Zoom H6, Deity S-Mic 2 , Sennheiser MKH 416

I am a bit disappointed in Deity S-Mic 2. I expected it to pick up less ambient noise, but it picks up everything (I can hear my neighbors farting; exaggerating here). The Zoom x/y capsules were less sensitive.
I cannot imagine how people will record with this outside.
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
Any microphone will pick up ambient noise. That's really it's job. It doesn't have the ability to discriminate and filter out unwanted sounds like you do. What a shotgun mic does is minimize the off axis ambient noise, but it will pick up everything in the front third of it's polar pattern.

A while back, we had someone who was trying to record birds with a shotgun mic. He was concerned because he thought the mic was noisy. When listening carefully to the background noise, you could hear sheep on the background! According to the poster, they were about 100 yards away but directly in the path of the polar pattern. That shows how sensitive a good shotgun mic can be, but also the unwanted or unexpected consequences of their characteristics.

Hissing/white noise discussion

Listening to your samples, I must say that you are talking at a very low level. If you were talking at a higher level, you would have a better signal/noise ratio. If you are doing voice over, you really should be using a strong voice. Then you work to minimize the ambient noise. Right now, I can't record mics unless I turn the furnace off, because the noise is so easily picked up. That's not a great option when it's 20F outside, so I when I did a quick recording about a week ago (20-30 minutes) I turned if off, recorded and then turned the heat back on.

It's all an unfortunate consequence of recording in a home environment, rather than in a purpose build studio.
 
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keith.rogers

Bobby'); DROP TABLE USER
Hi, guys!
I just finished the tests. (I did them 2 days ago, but the forum was readonly).
Here what I got.
I hope I did everything right.
In the second recording, I turned the refrigerator off just in case (it is far away, but still).
Looking forward to your comments! Thank you so much for helping me!

I also recalled that I wrote once to Zoom support, but it was about compressor (general) feature. The self-noise with this function becomes very audible. They said that it is ok.
I uploaded the sample with general compressor just in case.
I honestly never used the compressor in my H6, but it's probably set with some kind of fixed, or perhaps "auto" makeup gain setting, so that means that levels below the threshold are raised some dB to account for the loss of dB due to compression at the top. In general I would only suggest using any kind of "single knob" compressor in a live PA setting. A limiter, without compression, can be useful but if you really need a limiter, then you should probably be looking at a higher tier of devices in the "field recorder" class, and maybe a Zoom F6 would be a better option, or something from Sound Devices.

It definitely gets noisy starting around 6, and at 7, even with my old ears, it probably adds more noise that I'd like in any kind of quiet setting, though most live venues with any kind of ambient noise it's going to disappear. That seems noisier than I recall my old H6, honestly. But, you cannot discount the mic input, especially something like a sensitive condenser. As @TalismanRich notes, a shotgun mic is going to pick up everything - its purpose is to really just narrow the cardioid pattern significantly, but that does not mean it stops picking up sounds on axis.

I saw peaks of around -10dB in the first sample intro, where it does sound that you are talking softly, and I'm not sure what level you have the Zoom at right there, but that should be fine for post processing - attached is just that clip pushed up to -20dB LUFS, which is not unusual for a voiceover. I don't think the noise is obvious for any kind of live shooting. Now, I wouldn't be doing a book reading for Audible with that setup, which is where you'd want to speak up to a mic that is right in your face, but for a shotgun at a distance, it would work. (Not sure what your actual use case is.)


(Huh, I could not attach an MP3...)
 
Any microphone will pick up ambient noise. That's really it's job. It doesn't have the ability to discriminate and filter out unwanted sounds like you do. What a shotgun mic does is minimize the off axis ambient noise, but it will pick up everything in the front third of it's polar pattern.

A while back, we had someone who was trying to record birds with a shotgun mic. He was concerned because he thought the mic was noisy. When listening carefully to the background noise, you could hear cows mooing on the background! According to the poster, they were about 100 yards away but directly in the path of the polar pattern. That shows how sensitive a good shotgun mic can be, but also the unwanted or unexpected consequences of their characteristics.

Listening to your samples, I must say that you are talking at a very low level. If you were talking at a higher level, you would have a better signal/noise ratio. If you are doing voice over, you really should be using a strong voice. Then you work to minimize the ambient noise. Right now, I can't record mics unless I turn the furnace off, because the noise is so easily picked up. That's not a great option when it's 20F outside, so I when I did a quick recording about a week ago (20-30 minutes) I turned if off, recorded and then turned the heat back on.

It's all an unfortunate consequence of recording in a home environment, rather than in a purpose build studio.

