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Zoom Hn4 questions...

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Singer007, Feb 26, 2013.

  1. Singer007

    Singer007 Active Member

    Hi,

    After recording a vocal track on my Hn4 in MTR mode(with effects) and listening through my headphones to the track on the Hn4, I was very impressed :) .....however...after later transferring the soundfile to my computer and playing it back I was disappointed to find that the track had lost quality, volume, and sounded as if I was singing from far away, as opposed to it having been recorded at fairly close proximity to the Mic resulting in a more 'intimate' sounding recording.

    Could somebody please explain to me why this could be? and how to obtain the same volume and quality of recording after transfer to the PC ( am using windows 7 ). Is this something to do with the recording settings? and/or do I need some editing software installed on my PC?

    Also...after having saved the files in MTR mode on the Hn4, I cannot see how to play them back. The stored files are visible, but there is no 'select' option to allow me to play them. I can play them via the computer, when connected to Hn4 via USB..but not through the H4n itself.

    Any help would be much appreciated....as this is me right now facepalm
     
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Hi, and welcome!

    I think you must be talking about the Zoom H4N and not a device called the Hn4.

    Although the H4N in its direct recording mode is capable of professional-sounding results, the MTR setting option is a bit of a gimmick, and I would avoid using it if you want anything resembling reasonable recordings. It would be better and more consistent to record on the H4N using the standard methods, and then add effects if you need them by using a low-cost DAW such as Reaper after transferring the files to your computer. Good DAWs have many more and better-implemented effects than are squeezed into the H4N.
     
  3. Singer007

    Singer007 Active Member

    Hi, and thank you for the welcome :)

    Yes- I am talking about the H4N.....yesterday was a long day :redface:

    Thank you for your advice, I will look into installing a DAW. Do you have any advice regarding how to produce a recording capable of CD volume? I assume the original recording volume would need to be maximum level? and I have also read a little bit on normalisation, which presumably would be achieved via the DAW?
     
  4. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    No, the general idea is to make the initial recording some way below maximum (clipping) level in order to allow for unexpected noises and other unpredictable effects. After copying this recording over digitally from the H4N to a DAW running on a computer, you can adjust the level of the track in the DAW to be whatever you want by scaling the waveform. You could also normalise or compress or use other dynamic processing tools.

    However, when you say "a recording capable of CD volume", you are usually talking about tracks that have been through a professional mastering process. It's not easy or even advisable to do this mastering step on a normal computer DAW, as it involves rather more specialised equipment, not to mention the large number of years of experience in order to turn out something worth listening to. My recommendation at this stage is to get your mixes to a point where they sound good but are not squashed flat dynamically in an attempt to emulate the mastering step. Consider then whether you would want to send the tracks off to a mastering house to apply their volume-enhancing magic.
     
  5. Singer007

    Singer007 Active Member

    Ok...so I installed Reaper and had a little play around to try it out before buying. I played the soundfile I had recorded in MTR mode through Reaper to find that it played with very similar (or possibly the same) quality and volume as it had through headphones from the H4N. I would like to understand how it is that when played through the computer (using headphones) the file is quiet and with lower quality, yet when played through Reaper (using the same headphones) the file retains its original sound and quality? Obvoiusly in order to edit any soundfile efficiently it would need to be able to be heard in its original format, and I would like to be able to understand technically how Reaper achieves that playback when the computer does not?
     
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Well reaper is the computer Sir. And you are also not including any other kind of information whether you are playing back through the ZOOM as a computer audio interface or whether you are playing back from your internal computer audio gizmo that was included with the computer? You mentioned nothing about what and how you are monitoring? Whose headphones which headphones speakers?

    You purchased one of these devices. It does not make for automatic recording engineer. A lot of knowledge and complexity comes when you become a hit engineer. It doesn't make you an automatic recording engineer because you purchased one of these devices. Especially when you don't use it with the intention of postproduction within a piece of software like Reaper, ProTools, Logic, Adobe Audition, Sony Vegas. And the internal computer audio gizmo is also controlled from its own internal software volume control settings. And if you don't understand the differences between your ZOOM acting as your USB audio interface and your internal computer audio card gizmo thingy, you can't compare anything. And that's how it could be because that's what it is.

    Almost every audio device that offers anything beyond 16-bit, 44.1 kHz, requires special drivers. So if you recorded at 24 bit, 44.1 kHz and attempted to play that back through the computer internal crap gizmo, it's going to sound really crappy. Because it only recognizes that which is 16-bit not 24. And it certainly does not recognize anything beyond 44.1/48 kHz because that is not a Microsoft operating system feature to offer anything other than standard USB audio at 16 bit, 44.1/48 kHz. Reaper has no problem with that. Your ZOOM has no problem with that. In fact at devices capable of not only 24-bit, uncompressed .wav file recordings, it's also capable I believe of 88.2/96 kHz or at least 96 kHz? And no USB standard feature is going to play that back with any modicum of quality whatsoever. In fact it does more damage than good as you have experienced first-hand.

    If all this crap was easy to do everybody would be a hit engineer. But it's not easy to do. Even less easy for someone that doesn't know a sample rate from a garden fork. Much less a flatware fork. I'm not trying to denigrate you were put you down. We all went through this when we were kids. And it took us many many years to learn how to do it the right way and with the right kinds of equipment. Because when ya didn't have the right kinds of equipment, you couldn't possibly hope for anything even encroaching upon professional. Yet I was making professional recordings with a consumer home Sony reel to reel recorder and a few crafty microphones with a custom-made passive mixer and an even more ridiculous and awful sounding reverb unit, when I was 14. Which was 43 years ago and I've gotten a little bit better since then. But only a little since I only got Grammy, Emmy & Soul Train Music Awards nominations and no awards. So I guess I've got a few more years of practice?

    43 years and counting of trying to get it right.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     

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