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-   -   Zoom H4n weakness... (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/all-things-audio/474403-zoom-h4n-weakness.html)

Andy Balla March 8th, 2010 08:45 PM

Zoom H4n weakness...
 
Hi all. I bought a Zoom H4n in late December. Overall, I was happy with it. Until tonight...I was recording a test voice over for narration for a short film I'm doing, and the H4n took a short tumble off the counter it was sitting on. It fell about 1 and 1/2 feet, maybe, and landed on a pile of folded bath towels. I picked it up, and continued recording. When I finished, I connected it to my laptop to dump the recorded files for editing. I noticed that one of the built in mics was at a weird angle, so I went to turn it, and it flat out snapped off! Granted, its still connected to the main body by some wires, but wow, that seems fragile!
I'm trying to get in touch with Zoom to check on warranty and repair and all that, but I just thought I'd let everyone know that this unit is pretty weak, as far as the "metal" of the internal mic housing is concerned. I know some folks were asking questions about its lack of a "cage" around the mics. Seems like some kind of cage would have prevented this from happening to begin with. Of course, me not knocking it off the counter would have prevented it even more, but these things do happen. Something to think about.

Andrew Marshall March 8th, 2010 09:34 PM

Thx for the heads up, I just ordered one to fool around with yesterday. I'll be sure to put soft pillows in my laundry basket instead of towels!

Andy Balla March 8th, 2010 10:08 PM

Of course, some crazy glue would probably fix this without having to send the thing off for repair, which would probably take a month...Though I'm sure that would void the warranty!

Mestizo Devon March 8th, 2010 10:54 PM

The mics do seem a tad on the weak side, might be worth a try with the factory?

Andy Balla March 8th, 2010 11:12 PM

I really only use mine with external mics, so it doesn't seem like too big of a deal to me. Just a heads up for other users/potential users. The mic that broke off still functions. I'll get it fixed by the manufacturer if its not a huge pain in the you know what. I'm having trouble finding any way to contact them about this issue, however. Customer service seems to be lacking...

Mestizo Devon March 8th, 2010 11:40 PM

So, I've heard and the manual was nice as well!

Andy Balla March 8th, 2010 11:52 PM

I honestly never looked at the manual. It was very intuitive for me to operate. 5 minutes after I had it out of the box I was recording stuff. Granted, I haven't delved into using it as an interface or for any of the more "musician oriented" features. I only have used it to record stereo and mono wav files with one or two external mics. It also sync'd to my laptop to transfer the recordings with no problem the first time. Overall, I like it a lot, until I can afford something in the $1000 + range.

Brian Luce March 9th, 2010 04:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Andy Balla (Post 1496920)
I honestly never looked at the manual. It was very intuitive for me to operate. 5 minutes after I had it out of the box I was recording stuff. Granted, I haven't delved into using it as an interface or for any of the more "musician oriented" features. I only have used it to record stereo and mono wav files with one or two external mics. .

I exchanged my Zoom for the Tascam DR100 (which I love) mainly because I wanted separate leveling and to a lesser extent the better battery system. But that manual did bug me, made me wonder about the company's competency, I also was annoyed by all those musician features like the metronome.

Seth Bloombaum March 9th, 2010 10:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Andy Balla (Post 1496909)
...I'll get it fixed by the manufacturer if its not a huge pain in the you know what. I'm having trouble finding any way to contact them about this issue, however. Customer service seems to be lacking...

The US distributor is Samson Technologies, you can also email them at zoom@samsontech.com.

Andy Balla March 9th, 2010 04:22 PM

Thanks for the info Seth! As for the musician features, part of the reason I got the Zoom, since I'm a musician as well. Seemed like an all around neat little deal. Gonna go email them now! Andy

Tim Akin March 12th, 2010 01:19 PM

Bought my H4n back in Oct, 2009. Got it out to use at last week wedding and noticed the onboard mics had popping and static noises. Still records ok when using external mics. Purchased from Sweetwater, they said they would send it to Samson for me but it would take at least 6 weeks.

Andy Balla March 16th, 2010 08:29 PM

I got the same time frame from B&H, where I got mine. Samson told me it would be $50 per hour for labor, plus parts! That's just nuts! I think I'm going to keep the H4n around for use with external mics and as an interface, but I'm going to get something else as soon as funds allow. Andy

Seth Bloombaum March 17th, 2010 10:38 AM

$50/hr for electronics service work is a great price.

However, I see your point - how many hours of service is a $300 device worth? If I had a $2800 Sound Devices recorder, I wouldn't be flinching at $50/hr.

I guess this is one of the consequences of using prosumer gear. Some of it just isn't economical to fix... making it throwaway. Ouch.

Steve House March 17th, 2010 10:52 AM

With an SD recorder it's possible such things would be covered under warrantee or in the name of good customer relations. You really do get what you pay for when you buy "real pro" gear.