Thank you for your comments! I am recording guided meditations, so I cannot use "strong voice", all the contrary, very soft and relaxing, almost a whisper.
Maybe I need to try Rode Nt1. I do not think I will get enough money to buy Neumann TLM103 soon.
What I am trying to understand is that if the self-noise of Zoom H6 is normal and not, because if it is not normal, no mic will sirve me.
 
It definitely gets noisy starting around 6, and at 7, even with my old ears, it probably adds more noise that I'd like in any kind of quiet setting, though most live venues with any kind of ambient noise it's going to disappear. That seems noisier than I recall my old H6, honestly. But, you cannot discount the mic input, especially something like a sensitive condenser. As @TalismanRich notes, a shotgun mic is going to pick up everything - its purpose is to really just narrow the cardioid pattern significantly, but that does not mean it stops picking up sounds on axis.

Yes, at 7 you can hear noise very clear, so I record at 6, and even when it has some noise to remove. Thank you!
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
I can say that the NT1 is a very quiet mic. I don't have an H6, but I have an older H4n which is supposed to be noisier than the newer Zooms. I could make a recording with the H4n and the NT1, if it would be helpful. I would need to know if you are trying to use this off camera or on camera. Are you trying to use the Deity to keep the mic off a video shoot?
 

keith.rogers

Bobby'); DROP TABLE USER
Thank you for your comments! I am recording guided meditations, so I cannot use "strong voice", all the contrary, very soft and relaxing, almost a whisper.
Maybe I need to try Rode Nt1. I do not think I will get enough money to buy Neumann TLM103 soon.
What I am trying to understand is that if the self-noise of Zoom H6 is normal and not, because if it is not normal, no mic will sirve me.
You do have the wrong kind of mic for that purpose, and I'd suggest something more in the Zoom F series, even a used F4 would be quieter than the H6. The NT1 self-noise spec is impressive for that price range, so definitely worth a try.

You might look at a trial of the RX Elements product. (Full RX is good - I use it, but it is expensive, even on sale.) Speaking that close to a microphone will definitely bring all the breaths, mouth-clicks and such to the forefront, and you really need to be able to attenuate some of that for it not to be distracting in something like meditation.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
I'm totally mystified by this topic - all the stuff about recording at specific knob settings and the technical stuff. We have a voice over recording problem. We really do not have to start soldering 150Ohm resistors and doing tests like this - which, I appreciate are necessary for really accurate comparisons in preamps - but here we are discussing fundamental beginners problems, and they're quite clear.

Please forgive me Anton - these comments are not meant to be derogatory or in any way personal - but you've picked up a few snippets of the subject but missed the critical ones. If you want to do good voice recordings, the important thing is the voice - NOT the microphone. They do make differences, but they are really small ones, and often very subtle and needing a really well trained pair of ears to assess properly. In your test recordings, you are very close to the microphone, speaking in a sub-whisper and in a fairly poor sounding room.


It was mentioned that mics don't discriminate - this is the real gem in the information. They capture sound - any sound in their sphere of capture. Voice over artists speak normally, or a little louder than usual conversation, but they treat the microphone as the audience - hence why lots of actors are rather good. They rarely get very close to the mic, unlike radio DJs - their voice is their distant voice. In the studio, closer miking is done for effect. It changes the voice, especially with a cardioid - it gets warmer, raspier, cosier - BUT - noisier. Sibilance, and gaps in the teeth become hurricanes and with better microphones or large diaphragm types, the sound becomes 'spotty' - so a decent pop shield is needed to control that. With reference to the room - the important thing is signal to noise, in this case - the speaker's volume compared to the noise and reflections from the walls. Speaking in a quiet voice needs more gain, and that brings up room sound, and if the room is untreated it sounds nasty.

You also failed to consider mic position. With certain artists it is necessary to mount the microphone out of the airstream - so from the side slightly, or from above looking down a little.

For people starting out - a zoom, or small condenser, or even the old trusty SM58 will produce good sound. For that kind of price it can be surprisingly decent. Buying a posh, expensive mic can produce in beginner hands far worse audio. They are so much less forgiving. I use through preference AKG 414 mics for lots of things - but they suck when put close in to a voice, unless you use some really good wind reduction. The Shure SM7B people bang on about is a great mic to have in close and bellow into and is really forgiving, but I don't like the sound. Neumann 87s are great for voice, but really need expert handling as small direction changes make big changes to the sound.

I cannot myself remember the last time I worried about levels - I'm sensitive to red lights - so I tend to under record, but we now have such a wide noise free recording dynamic range, I turn up till the meters have a fair way to go before getting to 0dB and that will do. I can add gain later, but it's really not a major concern. Same with preamps - I have quite a few ways to get mic audio into a computer and I'm sure there are performance differences - we often speak about them - but as they are all good for 99% of recording activities, I don't bother. If I need to record a sound effect of a squeeze door hinge at 10m away, then my mic choice would take a moment to think about and I'd probably use one particular interface (which is NOT my daily go to one).

