Zoom H2N or alternatives?

demiro

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Nov 7, 2010
Messages
3,371
Location
northeast US
Link to product info

I'm looking for something to record live music/performances, ranging from loud rock/punk to plays, which I'll then synch with video. The Zoom products seem to get solid reviews, but there are a lot of choices out there. Focus for many devices seems to be on vlogging and spoken word though, which may not work as well for my needs.

If anyone has any experience with this or similar devices and would like to share it would be greatly appreciated. Budget probably maxes out at $200.

Thanks.
 

DanS

Mu-43 All-Pro
Joined
Mar 8, 2016
Messages
1,823
Link to product info

I'm looking for something to record live music/performances, ranging from loud rock/punk to plays, which I'll then synch with video. The Zoom products seem to get solid reviews, but there are a lot of choices out there. Focus for many devices seems to be on vlogging and spoken word though, which may not work as well for my needs.

If anyone has any experience with this or similar devices and would like to share it would be greatly appreciated. Budget probably maxes out at $200.

Thanks.


Honestly, Given the potential dynamic range of what you are recording, I don't think any of the handheld recorders would do a very good job, specially if whatever mic you are using needs a lot of gain.

For high dynamic range recording, you want something like a Zoom F6, or Sound devices MixPre-3 II. They are 3 or 4 times your listed budget, but they will last far longer, and offer a lot more utility than any of the handheld versions.

The real benefit of these 2 recorders and others like them is that they record in 32bit float, and run dual analog to digital converters. Here are 2 really good reviews of them that will explain in a lot more detail.



 
Last edited:

John M Flores

Super Moderator
Joined
Jan 7, 2011
Messages
3,343
Location
NJ
32bit float : audio :: RAW : photography

I am using a Zoom F2 on the noisy environment of a motorcycle ride and the 32bit has saved my hide more than once.
 

DanS

Mu-43 All-Pro
Joined
Mar 8, 2016
Messages
1,823
32bit float : audio :: RAW : photography

I am using a Zoom F2 on the noisy environment of a motorcycle ride and the 32bit has saved my hide more than once.

John, Are you using Timecode with it?
 

John M Flores

Super Moderator
Joined
Jan 7, 2011
Messages
3,343
Location
NJ
John, Are you using Timecode with it?
No. At the start of a recording session, I beep the horn of the motorcycle and sync in post using that. If I'll remember, I'll beep at the end too.

That's sufficient for my needs, since you can't see me speaking on camera and minor drifting in synchronization won't be noticeable.
 

demiro

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Nov 7, 2010
Messages
3,371
Location
northeast US
Thanks guys. Good insights. @DanS I had no idea what was possible relative to managing levels.

No idea what I'm going to do. Maybe record off the sound board or forget about it.
 

eteless

Mu-43 All-Pro
Joined
Jun 20, 2014
Messages
1,899
I'm not going to make any recommendations other than buying and wearing a good pair of earplugs when doing anything related to live music, getting old isn't all bad but it's undoubtedly worse with tinnitus.

I have previously used a Zoom H2, Olympus LS-3, and LS-100 (all ancient history these days) for recording the occasional meeting/samples/live music and they all worked well enough in their envelope. The LS-100 was universally better than the others (and supported XLR mics), but the LS-3 was small enough to leave in my normal everyday bag and thus got used a lot more (its sound quality was a huge step up from internal camera mics or heaven forbid a phone but below other dedicated recorders, but it was always in my bag and they were not). The H2 was... forgettable? it did the job but I don't really have anything good or bad to say about it.

32bit float recording is interesting as it has the potential to reduce the fucking around adjusting gain (to avoid clipping) and makes setup more a question of finding a location that sounds good and doesn't pick up too much stray audience/bar/whatever noise, but it's not magic and will still clip (despite what any marketing says) if the voltage/sound is above its rated maximum input level/SPL (115dB in the case of the Zoom F2).
 

demiro

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Nov 7, 2010
Messages
3,371
Location
northeast US
Damn. I'm feeling like the guy who finds this site and posts "I'm looking for a camera to take better pics of my kids than I get with phone, what do you recommend for $400?", who then ends up with $2000 worth of kit in his cart at B&H.

My budget will remain constrained on this, as I'm really not looking for a pro rig. Sweetwater recommended four mics and a recorder, for about $1500 all-in. In fairness, they also said recording off the board is best solution.

So instead of trying to buy gear that overcomes the inherent difficulties in recording live music I will redouble my efforts to get access to the sound board. Thanks again for the comments here. They helped me understand things more clearly.
 

