I know next to nothing about microphones or recording, but I’ve had a few queries about the H4n’s performance when using external mics.
So here are two samples using the H4n’s XLR inputs. The first is taken with an OctavaMod MK-319 large-diaphragm condenser. The second with a Shure SM57, which I think is not ideal for this kind of job (but it’s the only dynamic mic I have). The MK-319 is recorded at about 12 inches away, and the SM57 at about 6 inches. I have no idea if these are appropriate distances. Today’s reading comes from an old Intellivision brochure.
Noise levels sound okay to me, but I’m not obsessing. The 57 might have a bit too much preamp hiss for this sort of work, but I’d never use it to record a quiet voice anyway. For a guitar cabinet or a snare drum it’d work fine. The MK-319 does sound a bit darker than it should, though. It might need a hotter signal than the H4n can provide, or it might be that I didn’t have the gain set high enough. Further testing will be done — hopefully in a band setting — and I still have a cheap pair of small-diaphragm matched condensers to try out.
Partly an effort to get some good samples out there, partly to attract the blog some real traffic, I give you ten recordings taken with my brand new Zoom H4n. And lest I start to sound like a commercial, let me warn you that these samples will do little to enhance Zoom’s reputation. The naysayers will not be disproved, for my recordings are crude and unprofessional.
But they’re also wonderful.
note: I normalized some of the files, though others are a bit quiet, so you might have to turn up your speakers. Proceed with caution.
I am eating cookies; note the salivary detail. We are already off to a good start.
Taken in Hub mall. The surround imaging is excellent. It really feels as though the cart-pushers are pushing carts while I sit and drink coffee and watch them.
In the humanities building, strange drones come and go, especially in stairwells and near doorways. Matt’s surprised reaction is at a drone that suddenly disappeared (you, dear listener, will be less surprised now that I have warned you). Please note that most of the noise you hear in this clip is not microphone-preamplifier hiss, but rather the ambient sound of the building’s ventilation system.
The sound of a bar sink, at varying levels of pressure. Try listening with headphones for a fun approximation of water-torture.
Here’s me, enjoying my new recorder very much. The background noise is from my speakers.
Rutherford Library at about 7:30 in the evening. I had to boost the gain on this one a bit, since the room was so quiet (as a good library should be!)
This sample contains a simple rendition of beneaththecastle favourite “Desafinado”, played on a ukulele. For the listener’s sake, I will not divulge such information as preamplifier gain settings or recording distance. You do not need to know these things.
This sample begins outside the Chemistry Building, where the listener should note an interesting ambient tone, and the participants’ conjecture as to its origin. Then, gravel footsteps, clear as a bell, lead our protagonists to the Business Building, where a spontaneous Tetsu Inoue jam occurs, until our protagonists enter the building, encounter a wonderful new ambience, and proceed to the nearest vending machine, only to be disappointed.
This horrible sample is of the urinal on the 14th floor of the Tory Building. Again, the background noise here is not preamplifier hiss. The urinal stands next to a large heating vent, which was running as I recorded. At the end Matt spits into the sink.
The last (and lengthiest) recording in this post is of Churchill Station. The recording begins as a train arrives, giving the listener another interesting surround image. Passengers disembark, the train leaves (but not before emitting some weird cool buzzing noise), and another train arrives with its own cool buzzing noise. Some old men talk together, and then I get up to covertly record two ladies conversing in a language which I admit I do not recognize at all. Finally I ride the escalator up to the ground floor, as laughing children descend the stairs beside me.
Please, dear readers, I would love nothing more than to hear your opinions of these recordings! And for those of you arriving from other recording blogs, don’t forget to comment on the noise levels and preamplifier quality. And for those of you concerned about hand movement, you had best listen to this.
That’s all for now, but watch this space for more recording fun in the future!
Update: external mic samples here.