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Author Topic: H2N vs H2 vs M10 - samples  (Read 19051 times)

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Offline Ozpeter

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H2N vs H2 vs M10 - samples
« on: September 07, 2011, 04:18:12 AM »
I thought it might be interesting to compare some aspects of the Zoom H2N, the Zoom H2, and the Sony M10.  Well, I was interested, YMMV.

Unfortunately I can't get away from home at the moment to get some live audio comparisons, but none the less the samples I prepared at home may be useful.  Use of mp3 format for the uploaded samples (from original wave format recordings) does not, I think, compromise the results.

Samples are at http://www.fileden.com/files/2007/9/22/1451533//Noise and image mixdown.mp3

Firstly I'm looking at the noise from the three devices' own mics, and then at the noise from their mic inputs using a Rode SVM as the source.  That's not the quietest mic in the world but as it's the source of all three tests you can none the less make some valid comparisons.

For making a simple comparison of noise I used the clock tick test.  This involves recording a quietly ticking clock in a quiet room.  In fact the clock used is more or less inaudible unless you hold it about six inches from your ear.  For the test, it was about 4 inches from the mics.  The recordings are normalised so you can then compare the noise on a more or less level playing field.

The noise levels sound huge, but if you played back the samples at a low level so that you could barely hear the clock tick, you would be getting a more real-world impression of the noise.

In the attached file the noise samples are in this order -

H2 internal mics (120 degree XY always)
H2N internal mics (120 degree MS always)
M10 internal mics
H2 using Rode SVM mic
H2N using Rode SVM mic
M10 using Rode SVM mic

Comments - Not much difference between the H2 and H2N.
The M10 is radically quieter and you can hear birds outside as well as the clock.
The H2 with the Rode mic is dreadful, as expected.
The H2N and M10 with the Rode mic are not radically different though the M10 is better.  The H2N noise is "brighter".

Next in the file comes some stereo image tests.  This was simply done by speaking at about four foot distance at the left side of each mic (90 degrees).  So the replay should come from the hard left.

Order of samples -

H2 internals
H2N internals
M10 internals
M10 with Rode SVM mic for comparison.

Comments - Quite a difference in the tonal result for the H2 and the H2N - when speaking towards the side of the H2N you are on-axis to the "side" mic capsule which adds clarity perhaps, but it does sound unexpectedly "thinner". Sound comes from hard left as it should.  The Sony M10 gives a more or less mono result (speech comes from the centre although recorded at the side like the others) due to its closely spaced omni capsules which cannot capture a true stereo soundfield.

Next I tried to evaluate the tonal qualities of each device by the crude method of playing the same short section of music (chosen for its frequency range) into each from a good pair of speakers (sadly in an acoustically untreated room).  Apart from giving some feel for the frequency responses, note also the stereo image. 

Order of samples -

H2 internals
H2N internals
M10 internals
H2N using SVM
M10 using SVM

Comments -

Not much difference between the H2 and H2N.  M10 internals provide a rather bass-heavy almost-mono sound.  H2N with SVM sounds a little brighter than the M10 using the same external mic, but is it thinner?  I'm not sure.

Overall conclusion from these samples -

The H2N does not offer a radically improved audio performance compared to the H2, although the mic input is much better than the older device which was stupidly noisy in that department.  But I think it's subtly improved.  Improvements in its physical design and operation are perhaps more significant.

The M10 internal mics are bass heavy, with poor stereo imaging, compared to the H2N.  Noise is however much lower, but for me that's not worth the loss of stereo in most situations.  YMMV.  The H2N mic input is a bit more noisy than the M10 mic input but in this test it gave a brighter sound - I'm undecided whether that's a more accurate sound or not.  Overall, perhaps it's a little thin.

The H2N is more of a standalone "mic that records" than the M10, which in my view needs to be used with external equipment.  However, using external equipment with the H2N is perfectly possible, whereas with the older H2 it was out of the question.

I need to look at the line inputs in due course.

Offline chapmania

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Re: H2N vs H2 vs M10 - samples
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2011, 06:48:33 AM »
I downloaded the file and had a listen, I was rather alarmed to hear how much noise was produced with the Rode Stereo Video Mic plugged into the Sony M10.
Either the Sony mic input is noisy, or that particular mic isn't a very good match for the recorder.  I'm looking to buy an M10 very soon and on hearing this sample I am somewhat put off.

