So, if you've been following my exploits over at that other web site I've been producing, you would know that we just recently acquired a Zoom H4n portable recorder. We were shopping around an inexpensive way to get high quality audio while filming on cameras like the Canon 5D mark 2.
Really we were won over by the stereo phantom powered XLR ports which could be run off of a pair of AA batteries, and we really didn't even consider using the built in stereo mics. While recording some street ambiance however, I decided to try 4 channel mode (which records from both the stereo mics and the XLR's), and was surprised to find that I actually preferred the built in mics to the external I was using.
I know others have already tackled this test more scientifically, but I wanted to get a sense of what this thing could do for a voice over talent, so I put it up against one of my studio's work horse mics the RODE NT1a.
Using an intro from a project we recently produced (apologies in advance 'Surf Patrol', I'm not a VO talent) I recorded myself using the Zoom and the Rode at the same time.
Here are the results:
Now listening between the two myself, I prefer the RODE ever so slightly, but I really do feel the Zoom is a bit more accurate.
For those of you that care about such things, The Zoom was recording straight to SD card at "75" (I'm not really quite sure what their gain metric is, one draw back I suppose) with the mics set to 90 degrees, and using the AC Adapter.
The Rode was plugged into an ART TPS, run through a Mackie board, ending in an M-Audio Fastrack Ultra. I really do think the tubes in the ART add to the slightly more pleasant sound, but detract from the accuracy of the recording.
Well, the Zoom has just become my favorite USB mic. Of all time. Really.
I've never liked the Snow Ball, and the AT2020USB is decent, but I usually end up recommending people go with something like the MicPort Pro.
MKH416 and C414XLS with EXCELLENT results), and it can also function as a talent's audio interface, even accepting signals from preamps and mixers.
For $300 this little Zoom is easily the most versatile bang for buck anyone could hope for, which makes it even more satisfying that it's versatility does NOT come at the expense of it's quality.
Buy the Zoom H4n from Amazon!
Lastly, I would just like to extend a quick thanks to The Voicecaster in Burbank for allowing me to use their facilities to conduct this test!