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Author Topic: Are the Zoom H* devices good enough for concerts to get decent audio quality?  (Read 2453 times)

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Offline vr46

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Newbie in audio recording devices... Need a little guidance!
So... i am going to a concert next year.. the venue takes around 15 000 people at maximum... It's a rock concert.

I have read several pages about different audio recording devices, such as Zoom, Tascam, Yamaha PR7....

Are the Zoom devices good enough, (even the H1n) to get good audio quality? Or only the latter versions like H5, H6?

Are they better/worse and other brands with similar price? I am thinking about a maximum of 150 USD approximately, If you recommend me to go a bit higher if there is significant difference in quality, it's not impossible.

Do you have any specific settings you can recommend to get the best audio quality?

I have never owned any of these audio recorders before, and will not go to any concert before this one..
So i really should have the settings all setup so I can just press record and get that decent audio quality...

But I need some input on what device to choose, what settings to get the best out of it...

Cheers

Offline ycoop

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Getting a decent sounding recording at a 15,000 person venue with a handheld recorder’s internal mics will be difficult (impossible?).
Mics: Avantone CK-1s, CA-14 omnis
Pres: CA9100
Recorders: DR-60d mkII, DR-22wl, DR-07

Offline unidentified

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Where will you be sitting in this venue relative to the PA array or to the stage?

Offline heathen

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Well for starters, something is always better than nothing.  So if your choice is between recording with internals versus not recording at all, then by all means run what you brung!
Mics: Core Sound TetraMic | AT4031s | AT AE5100s | AT853s (C/SC) | Line Audio CM3s | DPA 4061s | CA-14 omnis | Studio Projects CS5
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Offline rocksuitcase

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No one answered your specific question yet and I have zero experience with the Zoom products. I know generally the opinion on here is the Zoom H series products are entry level and can have solid competitors:
https://taperssection.com/index.php?topic=187937.0

https://taperssection.com/index.php?topic=184822.0

https://taperssection.com/index.php?topic=186744.0

https://taperssection.com/index.php?topic=148631.msg1900893#msg1900893

http://taperssection.com/index.php?topic=159584.0

https://taperssection.com/index.php?topic=174474.msg2157787#msg2157787        The last post claims the Roland R-05 (now R-07 or 09) are slightly worse when compared to Zoom or Tascam DR-08
music IS love

When you get confused, listen to the music play!

Mics:         AKG460|CK61|CK1|CK3|CK8|Beyer M 201E
Recorders:Marantz PMD661 OADE Concert mod; Tascam DR680 MKI

Offline Ozpeter

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There's also the small matter of whether you are permitted to bring the recorder into the venue in the first place.  Recording even with a Zoom H1N in standalone form is a fairly conspicuous thing to do.  As for results, it will depend on the arena and where you are in relation to the sound source as anything.  Personally I find listening to any concert recording from the audience in an arena to be a fairly unpleaseant experience, but that's probably just me.

Offline rippleish20

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I owned a Zoom H6 for a couple of years and it was a reasonable, prosumer recorder. Whether its a good choice for recording a show at a large venue is subject to debate but I dont think its necessarily a terrible idea. If you dont need the XLR inputs, or at least four, however, a Roland R-07 will most likely lead to similar sound quality and would be a lot easier to get in.
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Offline unidentified

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Get yourself a nice pair of small external mics and a battery box.  Yardsale should have something pop up soon, like as not. 

Offline nulldogmas

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Get yourself a nice pair of small external mics and a battery box.  Yardsale should have something pop up soon, like as not.

I think that's the general consensus you'll find on here: You'll get way better results, especially from farther back at a large venue, if you get external mics to go with a recorder, any recorder. Might be tough to do all that for $150, but maybe $200-250 if you buy used?

Offline Dan33185

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I use a Zoom H2 and am content with the results I get. I've never recorded an arena show, so I can't speak to that unfortunately. You're obviously not going to get the results that you can get with a thousand dollars worth of equipment, but if you're just looking for something decent and to record a memory, something in the Zoom family should be ok.

Offline ycoop

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If you decide to go the external mics > battery box > recorder route I can send you a DR-07 recorder for the price of shipping (a TS member recently included it as a throw in for a recent sale).

PM if interested.
Mics: Avantone CK-1s, CA-14 omnis
Pres: CA9100
Recorders: DR-60d mkII, DR-22wl, DR-07

Offline vr46

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Where will you be sitting in this venue relative to the PA array or to the stage?