Andy Balla March 18th, 2010 07:59 AM

Seth, yes, that was my issue with the repair rate...is it worth it to spend probably well over $100 to get this thing fixed? I'm just going to rig it as best I can, and step up to something better when I have the cash. Lesson learned, maybe...

Sean Seah March 22nd, 2010 09:37 PM

My H4n works great but the battery life is hell. I can only do 2 recordings of about 1hr each and its gone. I use an external line feed (no phantom pwr) but still its pretty heavy on the batt. Do u guys have the small issue or its my set?

Adam Gold March 23rd, 2010 07:13 PM

I replace the batts before every show. Cheap. But yeah, using the internal mics I get a couple or three hours, max.

Steve Childs March 24th, 2010 11:30 AM

Thanks for posting this. This informs my next purchase decision a great deal.

Richard Hogben March 25th, 2010 10:22 AM

Wasn't the H4n the heavy duty version? I thought they touted its ruggedness, but a mic snapped off when it landed in some towels?

Tony Davies-Patrick March 25th, 2010 11:36 AM

The previous version of the Zoom has a cage over each mic.

Jay Massengill March 25th, 2010 03:16 PM

True about the old one and the cage. I dropped my H4 pretty badly and at least nothing actually broke off. It's extremely rare that I use the onboard mics. I don't even think I've tested them again since that drop so they could be broken but you can't tell it visually if they suffered any damage.

Richard Hogben March 25th, 2010 04:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tony Davies-Patrick (Post 1505284)
The previous version of the Zoom has a cage over each mic.

Odd, it seems like a step back when most of the other features were improvements. I wonder why zoom made the decision to remove the cages.

The mics rotate right? but I would think they could still do that in a cage.

Andy Balla March 26th, 2010 04:33 PM

Yes, the mics do rotate, between a 90 degree pattern and a 120 degree pattern. I would rather have more protection over a slight variable in the stereo field of the onboards. I mostly use it with external mics anyway.

Sean Seah March 27th, 2010 03:35 AM

so far i do not use the internal mics much so they are pretty much still in one piece :p

Andy Balla March 27th, 2010 09:47 AM

I was using an external mic when this happened...I was actually unplugging the mic cable and lost my grip on the Zoom sending it crashing down into...towels. Maybe I need to use more fabric softener?

William Chung March 29th, 2010 05:35 PM

sorry for being a little off topic but what is the best way to mount one of these on a rail system? cage? I see a lot of hotshoe adapters and ball heads but not sue which one would do it in the most low profile but secure way. Thanks

Seth Bloombaum March 29th, 2010 05:59 PM

The H4n has a 1/4"x20 socket, the smaller tripod screw standard. Somehow, you need to connect up to that, it's the only physical connection point - a 1/4-to-hotshoe might be a good way, if you have a hotshoe on your rails/cage.

Tim Kay March 29th, 2010 11:56 PM

I 2nd the Tascan HD100.

Picked it up and feel comfortable of almost full operations within 5mins of it.
Plus it has side protection bars so if it's not a direct hit - the mics are fine.

Tony Davies-Patrick March 30th, 2010 02:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by William Chung (Post 1507269)
sorry for being a little off topic but what is the best way to mount one of these on a rail system? cage? I see a lot of hotshoe adapters and ball heads but not sue which one would do it in the most low profile but secure way. Thanks

I slip it inside a LowePro Quick Release Tripod Mount which has two wide attachment straps on the back. Two-sided velcro is also on the back the Zoom to keep the Zoom tightly in place inside the LowePro tripod pocket. I use a Samcine shoulder & waist pro stabilzer and the Zoom fits on to the front of the Samcine inside the LowePro mount.

On another note; one quick question for those of you using external mics and wireless mics with the Zoom (I use the Zoom 4, but I think the 'n' version is the same in this respect):

I noticed by chance when testing various types of external mics connected to the Zoom in 4-track Mode, that the onboard mics don't completely turn off. Yes, they stop recording, but if you for example set the Zoom to 1&2 with an XLR cable into port 1, then gently blow directly on to the heads of the onboard mics they will pick up some of that blowing sound.

I was wondering that I've somehow left something on or off inside the Menu that isn't turning off the onboard mics completely.

I tend to use the lapel mics for distance work and require the onboard mics be completely "off" when recording. They are not supposed to record at all when an external mic is connected to the XLR ports, and indeed they seem to stop recording...but still partly pick up strong wind!

I haven't got a second H4/H4n with me to experiment with, so if anybody out there could do this simple test: Plug in a microphone via XLR cable to the Zoom's XLR port with it set in 4-track Mode and monitor via some headphones, and then blow hard directly onto the two onboard mics to see if they are still picking up any wind sound.

