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Best settings to record live music with Zoom H4N Pro
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Best settings to record live music with Zoom H4N Pro

Hello everyone,

I am very new to recording and looking for any advice on what settings to use to record live music with the Zoom H4N Pro's inbuilt mics only; as I can’t afford any other equipment or connect to the soundboard. Volume often varies greatly (with some songs being played much louder than others, as well as big differences between music and speaking). I am unable to tell how loud the music will be until it has has started, so am having to guess the inputs. Therefore I am looking for any advice on what settings to use to avoid clipping without making the recording to quiet; as well as keep the volume as consistent as possible within songs. I also have these specific questions:

1. Should I use the inbuilt compressor or use audacity's post recording? - *I have tried with audacity but found it can lead to clipping with louder sections and doesn't increase quiet parts enough*

2. Does using the inbuilt compressor effect music quality?

3. If I use the compressor will it make the music uneven - *I know that sounds stupid but does the H4N Pro's compressor work well in practice with live music*

4. How will a compressor cope with sharp changes in volume (esp. from volume differences between songs and sudden loud special effects)

5. Should I use the limiter & compressor (esp. with events that use a lot of loud SFX) - *I tried just the limiter but had some sharp changes in volume within songs and still had a little clipping in the loudest parts, while the quieter parts came out very quiet.*


Thank you, any help is greatly appreciated

Last edited by AkatsukiWolf97; 4 weeks ago at 05:14 PM.. Reason: Typo in the title
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
Quote:
Best settings to record live music with ZOOM H4N Pro
As you know, there are no right or wrong ways to record. That means there are no best settings for every single recording session. The best settings, depend on a million different unknown variables to us and even if we knew all the million variables, it still comes down to personal preferences also.
Trial and error is the best way. also educate yourself on audio engineering.
Quote:
1. Should I use the inbuilt compressor or use audacity's post recording? - *I have tried with audacity but found it can lead to clipping with louder sections and doesn't increase quiet parts enough*
You answered your question already. You use what ever gives you the best results for that specific recording take. But you are probably using the compressor wrong or the recording is clipped or your gain stages are too hot. Or all the above and 10 other things are all wrong..
do not use presets, you need to know what every setting does on a compressor before using it to get the best results.
Quote:
2. Does using the inbuilt compressor effect music quality?
Everything you do, effects music quality.
Quote:
3. If I use the compressor will it make the music uneven - *I know that sounds stupid but does the H4N Pro's compressor work well in practice with live music*
Yes and no, it all depends on the settings of the compressor and the dynamics of the audio file it is compressing
Quote:
4. How will a compressor cope with sharp changes in volume (esp. from volume differences between songs and sudden loud special effects)
It can cope good or bad, depending on how you set it up. Do not use presets, they are not made for your specif audio takes
Quote:
5. Should I use the limiter & compressor (esp. with events that use a lot of loud SFX) - *I tried just the limiter but had some sharp changes in volume within songs and still had a little clipping in the loudest parts, while the quieter parts came out very quiet.*
you can use anything you want, as long as it gets you the sound and results you want. This clipping you are forgetting seems to me that you are using your tools all wrong and/or your recording are clipped already and/or your gain stages are not properly set up.

A compressor is a limiter and a limiter is a compressor, the only differences are the ratio settings. If its less than 10, it is compressing. If its 10 or greater, its limiting the audio signal. Read this to get to know how compressors work http://www.audio-mastering-mixing.co...-simple-terms/
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
Here for the gear
 

Thank you
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
Gear Guru
 

I have a few of the "shaver" type recorders, including a zoom. I mostly use it to record myself for study purposes. Or record a band I am playing in. For those purposes I use the auto gain features, because I am busy playing. I don't have the time to babysit the levels.

But of course if there are dramatic volume differences, you will hear it "clamping down" and you are more or less stuck with these artifacts.

I don't usually use the Zoom for 'serious' stuff, as I have a bigger portable rig with studio-level gear. But for semi-serious, I will manually set the gain and just leave a lot of headroom. If you record at 24 bits, you can record well down in the "green" and still have plenty of resolution to turn it up in post.

Quote:
I have tried with audacity but found it can lead to clipping with louder sections and doesn't increase quiet parts enough*
in the DAW you can do anything you want. If if is clipping in the louder sections you can just turn it down. You can automate the settings on the compressor, etc etc. If something doesn't work you can try it again with a different tool.

If you use any 'effects' built into the recorder, you are stuck with them. No big deal if your purpose - like mine - is merely "educational". If you want to get the best recording, capture it at 24 bits, with nothing added to the mic signal, keep your levels very conservative and then , if you want to modify the dynamics, (or the EQ or the reverb) there are tons of non-destructive options in the DAW you can try.

And if you don't like it, you can try another because you have captured a clean unadulterated signal.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
Here for the gear
 

Thank you
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