Sound engineering 101

Posted: 10th March 2013

This is a quick write up of the notes I made during filming yesterday's film challenge. It's more for personal reference but hopefully others will find it useful.

Information is arranged by equipment.

Zoom H4N Audio recorder

This can accept two types of input into its line in ports: 1/4" jack and XLR. It cannot accept line level inputs via XLR (although it can on the jack). This means if you're using a pre-amplifier (we had a MixPre-D) it needs to output at mic-level rather than line, which is annoying.

This recorder does have internal limiter to avoid clipping

It is possible to do 4-track recording using both the internal and external mics, this might be useful for background/signal recordings for more mixing options.

One of the menu options is 'monitor', unlike the recorder doesn't need to be pause-recording for this to be enabled.

Marantz PMD661

Unlike the H4N, this can receive mic or line level inputs; but it can't limit them.

The latest version of the firmware seems to have dealt with whatever gremlin made it formate SD cards in such a way that any mac would instantly destroy them.

You can only monitor when in pause-record

Can only 2-track so if a clever signal/background rig would be wanted an extra microphone would have to be dedicated to it.


This thing has a lot of functions. My current favourite is trying to adjust the limiter (hold ch1 and ch2 whilst turning the headphones volume), if you miss one of the channel buttons (easy to do) you instead assign ch3/4, this will then mean you can't get the tape return audio back which is very confusing.

Basically: this is a lovely machine, from a user-interface point of view it's a train wreck. Be careful with those buttons.