What you need to do is speak up, move the mic to a few slightly further away positions while you listen on headphones and practice - not worry about the mics ........ yet. Sort the basics out and you will be out of the starting grid.

In your recording, you have a whistle - so that needs sorting and you mumble, and you can hear your breathing - so these are all easily sortable. On VO courses, it's often drummed into students that it is a performance, not a confidential. So imagine there is a person in front of you about six feet/2m away and you are having a conversation - start the mic at maybe 30cm/1ft first and give that a try. Mics are not magic, they're clinical. Your performance is everything.
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
I whipped up this test. NT1 into the H4n, record level at 60% at abouit 8-10 inches away. The primary noise is low frequency stuff from the environment. I spoke about as softly as I could and even then, there is plenty of signal and very low noise. There is no processing of any kind with this recording.

Does this sound acceptable in level?
 

Attachments

  • NT1 w H4n noise test.mp3
    2.3 MB · Views: 7
I can say that the NT1 is a very quiet mic. I don't have an H6, but I have an older H4n which is supposed to be noisier than the newer Zooms. I could make a recording with the H4n and the NT1, if it would be helpful. I would need to know if you are trying to use this off camera or on camera. Are you trying to use the Deity to keep the mic off a video shoot?
I would be great! No, I do not use it with a camera yet. My set up.
 

Attachments

  • my set up.jpeg
    my set up.jpeg
    136.3 KB · Views: 6
I'm totally mystified by this topic - all the stuff about recording at specific knob settings and the technical stuff. We have a voice over recording problem. We really do not have to start soldering 150Ohm resistors and doing tests like this - which, I appreciate are necessary for really accurate comparisons in preamps - but here we are discussing fundamental beginners problems, and they're quite clear.

Please forgive me Anton - these comments are not meant to be derogatory or in any way personal - but you've picked up a few snippets of the subject but missed the critical ones. If you want to do good voice recordings, the important thing is the voice - NOT the microphone. They do make differences, but they are really small ones, and often very subtle and needing a really well trained pair of ears to assess properly. In your test recordings, you are very close to the microphone, speaking in a sub-whisper and in a fairly poor sounding room.


It was mentioned that mics don't discriminate - this is the real gem in the information. They capture sound - any sound in their sphere of capture. Voice over artists speak normally, or a little louder than usual conversation, but they treat the microphone as the audience - hence why lots of actors are rather good. They rarely get very close to the mic, unlike radio DJs - their voice is their distant voice. In the studio, closer miking is done for effect. It changes the voice, especially with a cardioid - it gets warmer, raspier, cosier - BUT - noisier. Sibilance, and gaps in the teeth become hurricanes and with better microphones or large diaphragm types, the sound becomes 'spotty' - so a decent pop shield is needed to control that. With reference to the room - the important thing is signal to noise, in this case - the speaker's volume compared to the noise and reflections from the walls. Speaking in a quiet voice needs more gain, and that brings up room sound, and if the room is untreated it sounds nasty.

You also failed to consider mic position. With certain artists it is necessary to mount the microphone out of the airstream - so from the side slightly, or from above looking down a little.

For people starting out - a zoom, or small condenser, or even the old trusty SM58 will produce good sound. For that kind of price it can be surprisingly decent. Buying a posh, expensive mic can produce in beginner hands far worse audio. They are so much less forgiving. I use through preference AKG 414 mics for lots of things - but they suck when put close in to a voice, unless you use some really good wind reduction. The Shure SM7B people bang on about is a great mic to have in close and bellow into and is really forgiving, but I don't like the sound. Neumann 87s are great for voice, but really need expert handling as small direction changes make big changes to the sound.

I cannot myself remember the last time I worried about levels - I'm sensitive to red lights - so I tend to under record, but we now have such a wide noise free recording dynamic range, I turn up till the meters have a fair way to go before getting to 0dB and that will do. I can add gain later, but it's really not a major concern. Same with preamps - I have quite a few ways to get mic audio into a computer and I'm sure there are performance differences - we often speak about them - but as they are all good for 99% of recording activities, I don't bother. If I need to record a sound effect of a squeeze door hinge at 10m away, then my mic choice would take a moment to think about and I'd probably use one particular interface (which is NOT my daily go to one).

What you need to do is speak up, move the mic to a few slightly further away positions while you listen on headphones and practice - not worry about the mics ........ yet. Sort the basics out and you will be out of the starting grid.

