DSLRs are widely used to produce short films, interviews and youtube videos these days, they are a great substitute for camcorders. However, It is fairly known that DSLRs delivers a good video quality but a horrible audio. That’s why most of the filmmakers look for external video mic to enhance the quality of the audio. If you are a beginner filmmaker, you need to know that shooting using the DSLR internal microphone is not enough. You will end up having poor audio, therefore make sure to have or invest in a good external mic. Here in this post, we will be comparing two well known and highly used microphones filmmaking industry; the Zoom H4n and the Tascam dr-40.
The Zoom h4n has been a very popular choice for a lot of filmmakers, due to the fact that this portable recorder is packed with features. Compared to it, the Tascam dr40 is the most cheaper choice that provides you with the basic field recording unit. , the Tascam is a very affordable alternative to the Zoom h4n. Take a close look at the features that are available for both recorders in order to make a better judgment on what you need.
Note that there are a lot of options to choose from, and we have previously discussed the differences between Rode’s products in a different article ( see : Rode videomic pro Vs Go ) .
Zoom H4n Vs Tascam DR-40
Zoom H4n – Speficications
The Zoom H4n is probably one of the greatest mics of all times, this mic allows all DSLR users to enjoy good audio. The zoom h4n was originally designed for musicians, however, it became popular among DSRL users and filmmakers as a portable recorder.
What is so great about the Zoom H4n is that it has great features at a good price compared to its expensive competitors. So, what is so special about the H4n? the answer is that the Zoom H4N allows people to record in three different channels; stereo, four channel, and multitrack recording. It has LED indicator that makes it easier for you to know which mode you are in.
Not only this, but it also has two XLR inputs that allow for professional microphones to be used and 1/4-inch microphone jacks. Hence, the recording resolution ranges from 24-bit/96kHz max to 48Kbps MP3 low.
The Zoom H4n considered to be a portable recorder to go, therfore, it is designed to serve that purpose. Unlike the previous zoom’s recorders,the zoom hn4 is designed using solid materials. It is 6.5 inches long by 2.75 inches wide, and no it is not a pocket-sized. But compared to the good features that it has, it is considered both small and cheap. With its compact sized, zoom had combined all the features needed to be on a mic. There are several details that worth mentioning such as; built-in speakers on the back which make it easy to play back your recording with the need for a headphone. An offset record button, which is easier to find especially in the dark.
- Four-track simultaneous recording
- Three main recording modes: stereo, four channel, and multitrack recording
- Auto record level control
- Programmable auto recording start and end
- Built-in speakers
- Built-in X/Y stereo mic; which allows for variable recording pattern at 90° or 120°
- Built-in reference speaker
- Records 24-bit/96-kHz linear PCM WAV and MP3
- Records directly to SD and SDHC cards up to 32GB
- Multiple compressors
- SDHC-compatible memory card slot
- Supportive of phantom-power microphones
- Provides dual input; combo connectors that can accept either XLR or ¼” phone cables
- Pre-record features; Two-second pre-recording.
- Auto record features; starts recording automatically once a certain sound level is detected.
- Programmable lo-cut filter.
- “M-S” decoder matrix
- Onboard Compression and limiting
- Onboard metronome and chromatic / guitar/bass tuner.
- The H4n requires 2 AA battery alkaline or NiMH rechargeable batteries
- Mounts to the mic stand or tripod, or to DSLR directly with optional Hot Shoe adapter
You can learn more about the Zoom H4n Here
How to use the Zoom Handy Recorder h4n ?
1. First of all, make sure there is an SD card in the Sd card slot in the recorder, and it has enough space.
2. Plug in Ac power adapter or insert batteries ( Note that the zoom h4n requires 2 AA batteries )
3. Make sure to connect external microphones through the XLR connection if you are using any.
4. Press the on button on the side to start the device.
5. Select the desired input source ( 1 and 2 uses the inputs at the bottom, and the one labeled “mic” uses the internal microphone.)
6. To record, just tap the record button once and the button will start blinking, and the audio meters will start changing. However, this is hit to show you that the mic is picking up the sound. To actually start recording you will need to press the button again.
What is Stamina Mode in the H4n ?
Stamina Mode in the h4n recorder is a battery conserving mode, it will boost your battery life from 6 to 11 hours. In a stamina mode, the h4n will only record audio at the lowest quality format WAV. To use stamina mode, you will need to turn on the mode switch which is located in the battery compartment.
