Zoom H4n Quickstart Guide

Nov 21, 2011   //   by Aaron   //   Audio  //  Comments Off

This is our quickstart guide to using the Zoom H4n audio recorder with the built-in internal microphones or a single external microphone. The recording settings are our recommended settings for use with video. Consult the manual for more in-depth use. Below is a text version of the video tutorial.

Powering Up
Insert (2) AA Batteries (not included)
Place ribbon under batteries
Make sure the Stamina switch is set to the Off position
Screw the included handle into the handle mount if desired

Getting Started
Push the Power slide down to the On position and hold until Z appears on Zoom display
Insert Headphones
The Volume buttons control only the headphones volume (adjust to 50 when setting up)

Selecting Record Mode:
Zoom Recorders have (3) Record Modes:
Stereo, 4Ch (4-channel), and MTR (Multi-track Recording)
A red light will indicate the current mode
The recorder needs to be set to STEREO
If STEREO MODE is not enabled, press the MENU button on the right side

Use the scroll dial above the MENU button and scroll down to MODE
Press the dial in (like a button) to bring up MODE settings

Choose STEREO and press the Menu dial in to select.
Press MENU twice to exit out.

Selecting Record Format:
We recommend a Record Format of 48kHz/16bit and the file should be .WAV
The MP3 format is a compressed and inferior compared to .WAV files. The file is smaller and is often used to quickly share a recording where quality is not the highest priority.

The display will show the current record format inside a box in the upper left corner
The file type (WAV or MP3) is to the right of that and follows the name of the audio track

If not set to 48kHz/16bit WAV press Button 4 marked WAV/MP3.

Set to WAV48kHz/16bit if you are recording audio for a video project. If you are making a non-critical recording of a lecture that you need to get off of the recorder and share with others as soon as possible, you might consider recording in one of the MP3 formats. The size will be much smaller more easier sharing with some sacrifice in overall sound quality.

To select Built-in Mics:
Under INPUT choose MIC,
MIC lights up red when enabled
Press the REC button once to put the recorder in standby mode (button blinks)
You should now hear the mics on the top of the unit in your headphones and see the record levels on the display moving.

Setting Record Levels:
On the right side of the unit adjust REC LEVEL + or – as needed (start at 50)

Your record levels should peak around -12db.
The range between -12db and 0db is called the headroom.
Headroom is space reserved for your loudest sounds and can be thought of as a safety net for unexpected loud sounds that may occur during your recording.
Sounds that are louder than 0db will distort. You will hear this overmodulated and crunchy audio in your headphones.

Recording Voice or Instrument (direct recording):
The ideal range for direct recording is 1-1.5ft so get close to your subject
Built-in mics should be rotated to 90-degrees

Recording Ambient Sound:
Rotate built-in mics to 120-degrees
It’s a good practice to record ambient sound in the same setting as an interview. The two tracks (one ambient and one interview) can be mixed together during the editing process to create a more seamless sounding master recording.

Start Recording:
Press REC again. REC light turns solid red.
Time on display begins rolling.
To stop recording press STOP button.
To add a marker during your recording press REC

Using an external mic:
Plug mic cable (XLR) into bottom of Zoom – 1
Make sure mic has battery (if needed) and turn on (if it has a switch)
Plug in mic to cable
Under INPUT Press 1 or 2
Microphone records onto Left Channel

To record to both L and R channels:
In the Menu under INPUT set 1/2 LINK to ON
The set MONO MIX to ON.

Getting your files off of the recorder:
Plug USB cable into left side of Zoom
Plug USB cable into computer
Press MENU button
Go to USB and select STORAGE

Zoom card shows up on the desktop as H4N_SD

Your audio files will be in the STEREO folder > FOLDER01 (or other numbered folders if you configured the Zoom to record to other folders).
Drag files into a new folder on your computer or external hard drive and label folders and files as needed.

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