Shotgun Mic Setup Through Zoom H1?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by JNSC, Jun 7, 2014.

  1. JNSC macrumors member


    Jul 9, 2011
    I'll shortly begin making a 10-15 minute YouTube "movie" with some friends as a summer project, and have some questions regarding audio.

    I already own an Azden SGM-2X shotgun mic, and plan on using that as the primary recording device. However, until now I've been routing the XLR output through a conversion cable (a Pearstone LMT100) to 3.5mm and into my camera's microphone input. For this video (the longest I'll have worked on to date) and the future, I want to be able to have audio takes stored separately, for easier scene editing in a single-camera setup, the fact that it frees up whoever's holding the boom pole, and for the (convenience?) of having two audio sources for every take. At a local BestBuy, I spotted the Zoom H1 for $99, which seems to be all I'd need.

    I'm aware the H1 only takes 3.5mm input, but with the conversion cable working fine, I don't see a need to spend an extra ~$130 to go up to the Zoom H4n, which takes XLR--unless I'm missing something.

    So, given that money is super tight (I'm in high school), is there any major quality sacrifice with choosing the H1? Additionally, does the setup with the H1 seem sound in general? All I've had experience with is feeding the SGM-2X into my camera, so any help is greatly appreciated! Thanks!
  2. catonfire macrumors newbie

    Oct 24, 2013
    XLR vs MiniJack


    XLR cables have better shielding against noise from fluorescent lights, cellphones, radio noise and other electronic gear. So if you choose your locations carefully and test beforehand to rule out these things you can get good results. Having a short cable run from mic to recorder will also help.

    Another cost saving / quality maximization option is to rent the best gear for less than the price of buying cheap gear. This is a good avenue if you won't have a lot of shooting days. If you plan to do a lot of video production, on the other hand, then investing now in decent gear will be your best value in the long run.

    Here is a $150 on sale digital recorder with XLR, Tascam DR-40 at B&H:

    It includes a free copy of Plural Eyes for syncing if you don't have that already. $179 value.

    Buy once, cry once. Buy cheap, buy twice. But a digital recorder of any kind will give you much better results than dslrs or consumer camcorders so either way you'll be getting much much better results.
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    The H1 is not really bad. My daughter (also in HS) has pretty much borrowed my H1 full time for her Youtube shoots. But when she heard one of my recording she was blown away and said "it does not sound 'recorded' it's like you are right there talking." I was using a Presonus audio interface to record straight into a computer from a studio condenser microphone.

    The H1 works well enough for what it is but is has a kind of "cheap' feel to it and it is very easy to break. The user interface is not great but usable. The case is made of thin plastic that is not very strong. I think the H4 can take more physical abuse. If you get the H1 you MUST find a hard case for it. Even if that is just a small card board box. That said it's only $100 and the built in stereo microphones are not bad at all.

    You can do OK work with an H1 but the difference between just OK and really good depends on a combination of carful technique (mic placement, Distances from walls and other elective surfaces, watching the gains and recording levels, post processing) and equipment. The main equipment problem with the H1 is the quality of the internal preamplifier. It you have a weak mic and need to turn the gain up you will get noise. Better recorders have better preamps with less self-noise and more gain. You can combat this problem by getting the mic as close as you can without getting it in the frame. Hide it on the set or use a boom or if you can use a lavaliere mic. Getting it close allows you to turn the gain down so you have less noise.

    Generally recorders with XLR inputs will have better preamps. This rule is not 100% true but it's close.

    One more thing, if you must convert a balanced XLR cable to 3.5mm unbalanced try and find an adaptor cable that has a transformer inside. The transformer boosts the signal a little but also reduces hum pickup.

    Also always record about 15 seconds of silence at the end or beginning so you can use this to "train" noise reduction software. Software post processing can really help.

    Of course if you had more money you'd use a better recorder and XLR all the way in and microphones that are small enough to hide in clothing.

    The H1 using just the internal mice can bemused for close up shots where you are able to get the H1 say 24 inches away just out of the frame

    The trouble with audio gear is that each small increment in quality doubles the price of the setup.

    Have you thought of using a Macbook as an audio recorder? Buy a used Presonus "Audiobox" for $60 but the combo is more bulk than an H4.
  4. kokako macrumors regular

    Feb 23, 2011
    Zoom just released the H5 so the H4n should get cheaper shortly, opt for that rather than the Tascam DR40 which is very plastic, Zoom has some rubber on it's chassis and makes for less handling noise.
    Don't record the dialogue on set with the H1 it's a stereo mic and you want to record voices and most sounds mono - you're on a budget so I'd say buy a used zoom h4n and a used rode NTG3 or a used Sennheiser 416 (the LA mic) if too steep then a Rode NTg2 but it's not great.
    Process your audio afterwards as you'd do with a raw photo or some flat picture styled video you shot using Izotope Rx2 or RX3.
    The H1 doesn't have phantom power 24v 48v etc which is why it's not going to be very good for you unless you do use the Rode NTG2 shotgun mic which is battery powered by AA, I'd buy the h4n if I were you .

Share This Page