is intelligible, few will complain about poor audio from your video stream.

Then again, if your sound will be cranked up LOUD at the cineplex, don't compromise. Theater sound is unforgiving. I have yet to hear a 48 hour film sound anything like a blockbuster!
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