Using a Zoom H4n as an On-Camera DSLR Mic

DSLR and Zoom H4nThe microphones built into portable digital recorders typically sound pretty good, and if you use a recorder to capture the sound for a DSLR video shoot, you may be tempted to mount the recorder directly on top of your camera and use it as an on-camera mic. But here’s the problem…

Plugging the headphone output of the recorder into the mic input on the camera won’t sound good. The mic input on a DSLR needs a mic-level audio signal, and the headphone output on the portable digital recorder is line-level. Mic-level signals are very low, and line-level signals are very loud. If you just used a normal 1/8″ to 1/8″ mini-plug cable to connect the two, you’re likely going to get a nasty sounding distorted recording. What you need is an 1/8″ to 1/8″ cable with a built-in -25dB attenuator. And wouldn’t you know it… such a thing exists.

Sescom DSLR cable

It’s called a Sescom LN2MIC-ZOOMH4N cable. I recently had the chance to test one out on a Nikon DSLR and a Zoom H4n recorder. This Sescom cable has been designed specifically so you can mount a portable digital recorder on top of a DSLR, and plug the headphone output of the recorder into the mic input on the camera.

I was impressed with the sound I was able to get using the Sescom cable. The full instructions are found in the YouTube video below. Check it out:

While using this Sescom cable is a nice solution, and more affordable than buying a good on-camera microphone, there are a number things you should consider before going this route. You need to understand how to set up the recorder, and be aware of the drawbacks of this workflow (both of which I discuss later in this post).

If you want to try this at home with your DSLR, you’ll need:

1) A portable digital recorder (the Zoom H4n, the Zoom H1, a Tascam DR-40, or any other recorder with a 1/4 20 tripod thread)

2) A VariZoom Shoe Mount (to mount the recorder to the camera)

3) A production slate (handy if you want to sync the file in the recorder)

3) …and the lovely Sescom LN2MIC-ZOOMH4N cable

To understand the simplicity of using the Sescom cable, just look at its official model name. The “LN2MIC-ZOOMH4N.” Pretty intimidating sounding, eh? If you break down the model name, the true simplicity reveals itself. LN2MIC, that just means Line-Level to Mic-Level. The model name is saying “Hey, I convert audio signals from Line to Mic.” ZOOMH4N, this just means that it’s targeted at Zoom H4n owners. Don’t let that scare you. It will work just as fine with the Zoom H1, the Tascam DR-40, and so on.

There are a few things you should be mindful of if you go this route. One downside is that because the Sescom cable occupies the headphone output of the recorder, you won’t be able to monitor the audio as you shoot. However, there are Sescom cables available that feature a spliced-in headphone jack, such as the LN2MIC-ZMH4-MON cable, which eliminate this problem.

a Sescom cable with a built-in headphone jack
The LN2MIC-ZMH4-MON, a Sescom cable with a built-in headphone jack.

Another thing to take into consideration is battery life. A portable digital recorder burns through a lot more power than an on-camera microphone. You also have to realize that the recorder adds weight to the camera, and (in the case of the Zoom H4n) the rear of the recorder juts out a bit (see the photo below).

Zoom H4n mounted on a Nikon DSLR
The butt of the Zoom H4n sticks out the back of the DSLR a bit

Another thing to keep in mind is that having stereo mics mounted on top of your camera isn’t going to yield the best sounding results in many situations. Often times, you’d be better off using a dedicated shotgun microphone. It all depends on the kind of video you’re shooting. But, if you just need a quick improvement over the lousy built-in camera mics, then using a Sescom cable makes total sense.

What were my settings?

I got nice sounding results with the microphone level on the Zoom H4n set at 80, and the headphone output set at 50. If you’re using the XLR mic inputs with external microphones, these settings may differ.

Are there any other brands?

It’s worth mentioning that there are other brands that make these kinds of cables besides Sescom. I think Sescom was the first company to manufacture these, and others brands followed behind. For example, the Kopul ACH4-25MON Line-to-Mic Attenuator cable is pretty much the exact same thing as the Sescom LN2MIC-ZMH4-MON (the one that has the headphone jack). The Kopul ACDR-35 Line-to-Mic Attenuator cable is pretty much the same thing as a Sescom cable with 35dB of attenuation.


