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Simplest recording gear? Zoom H4n?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by rainsparade, May 10, 2012.

  1. rainsparade

    rainsparade Active Member

    Hi, first post here.

    Some very good friends of mine would like to make some high quality vocal recordings. The problem is that they belong to an older generation and have no experience with computers and very limited experience with recording - think microphone and audio cassettes.

    I was after some sort of recording gear that is SIMPLE but still with a high quality microphone and less than $300 that I could buy for them. Any suggestions?

    I was thinking about the Zoom h4n but am a bit worried it will be too complicated. I have the Zoom h2 myself and the quality seems great but they would need to be able to play back the recording without other equipment (hence the h2n).

    They will be getting an ipad shortly so it would be good if it could somehow interface with that (eg. store the audio recording).

    Thanks very much.
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    There are devices out there that will allow you to record onto an iPod/Pad but that's still every bit as complicated as the ZOOM H 4 n. If that's too complicated for them to use that simple device, they are essentially SOL. Although this recording stuff requires some basic knowledge and capabilities. And then there is the issue of recording a stereo vocal as opposed to a more appropriate mono vocal. Most of us do not cut stereo vocals. If it's done on a ZOOM you would want them to favor one microphone over the other. Then once transferred into your DAW, you can choose and isolate the microphone they're singing into more predominantly than the other. But that's something you have to do in software. With the ZOOM H4n, you have the option of plugging in an outboard microphone into one of the two XLR inputs. But if they cannot handle the ZOOM in and by itself, you'll certainly not want to give them an additional microphone to contend with. So you might have to read through the manual a couple of times just to instruct them how to utilize the device. A good quality recordings were that easy, everybody would be able to do it. They can't. That's why we are professionals and they aren't. There is no magic number.

    You can train them but you can't make them talk.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  3. rainsparade

    rainsparade Active Member

    Hi RemyRAD, thanks for your reply.

    I'm actually not that much more knowledgeable about this stuff than they are. I understand a bit about what you were saying with the Zoom and recording with stereo and editing it, as I went through all that with the H2 (after a few hours of scratching my head and reading the manual) but I didn't know that recording in mono is better.

    I'm coming to the conclusion that an external mic into an iPad is the way to go. I've been reading about the Blue mics - the Snowball, Yeti and the Spark Digital that is set to come out this year. What do you think about them? They're getting an iPad anyway so we've got to figure it out. I've got one already and somewhat know my way around it though I haven't used Garageband or any recording apps yet. I'd rather not get the Yeti as I read that it needs an external power source and I'd prefer it to be more portable. Do you have any opinions on the other two or alternatives like the AT2020 or Apogee MiC?

    Again, basically we're just after something that's very simple/userfriendly while retaining high quality vocal recording.

  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I'm a little confused here? What will they be recording? Are they expected to do over dubs on their own? Are they just generating original content? IPods/Pads are fine for connecting to WiFi to control digital audio equipment, mixers and such. Recording into them has yet to proliferate. There are not many if any multitrack recording packages to be had for iPods/Pads. What is available for them are the control apps to operate WiFi enabled mixers. Which they obviously don't have themselves. But they probably do have a laptop or a desktop computer for which they are already using. They are already using text oriented programs which they can obviously already get around with. Audio software isn't much different than utilizing Microsoft Word, Word Perfect, etc.. Then all they would require would be a USB cable microphone and whatever software is bundled with it. So you may have to teach them, show them. It's pressing the record button. It's Copy/Paste/Cut than they already know how to do that in their text editors. If you show them the similarity of working with audio software then all they need is that USB microphone. You might even be able to load your multitrack software package onto their computers? Or a simpler less expensive ones such as Reaper? It's not rocket science. They only need to lay down a track or two. They're not writing an entire novel. But they may marvel at the novelty. I've taught many musicians who are not very computer savvy how to do this. Of course they have to want to do this. If they don't want to learn this there isn't much you can do for them. The iPods/Pads run on a different operating system. They don't even run on Mac OS X. So I think you are fighting windmills? If they're too old to understand, there isn't much you can do. So there are limiting factors involved. If Apogee actually has a device, with drivers, that will run upon an iPod/Pad, you might then get lucky? The AT 2020 is not a USB device. It's just a microphone. So either way, this is getting complicated. And for those iPods/Pads, they record in file formats that may not be conducive to full-blown, uncompressed recording file formats. It's one thing to be able to record news events and/or fun and games of your friends, it's another one to make a professional recording. Not that it isn't possible but what of the complexity involved? Either way, they would have to learn how to do something. The most sensible approach would be to do it with a computer and a simple USB audio interface/Microphone that includes bundled software of which you can teach them how to use. And that would be the way to maintain high quality vocal recording. There are always new devices hitting the market place. But that still would require training. The day may come when this will all become easier with greater proliferation of these new devices and technology. I don't think we're really there yet? So you would either have to wait an inordinately long time or you can get them up and running with a simple USB microphone, bundled software than their laptop/desktop computer. At least that's my take on this.

    Nothing is ever perfectly easy
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  5. rainsparade

    rainsparade Active Member

    Thanks for your reply RemyRAD.

    A lot of stuff to think about, I think I'll just take some time to mull it over.

    Cheers for your advice.

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