Audio Interface vs Post Recording

Discuss the Zoom H6, H5, H4, H4n, H2, H2n, and H1. Please don't "post and run". Participate in the discussion. Thanks.
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dchurch
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Audio Interface vs Post Recording

Post by dchurch » Wed Apr 26, 2017 1:22 pm

My new Zoom H4N Pro has adjustable multi-track (4) capability, headphone monitoring... It can also be connected as an audio interface to my PC running Cubase. But, I don't understand the advantage of that verses simply copying files into Cubase and editing post recording. Is this just a matter of work flow preference?

What am I missing?

Here's my situation:
I just upgraded from an old Zoom H2 to a new Zoom H2N Pro. The purchase included Cubase LE Al Elements 9 and Wavelab LE 9 64Bit. I have no experience using either software.

I have always captured sounds with a portable recorder directly onto an SD card and then copied the audio files from the card to my pc. I've typically used Sound Forge, Acid and Sony Vegas Pro as my pc DAW system. I use the audio in video production and music cds.

On another subject: The Zoom H4N Pro also has a number of different audio effects that can be applied to individual track inputs. Again, I don't understand the advantage of that verses adding effects post recording using Acid, Vegas or Cubase. It seems to be a disadvantage because the recording would be stuck with the effect applied during input.

Your thoughts?

I'd be happy to put the effort into a new way of doing things if there is some advantage to be gained.

Thanks,
Dave
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Re: Audio Interface vs Post Recording

Post by Jim_Fogle » Fri Apr 28, 2017 8:37 pm

What material do you usually record and where do you make your recordings? If you're recording bands playing clubs or nature sounds then the audio interface feature will not often be used. On the other hand if you're recording yourself playing an instrument while singing the audio interface will be more useful.
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Re: Audio Interface vs Post Recording

Post by dchurch » Sat Apr 29, 2017 2:10 am

Thanks Jim,
I understand the interface isn’t practical for a lot of my field recording but I often record where a pc is available. I occasionally record an instrumental trio. I also combine my solo playing with field recordings, backing tracks or my own loops.

I’ve been very limited by my equipment. I upgraded my portable recorder so that I can improve this by using multiple mics recording to independent tracks. I’m admittedly comfortable with editing and combining individual post recordings. But I’m open to learning a better way, especially with what appears to be some very cool software that was included with my recorder.

I just don’t see a benefit.

For example, if I was to play into a guitar mic and sing into a voice mic while recording onto two separate tracks, I would typically edit and mix them post until I created the sound I was looking for. But, if I used the recorder as an interface wouldn’t I essentially do the same work while recording onto the pc. And, I would still have to zoom in and edit the occasional hick ups post. it also looks to me that introducing a pc and more wires/connections the interface method has more exposure to technical problems.

I must be missing some important advantages.
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Re: Audio Interface vs Post Recording

Post by Wulfraed » Sat Apr 29, 2017 7:12 am

dchurch wrote:
Sat Apr 29, 2017 2:10 am
I must be missing some important advantages.
The ability to work with a lot more tracks...

While the interface may only allow two inputs (or possibly four, depending on device and drivers) at a time, the computer software can handle many more tracks in parallel. It's not a case of record guitar and voice via two inputs at a time, but record guitar, then monitor (headphones) the guitar while recording the voice, set up a mix to monitor those two while adding a bass (or emulation thereof -- picking notes from a guitar fed through an octave shifter <G>), add another pair of voices for background chorus, etc.
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Re: Audio Interface vs Post Recording

Post by Jim_Fogle » Sat Apr 29, 2017 9:24 pm

In addition to Wulfraed's comment about increasing tracks using a computer opens other possibilities such as using effects not available otherwise and higher resolution (down to a single sample in some programs) editing.

Sometime in the future you may find you want to remix a song and use different effects. Some people create tracks for a song then make multiple mixes for different genres.

Some of these things are easier to do on a pc than using hardware.
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Re: Audio Interface vs Post Recording

Post by dchurch » Sat Apr 29, 2017 11:26 pm

Thanks Wulfraed,
I really appreciate your willingness to help explain this.

"The ability to work with a lot more tracks...

While the interface may only allow two inputs (or possibly four, depending on device and drivers) at a time, the computer software can handle many more tracks in parallel. It's not a case of record guitar and voice via two inputs at a time, but record guitar, then monitor (headphones) the guitar while recording the voice, set up a mix to monitor those two while adding a bass (or emulation thereof -- picking notes from a guitar fed through an octave shifter <G>), add another pair of voices for background chorus, etc."
_________________________

The H4N Pro has 4 inputs (2 fixed mics and 2 XLR jacks) I assume this is unchanged when using it as a portable recorder or usb interface. So the tracks can be manipulated via software in the PC to create new tracks. The interface allows that to be done during the live recording using Cubase, true? Then, further editing can be accomplished in Cubase post recording.

Is the advantage part of a goal to get closer to a finished product during recording rather than after?

It still seems that I'm accomplishing the same work using a strictly post recording approach. I do some headset monitoring and set my levels while recording to the H4N Pro SD card. Then I copy my 2 or 4 recorded tracks from the SD card onto my PC. I run Sony Acid Music Studio on my PC to monitor the guitar and voice, set up a mix for that then add bass (or generated base), effects, loops, chorus... I can modify my recorded tracks and layer as many other tracks or effects as I like using Acid Studio. I have also monitored multiple track mixes from Acid while recording additional live narrative or music to my portable recorder, and then add that to the mix.