Fans of the Panasonic GH2 (and GH1) should take note that Sescom also makes a dedicated cable with a 2.5mm sub-mini connector, the LN2MIC-ZMH4-GH1.

Sescom also makes dedicated a cable like this for the Sony PCM-D50 (it’s called the LN2MIC-PCDM50). There’s one for the Tascam DR-100 called the LN2MIC-TASDR100. There’s even one for the Marantz PMD620 called the LN2MIC-PMD620. The only difference between these cables, as far as I can tell, is that the DR-100 cable and the PCM-D50 cable are -35dB, and the others are -25dB.

If you have any questions about this stuff, please post there in the Comments section below. If reading all of this has convinced you that getting an on-camera mic is the way to go, be sure to check out my on-camera mic shootout.

You should also make a point of checking out my follow up post on Sescom cables. Here’s the link. In Part 2 I test out the kind of Sescom cables that have headphone jacks.

Thanks for dropping by!


Purchase links:

Sescom LN2MIC-ZOOMH4N Cable - Amazon USA, B&H Photo
Sescom LN2MIC-ZMH4-MON Cable (with headphone jack) - Amazon USA, B&H Photo
Zoom H4n - Amazon USA, B&H Photo, Amazon.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr
Tascam DR-40 - Amazon USA, B&H Photo, Amazon.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr

Published by

Sam

Writer, musician, photo taker and video maker. When not writing somewhat longish articles for this blog, I write incredibly short things on Twitter: @SamMallery

89 thoughts on “Using a Zoom H4n as an On-Camera DSLR Mic”

  1. Cool! that’s what I’m looking for. Unfortunately I cannot find this -25db cable in my place. Do you think I can find a similar one in my local audio equipment shop? By the way I’m using Zoom H2 with Nikon D7000. I suppose they combine well by this -25db cable. What do you think about this? Thank you very much for this excellent video and post! I’m very thankful!

  2. Hi Mark! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think the Sescom LN2MIC-ZOOMH4N cable would work fine between the Zoom H2 and theNikon D7000. As far as it being in stock, right now as I write this (5:38 PM Eastern Standard Time, 12/11/10) that cable is in stock at B&H. Here’s the link:

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/746645-REG/Sescom_LN2MIC_ZOOMH4N_LN2MIC_ZMH4N_3_5_LINE_MIC_ATN_ZOOM_H4N.html

    I’m glad you got something out of this post. Stick around because I plan on doing a lot more stuff like this.

  3. Hi Sam I already ordered one from B&H and ask my friend in USA to send it to my country. Can’t really find a local store selling something like that -25db cable. Thanks a lot for this info!

  4. Mark, did you get your cable and have you tried it yet? I have a Canon 60D and the H2 and was wondering whether the cable is working with the H2 – there is nothing on the company’s website about that. I would very much appreciate some insight!

    Thanks, Barb

  5. Hello Sam…
    I have a Canon 5D M II, also have a Sennheiser MKH 418 and the Zoom H4. Plugin in my mic to the Zoom drains the battery very fast… Is there any other way to give power to this mic…
    Thank you.
    Al.

  6. Thank you for the information!! I do have a question though. I have an XLR input on my video camera (Panasonic HMC150). When you have an 1/8″ jack converting over to XLR, is it going to affect the audio quality?

  7. Hi Russ. In your situation, connecting the 3.5mm headphone output of the H4n to the inputs on the HMC150, you would not use one of these Sescom cables. For that application you would want to use a Y-cable, with a male stereo mini-plug on one end, and two male XLR jacks on the other, like this one:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d.html/ref=redir_mdp_mobile/175-1323296-2468142?redirect=true&tag=wwwsammallery-20&linkCode=xm2&a=B000068OEO&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B000068OEO

    The reason is that your camera has the ability to accept a line-level signal, so there is no reason for attenuating the signal within the cable. I think in this situation there won’t be much signal degradation going from 3.5mm to XLR.