Offline wipeman

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Re: H2N vs H2 vs M10 - samples
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2011, 10:15:14 AM »
Thanks for this - very interesting!

Can we conclude that between the H2n and the M10:
(a) the H2n capsules are noisier than the M10 capsules
(b) the mic inputs are similar with the M10 edging it (in terms of noise).

I wonder whether my EM172-based omni pair together with the H2n can give similar performance to the M10's internals...?

Offline anr

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Re: H2N vs H2 vs M10 - samples
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2011, 10:34:09 AM »
I have both H2 and a (new) M10.

The other day I  unexpectedly found no PA at venue.  Noisy pub with singer sitting in middle, with the usual crowd shouting across the room.  I disconnected and simply placed the M10 on a seat 4 feet from the singer.  I got lucky with the record level (4 on dial) as max was 0dB.  Lesson learned - record level has to be very low with M10 internals.  In fact, I can't imagine it coping in an amplified environment as a very small adjustment on the knob results in relatively huge change in recorded level.  But, the result was superb.

Last week it was almost the opposite.  Same chainsaw hyena trying to drown out the musicians, but it was amplified.  I couldn't get a seat near the PA, so placed my H2 on a table 3 feet from a  stack, at low sensitivity.  Again, very pleased with the result.  No distortion whatsoever, yet volume was ear-splitting.  It is far superior to the CSBs > CA9200 > M10 version did, in the sense the hyena drowned out the music.  A perfectly good and faithful capture, but of the wrong sounds. 

All were at 44.1/24. 

Now I know what I'll do next time.  For loud music, the H2 wins hands down, simply because I don't have to worry about the record level.  Set at low sens and you get what you get.  For quiet acoustic stuff, the M10.  I'm really pleased with both devices. 

Obviously these comments only apply when forced to use internals. 



« Last Edit: September 07, 2011, 10:37:31 AM by anr »

Offline dogmusic

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Re: H2N vs H2 vs M10 - samples
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2011, 01:04:36 PM »
I have both H2 and a (new) M10.

Lesson learned - record level has to be very low with M10 internals.  In fact, I can't imagine it coping in an amplified environment as a very small adjustment on the knob results in relatively huge change in recorded level. 

On your M10, make sure that the mic sensitivity switch on the back is set to "LOW".

I've recorded an amplified band and didn't have a problem.

"The ear is much more than a mere appendage on the side of the head." - Catherine Parker Anthony, Structure and Function of the Human Body (1972)

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Offline Ozpeter

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Re: H2N vs H2 vs M10 - samples
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2011, 06:46:58 PM »
Quote
I downloaded the file and had a listen, I was rather alarmed to hear how much noise was produced with the Rode Stereo Video Mic plugged into the Sony M10.
Either the Sony mic input is noisy, or that particular mic isn't a very good match for the recorder.  I'm looking to buy an M10 very soon and on hearing this sample I am somewhat put off.
Remember that for "real world" purposes, you need to play back the clock tick samples so that the clock tick is barely audible.  The samples are hugely amplified - the original waveform looked like a flat line.

I've used the H2 internals for classical concert recording and the background noise in the modern concert hall was louder than the H2 system noise.  As you can tell from the samples, the noise level of the internal mics of the H2 is considerably higher than the noise level of the M10/Rode combination.  So under real conditions the M10 / Rode noise would be even more inaudible than the H2 internal noise is.

When considering noise in recordings, the purpose of the recording has to be taken into account.

For music recording, the music should not be reproduced louder than it would have been heard in the performance, because this skews the perceived tonal balance of the recording due to the way the human ear works.  System noise is consequently not artificially amplified and these days is unlikely to be heard with any reasonable recording system.

For nature recording however, it may be necessary to amplify the recording to an "unnatural" level, and then recording system noise becomes more important.  Unless you couldn't afford anything better, you wouldn't use a Rode SVM for such a purpose.  You could do a lot worse than use the M10 built in mics for nature recording - provided the poor stereo image didn't put you off.  The M10 in combination with a low noise mic system would make a good nature recording system if you didn't want to go to the expense and size of something like an FR2LE.

Listening to my the noise test section of my samples, the difference in the sound of the clock itself from sample to sample is curious and I may redo that test later to check that the result is not affected by vibrations from the clock reaching the recorders - they were both on the same surface.