I am hoping to be seated in the front rows in front of the stage. There are seats on the side in this arena as well, but my hoping is to get a seat not too far from the stage.
If you decide to go the external mics > battery box > recorder route I can send you a DR-07 recorder for the price of shipping (a TS member recently included it as a throw in for a recent sale).

PM if interested.

I guess this gear is much i better than a small zoom device with it's small mics?

I am hoping to be able to record the sound without too many people noticing. There are only seats at the venue so there won't be tickets where you can stand up in front of the stage.

Thanks to the rest of you for all replies, I will read and get back.

Offline vr46

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Get yourself a nice pair of small external mics and a battery box.  Yardsale should have something pop up soon, like as not.

I think that's the general consensus you'll find on here: You'll get way better results, especially from farther back at a large venue, if you get external mics to go with a recorder, any recorder. Might be tough to do all that for $150, but maybe $200-250 if you buy used?

That sounds interesting... Do you recommend any specific setup?
There are only seats at this venue so no standing, like I said in previous post I am hoping to be seated in the front rows closest to the stage.

The venue has not written anything about audio recording, what they do have said is that compact cameras and cellphones are allowed, and larger system cameras are not... So unsure about audio recorders, might be OK ;)

Offline Ozpeter

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Clearly it's important to you to record this show, so assuming it's not downright prohibited, then it would still be good not to have to faff around and fiddle at the start of the show.  So, whatever you get equipment-wise, ensure that you know how to operate it, and having practiced at home in front of the hifi or whatever, see if you can do some practice recordings at smaller local gigs where people won't mind.  That way, on the big night, you'll go about it like a pro and not like... someone less than.  The thing about live recording is - you only get one chance!

Offline hoppedup

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If you decide to go the external mics > battery box > recorder route I can send you a DR-07 recorder for the price of shipping (a TS member recently included it as a throw in for a recent sale).

PM if interested.

I'd take this offer. I have made decent internal recordings with the DR-07 close to stacks:

 https://soundcloud.com/user-933274576/steam-powered-aeroplane-jerry-douglas-sam-bush-2015-04-24

The internals are omnis so they will probably not do very well in a large venue away from the PA stacks.
AKG SE300B CK91
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↑↑↓↓←→←→ BA Start
         


My recordings on bt.etree
  
My recordings on LMA

Offline jagraham

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^ Close to stacks or near the stage in a small bar are pretty much the only ways to get a "good" (IMO) recording from just about any internal mics. Of course you can be too close and overload the mics as well (which I've never done using externals with proper settings). Some on here have had better or worse results with it, but I've found that I just about always get better results with external mics. If you have to, use a little more of your budget to get some external mics vs. a more expensive recorder. You won't regret it.

That said, you are brand new to this. You probably aren't going to make the best recording ever at your first outing anyway. It wouldn't be bad advice to say to just record with some internals (like the ones offered), process the show, and figure out if you even enjoy the hobby. Then, move on to some external mics ASAP.
Mics: Nak CM-300s, Nak CM-100s, CP-1s, CP-2s, AT-853s(Cards, Hypers, Omnis) CA-14s(Cards, Omnis)
Pres: CA STC-9200, CA-UBB
Recorders: Tascam DR-70D, DR-2D, Edirol R-09

ISO: 1 Teac ME-120, CP-3 Caps, AT-853 Subcard Caps

Offline unidentified

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Go to some local joint with a live band that will agree to you recording them and practice.  Repeat. 

Offline vr46

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What do the people in here think of an external microphone connected to my Android phone? Could it record with decent quality?

Offline nulldogmas

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I think that's the general consensus you'll find on here: You'll get way better results, especially from farther back at a large venue, if you get external mics to go with a recorder, any recorder. Might be tough to do all that for $150, but maybe $200-250 if you buy used?

That sounds interesting... Do you recommend any specific setup?

There are lots of good options. Any of the compact recorders (Zooms, Tascam DR-05 or DR-07, Sony M10, etc.) will do you fine, especially since you won't be relying on the quality of the internal mics. Church Audio and Audio Technica (and many others) make excellent small mics that are good for discreet recording, since you can keep the recorder in your pocket and attach the mics to your person. Most brands of cardioid mics will do you well in an arena setting, since you can direct their pickup pattern toward the stage, cutting out talking and echo from the sides and behind you. And all battery boxes are pretty close to interchangeable — all you really want is something to deliver more voltage to the mics than your recorder can, since that makes for a richer recording.