  8. Thanks Sam tht was great, top website.

    This seems like a good solution for stereo, hey what do you find yourself using more for stereo – your rode stereo videomic or this h4n setup ?
    Thanks

  9. Thanks, Chris! I actually don’t own the Rode VideoMic or even a DSLR camera right now. I usually borrow equipment for short periods of time. I did recently purchase a Sennheiser MKE 400 mini-shotgun mic and the MZW 400 accessory kit (which of course includes the all important softie windscreen). I plan on buying a Panasonic GH2 soon (they’re just hard to come by at the moment). I plan on using a Sescom cable in the near future too.

    I imagine I’ll use the shotgun mic more than the Sescom cable & portable recorder. The mic is lightweight, and the portable recorder burns through batteries a lot faster than the mic will. But, having the option to use the Sescom cable with the H4n is key. To be able to quickly and easily connect the H4n to the camera, and then plug in two XLR audio sources directly into the camera is just awesome.

  10. Hi Sam,
    Just discovered your great site recently. I plan on getting the Sescom cable for my Zoom H2 / D7000 setup soon. Have you heard any further feedback? I really want the new Rode VideoMic Pro too but a 50mm f1.4 is in the priority list first…hence the need to get the Zoom H2 running clean. Thanks for all the great “sound” advice…pretty complicated for a newbie.
    BdaSailor

  11. for all asking for the compatibility of H2 and this cable, there is no problem! I tested H2 on D7000 using this cable (mic gain set to LOW on D7000). Everything goes fine! Go get one :)

  12. Hi, i was thinking just now and it’s possible you know the answer.. is it possible to split the signal before the adapter to use a headphone with one output, whilst the other out gets the adapter and is put into the gh2. Would this degrade the signal if its split this way into two devices ie, one out gets adapter into the GH2 and the other out to the headphones, I am just talking crazy? I thought it maybe possible in order to monitor the sound and still get the (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/746644-REG/Sescom_LN2MIC_ZMH4_GH1_LN2MIC_ZMH4_GH1_2_5_LINE_MIC_ATN_Z_H4N.html) going at the same time.

  13. Thats fantastic! I was basically going to create the same thing but a dedicated version of this cable should offer consistent results rather than me using two adapters for a similar outcome. I didn’t know they made something for this, I’m very excited to try it out!

    I imagined ideally a cable like this would exist but had no luck finding it but in the processes stumbled onto this post. From which you forwarded me to the right cable, awesome how that worked out, THANK YOU! I was just reading about it on their site now (http://www.sescom.com/product.asp?item=LN2MIC-ZMGH-MON) Its perfect and Sescom is AWESOME for making this stuff =). Thanks again for your post and help!

  14. Hi Sam,

    This might be a silly question – but by using the H4N as a plugged in mic – are we not making all the recording abilities of the H4N redundant – and merely using the H4N mics as a mono mic – which is a shade or two better than the terrible on camera mics – but still you are losing the 4 channels of recording – you are losing the 24bit/96khz etc options – – you’re merely catching sound through the H4N and feeding it in to the levels and sound capability of the camera. Yes??

    Thanks

    AJ

  15. Hi AJ! Yes. By using a Sescom cable with a portable digital recorder, you will be making two nearly identical copies of the audio (one in the recorder, and the other in the camera). It’s total redundancy. But that’s a good thing. Having two copies of your audio is always better than only having one.

    And no… when using a Sescom cable you’re not using the H4n as a mono mic. You can use it as a stereo mic, or as a way to plug XLR mics or audio signals into the camera.

    Using a Sescom cable just gives you more options. If you want to shoot a video with the sound from the built-in mics on an H4n (or the XLR inputs), but you don’t want to bother having to sync externally recorded audio files with the video in post, a Sescom cable will let you do this.

    If you do bother to sync the externally recorded audio files with your video in post, you will have better quality audio. A good portable recorder will allow you to create recordings with higher resolutions and bit depths. If you make a four channel recording with the Zoom H4n, you would have four separate tracks. If you used a Sescom cable when the H4n had 4 channels of audio running, you would just get a stereo mix of the four channels in the camera.

