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How to use the Zoom H4N recorder with a mixer?
Old 15th September 2014
Here for the gear

Hi. I know I'm somewhat late to the party on this thread, but please bear with me. I have been using an H4N for three years now and love it. I've used it mainly by directly plugging XLR mics into it. Now, however, I need to use it with a Phonic 740 PowerPod Deluxe mixer. From reading this thread I am understanding that I need some kind of attenuator(?) to go from the mixer (1/4" jacks?) to the XLR inputs on my H4N? Is that correct? Please pardon my ignorance, but I am a computer programmer by day and a public speaker on the weekends. I'm not familiar with the jargon I've been reading on this thread, but perhaps we could all discuss Singletons and the Observer pattern and Inversion of Control sometime.

If anyone can, I would like your suggestions on best setup for me to use with the equipment I have to work with. I'm not averse to getting another piece of equipment if necessary to make this work with my H4N, I'm just not up to speed on the technical details of what I need to do. This is primarily for use for public speaking, not instrumental music, I am using the H4N to get cleaner and higher quality audio than just recording over the air, especially from a distance. I could keep using my existing setup, but that involves either wearing a headset mic in addition to using the mixer mic or forgetting the mixer mic altogether and just using a mic directly into my XLR as I have been doing up until now. Both of those options aren't the most convenient. I would rather let my sound girl deal with the H4N back at the mixer instead of me having to worry about two systems at once.

So if anyone has any ideas I'd appreciate the feedback, just please be gentle with the jargon, I'm not quite up to speed on that.


Old 15th September 2014
Hi. Sounds like you need a whirlwind splitter, 2 or 3-way.

If the "mixer mic" is wired and up front with you, then you would use a 6-ft xlr-xlr from mic to splitter (little black box w/green letters) then connect the original mic to mixer cable to the DIRECT output. Then use another 6ft xlr-xlr from the splitter ISO output into the mic input on the bottom of the Zoom. Because it's mic input, no attenuators needed. You might need phantom pwr on the Zoom for a condensor mic.

Plus you get to see the input levels on the recorder if you velcro it to a mic-stand note shelf thingie-clamp.

You can do the mic splitting back at the mixer but it's not optimum - no jargon, so no explanation for that.

If you're mic is wireless and the receiver has a mic/line level output switch, proceed just like you were wired, running the wires from the receiver as if it were a wired mic, switch set to mic level.
Good luck and tell us what you did.
Old 15th September 2014
Here for the gear

Thanks, audibell, this sounds like what I need. The mixer mic is wired and is up front with me, so using the splitter would work fine so I wouldn't have to handle two mics at once. I'm assuming that I wouldn't need phantom power on to do this, right?
Old 25th March 2016
Here for the gear

FYI--I got a Zoom H4n and encountered an identical issue prior to reading any of these threads... I wanted a portable recorder to basically record from a DJ mixer's record outputs throughout the night of parties I host featuring multiple DJs.

Short summary--I am able to get clean recordings now following some bits from threads I found here and elsewhere using:

2 of the HOSA XLR 20/30/40 pads and then connecting into the 1/4" connection of the H4n. I trialed this at home and intentionally mixed the main output on the mixer and adjusted the trim to improper levels and think this configuration will keep my night's recording in-tact for even that one guy that hops on the decks to go knob crazy.

In my case I found the HOSA pad removed almost all the distortion, but I was getting a consistent light clipping on every beat and realized from this thread it was likely the XLR input to the Zoom.

Happy to have a solution that will work for me. When I first unboxed the thing and tested at home I had very clean recordings after I adjusted the input on the Zoom and recorded at very modest levels. I assumed it was something wonky someone in the lineup did to the settings until I researched the issue.
Old 6th April 2016
Here for the gear

Hi bmholbro - i'm in exactly the same situation here and as a DJ and not an engineer, i've read this entire thread of mostly people trying to be nice and helpful, but some really unhelpful and patronising, and I just wondered if you could please post a link to the XLR pads you bought and are having success with? That would be really helpful

Kind regards
Old 13th March 2017
Here for the gear

Another option for people wading through this thread. If your mixer main outputs are XLR you can run XLR cables from the pass through on each of your powered speakers or amp to the recorder. This is a lower attenuated signal that should not distort. Better to have some attenuators as well but this will get you by in a pinch.
Old 14th March 2017 | Show parent
Lives for gear
tourtelot's Avatar
Wow. That was painful.

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