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Shotgun Mic + Zoom H4N

Hesstifer's picture
Last seen: 3 years 11 months ago
Joined: 01/19/2011 - 6:53pm

I own two shotgun mics, an AT-897 and a Rode NTG-2, and I'm having the same problem with each (which makes me think that what I'm experiencing is not a "problem" and is completely normal). Here's the situation: When I have one of the mics connected to a Zoom H4N audio recorder, I have to have the recording levels all the way up (to level 100). With the levels all the way up, I have to be just 6-inches directly in front of the mic to be able to talk in a normal voice volume and register -12db on the Zoom (in an otherwise silent room). If I back up to 3 feet from the front of the mic, speaking in a normal voice volume only gets me to -24db. Now, I know you need to be as close to the mic as possible to obtain the best quality, but I would expect to be able to be at least 3ft away and not have to turn the audio recorder's levels to their max. Because when I bring the -24db to normal levels in post, the amount of noise increases as well.

My question is: are shotgun mics supposed to be like this? Is this an issue with the Zoom H4N? It would seem to me that I should have more wiggle room with the Zoom's recording levels to make the mic much more sensitive.

Any advice would be very much appreciated.

Thanks!


EarlC's picture
Last seen: 8 months 2 days ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am
Plus Member Moderator

I suspect it might be a combination of the two, but first I have to say I do not have the H4 model, only a set of H2's that I absolutely love and use extensively. On them, I have, and with the configuration you're using, I have to set the levels to between 125-128 on the Zoom, to get the kind of response I want from my Nady shotgun (one sorry mic, I have to say). The ONLY way I've been able to have serious silence with little/no air or noise is to use baffles and sound abatement, quilts, blankets, etc. in conjunction with the setup. I can set the H2 outside this perimeter, but I have to run a cable from the shotgun to the recorder, and the shotgun is about 20" away from me.

My Rhode does much better, but I still prefer to be closer to the mic than 3 feet, still setting the Zoom at 125-128 and modulating carefully so as to not have moments where I might exceed the settings and hit the ceiling.

The softer levels are not a problem as I can "normalize" from within the Zoom, or do it in one of my audio editing programs during post.

Regardless of how "quiet" you perceive your room to be, there's noise levels to be concerned with unless it is a soundproof booth or recording studio room where they've taken measures to arrange for noise abatement.

One other thought: You don't have the AGC on the Zooms "on" do you? Just asking.


Hesstifer's picture
Last seen: 3 years 11 months ago
Joined: 01/19/2011 - 6:53pm

Thanks, Earl. I believe you are right that it is a "combination of the two." Not in the sense that there is anything wrong with either mic or Zoom on their own, but from what I've read in a few other forums is that the Zoom doesn't have enough gain in its pre amp. So I guess one would need either a really sensitive shotgun mic, or to feed the mic into a separate pre-amp, and then the pre-amp into the Zoom. Definitely not what I wanted to hear. Oh well. I appreciate your response!


fx1shooter's picture
Last seen: 4 weeks 11 hours ago
Joined: 11/13/2009 - 2:45pm
Plus Member

Are you using the battery for Phantom power or the Zoom Phantom power?

I have a H4-n and NTG-2 but I always connect the NTG-2 to my mixer and the mixer to the Zoom. I will however test to see if I get the same results.


Hesstifer's picture
Last seen: 3 years 11 months ago
Joined: 01/19/2011 - 6:53pm

I've tried both... using a battery (and turning Zoom's phantom power off) and taking the battery out and using the Zoom's phantom power. What stinks is that I'm trying to remain as portable as possible, i.e. don't want to lug around some huge mixer or pre-amp.


fx1shooter's picture
Last seen: 4 weeks 11 hours ago
Joined: 11/13/2009 - 2:45pm
Plus Member

ok I tried it connecting directly (however i have an NTG-1 not the -2) and it works fine. if I set the volume to 100, i can get -6db standing 3ft away and talking just a bit loader than normal like if you would talk to a group of 5 people at the restaurant. if i talk loader like in front of a group of 20 or so people it peaks.

to compare it, I connected my Neumann BCM104 (i use for voice overs) and got the exact same scenario.

the only things i set were phantom 48v and low cut at 133hz.

hope this can help you

Robert


Hesstifer's picture
Last seen: 3 years 11 months ago
Joined: 01/19/2011 - 6:53pm

From reading other posts, it seems that this problem is common for both the AT-897 and the NTG-2... of course, the exact two mics that I invested in! DOH! I went over to a buddy's place, who is an audio pro, and we ran the mic first through one of his professional-grade preamps. That did the trick! Both mics sounded great (although the AT-897 was clearly better than the NTG-2). So for my purposes, not wanting a huge 20 lb professional preamp to lug around on shoots, I'm going to try this little guy, the Rode Power Plug:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/392814-REG/Rode_D_POWER_PLUG_D_PowerPlug_In_Line_Cable_Mounted.html

My friend assured me that even though it says its only for dynamic mics, it should work with my shotguns given they have battery power, and the configuration would be:

mic (w/ battery) <-> Rode Power plug <-> XLR cable <-> H4n (w/ 48v phantom enabled)

If it works, it would be a very cheap solution. I'll report back when I know. Unless any of you know with 100% certainty that it won't work...


210pe's picture
Last seen: 5 years 1 week ago
Joined: 12/09/2009 - 2:01pm

I have the H4n and just did some recording with my Sennheiser Me66 with the K6 phantom power (this basically does what you're buying above I believe). If i turn on the phantom power on the mic but off on the h4n I get around -4db at around 3 feet away.

Travis


Hesstifer's picture
Last seen: 3 years 11 months ago
Joined: 01/19/2011 - 6:53pm

UPDATE: The Rode Power Plug did the trick! It has turned out to be a nifty, cheap, and portable solution to this problem. Have about 20db more in gain now, everything sounds great. Just need to feed 48v phantom out from the H4n into the Rode Power Plug, and the mic needs to have a battery in it as well for it all to work.


jakeman3's picture
Last seen: 8 months 5 days ago
Joined: 11/10/2009 - 12:46am

I also had that problem. I "fixed" it by adding a Nady DMP-2 between the mics & the H4n or camcorder. I must admit it adds a little circuitry hiss (an easy fix in post - well worth it) and it's output is line level only.

It's pre-ampwith 2XLR in & outputs, +48V phantom power& powered by one9 volt battery.

It's small - about 4.5"WX 2.25" HX 5.25" D and only 1 pound.

Pricedunder $75 and easy to use.

Good luck - Jake - Torrance, CA