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Old June 18th, 2010, 05:50 PM   #1
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AUDIO - Zoom H4n?

Hi All,

I better start by saying that I know practically nothing about audio, I've been told about this magical little thing called the Zoom H4n however I know nothing about it or what it does (and how it does it better than an on board mic).

If I decide to do my audio separately with the zoom, what am I going to need?

Cheers, guys.

- Andrew
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Old June 18th, 2010, 08:22 PM   #2
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You need a microphone, an XLR cable, and a place to mount the H4n and mic. Pretty much the H4n gives you level control and 2 XLR inputs instead of the T2i's 1/8" input and no level control. You can also mount it off the camera so you can get the mic closer to the subject.
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Old June 18th, 2010, 09:36 PM   #3
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As far as what kind of microphones to plug into the recorder and why, an excellent starting point is Ty Ford's excellent Audio Bootcamp Field Guide.
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Old June 21st, 2010, 09:16 AM   #4
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Okay, well after much research I have decided on the following items for audio:

- Audio-Technica AT897 - Short Condenser Shotgun Microphone
- Audio-Technica ATH-M30 Circumaural Closed-Back Stereo Professional Headphone
- K-Tek KE-89 Avalon Series Aluminum Boompole (Uncabled)
- Audio-Technica 3-pin XLR Male to 3-pin XLR Female Balanced Cable
- Audio-Technica AT8415 Low Profile Universal Shock Mount
- Zoom H4n Handy Mobile 4-Track Recorder
- Silly no-brainer things like SD cards, clapperboard/marker pens to help sync the audio/video etc.

Seeing that I am spending about $800 more than I had planned on audio, this will mean that I now cannot afford to purchase the Z-Finder and Sigma 30mm. However I think that I will be able to get away with the kit 18-55mm lens and just the lcd screen for the moment.

What do you guys think: will I make the right decision in sacrificing the z-finder + sigma lens for a decent audio set-up? Or would it be better to just get the Z-finder + Sigma lens and mount a nice shotgun mic (RODE/AT897) or even the Zoom H4n on top of the cam?

Cheers,
Andrew
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Old June 21st, 2010, 10:37 AM   #5
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You need also some protection for wind noise.
RODE BLIMP
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Old June 21st, 2010, 11:03 AM   #6
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It will depend on what you want to record. I have both the AT897 and the Zoom H4n and they are both good. However for recording quiet dialogue with the 897 connected directly to the Zoom, I don't think you'll have enough signal to avoid some noticeable noise from the Zoom's mic preamp.
I would probably suggest the AT875R which has hotter output.
Audio-Technica - AT875 Short Condenser Shotgun - AT875R - B&H

And of course you'll need wind protection when you're working outside.
If you're working indoors primarily you may need a different mic entirely and you can read about that in the audio section here on this board.
Or to give better control and headphone monitoring to your boom operator (if the recorder is not on their belt) you could add a preamp between the mic and the recorder like the Sound Devices MM-1. But of course that's even more money.
The AT8415 is also ok, but is better if you order the version with improved bands. The Pearstone mount that is similar already has the better bands and can also be mounted directly on a camera shoe as well as a boom.
Pearstone - DUSM-1 Universal Shockmount for Camera - DUSM-1 -

In addition you may want to consider adding a mic to the camera in order to improve the guide audio to make syncing in post a little easier when looking at the waveforms or to use as backup audio.
Again, there is also good info on all these topics here in the audio section, with a lot of discussion about the various separate audio recorders.
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Old June 21st, 2010, 12:36 PM   #7
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What about the Zoom H2 or the H1 that's coming out this summer?
Are those usable alternatives for less cost?
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Old June 21st, 2010, 12:53 PM   #8
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I'd recommend considering the Tascam DR-100 instead of the H4n - the prices are about the same right now. I have the H4n and it's a great recorder, but it has a couple of issues. First off is you can't set levels independently on the left and right channels - there's just a single level control for both, whereas the tascam has dials for each channel. The H4n does have a 4 channel mode which the Tascam doesn't, but personally I find I need independent level control more often than four channels. The second issue is that if your batteries die in the middle of the take on the H4n you lose the entire take - I lost a half hour interview the first time this happened. The tascam doesn't seem to have this issue.
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Old June 21st, 2010, 05:14 PM   #9
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Dont forget the editing side of the job. you will need to sync the audio of the H4N to your video. you can do this manually, by lining up the waveform on the timeline or use, as I do, a wonderfull programme called Plural Eyes Singular Software they have versions for FCP, Vegas Pro and a beta version for Premiere, all are available as a fully working, time restricted trial. The benefit of using such a programme is your cameras do not need to be running constantly, as they would be for a multicam edit. Very handy for DSLRs, with their overheating issues.
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Old June 21st, 2010, 05:26 PM   #10
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Thank you for all your fantastic replies, I take it that the general idea of choosing the more extensive audio setup-up (as compared to a mic mounted on the cam) is the way to go instead of spending that money on the Z-Finder + Sigma 30mm.
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