In your recording, you have a whistle - so that needs sorting and you mumble, and you can hear your breathing - so these are all easily sortable. On VO courses, it's often drummed into students that it is a performance, not a confidential. So imagine there is a person in front of you about six feet/2m away and you are having a conversation - start the mic at maybe 30cm/1ft first and give that a try. Mics are not magic, they're clinical. Your performance is everything.

Thank you for your comments and advice! I was not speaking as I would speak during the recording, because it was just a test for the noise level, but anyway I will take into account everything you said. Thank you again!
 
I whipped up this test. NT1 into the H4n, record level at 60% at abouit 8-10 inches away. The primary noise is low frequency stuff from the environment. I spoke about as softly as I could and even then, there is plenty of signal and very low noise. There is no processing of any kind with this recording.

Does this sound acceptable in level?

This is absolutely silent in comparison with my recordings... :cry::cry::cry: So I think that I got the bad Zoom H6 again.
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
One last comment... you said you need to talk softly because they are for guided meditation. I would probably debate that statement. I don't do meditation, but the times I've heard a it, the voicing was not a soft or whispering voice, but was just a very relaxed, evenly paced conversational style. The other day, I was watching video about sound therapy, and again, the entire time the host spoke in a very even conversational tone.

As Rob mentioned, you have lots of breath and mouth noises, which suggests that you might be trying to speak too softly and compensating by pumping up the gain. Maybe try bring your voice up and dropping the rec level to 4 or 5.

From what I heard on your samples, I don't think the Zoom H6 preamp is the primary source of your noise floor. The Deity has plenty of output at -32dB which should be about 25mV/Pa. For comparison, the NT1 is listed at -29dB or 35mV/Pa and something like an SM7B is -59dB and 1.1mV/Pa. The Deity is certainly in the higher end of the scale. I have never used one, so I can't comment on their self noise rating, though. I've had two mics, both rated at 15dB self noise, and one was clearly noisier than the other.

If you can get ahold of a Rode, it would be worthwhile just to try. You can certainly use both at the same time for the best comparison. Then work from there.
 

keith.rogers

Bobby'); DROP TABLE USER
Echoing that statement, in guided mediation, it's often in a group, so the teacher is typically not whispering, but just speaking in a calm, even voice (vs. dynamic one, as in an active vinyasa practice, for instance). You can *always* mix the final level down, which will only reduce ambient noise, to get to a desired LUFS.
 

arcaxis

Active member
I was curious as to what my Zoom H4n (not the Pro version) could do with a budget condenser. Attached mp3 was done with a $40 used AKG P200 LDC approximately 6"-7" away with a pop filter. The room is not treated and the mic did seem to pick up some ambient room/house sounds I could hear in headphones which I don't think are evident in the recording. The resulting WAV file was normalized in Audacity and saved as a 192 kbps mp3. I left a short clean space just preceding the start of the voice. My throat was somewhat dry when I did this and I don't consider my voice good for VO type work, so it is what is mostly as an example to get an idea of noise. The preamps in the old version H4n are known to be noisy at higher gain. I believe the H6 preamps are on par with the H4n Pro which has the improved pres over the old H4n.

As a reference, the AKG P200 sensitivity is -35dBv/PA or 18mV/PA
 

Attachments

  • H4n - AKG P200.jpg
    H4n - AKG P200.jpg
    84.7 KB · Views: 3
  • H4n - AKG P200.mp3
    1.3 MB · Views: 5
Thank you for all your advice! I will keep searching... Maybe someone has Zoom H6 and can do the self-noise test without a mic, as I did, with raising the gain level every 10 or so seconds?
So we can comprare the self-noise.
 
Echoing that statement, in guided mediation, it's often in a group, so the teacher is typically not whispering, but just speaking in a calm, even voice (vs. dynamic one, as in an active vinyasa practice, for instance). You can *always* mix the final level down, which will only reduce ambient noise, to get to a desired LUFS.

Yes, you are right, it is not a whisper, of course. I have a very low voice by nature, and when I rise it, it sounds unnatural. I will try to record some meditation in English and to publish it here. Now I have only Spanish and Russian ones.
 
I sent the sample to Zoom. Their answer was:
"
Hello,

Thank you for the audio sample.

It is possible that the noise being heard is the expected pre-amp noise floor of the device.

Is this noise as prevalent when using another microphone with the H6?"
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
Any preamp will generate noise, especially when it is cranked up. That's one reason that dynamic mikes like the SM7B and SM57/58 don't always work well. They put out very low signal levels.

You haven't mentioned anything about the software that you are using. There is noise reduction available in most DAW packages, some better than others. I processed this in Reaper using the REAFir plug-in. Does this sound quieter to you? Its your TR2 Wave file from above.
 

Attachments

  • Anton WIth REAFir NR.mp3
    3.8 MB · Views: 0
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