D112 mini tripod
I finally picked up the new Zoom H4N this week, although it sat in its box for 3 days because I had no time to get it out and look at it which is really sad. It is going to take me a while to work out exactly what this thing can do but at first glance it has some very nice new features. I’m certainly not going to stop using the H4, but I expect the H4N will become my main unit fairly soon.
First big difference is that it does not have the mount with Velcro straps that the H4 has. The H4N has a screw thread directly into the body so I can attach it directly to a tripod without the old mount system. I have moved the H4 mount permanently onto the tripod and the H4N will go on the Boom pole. This will reduce the amount of messing around when I want have different set-ups. The H4N also has access to the memory card directly from the side of the unit, the H4 had access hidden in with the batteries. From a functional point of view the H4N has various different modes including one that allows for input from an external microphone as well as the two on board mics simultaneously. This could be very useful for backup tracks. I’ll add a full review of the H4N to the review section very soon.
Today I wanted to do some more water recordings, this time of water slashing on water so I went down to the wharfs again and took all my gear. I used the H4 on the tripod with the MKH 60, and the H4N on the ground with a D112 on a mini tripod as well as using the H4N mics with a fluffy wind cover. I also switched on the R09, but without a wind cover everything it captured was unusable. I then spent about 20 minutes dragging buckets of water out of the bay and throwing it back in to record the splash sounds. When I got back to the studio I found a lot of noise in these recordings. Each set-up seemed to have its own issues.
The shotgun mic was pointing out across the harbour area and was in fact picking up construction noise from about a kilometre away. The D112 was not directional enough and so was picking up as much wind as it was splashing, and the H4N mics were positioned too low to the ground to receive anything useful. So even with 6 mics I didn’t really grab anything I want to keep. I am not worried as it is very easy to record this material again, and it was also mainly a test for the new equipment, but ti is interesting to see how even with various pieces of equipment all working together you can not always guarantee a good result. I think recording at night time would be better as the area is often heavy with construction during the day. Traffic will also be less of an issue. I was a very good test and showed various issues I need to deal with.
At the same location I wanted to record some water balloons bursting. The sound of the balloons bursting with water was too quick and quite lifeless, but the popping sound when full of air was excellent. The nearby structures provided a really good reverberant echo. It sounded almost like a gunshot. So even though the sound I wanted to capture was not great I got some good sounds. I also captured the sound of one of the pontoon wharfs creaking heavily on my way back. This was probably the best sound of the day, and was completely unexpected.
I used the H4N with the D112 to record several of my sneezes when I got back to the apartment. (I have an awful cold at the moment) My sneezes have always been very loud, but it was somewhat frightening to see that a mic designed specifically to record massive output sounds struggled with my exploding head. I did get a couple of good examples, but I also got several that peaked badly. I also recorded some good domestic sounds, like brushing teeth, and lots of sniffing sounds (courtesy of my cold) I will continue to put the H4N through its paces and see what it can do.
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Stephan Schütze has been recording sounds for over twenty years. This journal logs his thoughts and experiences