If I were you, I'd grab that offer of a free DR-07 and use your available money to find decent small mics and a battery box that fit your budget. If you do end up taping more regularly, you may eventually end up trading this stuff in on different gear, but best way to learn what you like is to try it...

Offline vr46

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I Will think about it.
Now, i did some search of Android mics and came across Sony ECM DS70p. It has decent rating and people say it does clearly OK at concerts (depending on comparison probably)

Anyway this is a very cheap solution if it gives decent audio...i know it is probably not as good as a whole recording device.."you get what you pay for"..

Offline jagraham

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I Will think about it.
Now, i did some search of Android mics and came across Sony ECM DS70p. It has decent rating and people say it does clearly OK at concerts (depending on comparison probably)

Anyway this is a very cheap solution if it gives decent audio...i know it is probably not as good as a whole recording device.."you get what you pay for"..

Honestly after a quick look at this, it looks like a piece of shit. I've never seen a serious taper post a concert recorded by this thing. It looks like an external version of the internal mics of a typical pocket recorder that many of us would use. I would just save your money to get a legitimate recorder (other than a phone) and external microphones of any kind. Even if this can potentially record decent sound, just imagine trying to position that thing properly while stealth recording. Some CA-14s or AT-853s with the 4.7k mod would be much easier to position and aim at the source.
Mics: Nak CM-300s, Nak CM-100s, CP-1s, CP-2s, AT-853s(Cards, Hypers, Omnis) CA-14s(Cards, Omnis)
Pres: CA STC-9200, CA-UBB
Recorders: Tascam DR-70D, DR-2D, Edirol R-09

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Offline Nick's Picks

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If you had an iPhone.....there are a ton of stereo mics that plug directly into the lightning port.    Tascam, Zoom, Blue, Rhode...etc.    All in your price range, and would do great....and you could mount it in a hat or something.
But....you mentioned Android....and with that you can't do squat as nobody makes a USB plug in stereo mic that is Android friendly.

A small deck like the ones mentioned, and a pair of clip on mini-mics w/a batter box and you're in business.   Buy used, you will fit your budget.    I will say that using the internal mics on any of these decks can certainly produce a nice recording if you are in a good location acoustically speaking.   And you can rig up a way to stash it in a hat easily so that it's riding on your head.   Perfect for a "sit down" concert.

Offline detroit lightning

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I have a friend who uses a H1, though mostly in smaller venues, and pulls plenty of nice tapes. In a 15k arena? Might be tougher, but certainly not impossible. You could stick in a shirt pocket and if you aren't too far back/don't move around a ton, I could see it working fine.

I've used the H2n & mv88 (not sure if it works with android?) several times - and have pulled tapes that are just fine. If the alternative is your phone or no recording at all, I say give it a shot.

H2n tape of Bob Weir from 2017: https://archive.org/details/bobweir2017-04-15.zoomH2n/bobweir2017-04-15austincitylimits19.flac
Mv88 tape of Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks from this year: https://logamp.com/3673/music/tracks/20335

Offline vr46

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I have a friend who uses a H1, though mostly in smaller venues, and pulls plenty of nice tapes. In a 15k arena? Might be tougher, but certainly not impossible. You could stick in a shirt pocket and if you aren't too far back/don't move around a ton, I could see it working fine.

I've used the H2n & mv88 (not sure if it works with android?) several times - and have pulled tapes that are just fine. If the alternative is your phone or no recording at all, I say give it a shot.

H2n tape of Bob Weir from 2017: https://archive.org/details/bobweir2017-04-15.zoomH2n/bobweir2017-04-15austincitylimits19.flac
Mv88 tape of Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks from this year: https://logamp.com/3673/music/tracks/20335

Ok, thanks for info... I am thinking of a Zoom device.. but not sure..

I will buy a compact digital camera for this concert as well, what if I get one with an external mic jack? Is there any specific external microphone you guys in here could recommend? I realize it's not the same thing as better gear in terms of quality etc, but maybe an ext. mic to a compact camera could do the sound just fine?