  16. Dear Sam,

    It is a real pleasure to read your technical analysis and descriptions ….
    I have a serious question to ask:
    In a very dark situation … I did, mistakenly, plugged the Line to mic DSLR cable (Sescom LN2MICZMH4N) from the Zoom H4n stereo recorded, to the D7000 A/V out connector and ….. I took some video with the recorder on, to capture sound from that external source (stereo mic).
    Could this mistake have damaged the Camera? I noticed some “not so good sound” coming out … when I used the V/A out connector of the camera, to connect to a TV.

    Thank You very much for any help to understand if I damaged the D7000 or the Zoom H4n recorder … in fact, after shooting video, I tried as well to review it, with still the zoom attached to the video/audio out connector of the camera.

    Thank You Very much for your help!

  17. Hi Leopoldo! I’m glad you enjoy reading my blog.

    It doesn’t seem likely that mistakenly plugging a Sescom into the A/V output on your DSLR as opposed to the mic input would inflict any harm on the camera. Audio signals are pretty innocuous. It doesn’t matter if they’re mic-level or line-level, they’re pretty harmless.

    What you had mistakenly done was to connect a headphone output signal to an audio & video output on your camera. I don’t think that connecting an output to an output would damage either device.

    When you said you got some “not so good sound,” what did it sound like? Is everything that you play from the camera messed up sounding? Is it beyond just normal bad camera audio?

    I think it may just be that you have a new D7000, and that you’re just being a good owner and making sure that the camera doesn’t get damaged. If this actually did damage your camera, please post here and let us know if this is a potential issue that others should be aware of. Thanks!

  18. Thanks for the great blog post.
    I have a Canon 7D and was wondering if it would be possible to use two Sescom cables simultaneously….I want to use the attenuator cable with headphone monitor and also the AGC hack cable….all so I can get rid of AGC and record directly to the CF card. Do you know if it would be possible to use these two cables together?

  19. Oh no! The link to Part 2 isn’t working!
    Too bad, because I love this blog. Exactly what I was looking for: simply put, precise, and knowledgeable!

  20. Hey Sam..I just had a question about the “special” 3.5mm cable..what will happen if a regular 3.5mm male to male is used?

    I am not using this to record along with a DSLR camera but I use it as overheads to record my drums.. I use a 3.5mm to dual XLR (right and left), which goes to my firewire recording device ..i don’t like doing this because there are 2 gain levels to adjust on the H4n, the mic gain and the volume; what is the default level for both gains? 50? I say 50 since it’s half of 100 (the max you can set on the H4n) …I’m trying to relate this to the numbers you see around the knobs on an audio recording device, where u can turn it to the left and have a negative gain, keep it in the middle and have default gain of 0 (same as 50 on the H4n?), and turn it to the right to the right to have a positive gain (amplify). I wish there was a way you could have a connection directly from the onboard mics so you could just adjust the gain on the recording device.

    So my second question is when you are recording at 24bits/94 KHz but using the headphone out put to record..are you getting the true 24/96 quality through the headphone jacks?

    Do you think I should use a cable like the Sescom LN2MIC-ZOOMH4N and then use an extension adapter to connect it with my 3.5mm to dual XLR cable?

    Sorry if this post is not related to the DSLR camera and H4n but I was just wondering if you knew anything about this since you seem to know some stuff about audio. Thank you!

    -Jim

  21. Hi Sam,

    I have Canon T3i and a Zoom H4n, i installed Magic Lantern and i can’t turn off AGC because on the forums it says Magic Lantern on Audio is not yet available on T3i. Please help, because when i connect the Zoom H4n on my T3i, it always have this “hissing” sound. Hope you can help me, Thanks a lot!

    :)

  22. Hi Sam:
    I recently changed over from video to DSLR (Canon 5d MK2) to video shooting weddings. I also have H4N. I have two questions answers to which I have not been able to find anywhere on the web.

    1. I am planning to connect H4N headphone O/P to MK 2 I/P using the attenuated splitter cable discussed in this forum. When the cable is connected to the DSLR I/P, does the camera on board mic shut down or will it still record? I assume the audio from H4N will get recorded directly onto the CF card as well.

