Portable field recording at a conference with the ZoomH4n

I had a great opportunity to travel from Australia to Singapore to deliver a presentation this week.  At the conference I wanted to capture some field based interviews for my Yammer podcast.  As I was only going to be in Singapore for about 47 hours, illness I decided to travel with carry-on luggage only.  The small and light nature of my Zoom H4N
and my two microphones made traveling and recording a breeze.

I have taken the ZoomH4n through airport security at least eight times now – I thought due to the design of the voice recorder (and specifically the stereo microphones on the top of the audio recorder which look similar to the silhouette to a stun gun) my bags would be stopped for closer inspection more regularly.  To be honest it has only been picked up once, and that was by a trainee xray machine operator.

At the conference I wanted to capture a few different pieces of audio.  Firstly, I captured some background noise – the vibe or buzz of the conference room that we were speaking in.  To do this I turned on the Zoom H4N
and then used the built in stereo microphones.  After pressing record, I checked the levels and notice they were a little low, so I used the “rec level” button to push up the sensitivity of the recorder.

After I had captured the ambient noise of the room, I decided to record my the introduction / preamble / monologue for the podcast.  To do this I switched from the built in stereo microphone on the Zoom and instead used my Audio-Technica AT2005USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone
connected via its XLR connection.  The sound was fantastic – despite the loud voices in the room from the 10 tables of 8 people working on desk exercises in the room – I could talk with my normal voice into the Audio-Technica Microphone and get a very good recording.

Finally I plugged in another Microphone – my Behringer XM8500
– to do some 1 on 1 interviews with some of the conference organisers and attendees.  Again some great conversations were captured with next to no issues.  Despire the loud background noise of all the people speaking in the room the ZoomH4n coupled with the two microphones did a stellar job!

You can check it out for yourself – listen to Episode 8 of The Yaminade at http://www.theyaminade.com


  1. Great info on your site! My question/issue, is that I attend many conferences, lectures and events that I need to cover as a journalist. Depending on the environment, the onboard mic on the Zoom H4n can be excellent, or pure crap. If the speaker’s mic is turned down too low, or if there is too much ambient noise, I struggle to hear everything clearly when I play back my recordings of these events. I have several external XLR mics that I use for various purposes. I have not experimented with them when recording a public events since that can look very conspicuous. What’s your advice for using the Zoom H4n in these types of situations? In general, I need to be able to boost the recording input while minimizing the ambient noise of other people talking or clanking plates, etc.

  2. It would be interesting to know how we could use the zoom portable recorders to record a meeting room with 10-20 people. Would it work a recorder like the H4n or maybe the F4? how could it be done?

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