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Small recorder with line input + mic input / harsh enviroment Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
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stoickov's Avatar
 

Small recorder with line input + mic input / harsh enviroment

I'm a newbie.
I think I'll buy Zoom F1 for my very specific use case, but I'm not sure if it's not a mistake, so please advice.

The scene is:
free-flight, pilot in helmet, 40 km/h wind, additionally handheld radio (let's say walkie-talkie)

The goal is to auto-record decent quality voice of the pilot + radio transmissions.

Radio has an audio out cable (male 3.5 mm).
I'm not sure if I should mount an external mic inside the helmet or the built-in mic with the device placed on a cockpit (30cm in front, but exposed to the wind) is enough.

I want to use one channel for line-in from radio, and second channel for mic. I believe I need Zoom EXH-6 (Dual XLR/TRS Input Capsule) to achieve that. But it becomes quite bulky in that config. I consider also Zoom H4 (I can have one quite cheap, so it's a plus).

Am I on a right path?

Mods, can you please move the thread to Remote possibilities

Last edited by stoickov; 2 weeks ago at 10:00 PM.. Reason: Wrong section
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
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celticrogues's Avatar
 

SPDR

-Mike
Old 2 weeks ago
  #3
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stoickov's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by celticrogues View Post
€1349. Ouch!
Looks perfect, but I can't afford perfection.
Do you have any backup ideas?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
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I think the Zoom H4/H6 options for recording two channels may be viable. The issue with the H4 is that there is no line level input so a pad of some kind must be added if the radio's output is 'hot'. I believe the H6 handles this issue more gracefully. You will also have to figure out how to access the pilot's mic - some sort of signal split -and you will probably need some custom-made adapter cables. The rig need not be expensive or complicated, but its not trivial, especially as flight comms are safety critical too. If you are not techie, maybe find someone with an aviation and sound background to help.

Edit:Definitely recommend a close proximity (helmet) mic for the pilot - a directional mic in the cockpit buffeted by 40 km/h wind WILL NOT CUT IT!
Old 2 weeks ago
  #5
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stoickov's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimjazzdad View Post
The issue with the H4 is that there is no line level input
I've found info, that Zoom H4n uses xlr for mic in signal and 6.36mm jack plug mono for line in signal, so there's no need for atenuators.
Is that correct for H4, too? Manual doesn't mention anything about it.

I'm not sure what do you mean by signal split to access pilot's mic. There are 2 inputs in H4: one for the radio signal, one for the lav mic on the pilot.
If you imagine pilot has some aviation headset - this is not the case.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stoickov View Post
I've found info, that Zoom H4n uses xlr for mic in signal and 6.36mm jack plug mono for line in signal, so there's no need for atenuators.
Is that correct for H4, too? Manual doesn't mention anything about it.

I'm not sure what do you mean by signal split to access pilot's mic. There are 2 inputs in H4: one for the radio signal, one for the lav mic on the pilot.
If you imagine pilot has some aviation headset - this is not the case.
The H4N does not have a 'line level input', i.e. +4db. It is at most 'consumer level' -10 dB, so loud sources may need to be attenuated. Its possible that you may be able to plug from the walkie-talkie headphone out to the H4N 6.36mm jack in and turn down the W-T volume to get a decent record level...don't know, never tried. I had assumed the pilot was wearing a David Clark-style headset with boom mic...since that's not the case, there is no mic signal to 'split". It sounds like you need a head worn mic or a lav with a good foam windscreen. And this would plug into the other channel XLR input of your Zoom. So yes, all doable with a bit of experimentation.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #7
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Wyllys's Avatar
 

The non-XLR jack is instrument level.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #8
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Poinzy's Avatar
 

An audio circuit doesn't have to be balanced to achieve "line level". If you're recorder has consumer-level, unbalanced inputs it may also operate at line level.

You'll want to check your recorder's input levels, regardless. That's what I do with my Tascam DR-40.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #9
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by stoickov View Post
Is that correct for H4, too? Manual doesn't mention anything about it.
Surely you don't mean 'H4', which preceded the H4N? If so, it had a higher level 1/4 input than its successor, but still not professional line level and, also, is a fiddly device to use. If you need a cheap handheld recorder with a decent (nominal +4dB) line-level input there are options such as the Tascam DR 40.]

Cheers,

Roland
Old 2 weeks ago
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by norfolksoundman9 View Post
Surely you don't mean 'H4', which preceded the H4N?
Actually, I do mean the old H4. I'll do some tests next week with it and hope to learn a thing or two.

BTW, this forum rocks.
Old 4 hours ago
  #11
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stoickov's Avatar
 

So my experience so far is:
  • battery life of H4 is short. I'm not sure why I was expecting 12 hours - the specification says 4h and in reality (with 2 AA Eneloops) it's about 2h (I haven't measured properly though)
  • audio from walkie-talkie type radio 3.5mm jack -> mini jack / jack adapter -> h4 input (1 or 2) is OK, when I set gain to low and watch out the radio volume knob.
  • my NOXO lav (also via mini jack / jack adapter) also works, but doesn't sound very good, as you probably expect.

So if I use power bank, and watch volume on the radio, it all kind of works.
The problem is - the setup is quite bulky and needs a lot of care. It's easy to turn off, loose power, or f*ck up levels.

I start to doubt it will do the job in the air (so far I've made ground test only).
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