Recording a voiceover with the Zoom H4nToday in the office we had a bit of an impromptu request from one of our Executive team.  “We have a video from one of our partner organisations – we have permission from them to add our own audio on top of it – can we do it, and if so how?

Luckily I had the Zoom H4nand my Behringer XM8500 Microphone
on hand.  We found a quiet room in the office, and whilst the “talent” rehearsed their 90 second script, I set up the voice recorder and microphone in about 30 seconds.

 

  1. Plug the XLR cable into the Microphone and into the bottom of the Zoom H4n.  Note it doesn’t really matter which XLR port you plug it into – generally I pick the one of the left – #1
  2. Place the Behringer XM85000 into a microphone stand.  The one I use happened to come standard with my other microphone – the Audio-Technica AT2005USB- but any desktop microphone stand will do!
  3. Turn on the Zoom H4n and wait for 15 seconds for it to boot up
  4. Check to see that you are using the right inputs.  In this case we were using the #1 XLR input, so I had to ensure it was lit up.  If the “Mic” light was on, it would have used the built in stereo microphones and picked up a lot more ambient sound in the room (the last thing I needed for a good quality voice over
  5. Hit the record button once to check the levels.  In this case I watched the LCD panel on the handy recorder and noticed that the levels were a little low – simply because the microphone was a little too far away from our “talent”.  We couldn’t really change the distance unfortunately, but I could increase the input level slightly by using the input switch on the right hand side of the voice recorder.   Normally I have it set to 80, but in this case I bumped it up to 90.
  6. (at this stage I should have put some headphones on and checked the sound that was coming in via the Microphone, but I didn’t have them handy.  Luckily in this case it turned out alright!)
  7. Hit record again and wait for the mandatory 3-12 run throughs until your hastily arranged voice over guy or girl gets it right (or close enough)
  8. Hit stop when you are done!

Behringer XM8500 with the Zoom H4n Handy Recorder

In this case there was a little editing of the audio required to join a few good parts from different takes together.  So I plugged my SD card reader into my Surface, popped the SD card out of my Zoom H4n into the card reader and transferred the .wav file across.  I then opened up Audacity to do the edits.

In Audacity I did a few things to ensure the final audio was of as high a standard as possible.

  1. Noise removal.  Select a bit of “dead air” on your track.  Goto the effects menu, and then click on Noise Removal.  Click “Get Profile” and then click ok.  Select the entire track, then go back to the Noise Removal effect via the effects menu.  Click ok to apply the noise removal effect across the entire track
  2. Whilst the entire track is still selected, go back to the effects menu and then click Compressor.  This gives the voice a much better “radio” sound.
  3. Finally, in this case as the microphone was a little too far away from my talent, I used the amplify effect to add an additional 10db to the audio.

Once happy, I simply exported to a .mp3 file, and handed the audio over to the Exec who did his best to add it to the video using none other than Windows Movie Maker.

Total process from “we should do a voice over” to “voice over applied to video” was less than 60 minutes.  With a “broadcast quality” voice over that we could not achieve with a standard USB microphone/built in laptop microphone.