NOTE: I will be sitting somewhere at row 1-10 :cheers:

Offline TSNéa

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Concerning Zoom H1 + internals: this device is very sensitive to handling noise and I guess that wouldn't be better inside a pocket... So you could choose any solution with external mics. Remember to carefully try both sensitivity levels on the mic input the day before!

Offline love2tape

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One of my favorite tapes ever was recorded with a Sony ECM-CS10 ($35 mic) > Zoom H2: https://archive.org/details/tmg2014-06-13 though, your circumstances are very different- I love it because it's an intimate venue with a very passionate crowd, but I gather that since you'll be at an arena show you're more concerned with the general audio fidelity listening back later

I recorded this with my h4n pro internals on the balcony of the Fillmore in SF- it was a really nice sweet spot https://archive.org/details/tmg2017-06-02 .

And this one in a small club, right below a suspended speaker w/ the h4n pro internals in my shirt pocket, so pointing directly up - https://archive.org/details/tmg2016-10-29
Similar- this one is from an extremely small room, recorded with h4n internals about two feet away from the speaker. You can get really good stuff if you can get right next to the stacks for an act without a ton of booming bass https://archive.org/details/atd2018-04-20/06_imSoLonesomeICouldCry.flacc

here's just the Omnis > h4n pro https://archive.org/details/tmg2018-05-27

(can you tell I love that band?  :headphones:)

I would call all of these recordings with just the internals "decent". As with aud taping, it's hugely dependent upon positioning. here's a recording using the internals from front row- out of view of the stacks. https://archive.org/details/tmg2018-04-13 Picked up the instruments great, but vocals were totally shot. you'll get much better stuff with external mics, as others have said, but you can definitely get decent stuff with h* devices. You can get decent stuff with a freaking cell phone if the positioning/genre is right!

and btw, just for fun- got this w/ CA-14 Omnis + Board feed via XLRs into my Zoom H4n Pro - to show that you can even snag budget matrixes with it. In case that's something you're interested in down the line https://archive.org/details/tmg2018-09-14
« Last Edit: October 29, 2018, 07:17:13 PM by love2tape »

Offline Ozpeter

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If you are thinking of recording video as well, here's an idea -

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1441156-REG/zoom_zq2n4k_q2n_4k_video_recorder.html

This is supposed to be released this month (note this is the 4K version of the previous FHD version of the Zoom Q2N).  It is unique in that it's intended primarily for recording gigs in stage lighting, and unlike almost all video cameras it has a proper audio recording system with mics that are not an afterthought buried in the body.  I would expect it to have the audio quality of a Zoom H1N.  But it also has a mic input socket.  A few days ago I recorded a jazz club gig using the H1N with Roland in-ear mics, and the result was, in my view, very good.   I would expect similar results from the Q2N-4K (but can't guarantee it as it's not actually out yet).  I ran a separate video of that event using an imitation gopro, but that came out pretty badly as it didn't handle the high contrast of the stage lighting.  One musician wearing a white shirt came out looking like a flat white blob.  The Zoom camera should - repeat should - substantially avoid that sort of problem as it's designed for that kind of scenario.

In addition to the recorder and an external mic, you'd need a rechargeable battery pack with enough capacity to cover the concert.  Using internal AA batteries you only got 30 mins running time!  You would also need a very fast micro SD card to handle the 4K video.  Also, the camera isn't stabilised so to get wobble free video, you would need some kind of stand - maybe a monopod with a tripod foot which wouldn't require any space, or even one of those oversize selfie sticks.

The advantage of this rig would be that you would have, at the price point, a good video outcome, a good audio outcome, and with the 4K video you could record a static picture at the time, but then in video editing software you should be able to pan and zoom with the benefit of hindsight to produce a reasonable 1080p edited outcome.  The whole outfit would almost be pocketable.  Not a stealth rig as the use of the camera would be pretty obvious, but no more so than a phone, but you've indicated that it should be permissable at this gig.

Offline pontiacb

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I Will think about it.
Now, i did some search of Android mics and came across Sony ECM DS70p. It has decent rating and people say it does clearly OK at concerts (depending on comparison probably)

Anyway this is a very cheap solution if it gives decent audio...i know it is probably not as good as a whole recording device.."you get what you pay for"..
I started off with the DS70p before I knew what I was doing and it’s really thIn sounding, not really suitable for recording music.  Your internal mics of any recorder you choose will be better than that mic

 

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