The H4N Pro has 2 fixed mics and 2 XLR inputs. It does offer the option of monitoring and setting levels for four tracks while recording that mix as one combined file. But the only advantage I see is saving memory space. A major disadvantage is being stuck with a combined recording that cannot be readily unmixed.

I've done some more reading and Youtube viewing. But most of what I've seen is how to setup the interface. I found a flow chart showing the interface system equipment and connections. I do see an advantage by using an interface for live pod casting. One reviewer articulated how much better the iPad records when using an H4N as an interface but he was not very specific and did not compare that method to the post recording method. I found plenty of statements like "higher quality" and "professional results" but I still don't get it. Clearly an interface component with 8 or 10 XLR inputs would be superior for multiple track recording, but I'm just trying to understand how to get the most from the options of my 4 track device.

Thanks,
Dave
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Re: Audio Interface vs Post Recording

Post by dchurch » Sun Apr 30, 2017 12:37 am

Thanks Jim,
Sorry, I'm still have trouble understanding the advantage of using my H4N Pro as a audio interface verses using it as a multi track monitor/recorder.

I do use PC software to edit, mix, add additional tracks, create multiple versions... My DAW has been a PC running primarily Sony Acid Music Studio and Sony Sound Forge since 2005. I got very comfortable running Sony Vegas for my video production. It had (has) some pretty decent sound editing capability. I added Acid and Forge for more audio flexibility/features. I typically use Sound Forge to zoom in and edit the tiny details and I use Acid for virtually everything else.

I do my work without using an audio interface by simply copying my recorded audio files to my PC via SD card.

Cubase software, and using an audio interface, is completely new to me.

I've played with Cubase enough to see that it's very interesting and quite different from what I am used to.

Thanks,
Dave
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Re: Audio Interface vs Post Recording

Post by emmrecs » Sun Apr 30, 2017 7:35 am

The H4N Pro has 4 inputs (2 fixed mics and 2 XLR jacks) I assume this is unchanged when using it as a portable recorder or usb interface
I suspect that the audio interface is NOT capable of passing those 4 tracks as discrete recordings to your PC; you would, effectively, be mixing them "on the fly" within the H4n Pro. (I don't own and have never used any of the H4 models so my suspicion may be totally wrong).

I assume you have loaded the dedicated ZOOM ASIO driver to your PC so that the audio interface will "work"?

Jeff
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Re: Audio Interface vs Post Recording

Post by Wulfraed » Sun Apr 30, 2017 10:03 am

emmrecs wrote:
Sun Apr 30, 2017 7:35 am
The H4N Pro has 4 inputs (2 fixed mics and 2 XLR jacks) I assume this is unchanged when using it as a portable recorder or usb interface
I suspect that the audio interface is NOT capable of passing those 4 tracks as discrete recordings to your PC; you would, effectively, be mixing them "on the fly" within the H4n Pro. (I don't own and have never used any of the H4 models so my suspicion may be totally wrong).

I assume you have loaded the dedicated ZOOM ASIO driver to your PC so that the audio interface will "work"?

Jeff
Per the manual (page 031) the audio interface mode is only 2-channel in/2-out. It is not clear if one can activate both the internal and external 1&2 at the same time, but if one can, then yes, they are being mixed to simple stereo for the interface.

No special driver for it -- it appears to rely upon the fact that current operating systems have support for standardized USB stereo sound card interfaces.
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Re: Audio Interface vs Post Recording

Post by dchurch » Sun Apr 30, 2017 12:14 pm

Thanks,

I spent some time testing the audio interface method using my H4N Pro. It worked fine in Cubase and in Sony Acid Studio and in Sony Vegas. You are correct, I could not find a way to record each mic to a separate track when using the H4N Pro as a audio interface. At first I thought I must be missing something. But clearly this interface limitation is a deal breaker for me.

The good news is the H4N Pro works great as a standalone multi track recorder and fits perfectly with my method of editing post recording. I could still use the included Cubase software for editing if I learn to prefer it over Acid Studio...

I had no problem installing or connecting the H4N Pro device as described in the owners manual.

I did discover that I had to map the audio input connection. *For other H4N Pro users: This is not covered in the manual. I received a pop up error running Cubase and responded to it for the fix. If you run Sony Vegas or Acid just click Help/Show Me How/Recording Audio and a tutorial will walk you through the entire interface recording process. It's not something I plan to use, but interface recording might work well for others.

Cheers,
Dave
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Re: Audio Interface vs Post Recording

Post by dchurch » Sun Apr 30, 2017 12:57 pm

Per the manual (page 031) the audio interface mode is only 2-channel in/2-out. It is not clear if one can activate both the internal and external 1&2 at the same time, but if one can, then yes, they are being mixed to simple stereo for the interface.

Yes, as an interface I was able to use the 2 built in mics plus 2 plugged mics, mixed. I was also able to monitor and switch the mic combinations for different mixes during live recording. All of this was recorded to the same track.

No special driver for it -- it appears to rely upon the fact that current operating systems have support for standardized USB stereo sound card interfaces.

There is driver software for the H4N Pro at the Zoom website. https://www.zoom-na.com/products/field- ... -recorder I downloaded/unzipped and ran it on my PC running Windows 10 as per the "Read Me" instructions included in the download. I'm not sure if it has anything to do with the interface mode. The H4N Pro also has an option for connecting the device as storage. I tested that mode and it works fine too. These two options open on the H4N Pro screen when the device is connect to the PC via USB.

Thanks,
Dave
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