Taz trooper

Mu-43 Regular
Joined
Jul 11, 2015
Messages
43
Location
Cambridge, UK
If you can live with just Stereo, then the Olympus LS-P4 is highly recommended.
Brilliant auto levelling, warm sound and MP3 / FLAC / WAV recording modes.
I've had one since Black Friday, and have been suitably impressed - we've used the LS-P4 recording n preference to the output from the mixing desk.
 

DanS

Mu-43 All-Pro
Joined
Mar 8, 2016
Messages
1,823
So instead of trying to buy gear that overcomes the inherent difficulties in recording live music I will redouble my efforts to get access to the sound board. Thanks again for the comments here. They helped me understand things more clearly.

That is probably your best bet if you want to stay within your budget.
 

DanS

Mu-43 All-Pro
Joined
Mar 8, 2016
Messages
1,823
32bit float recording is interesting as it has the potential to reduce the fucking around adjusting gain (to avoid clipping) and makes setup more a question of finding a location that sounds good and doesn't pick up too much stray audience/bar/whatever noise, but it's not magic and will still clip (despite what any marketing says) if the voltage/sound is above its rated maximum input level/SPL (115dB in the case of the Zoom F2).

Of course everything clips at some point, as your simply overwhelm the analogue part of the system. The F6 is at 131dB and the mix pre II series is at 142dB. At those levels you are just as likely to be limited by your mics, as you are the recorder. Not to mention You really don't want to be anywhere near something that loud, even with hearing protection.
 

demiro

Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Joined
Nov 7, 2010
Messages
3,371
Location
northeast US
If you can live with just Stereo, then the Olympus LS-P4 is highly recommended.
Brilliant auto levelling, warm sound and MP3 / FLAC / WAV recording modes.
I've had one since Black Friday, and have been suitably impressed - we've used the LS-P4 recording n preference to the output from the mixing desk.
@Taz trooper can you give me an idea of what you've been recording?

I appreciate the recommendation, though it is a bit confusing, as many people [here and beyond] suggest the Olympus or Zoom or Tascam devices are all basically not up to the task for live music.
 

eteless

Mu-43 All-Pro
Joined
Jun 20, 2014
Messages
1,899
@Taz trooper can you give me an idea of what you've been recording?

I appreciate the recommendation, though it is a bit confusing, as many people [here and beyond] suggest the Olympus or Zoom or Tascam devices are all basically not up to the task for live music.

The LS-PS4 essentially has identical mics to the older LS-3 or LS-7 in a newer package, It's good enough for most stuff but only rated for 120dB and will clip with live music on occasion (it's one reason the LS-100 was good, it was rated for 140dB on internal mics which is very unlikely).

The Tascam gear is decent, I would recommend one of their offerings with dual level recording - they used to offer recorders which would record at the set level and make a second recording -12 or -24 dB lower so that if the primary clipped you had a second recording that was far less likely to do so (it was a great feature, no idea which models still have it).
 

Taz trooper

Mu-43 Regular
Joined
Jul 11, 2015
Messages
43
Location
Cambridge, UK
@Taz trooper can you give me an idea of what you've been recording?

I appreciate the recommendation, though it is a bit confusing, as many people [here and beyond] suggest the Olympus or Zoom or Tascam devices are all basically not up to the task for live music.
In my case it was about 4 months worth of church services with live music, so with a really wide dynamic range. Probably not over 120dB though...
If you do really need over 120db, you would be best on a limited budget taking a feed from the mixing desk
 

DanS

Mu-43 All-Pro
Joined
Mar 8, 2016
Messages
1,823
@demiro


It's a fairly complicated subject, but I will see if I can provide some kind of overview about the positives and negatives of what's available on the market. Keep in mind I'm referring to general audio recorders, and excluding body pack recorders.


The lowest priced stuff on the market (Zoom H1n etc) has the benefit of being cheap and small, but comes with a few limitations that can be a hindrance depending on your needs. Imo the biggest limitations are they rely on built in microphones, or 3.5mm (1/8") TRS jacks, and the premaps aren't that good. If you can get close to the source and get a good strong signal they can be really good. However, if you have to apply any appreciable amount of gain you will get a lot of self noise from the preamps. Only supporting 3.5mm inputs limits your external mic options, to Lavs, wireless lav receivers, or camera top type mics.


