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Thread: Digital noise on a sound recorder

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    Digital noise on a sound recorder

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    I bought a Zoom H1 portable recorder for recording film sound. I was very pleased with it at first, but now I realise that when it is switched to WAV which is what I would always use for film or any other sound because MP3 or any other form of compression is inferior, it has a soft continuous noise at about 1kHz and a clicking sound at 3 Hz. This is present whether using its own mics or with external mic, and increases as the record level is increased.

    This is very disappointing. Can anyone give me advice on a portable sound recorder which is free of this problem?

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    I use both the Tascam DR 40 as well as the Zoom H6 for recording Podcasts as well as field interviews. Both of these seem to have the same hum if I use the AC power supply or the USB power supply, but both will have 0 hums if I just run them off of the internal battery power. This happens even when I have them plugged into my LiveWire Power Conditioner. You should be able to remove/reduce the hum using eq at those frequencies as well.

    You also have the option of just recording in the mp3 format. I do understand that wav is better, but, if you render your audio at 320kbps, 99.9% of average people listening, will never know the difference. Mixing and mastering engineers might notice, but most others won't. Since you mentioned that this also happens when you use the internal mics, I would rule out the mic & cable as the source.

    You should also know that if you are recording close to high voltage overhead power lines, or other high powered electronic devices, this may affect you recording as well. Since wav is a better format, it may be happening with the mp3 as well, just not as pronounced as the wav format.

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    I've had a Zoom H2 almost since they came out and been using my H6 for a couple years at least. The H2 is quiet enough for any kind of live environment IMO, and the H6 effectively silent. I always record 24bit WAV, usually 44.1kHz (or sometimes 48kHz if I know at least some of the recording will likely be used with video - only because I read somewhere to do that!). Then I dither in the DAW for 16bit, and either to 256 or 320 for MP3, and AIFF (Apple non-lossy) if syncing the audio to video (I use iMovie or Final Cut Pro).

    There's no noise with the H6 save any self-noise from the mic(s). I highly recommend that recorder to anyone. I run it off of a USB battery pack - keep a couple charged in the bag so I never worry about power or AC hum.
    "... I know in the mornin' that it's gonna be good
    when I stick out my elbows and they don't bump wood." - Bill Kirchen

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    Thanks for that info. Someone suggested changing the SD card, I did but it didn't change anything. I'm wary of buying Zoom again, and I don't need an expensive recorder with lots of channels and options. I'm recording film sound with a single mic so I only need mono, even stereo is unnecessary. Does anyone know much about the Tascam DR-05? Has it no digital noise?

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    None of the recorders mentioned should have the problem you have - it sounds like a fault to me! None of my digital recorders going back to the first DAT made any noise I could detect internally.

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    Quote Originally Posted by timtimtim View Post
    ... I'm wary of buying Zoom again, and I don't need an expensive recorder with lots of channels and options. I'm recording film sound with a single mic so I only need mono, even stereo is unnecessary. Does anyone know much about the Tascam DR-05? Has it no digital noise?
    A friend has an H1 and it's fine - no noise other than wind noise that I've ever noticed. Another friend has a couple of those Tascam recorders and they work well, but there's no reason they would be any better than an H1 that's working the way it should.

    How about putting the Zoom on a desk and talking into it from about 3 feet away, level set about -6dB or so and posting the sound clip. (The sound you describes reminds me of someone who was picking up the sound of their watch when holding a recorder in their hand - honest.)
    "... I know in the mornin' that it's gonna be good
    when I stick out my elbows and they don't bump wood." - Bill Kirchen

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    Quote Originally Posted by timtimtim View Post
    I don't need an expensive recorder with lots of channels and options. I'm recording film sound with a single mic so I only need mono.
    Have you considered using a smartphone with something like the ShureMV88 Digital Stereo Condenser Microphone for iOS?

    Attachment 100381

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    here is the noise using int mics (same with ext mic)
    Attached Files Attached Files

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    Quote Originally Posted by timtimtim View Post
    here is the noise using int mics (same with ext mic)
    Your input level is way to low. Your file shows a -44.9dbs. It should be between a -12db and -18dbs for the best signal to noise ratio you can have for digital recording. You are also recording in stereo with the right channel only picking up the mic. Try switching your recorder to mono and adjusting your input level, then re-post the audio. As far as the freq go, it is very noisy from around 40hrz to 10,500hrz as per the picture below. This was after I pumped it up to a -13LUFS.

    Attachment 100383

    This is what the wave form looks like at a -13LUFS @ a -0.1dbTP.

    Attachment 100384

    This is what the audio sounds like at that level in mono.
    Last edited by Mack Caster; 09-11-2017 at 04:02. Reason: Added Audio File

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    While it is very low in level, it really shouldn't be there. It's picking up interference from one of the internal data lines, and is not something you can cure yourself. It needs to go back, but I suspect they'll just replace it. It is NOT normal, and while very low level - it shouldn't be there, however, I suspect that if you record something at normal levels, the noise probably won't even be noticed - I had, like the others, to really ramp up the level to reveal it. If it's there on the internal mics, if you record with them peaking say full scale, by eye, I bet you can't detect it then?

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