    2. For my first wedding using H4N I used the RC4 remote controller for H4N. I found this set up cumbersome and not easy to use since sometimes the controller pause/record buttons would not work properly ( need more pressure to operate). I am inclined to using the H4N without the remote. Problem: The H4N LCD screen and controls would not be easily visible and approachable if H4N is mounted straight on the camera. To overcome this I would like to use a swivel head hot-shoe adaptor to mount the H4N on the camera and turn the H4N sideways facing me. This means that the H4N on board stereo mics will either face my left or right. Will the sound quality in this configuration be the same as when the mics are facing the point of action, or will it lose the sound quality since they would be facing sideways? I have seen videos/pics on web where the H4N is mounted sideways as I described.

    Thanks and Regards
    Kirit

  23. Hi Sam,

    Great video, thanks for being so kind in helping those of us who don’t really know what we’re doing ;)

    I did have some questions for you. I have a buddy who uses this on his D800. However he said he also uses a lav mic thats clipped to the person talking. (My goal is just interviews with video). My friend also said I would need a receiver of some sort. I am VERY new to this audio stuff, and honestly don’t plan on going anywhere extreme with it. I just want to have great audio quality in my 2-4 minute interview clips with my Nikon d800 camera, while still being conscious of my under $400 audio budget.

    1. If I use this zoom h4n as you described, can you recommend a specific model/brand lav mic to use with it that has good sound quality?

    2. Do I really need a receiver? If so, what for and what model/brand would you recommend?

    3. Can I hook up 2 lav mics to this if I am interview two people together on a couch for example?

    4. Is there anything else I would need at all? I edit video in Adobe Premier, but I have Adobe Audition. (Never used it before, and have no idea how to). Does all audio have to be edited or will it be great when I import the video?

    Thanks for your patience and help. I *really* appreciate it :)

    -Jess

  24. I have a Sescom cable with the headphone split.
    I seem to only be able to get input on the LEFT channel when using the H4N with my Canon 60D. In a previous post you mentioned that:

    “If you want to shoot a video with the sound from the built-in mics on an H4n (or the XLR inputs), but you don’t want to bother having to sync externally recorded audio files with the video in post, a Sescom cable will let you do this.”

    I’ve tried multiple settings, but I only seem to be able to get Left channel mono recordings from the H4N into the camera (I am using the built-in stereo mics on the H4N).

    Am I mistaken that it is possible to obtain a stereo signal from the H4N into the DSLR?

  25. Sam – Thanks for you YouTube. I have ordered the Sescom cable. My question is about the output on the H4n. I am video recording my music group with a Cannon Vixia HFS10. When in mix, I dump in the H4n and match up the audio. My best results are when I run an XLR from the board to the H4n in 4CH mode. Then, I have the board mix and the room mix from the on board H4n mikes recorded in the H4n. So, I thought I would try inputting the H4n signal to the Cannon.

    What is being sent out of the line/headphone output on the H4n? In 4CH mode, is this the on board mikes or is this the Line input from the board? Can this be managed or changed? I did not find it in the manual. Thanks

  26. Sam

    I shoot indie movies and need a way of getting the audio from the zoom onto the DSLR – the Sescom cable seems great.

    I use a boom mic to get a close as possible to the actor for the best sound. My question is this:
    If I use the Sescom cable and connect the zoom to the dslr, will the camera capture audio from the boom mic or from the external zoom mic. If it captures the sound from the external zoom mic, then the Sescom will do me no good because I will have lost the great (close) sound from the boom. If it captures it from the boom, then the sescom will be great because now the good sound will be captured by the camera and I won’t have to sync up the sound captured with the boom in post (a real pain in the neck) because it will already be captured and synced by the camera.
    Thanks for any help you can give.
    PS So far, this is one of the few articles/tutorials that I have found on the subject on the web. You truly are dedicated to great sound!
    Jim

  27. Hi Jim. If you set the Zoom H4n to 4 channel mode, where it uses its built-in mics and the external XLR inputs, then the headphone output will send a mix of the built-in mics and the shotgun the you have connected to an XLR input. If you set it to 2 channel stereo mode, you can record only using the XLR inputs, so you don’t have to worry about the built-in mics mixing into the sound.

  28. Hi Craig. Sorry for my late reply. The H4n sends a mix of all four channels to the headphone output when it’s in 4CH mode, and this is what will be sent to the camera through the Sescom cable.