The main benefit of the larger and more expensive handhelds like the Zoom H4 and H5, are XLR and 1/4" inputs, as well as a wider range of recording codecs, bitrates, and same rates. You also start getting the ability to do safety tracks and some amount of mixin in the device. The main limitations are still the preamps, and battery life if you are using phantom power. The zoom H4n Pro is supposed to have better preamps than its predecessors, but they still aren't as good as what you get in higher end models.

As an aside I think the high end handhelds like the Zoom H6 & H8 are a waste of money. They are trying to shoehorn bag style recorder functionality into a handheld device. when you start feeding in multiple external mics, you end up with cables getting in the way, and you burn through batteries really quick. Not to mention they cost as much as the lower end bag style recorders.


I personally separate the bag style recorders into 2 categories, prosumer and pro. Imo, prosumer is the $300 to $1k range, and pro is everything above$1k.

You have to be careful and do a lot of research when you get into the prosumer segment. The preamps are generally all pretty good. The major differentiators are the number of inputs, timecode support (and how good it is), external power support, and then how flexible are the sampling, recording, and mixing features. other nice features are dual card slots, and seamless switching between internal and external power.

For example you can get a Tascam DR-70D for $300, but you can't trust its internal clock for timecode out, it needs to be driven by an external timecode generator like a tentacle sync. On the plus side you can power it with AAs internally or externally via usb or a wall wart.

I personally have a Zoom F4 (no longer sold) and love it, because its internal timecode clock is very good, and it can be powered externally via a wall wart, or a locking 4 pin hirose connector.

The down side of bag style recorders, is that you have to use an external mic, and thus you have extra cost, and cables to deal with.




Depending on your setup, something you might want to consider is a camera preamp/ audio adapter. I used a Saramonic SR-PAX2 (~$150) for a while and got good results. You can use external mics, or you can feed it line level inputs as well.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Aug 13, 2014
Messages
4,265
Location
Honolulu, HI
Real Name
Walter
Thanks all. This thread is a good reminder that audio recording is just as important in videography as the video. I know or experienced little of either, but always interested in hearing about it.
 

DanS

Mu-43 All-Pro
Joined
Mar 8, 2016
Messages
1,823
Thanks all. This thread is a good reminder that audio recording is just as important in videography as the video. I know or experienced little of either, but always interested in hearing about it.

I know a lot of professional audio/video people (some personally) that will tell you people are far more tolerant of bad video than they are bad audio.

A few years back I even read a paper that showed this to be the case. From what I can remember hum/background noise, and reverb really turned people off.
 

John M Flores

Super Moderator
Joined
Jan 7, 2011
Messages
3,343
Location
NJ
I know a lot of professional audio/video people (some personally) that will tell you people are far more tolerant of bad video than they are bad audio.

A few years back I even read a paper that showed this to be the case. From what I can remember hum/background noise, and reverb really turned people off.

Agree, but on the other end of the spectrum I think that people will more easily recognize and applaud great video than they would great audio.

I know, for example, that I can produce "good enough" audio with my skills and gear. But for the moment I am not pursuing great audio because my effort and budget is better spent improving my video. That's my $0.02, at least.
 

DanS

Mu-43 All-Pro
Joined
Mar 8, 2016
Messages
1,823
Agree, but on the other end of the spectrum I think that people will more easily recognize and applaud great video than they would great audio.

I know, for example, that I can produce "good enough" audio with my skills and gear. But for the moment I am not pursuing great audio because my effort and budget is better spent improving my video. That's my $0.02, at least.


I agree with that, and I think it comes down two significant reasons. With regards to video, people consume so much bad and blah video via social media now, anything that's actually good jumps out at them.

For audio, I think it's much harder for your average person to tell the difference between bad, average, and great audio, because their audio devices are generally bad. Phones & tablets, have crappy built in speakers & amps. Modern consumer earbuds and headphones mutilate the signal they are feed, usually by jacking the mid base through the roof, not to mention they can't reproduce the entire audible frequency range. Monitor speakers, and desktop speakers aren't any better either.

Additionally home entertainment systems with a good sound system are much rarer than the used to be. Interestingly, while a large portion of people consume Amazon, Netflix etc via a smart tv now, video from Youtube and social media are rarely consumed in this manner.
 
Last edited:

Latest threads

Links on this page may be to our affiliates. Sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
Mu-43 is a fan site and not associated with Olympus, Panasonic, or other manufacturers mentioned on this site.
Forum post reactions by Twemoji: https://github.com/twitter/twemoji
Forum GIFs powered by GIPHY: https://giphy.com/
Copyright © Amin Forums, LLC
Top Bottom