What SD card is used with zoom h4n?
the H4n records directly to SD cards, and it supports both SD and SDHC up to 32 GB.
Can the Zoom H4n be used as an Audio Interface?
Yes ! You can set up your zoom h4n as a digital audio interface in order to improve the Audio quality of your smartphone or computer. This would come in handy if you are doing podcasts, online interview, and online streaming. For more on how to do that check out this video that explains how to use the h4n as an interface.
Tascam DR40 – Specifications
The DR 40 from Tascam is a compact portable 4 channel recorder microphone that allows you to produce high quality and a professional level of audio. The Tascam dr40 records on an SD or SDHC flash memory cards and it records in different formats( WAV/BWF or MP3 files) with a resolution up to 96kHz/24-bit .
The Tascam dr40 considered being an easy, flexible and durable audio unit that meets the need for indoor and outdoor shootings. The recorder has a built-in adjustable condenser microphone, a built-in limiter and low cut filter for cleaner audio. It also includes two combo XLR and 1/4″ input connectors and a 1/8-inch jack for headphones or lines out. This portable recorder also includes a USB 2 port for connecting to a computer for power or file transfer. Most importantly, it has two built-in high-quality microphones that can be moved to an X or Y pattern. The Tascam dr40 works on three AA batteries.
Furthermore, this microphone that it has a built-in speaker, to review your recording. It includes 4 channel recordings, it has great XLR connectors and also it has a large display.
The Tascam dr40 comes in a very simple and easy to use design. The recorder is designed to provide reasonable protection against harmful interference. The recorder comes in (3.5 x 1.4 x 6.1 inches; 7.5 ounces)dimension, with an LED indicator in the front. This portable recorder is easy to work around and navigate, as it has almost a total of nine buttons.
- Four-channel recording
- Compact design
- Records WAV/BWF at rates up to 24-bit/96 kHz and Mp3 files up to 320 kbps
- Built-in speakers
- Records to SD or SDHC flash memory cards
- the built-in adjustable condenser mics with X/Y or A/B patterns
- built-in limiter and low cut filter
- 5mm headphone/line output
- XLR and 1/4″ connections input
- Includes USB 2.0 port
- Dual recording mode
- Easy navigation through the settings
- The timed recording feature: start recording 5-10 seconds after you hit the button
- Overdub Mode* records over your latest take but keeps the original track
- Pre-recording feature: capture up to 2 seconds of audio from before you hit the record button,
- Auto record level control
- Tripod mounting hole
- Stereo Reverb effect
- Powered by 3 AA batteries
Learn more about the Tascam dr-40 Here
How to use Tascam dr-40 with an external mic?
The Tascam dr-40 is pretty easy and simple to use. First of all, Make sure your sd card is in place and have enough space.
2. Make sure you have batteries to use the device ( Note: The Tascam dr-40 uses 3 AA batteries.
3. Press the power button
4. To start recording, press the record button once so it starts picking up the audio. Press the button again to start recording.
5. You can pause and continue recording on the same track by pressing the record button. However, if you want to stop recording on the same track then hit the stop button.
To use with external mic :
- Press record mode settings to the record mode to our desired setting, change the source to external.
- Plug XLR into input 1
- As we said, to test if the device is picking up sound press the record button once, and twice to start recording.
- You can adjust the volume by using the input buttons on the side.
Does Tascam dr-40 work on external power?
If you do not want to depend on the batteries entirely you can use an AC adapter to power the device. Another option would be to use a macro USB cable, which you can use to charge the Tascam dr-40 through a computer or USB-charger.
What Sd card is used with Tascam dr-40?
Tascam dr-40 is compatible with SD card (64MB to 2GB), SDHC card (4GB to 32GB)
Can the Tascam dr-40 be used as an Audio Interface?
Yes ! As you can connect it to a PC using USB Audio interface mode.
Similarities and Differences
Zoom H4n Vs Tascam DR-40
Features they both share:
- Record four tracks simultaneously
- Dual XLR inputs
- Record 24-bit 96kHz
- Record to SD or SDHC flash memory cards
- Built-in stereo condenser mics
- Built-in speakers
- Both in a compact size and reasonable price
- The H4n has a stereo 1/8th input for mic
- The DR-40 has a feature of locking XLR inputs
- The Zoom H4n uses 2 AA batteries, and the Tascam dr40 uses 3 AA batteries