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Old May 16th, 2009, 08:02 AM   #1
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Zoom H4 Recording from sound board

I have an H4 and use it every now and then to record but have never hooked it up to a sound board to record audio. Can someone offer a crash course? I have a shoot next Sat that the sound board is back stage and my cameras will be towards the rear of the auditorium so was thinking of using the H4. What kind of setting do you recommend? I will be reading up on this this week but thought I would shoot it out here to the experts as well.
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Old May 16th, 2009, 01:35 PM   #2
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H4 works great.

I've hooked the H4 up to a board, it works really well. I've had instances where the unit looked like it was recording, but I got a corrupt file, so I always format the card before a critical shoot. Hook up the mixer board to the inputs. I use standard phone plug patch cables. Turn the unit on, and select the Sample rate on the left hand side first. I usually use either 48kHz or 44.1kHz; my editing software will accept either. Then, push the center joystick towards the input menu, and use the "Jog dial" to select the line inputs, instead of the default internal microphones. The next thing I do is set the compressor/limiter to "limit" using the jog dial (to prevent any digital breakup from loud noises). Once all of this is set, push the menu button (center joy stick) straight in, to go back to the metering. Provide a comparable audio source from the mixer which is plugged into the unit. Push the record button once to activate the inputs and see what the meters are showing. Set the Input 1 & 2 gain switches to get a reasonable range on the meters (low, medium, or high). The next time the record button is pushed, the actual recording starts. If you have the ability to set the output levels from the board, you can fine tune the recording level. If not, it can be "normalized" after the fact.
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Old May 16th, 2009, 02:47 PM   #3
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Is there a way to test it using head phones after you do a mic check?
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Old May 16th, 2009, 11:18 PM   #4
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Is there a way to test it using head phones after you do a mic check?
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Old May 18th, 2009, 09:50 AM   #5
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The H4 headphone jack can be used to monitor what is being recorded.
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Old May 21st, 2009, 10:42 PM   #6
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In my view the most important piece of Robert's excellent step-through is to get an idea of what the incoming levels will be. Limiters may stop excessive levels clipping but the ducking which a very high input would give you will be unacceptable.

I think the H4 is a superb piece of kit - if you're taking incoming line level and if you can't get a reliable check before the shoot my recommendation is to use the low range setting. Theorectically (careful choice of words) unlike analogue, a digital recording will have a very low noise level so any very quiet passages could be lifted in post - but that's just theory; getting a good level is still the best way to go.
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Old May 21st, 2009, 11:31 PM   #7
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Hopefully i will get to test it before the curtain open. I work that evening so I'm setting up for my wife and assistant before hand and I don't have much time. We'll see how it goes. Philip, I hope I do get a good level when testing. Thanks for the input.
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Old May 22nd, 2009, 03:39 PM   #8
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To be able to listen to you input do I need to change "monitor" to on?
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Old May 28th, 2009, 04:50 AM   #9
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I've lined out my H2 Zoom countless times from PAs, then synced the clips to my shotgun audio/video for weddings. PA only audio lacks ambience, and whereas my shotgun gave me ambience appropriate to the cam location, it also picked up a lot that I didn't want (talking, etc); the ambience was accurate, but too close to the crowd, so a couple of loud people would stand out. I couldn't control this because I was after a video angle.

Another problem I would get is having the sound man change something after I had carefully done a sound check. I'd fetch my sound later to find it blown out or that he had switched my line to another jack. Or worse yet, they would flat out refuse to let me line out due to time or copyright reasons.

Solution:
Grab any tripod or stand and thread your Zoom into it. Position your mic 3 1/2 ft from the speaker between the woofer and tweeter. This gives you ambience away from one or two loud people and gives you *excellent* PA sound that doesn't sound fake because it's what the people hear. Make sure you have it set to 'concert'. This will give you better sound than the line out because it is more accurate to the video. Trust me.
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Old May 28th, 2009, 04:53 AM   #10
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Oh yeah...like Robert says, always, always format your card IN THE ZOOM or you will run into serious corruption problems.
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Old May 28th, 2009, 06:04 AM   #11
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Sorry, I disagree with Dana. Taking someone else's feed is always a risk. In the Zoom you have a great second and independent recorder, use it as that. Don't stick it in front of a speaker which is a) one-legged and b) the easiest way to guarantee getting unacceptable hum/noise levels due to cheap circuitry and/or badly grounded gear.

However, I do think he's right to consider matching audio ambiance to the video but that will vary from shot to shot and situation. Outstanding example, bateau mouche scene in Charade as Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn pass under the Seine bridges. Any sound engineer will tell you that recording dialogue without ambiance ie from a close up radio mic and then adding the ambiance in post to match the picture is the best way - whether it can be done economically in most wedding video budgets is another question.
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Old May 28th, 2009, 01:54 PM   #12
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If I were working with sound men with serious gear, I would line out a lot more often. I film weddings, working with a different DJ every week. Many are anything but pro, and their gear reflects it. I've found that the chance of one of these guys ruining my sound is not worth the risk, and whereas I cannot monitor what is recording from the board, I can hear the PA.
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