Quote
Can we conclude that between the H2n and the M10:
(a) the H2n capsules are noisier than the M10 capsules
(b) the mic inputs are similar with the M10 edging it (in terms of noise).

I guess that's valid.  Put another way, personally I would use the H2N for occasions when I wanted to use a standalone wire-free system, but I would use the M10 if I wanted to use a mic separately from the recorder. 

However, if I only had the H2N to hand it would be no disaster to use it with an external mic. 

If I only had the H2 to hand it would be fine for use standalone (if I had a strong pair of glasses in my pocket to read the display!).  But I wouldn't dream of using the H2 with an external mic.

Quote
Now I know what I'll do next time.  For loud music, the H2 wins hands down, simply because I don't have to worry about the record level.  Set at low sens and you get what you get.  For quiet acoustic stuff, the M10.  I'm really pleased with both devices. 

General experience with the H2 is that for acoustic music, the "M" setting covers almost all situations (with the digital level always left at "100").  The "H" high gain setting isn't worth using ever as it doesn't improve signal to noise ratio and risks overloads.  The "L" setting should only normally be used for amplified music. 

Zoom chose the "M" and "L" settings very well, and another test I'll do shortly will be to see what settings of the H2N level knob matches those H2 settings.  That would be useful when not having an opportunity to get levels before starting a recording.


Offline hi and lo

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Re: H2N vs H2 vs M10 - samples
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2011, 07:51:32 PM »
You're over thinking it...

Zoom = Crap
M10 = Amazing

Offline anr

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Re: H2N vs H2 vs M10 - samples
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2011, 03:21:30 AM »
I have both H2 and a (new) M10.

Lesson learned - record level has to be very low with M10 internals.  In fact, I can't imagine it coping in an amplified environment as a very small adjustment on the knob results in relatively huge change in recorded level. 

On your M10, make sure that the mic sensitivity switch on the back is set to "LOW".

I've recorded an amplified band and didn't have a problem.


Thanks.  First thing I did when I got it was set at "Low" and apply tape to switch.  If I was in the same venue, but the same artist was amplified and I was forced to use internals, I'd have to set the M10 to between 0 and 1, which is too difficult I think. 



Hi and Lo

I wouldn't say the H2 was crap for the scenario I described.  My choice was (a) record from where I was sitting and the dominant noise being a woman screaming in my ear or (b) swiftly place a recorder 3 feet from the stack. 

I'm happy with the outcome, which is what matters to me.  The H2 recording is superb, the M10 unlistenable.   In purely technical terms, the M10 is a better design.  But what is better?  An unlistenable recording from a  perfect design, or a very enjoyable recording from a lesser design? 

 I know a lady who has very expensive equipment, but places all the gear in her handbag, under her seat - and wonders why it sounds crap.  No amount of advice will change her mind.  She bought good kit, so it should sound good.  The whole recording scenario is a system.  The recorder/amp/mic is not a system, because on its own it fulfills no purpose.  It needs human input to position it and operate it, and good sound to capture.  I think that aspect is often forgotten in the general desire to get the best technical kit (which itself is mostly subjective).

Offline Ozpeter

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Re: H2N vs H2 vs M10 - samples
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2011, 04:09:07 AM »
Quote
You're over thinking it...

Zoom = Crap
M10 = Amazing

Beyond a shadow of doubt, the M10 makes effectively mono recordings without external equipment.  What is amazing is that Sony designed it that way - they should know better.  Nobody, ever, has suggested anywhere in print or on the net that closely spaced omnidirectional mics can or should be used for making stereo recordings.  It simply doesn't work, for obvious reasons.

So, as I've tried to explain, the H2N is good for some purposes where the M10 is bad, and vice versa.  I own both and I'm very happy that I'm able to.

Offline fmaderjr

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Re: H2N vs H2 vs M10 - samples
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2011, 02:27:28 PM »
You're over thinking it...

Zoom = Crap
M10 = Amazing

I certainly agree if you are going to use external  mics. I hate Zoom products.

However Zoom's internal mics are pretty good and even the H2's internals will give a better stereo image the the M10's. That means nothing to me personally, though, because I always use external mics.
AT853's (all caps)/CM-300 Franken Naks (CP-1,2,3)/JBMod Nak 700's (CP-701,702) > Tascam DR-680
Or Sonic Studios DSM-6 > M10

 

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