Recording Trumpet with Zoom H4N

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by jazzdad6705, Oct 6, 2014.

  1. jazzdad6705

    jazzdad6705 New Friend

    Jun 30, 2012
    Greetings everyone,
    My son needs to prepare some audition material for summer orchestral music programs. We have a Zoom H4N digital recorder. Any tips on using a Zoom to record trumpet? All suggestions are welcome!

    Thanks very much for the help.
  2. lynvie

    lynvie New Friend

    Nov 20, 2008
    east bay, ca
    I've never tried such a nice recording system. However, with my reasonable Blue recording microphone, it makes a big difference to stand about 10 feet back for a fuller sound. Also, if you point the trumpet right at the microphone the sound will be brighter, which could be good or bad, depending on the piece.
  3. Honkie

    Honkie Pianissimo User

    Feb 22, 2013
    1) the most important factor is the distance from bell to mic. Try recording a 20 second excerpt at 2 feet, then again at 4 feet, 6 feet, 10 feet, 15 feet (raising the recording level each time to compensate for the distance). Listen and decide which distance sounds best.

    2) the next most important factor is the room itself. Will the recording be done in a small room with lots of sound-absorbing cushioned furniture, curtains, and bookcases -- or will it be in a stone cathedral? The trumpet makes the room vibrate, if the room doesn't have an appropriate sound for the player and style of music, the recording will suffer. (Also, the liveness of the room should effect your decision about where to place the mic. )

    Zoom recorders can make excellent recordings. With the right room, the right distance, and the right recording level, you should be pleased with the results.
  4. jazzdad6705

    jazzdad6705 New Friend

    Jun 30, 2012
    Thanks very much for the reply. Will experiment with your suggestions.

  5. jazzdad6705

    jazzdad6705 New Friend

    Jun 30, 2012
    Thanks very much for the suggestions Honkie. Suggestions on height of the mic relative to the bell? On the Zoom, how hot of a signal should I be aiming at on his loudest notes? As high as possibly without clipping? Do folks get decent results using the auto-levels feature, or will this squash the dynamics?

    We have lots of choices regarding rooms for the recording. For a summer orchestra program audition recording, do folks have any thoughts on choice of room?

  6. bumblebee

    bumblebee Fortissimo User

    Jan 21, 2010
    Great Southern Land
    I find setting the preamp gain to about 40% and setting it up at just below head height about 10-15 feet away is okay (I use a camera stand which screws into the recorder). The room I do this in is very long, with about 60 feet behind the recorder (it's a large boardroom at the office) so there's not very much by way of ambient echo/return (well, maybe some from the side walls and ceiling). The Zoom is pretty sensitive and picks up everything. I use it to give myself feedback as to how I sound from the front, to try work out what I need to work on.

  7. jazzdad6705

    jazzdad6705 New Friend

    Jun 30, 2012
    Thanks Bumblebee. I appreciate the reply and details.

    For summer orchestral audition purposes, do folks on the forum have any thoughts on what kind of room to choose for the recording? Something more dry and revealing? Or a room/hall with some nice natural reverb?

  8. jimc

    jimc Mezzo Piano User

    May 21, 2009
    Spokane, WA USA
    So do you want a nice critique of what might need the most improvement, or do you want to win a spot? IMHO, find whatever sounds best and use that.
  9. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    It seems that there are a couple of different questions being asked here.

    Are you going to use the recordings as a submission for the audition, or are you only trying to capture what's there in terms of sound so you can critque and streamline practice efforts toward a specific goal? What are you trying to accomplish? If it's just the latter, don't overthink it - you can probably get what you need in almost any room and utilizing the auto-level feature, although to be fair, I don't know how the Zoom H4's compressor works, so using it might not be a great idea.

    My suggestion would be to find a gain setting that's going to allow you to record without clipping - this helps to preserve dynamics, but if your gain settings are low enough to keep the louds from clipping, you might have issues hearing the softs.

    Experimentation here is your friend. You'll probably come to a solution that works best for you through a little bit of structured trial and error, and that will trump anything we might tell you here.
  10. jazzdad6705

    jazzdad6705 New Friend

    Jun 30, 2012
    Thanks trickg. We will be preparing recordings to be used for auditions at summer high school orchestra programs (i.e. Interlochen, Tanglewood..ect). A mix of solo, orchestral excerpts and scales. So, the goal is to get the best sounding recording possible without going overboard.


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