TagVoiceover

Zoom H6 vs Zoom H4n

So, you are thinking of buying your first (or next) digital audio recorder. Which one should you pick? The Zoom H4N, or the Zoom H6 Six-Track Portable Recorder? Let’s explore the pros and cons of each model and help you decide which portable digital recorder meets your needs.

What is the difference between the Zoom H4N and the Zoom H6?

Apart from price – the Zoom H6 is around 180-200 dollars more expensive – there are some features which set the H6 apart.

  • You get six recording channels with the Zoom H6 – four XLR inputs, and two on device microphones. On the Zoom H4n you only get four channels – two XLR inputs, and two on device microphones
  • You can use an SD card to record up to 128 GB of audio data on the Zoom H6. On the Zoom H4n you can only record up to 32 GB of audio data on a single SD card
  • There are physical gain knobs and pads for each XLR input on the Zoom H6. On the Zoom H4n you can control gain through the on board menu system
  • You can detach the on device X/Y stereo microphone from the Zoom H6. On the Zoom H4n the stereo X/Y microphone is permanently attached
  • You can purchase additional microphone capsules for the Zoom H6 to extend the versatility of the device. For example, the Zoom SGH-6 Shotgun Microphone Capsule can give your Zoom H6 a highly directional shotgun microphone. The Zoom XYH-5 Shock Mounted Stereo Microphone Capsule can minimise vibration and handling noise, perfect if you are capturing audio whilst the Zoom H6 is attached to a camera. The Zoom EXH-6 Dual XLR/TRS Capsule adds an additional two inputs so you can capture more lines in.
  • The Zoom H6 has a separate line out, whereas the Zoom H4n just has a Microphone Out option
  • Finally, you should get about twice the battery life out of a Zoom H6 than a Zoom H4n
Attention: The internal data of table “1” is corrupted!

So which one should you pick? Here is how I would decide. If you are just starting out, looking for an affordable portable digital audio recorder with the option of XLR inputs and good quality on board microphone recording, you can’t go past the Zoom H4N. It is a great device.

However, if you are looking to get into videography, and want to attach the audio recorder to the top of your camera rig – or are looking to record many different inputs, like different instruments in a live band set up, the Zoom H6 is worth the extra investment.

Presentation voice recording with the ZoomH4n and Sennheiser EW112P wireless microphone

I have the great fortune in my job that I get to deliver presentations regularly to audiences of various sizes – from 10 people to 500 people or more.  For example, recently I had the pleasure of delivering a keynote of a track at an Education conference held in Singapore at the Marina Bay Sands!  My usual routine as a speaker is to pop over to the audio desk and introduce myself to the audio tech – clip on the wireless transmitter that the venue has provided, and then try to weave my lapel microphone through my shirt and up to my second top button.  I love the freedom that a good wireless lav mic gives you as a presenter!  No longer tied to the stage or the lectern!

Up until recently I had never thought of recording my own presentations… every now and then the event organiser will record a video of the presentation – but usually they use the on board microphone and the audio quality is horrible.  Since getting my hands on the Zoom H4n recorder, getting a good quality recording of a presentation has been on my to do list.  At first I looked at wired lav microphones like the Audio-Technica ATR-3350 Lavalier Microphone but the thought of walking around on stage with my ZoomH4n clipped to my belt didn’t really excite me!

The last couple of events I have spoken at where I have used a wireless microphone, they haven’t invested in an audio technician that could handle the “out of the ordinary” request to plug my ZoomH4n into their sound desk to get a recording (or they had a policy which meant I couldn’t do it)… so I decided to take matters into my own hands.

After reading how the team at VaynerMedia put together the #askgaryvee videos and podcasts – and in particular the wireless lav microphones they use to get a great voice recording… I purchased the Sennheiser EW 112P system (pictured above) – which comprises of a wireless transmitter to clip on my belt, a good quality lapel mic to clip on my shirt, and a wireless receiver to use with a mixing board, or in my case, plug directly into my ZoomH4n audio recorder This was a great solution to my problem – getting a good quality audio recording when presenting to an audience…  I simply:

  • plug the receiver into my ZoomH4n,
  • clip the transmitter to my belt
  • weave the lav mic up my shirt and clip it on
  • make sure everything is turned on
  • hit record on my ZoomH4n to test the levels
  • hit record again to start the recording

And the resulting sound quality is great. Don’t have a ZoomH4n and want to record your presentation??  I found this great deal over at Amazon.com which bundles a Zoom H4n recorder with the Sennheiser EW 112P wireless microphone system – make sure you check it out!

The next question though… should I buy another  Sennheiser EW 112P system so I can record good quality conversations for my podcasts, or record panel discussions?  It is certainly tempting after the performance of the wireless microphone so far!

Recording a quick voice over with the Zoom H4n

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.

//Track outbounds