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Newbie with new Zoom H4n. Can I sell my PS Firebox now?!

Discussion in 'Recording' started by CuriosityKTC, Mar 11, 2009.

  1. CuriosityKTC

    CuriosityKTC Guest

    Hi and newbie here (to recording as well as to this forum) -

    Here are the specs on the Zoom H4n:

    Here are the specs on the Presonus Firebox:

    The only recordings I've done so far have been just goofing around w/ my toddlers on my Mac G4 Powerbook using Garage Band and the built-in mic. Needless to say, it sure doesn't sound very impressive. :)

    Skip to the bottom here to read about what type of recordings I want to do (nothing pro but better than above scenario).

    Last summer I researched a bit online and then went & bought a PreSonus Firebox, a Rode NT1-A condenser mic, mic stand & cable & Senheisser headphones (no monitors though)...and I've used NONE of it yet! I was about to, when I learned of this new Zoom H4n coming out and all it was capable of. My laptop overheats a lot these days on its own so I liked the idea of having a handheld recorder that doesn't rely on a computer and yet also is a USB 2.0 audio interface. I like to buy local when I can and the other day I knew that if I didn't buy the Zoom right then, I wouldn't get a chance to buy it from my local store again till the next shipment (there was a waiting list already and sure enough they're sold out for now) so I bit the bullet and got the Zoom. I've just listed the new-in-box Firebox on Craigslist but I just want to make sure that for my intended purposes, I shouldn't really be holding on to it (I hope not cause I could really use the money to help pay for that spendy little Zoom)! I know I'll be giving up Firewire...and I will want low-latency/the ability to layer tracks (up to 3 or 4 at the max) so will that be a problem? What else am I losing by keeping only the Zoom?

    What I'd like to do is learn how to make halfway decent recordings of:

    - myself playing the old time/clawhammer style banjo, which I'm relatively new to, so that I can hear myself recorded for learning purposes and to share it online for feedback

    - myself playing either banjo or acoustic guitars (steel string or classical) as well as voice (and possibly also piano on a rare occasion), in order to make my small children a c.d. of their favorite songs that we sing together or I sing to them or play for them, etc.

    - one or two friends and I hanging out together and playing our instruments together, which won't happen very often but could end up being a lot of fun and sentimental

    - I'd also like to digitalize old records/tapes, and know that the sound quality will be good (in stereo, if it was originally recorded in stereo).

    None of these recording purposes are very cool or hip, I know, :lol: but I'd really like to learn the basics and get some of this done! I've been waiting way too long to get started!

    Thank you so much!!

    p.s. can anyone recommend a good book, DVD or online tutorial that explains the ins & outs of basic home recording? I keep coming across terminology that I don't understand. That's easy enough to look up but I'd also really like to learn about things like recommended distance between mic & instrument, and room acoustics and all the other secrets that make a difference.
  2. iamfrobs

    iamfrobs Guest

    Re: Newbie with new Zoom H4n. Can I sell my PS Firebox now?

    You are definitely opening up a huge can of worms.
    I noticed that you have children.
    Don't start home recording if you want to be able to send them to college.

    I would suggest, as far as mic placement, to take any info with a grain of salt. Rooms matter, instruments matter, and mics matter, and they are never the same.
  3. CuriosityKTC

    CuriosityKTC Guest

    You're so right...rather than biting off more than I can chew, I need to start back at the beginning and find out if this new Zoom can do as much (or close enough) as the Firebox can. Do you know? When I look at the specs I don't understand it all, nor do I understand what I may need and may not need.
  4. The Zoom works as an interface as does the firebox, and has a built in mic.

    the Firebox will technically sound better....it should have better preamps, and your Rode mic will definitely sound better. If you're just starting out, though, you won't hear a huge difference.

    The H4n has the added benefit of not having to use a computer...so if you just want to record a couple songs, you can multitrack into the zoom, then dump the files into Garageband and mix them.