Tony Davies-Patrick April 2nd, 2010 04:38 AM

Is there anybody who can answer my simple question please in the above post? Is it impossible to completely turn off the onboard twin mics of H4/H4n recorders when external mics are connected via XLR? Yes, they are supposed to turn off automatically when an XLR lead is plugged in, but I'm still getting some pick-up from the onboard stereo mics, for example in strong wind.

Mike Brice April 2nd, 2010 08:04 AM

I am a newbie, so sorry for the lack of detail, but I have been able to turn off the onboard mics when using an xlr mic.

It took some time clicking through the menu to find the source, but you can pick the input source and there is an option that doesn't include the internal mics.

Adam Gold April 2nd, 2010 10:30 AM

The internal mics only turn off automatically when you insert something into the mini-plug on the back of the H4n.

You select between MIC and (XLR) INPUT using the front buttons. Page 11, 38, 39. If the MIC button is lit up then the internal mics are still live. In 4CH mode you can select any combination just by pressing the buttons, which will light up when the respective input is active.

Tony Davies-Patrick April 2nd, 2010 02:26 PM

Thank you Mike and Adam but you have not answered my question. I already know how to set the H4 for recording in the different modes and have been using it a lot, but only noticed this problem when I blew hard onto the mic in OFF position with XLR 4-channel switched on and external mics attached (normally you wouldn't notice it unless there was a strong wind blowing against the Zoom and your extrnal mics where completely out of the wind - such as when using wireless mics at a distance). I am not asking how to set the H4 out of Mic mode, or how to select the front buttons to obtain 4-channel.
I am asking if anybody realises that even when the Menu option source MIC is switched OFF, and set to 1&2 (onboard stereo mics switch to off), and then a mic attached via the XLR, there is still some slight reception via the onboard mics. The onboard mics are OFF, and will not record voice, but if you blow hard on the heads of the two onboard mics they will still register that blow sound through your headphones.
Could somebody who has a Zoom H4 with them please try this simple test with headphones on and get back to me with results (I haven't got a second H4 with me to try).

Adam Gold April 2nd, 2010 03:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tony Davies-Patrick (Post 1508839)
the onboard twin mics of H4/H4n recorders ... are supposed to turn off automatically when an XLR lead is plugged in...

Sorry, I was just responding to this incorrect assumption, so no one else would think the H4n is supposed to do this.

Tony Davies-Patrick April 2nd, 2010 05:29 PM

Yes, sorry Adam, I should have mentioned that Stereo Mic mode is also switched off and set to 4-channel first before the XLR leads are plugged in.

If you have a Zoom to hand Adam, and could test to see if your unit also picks up high wind when onboard mics are "off" I'd appreciate it. I just want to find out if mine is still functioning correctly before I take it with me on a filming assignment next week.

Tony Davies-Patrick April 3rd, 2010 04:42 AM

I've just finally found out one way to avoid the wind noise when the onboard stereo mics are switched off. Thanks to a little snippet from Johnnie on the 7D forum!
First, by turning the onboard mic levels completely down to zero level on the Zoom's display when in MIC mode, then switching back to 4-channel and XLR external mics, it seems to work well and avoids any annoying wind noise being picked up by the onboard mics while using external mics or radio mics.
It is a bit of a bind having to do all that each time I want to switch between onboard and XLR, but at least I now know what best to do when I'm filming in high winds with external mics.
I've also now added permanant foam & home-made double fur layer dead-cat to the Zoom's onboard mics for outdoor recording.
Thank you Johnnie... :)

Adam Gold April 4th, 2010 11:58 AM

Tony, sorry I haven't had a chance to check the H4n as you requested, but seems like you've found a solution. But I'm curious, because I'm not really an audio expert, if you're just using the XLRs, why would you be in 4CH mode? Why not just Stereo? Is there some other advantage to 4CH mode even though you are only using two inputs?

Andy Balla April 4th, 2010 10:22 PM

Yeah, I just use stereo mode when using external mics. You can switch between the externals and on-board mics without touching the menu as well. No hassles there.

Tony Davies-Patrick April 5th, 2010 05:52 PM

With the Zoom H4 in stereo mode switched to 1&2 and you plug a mic into the left XLR port it will provide mono to left external speaker and a second mic in right XLR port will provide mono to the right external speaker. If you want a single mic plugged into the left XLR to provide a stereo signal to both left & right external speakers the Zoom must be set to 4 channel 1&2.
Also, even when the Zoom is in stereo mode with Mic switched off and set to 1&2, plus external mics plugged into the XLR ports, the onboard mics are still semi-active, so the levels must be dialled to zero to avoid wind noise.

Andy Balla April 7th, 2010 04:54 PM

I'm just curious why it would be necessary to record a single mic to both channels, unless it was a stereo mic? If the mic's not stereo, I would just record it to one channel and pan it to center in post. Is there a reason why this would be a bad idea? Andy


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