Zoom H4N Review: How to Get Better Audio for DSLR Video [Reel Rebel #6]

Zoom H4N Review: How to Get Better Audio for DSLR Video [Reel Rebel #6]

If you're using a DSLR for capturing video, or if you like to separately record audio tracks for your video, you will definitely want to consider a portable digital audio recorder. In this week's Reel Rebel, we'll be reviewing the Zoom H4.  The Zoom H4 is likely the most popular digital audio recorder for DSLR video because it can record as many as four channels at once and it has direct XLR mic input connectors (including phantom power).  We'll also be giving you some tips on how to use it, so as not to shoot yourself in the foot.

Knowing What is Important -> Audio

It seems that everyone making videos today wants to be "that director." You know the type: framing the scene between their hands, acting the part of the "visionary" setting up the perfect shot. However, in the process of looking like you know what you're doing, which you probably don't if you're reading this, it's easy to forget about a factor that is equally as important as your video: audio. That's where the Zoom H4n comes in. Shooting video on a DSLR camera is cheap, and occasionally cool, but they all seem to have issues with audio. With this in mind, it's probably best to record your audio externally.

Now, I could throw a bunch of numbers at you, which you're probably not going to like. I'm not going to do that to you, though. Suffice it to say that no one wants to listen to your crunchy audio, regardless of how good the video is.

The Solution to Bad Audio = Zoom H4N

The H4N is your one-stop-shop for all of your simple audio needs. and it's a snap to get up and running. Just plug your mic into the business end of the H4N, plug your headphones in, and try not to hit yourself in the head too hard when you realize you didn't actually turn the mic on. When you get your audio going, make sure that your meters are about three-quarters of the way across. This makes your sound audible, but not deafening. Push record twice, and the little red ring around the button should become solid.

The Final Touches

Now that all that's done, your last step is to slate the scene. Now, if you still want to keep up the whole "looking cool" theme, pick up a professional-looking slate from your local photo store. Honestly, though, all you need to do is clap in front of your face where the camera can see it and the H4N hears it. That way, you can sync the audio up in post production. If you skip this step, you've basically just shot yourself in the foot before you've even begun editing. You could still limp your way to a final product, but it would be so much easier to just not skip this step.

There are a ton of ways for your video to suck. Pick up an H4N and ensure that your audio isn't one of them.

Don't Miss Any Stories!

Get daily online video news, tips and trends via email!

View The Full Video Transcript:

Hi, I’m Stephen Schweickart with vscreen where we make video for businesses. Today, we’re going to do a product review of the Zoom H4N

Everyone wants to be the cool director with his hands in front of his face, framing up what will surely be an Oscar-worthy shot. But in the process of trying to look like you know what you’re doing (PS. You don’t. Otherwise you wouldn’t be watching this video) it’s easy to forget about something that is just as important as your image...the audio. And that’s where the Zoom H4N comes in to save the day.

Shooting video on a DSLR camera is cheap and cool, but they all have problems with their audio, so recording your dialog externally is a must. I could throw a bunch of numbers at you like 48K, 44-1, 16-bit, but I won’t. Just suffice it to say that no one wants to listen to your crunchy audio regardless of how pretty your image is. The H4N is a one-stop shop for all your simple audio needs, and it’s a snap to get up and running.

Just plug your mic into the business end of the H4N, plug your headphones in, then try not to hit yourself in the head too hard when you realize you didn’t turn the mic on. When you get audio flowing, make sure your meters are landing at about three-quarters of the way up so the sound is audible, but not deafening. Then push record twice so the red ring around the button is solid.

Your last step is to slate the scene. If you want to keep looking really cool, pick up a professional looking slate from your local photo store and use that, but all you need to do is clap in front of your face so the camera sees it and the H4N hears it so you can sync the audio up in post. If you skip this step, you’ve basically shot yourself in the foot before you even made it to the editing station. You could still limp your way to a final product, but think how much easier it would have been if there wasn’t a bullet hole slowing you down.

There are a lot of ways for your video to suck, pick up a Zoom H4N to make sure your audio isn’t one of them.

About the Author -
Mark Robertson is the Founder and Publisher of ReelSEO, an online information resource dedicated to the fusion of video, technology, social media, search, and internet marketing. He is a YouTube Certified, video marketing consultant and video marketing expert, popular speaker, and considered to be a passionate leader within the online video and search marketing industries. View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
↑ Top