    The two things serve different purposes, but if you don't want to do anything major with your home recordings, they both technically do the same thing as far as interfaces go (2 mic pres, 2 line ins, 4 simultaneous tracks).
  5. CuriosityKTC

    CuriosityKTC Guest

    Thanks so much Kellenholgate -

    I wonder how much better the preamps are on the Firebox. I wonder what "class A" actually means! I know the Zoom's preamps are supposed to be much improved from the Zoom H2 but I'm not sure how... I wish I knew a thing or two!

    My guess is that keeping the zoom and selling the Firebox is the way to go, based on just what you wrote alone which was very concise and seems to hit the nail on the head.
  6. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    "I wonder what "class A" actually means!"

    I suspect it means that the marketing department got hold of it.
  7. iamfrobs

    iamfrobs Guest

    I believe there is a standard in design that counts for the Class A designation. Really really good preamps aren't class A, but they still are better than no class.

    Like that one fella the Cable Guy.
  8. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    "A Class A preamp is distinguished by its circuit design. In a Class A design current flows all the time, as opposed to Class B or Class AB. A Class A preamp will draw more current and run hotter, hence you'll see the preamp often in big 2 or even 3 rack space enclosures. While not as electrically efficient, they tend to have more detail sonically. "
    Courtesy of tweakheads.
  9. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    How about a class A compressor? Same concept? In logic there are compressor circuits called Class A_R and Class A_U, can someone distinguish these?

    I like using Class A_R for mastering because it doesn't seem to affect the tone, and maintains most of the high end. I haven't found a use for the Class A_U because it on the other hand chops most of the highs off and makes it sound dull and crushed.
  10. iamfrobs

    iamfrobs Guest

    Yeah, that.

    Gimme a break, I'm supposed to be writing a paper.

  11. Jeremy

    Jeremy Active Member

    You actually should sell both of those recording devices and the laptop, and get yourself a good laptop. Having three turds isn't worth a $*^t....you picking up what I'm putting down?
  12. CuriosityKTC

    CuriosityKTC Guest

    Hahahaha wow Jeremy - you are some super hip dude. Yeah, I'm picking up all your nuggets of wisdom, thanks! :?

    Anyway, I can't afford a nicer laptop (and I'll only go Mac - so a top of the line Mac would be waaaaaay too expensive) and I wouldn't get enough money for the 3 turds to get anywhere close to paying for a nicer laptop so there ya have it. Remember - I'm doing this as a hobby and never intend on going pro. I want it to sound good or maybe even very good - but not off-the-charts outstanding. That'll never happen - no matter what equipment I have! :wink:
  13. Jeremy

    Jeremy Active Member

    Im a PC
  14. CuriosityKTC

    CuriosityKTC Guest

    Peculiar creature?
    Phenomenal cat?
    Pedantic counselor?

  15. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    "A cheaper and more flexible unit with lousy third party stuff giving me a bad name"
    A PC.

    The difference between preamp X and preamp Y is not going to be as large as the difference between engineer X and engineer Y where X is a clueless hack and Y is someone who knows some stuff.
  16. Jeremy

    Jeremy Active Member

    Pedopheliac Contortionist....

    Apple - User friendly, software unfriendly, VST incompatible.

    You are only as strong as your weakest link. Sounds like the comp gives you problems outside of recording. Its best to start off with a strong computer and build from there.
    Just saying you could get more enjoyment out of a good computer than one on the fritz, and two pieces of recording equipment. The computer applies to many facets of life, as where recording is more limited.
  17. Agree with almost everything said here.

    Both interfaces will give similar results. A pro probably wouldn't use either, but if your goal is to learn about digital recording and make decent sounding stuff, they'll both work...

    Your computer doesn't affect your sound quality at all. If you can record into your laptop and mix the way you want, there is no need to upgrade just to have something flashy and new.
  18. Jeremy

    Jeremy Active Member

    What you are able to record is directly related to the CPU. What you can do to the recordings after recorded is directly related to CPU. So in that sense audio quality is being compromised.
  19. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    This^ But if you have a decent outboard interface, doesn't it take some weight off your CPU?
  20. Jeremy

    Jeremy Active Member

    You know what? Making a chart to show the transfer rates of recording interfaces might help these newbie's out. Making it a sticky and leaving it around as long as Kurt Foster's.

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