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Old April 4th, 2007, 07:10 PM   #1
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Zoom H4

A review of Canon's HV20 said, "In HDV mode, the HV20 records 16 bit MPEG-1 Layer 2 (MP2) audio, while in DV mode it records 16 or 12 bit PCM audio." And went on to explain why PCM is better than MPEG-1 Layer 2 (MP2) audio.

The Zoom H4 produces either MP3 or wav files. That got me wondering, what is a wav file, is it a kind of mpeg file or is a wav file a wav file? And how does that compare to PCM audio or MP2 audio.

One reason for wondering is that, though it's close and I could be wrong, my dvx100 produces slightly better audio, to my ears, than the Zoom H4. I assume the dvx100 produces PCM audio.

Any info on what a wav file is, or the Zoom H4's wav file is, and whether it is true that the dvx100 produces the superior PCM audio would be appreciated.

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Old April 4th, 2007, 07:37 PM   #2
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A wav file is usually a PCM file, and that's what the Zoom records to.
The review to which you refer is simply silly. Yes, PCM is preferable to any compressed format, just as any uncompressed video format is preferable to any compressed format. If given a choice of a free camera, I'll take a Grass Valley Viper or HDCAM SR over an HDV cam every time. But the fact of the matter is, for dialog, MPEG 1/Layer 2 audio is just fine *if* recorded properly. Just as small chip camcorders can't shoot well in darkness, neither can a compressed audio format record great audio if the levels are too low.

That said, always use PCM/wav audio in the Zoom or any other audio recording device. Compression makes artifacts grow larger when decompressed, just as a couple bad pixels in a compressed webstream can screw up the entire video encode.

Your DVX *may* record a better PCM audio than the Zoom, I've never compared them directly. I would assume the Zoom has better DACs (Digital Audio Converter) than the DVX, but if you like the DVX, you might not really care by comparison, as the DVX doesn't record great audio as compared to most external devices such as the Edirol or similar. All DV camcorders (that I'm aware of) record PCM audio. All HDV camcorders record MPEG audio, excepting JVC's ProHD format, wherein they record a secondary PCM stream that isn't so easy to extract.
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Old April 5th, 2007, 09:13 AM   #3
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The mics are really important in terms of the ultimate sound quality, too. The Zoom has a very low noise floor, and I've used it with my Sennheiser mics to get very good recordings. I don't know how you used the Zoom, but I would avoid using it without hooking up external mics where possible. I've never used the mics built in to the Zoom, but imagine they would reduce the recording quality significantly.
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