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Zoom H4N Severe distortion on .wav files
Old 9th September 2012
  #1
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Zoom H4N Severe distortion on .wav files

Hi folks,

Wondering whether any of you have come across this problem before.

When recording any sample/bit rate wave files on my 1 year old H4N, upon playback I get severe distortion/clipping after a few seconds making it completely unusable.
The levels were of course not clipping during these recordings.

MP3's however, record and playback perfectly clean, making me think that the SD card speed may be an issue; however this problem remains on both the card I received with the H4N, and a card that is on Zoom's approved list.

Anyone have any idea what could be the issue?
Old 9th September 2012
  #2
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quick question. Are these showing up on the Zoom's playback or after transfer?
Old 9th September 2012
  #3
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
They appear when playing back on the zoom, and remain when transferred to computer.
Old 9th September 2012
  #4
Lives for gear
 
voidar's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Sounds like there is some issue with recording higher rates of data as you suspected.

Did this recently occur?
Old 9th September 2012
  #5
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
I've had this problem for nearly 3 months now, just been using it for mp3s.
Old 9th September 2012
  #6
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voidar's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
.. But it worked before?

Could be an issue with the cards/type of card/size of card.

It could be broken.

I would make sure the newest firmware is installed, perhaps even reinstall.
Old 9th September 2012
  #7
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Checking the firmware would be a good idea. Do you have the overload monitoring set on or anything in the settings?

Also, not sure if I'm understanding correctly, the issue does or does not occur with MP3s?

Last edited by Adam Chesi; 9th September 2012 at 01:27 AM.. Reason: Someone beat me to my question
Old 9th September 2012
  #8
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
My zoom has worked perfectly for about 8 months intense use before the wav. distortion problem arose.

I shall reinstall the firmware and see

The issue does not occur with mp3s, they come out clean.
Old 9th September 2012
  #9
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voidar's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Just some other ideas:

Power issue? (I know the thing eats batteries)

Clean formated card?

Does the problem persist if used as an audio interface (ASIO)?
Old 9th September 2012
  #10
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
The batteries have been changed up and I don't believe theyre an issue.

I have formatted both cards and the issue persists.

When used as an audio interface there is no problem, it is only when recording wav. files to card.
Old 9th September 2012
  #11
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Have you checked the internal settings on the Zoom? I haven't used one since the H4 was fairly new, but as I recall sometimes that interface can be convoluted and there's a number of odd settings in there that mess with gain.
Old 9th September 2012
  #12
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
A factory reset on the zoom hasn't changed anything.

I'm going to download the latest (but same as whats already on my zoom) firmware and install it on the zoom and see if it makes any difference.

Thanks for your advice so far peeps!
Old 9th September 2012
  #13
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Another question, is this with the built-in mics, external mics, or both?
Old 9th September 2012
  #14
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
It occurs with both built in and external mics
Old 9th September 2012
  #15
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Unfortunately reinstalling the firmware to the Zoom has not solved the issue.

I'm beginning to think I have just been exceptionally unlucky with SD cards or my zoom is messed up...
Old 9th September 2012
  #16
Gear Guru
 
🎧 15 years
are you using the Automatic Gain Control?

Quote:
The Zoom H4 has an unconventional implementation of Auto Gain. Instead of continually monitoring the input and adjusting the gain to optimize the levels, it scans the level while in record-ready mode and sets a static value based on that. This eliminates the unpleasant pumping that can result from constantly-shifting gains, especially overshoot from a brief loud sound. In practice, the AGC tended to set the levels rather low, with peaks at –18dBfs in our tests.
Maybe you could make a loud sound before starting recording?

(though I don't know why that would not also affect the MP3's!)

what would happen if you were in manual gain and deliberately set the levels extra low? You say 'distortion/clipping' - so is it really like clipping, like it was recorded too hot, distorting worse on peaks, or a more constant distortion like it was 'freaking out', or crashing?

Also: can't the H4 be used as a "front end" to a DAW? if you used the mics and preamps in the Zoom and went USB into your computer and recorded to the computer, what would happen? That might give you a clue if it is something with software or the memory cards vs if it is something in the analog circuitry.
Old 9th September 2012
  #17
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
This occurs regardless of whether auto-gain control is on or off.

Regardless of the gain of the inputs during recording, upon playback, usually after 5 seconds into the file, an extremely loud distorted clipping (freaking out indeed!) sound begins (the visual meters also peak) and continues to the end of the file.

My zoom works perfectly as an audio interface, and mp3 recorder. Recording the internal and/or external mics to .wav files is the only thing that causes this. Which is why I know it is not the analogue circuitry, suggesting that the problem is within the Zoom and/or memory card (despite trying another approved card).
Old 9th September 2012 | Show parent
  #18
Gear Guru
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by conorowenbarry ➑️
This occurs regardless of whether auto-gain control is on or off.

Regardless of the gain of the inputs during recording, upon playback, usually after 5 seconds into the file, an extremely loud distorted clipping (freaking out indeed!) sound begins (the visual meters also peak) and continues to the end of the file.
just out of curiosity, can you detect any of the original music content or is it just hash?

Quote:
My zoom works perfectly as an audio interface, and mp3 recorder. Recording the internal and/or external mics to .wav files is the only thing that causes this. Which is why I know it is not the analogue circuitry, suggesting that the problem is within the Zoom and/or memory card (despite trying another approved card).
yes that certainly seems like it is pointing to a memory issue, especially with the MP3s not affected. Maybe you can find someone local with a Zoom that is working well and swap cards for a few minutes.
Old 9th September 2012
  #19
Old 9th September 2012
  #20
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
That was just clicks and snaps originally I presume? I agree with joeq that you should find someone with an H4n (try to make sure it's the same exact model, not the H4 regular) and see if you have the same issue using your media on their unit and vice-versa.

I've come across things like this before on other equipment and I cannot for the life of me think of what I tracked it down to, it's driving me batty right now. I'll keep racking my brain over what that could be, but it definitely sounds like something's wrong with the unit. Still can't figure out why it would only be on WAVs...
Old 24th June 2014
  #21
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Did anyone find a solution to this? My zoom is having the exact same issue on both WAV/MP3 files. :(
Old 22nd July 2015
  #22
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
I also have this issue now.....but all my recordings are coming from club DJM mixers, and ive a feeling its to do with the rec out gains being too high for the h4n. So ive been told anyway :(
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