  29. How you doing Sam. George here (UK).
    I have been watching your videos lately and your advice is sceond to none…well made and delivered equally brilliantly :-)

    I just had a couple of questions that I’d like to ask you if you wouldn’t mind handing over some tailor-made advice for me..?

    I wonder if you could riddle me the following when you get a mo…

    So…I own a nikon d5100, and will be receiving the following goodies over Christmas:

    -rode videomic
    -zoom h1
    -sescom cable with the headphone monitoring out….

    I would like to know what your ultimate setup (which to use, or a combo etc) would be for these for a couple of scenarios:

    1. video interview inside
    2.video interview outside
    3. street urban filming – for b-roll etc

    Now, Nikons don’t have the same magic lantern as Canons allowing for AGC and manual sound control etc – but they do allow you to change mic settings in the following ways:

    auto, high, medium, low…

    What settings / equipment would you advise me to use in combination with the new equipment coming in so that I can get a great recording and also monitor sound?

    I really appreciate any of your wisdom on these things and will be sure to help out in return :-)

    Take it easy and have a great Christmas mate

  30. I would like to know what your ultimate setup (which to use, or a combo etc) would be for these for a couple of scenarios:

    1. video interview inside

    Rode Video Mic on a boompole so that the mic is just out of frame, as close to the speaking person as possible. The mic plugged into the Zoom H1, the Sescom cable plugged into the Nikon d5100.

    2.video interview outside

    Same setup, with a Dead Cat on the Rode Video Mic.

    3. street urban filming – for b-roll etc

    Ditto. Same setup, with a Dead Cat on the Rode Video Mic. If no one is speaking to the camera, you can get away with having the mic mounted to the shoe of the camera.

    What settings / equipment would you advise me to use in combination with the new equipment coming in so that I can get a great recording and also monitor sound?

    There is no single answer to this question. It’s like if someone buys a 50mm lens for their camera, and asks where they should set the focus ring for optimal sharpness in every shot. They’re controls, and they need to be adjusted as you use them. Depending on the situation, it could be set to high, medium or low in any of those environments (indoors, outdoors, etc.). Whenever you set up to shoot, keep an eye on the meter on the Zoom H1. I explain this a bit in an older post I made about the controls on the H1. There’s a video in the post, and I talk about the meter about three minutes into it:

    http://www.sam-mallery.com/2011/09/zoom-h1-an-overview-of-the-controls/

    Anyhow, thanks for the compliment! Thanks for stopping by and making a comment. Enjoy your new kit!

  31. Great information,, I’m doing some Acoustic guitar tutorials and have gotten poor sound with the built-in d-7000 mic and distorted sound with a regular 1/8th inch cable into the Zoom H4N. I’m going to give that cable a try (and read through the slew of comments for more info)

  32. Hi Mate,

    I’ve got the sescom cable to connect my H4N to my Lumix G2. I am doing a small documentary and also do interviews with people.

    Silly question. I just did a test shoot and downloaded the file to my Mac and watched it. That sound coming out is the sound from the H4N isn’t it? Meaning I don’t have to sync any audio? I wasn’t sure if there is a camera setting I needed to adjust?

    Thanks for your video’s and look forward to a reply.

    Michael

  33. That sound coming out is the sound from the H4N isn’t it?

    If you have everything hooked up properly, yes. Maybe you can do a test where you shoot something, and lightly touch the mics on the H4n, then lightly touch the built-in mics on your camera. When you watch/listen to that footage, you should be able to tell if the mics on the H4n were hooked up to the camera.

    Meaning I don’t have to sync any audio? I wasn’t sure if there is a camera setting I needed to adjust?

    Correct, if you do this properly, no syncing is required. You do have to fiddle with the settings sometimes using Sescom cables. The headphone output volume control affects the input level on the camera. It’s a little odd, but nothing that a little fiddling and experimentation can’t solve.

  34. Hi Sam,
    I’ve bought the LN2MIC-ZMGH-MON 3.5 line to 2.5 Mic, for connecting my GH1 with the Zoom H4N. Anyway, I’ve connected the 2,5 Mic with the 3,5 line of the Zoom. I want to use both the audio (on GH1 and clearly the Zoom audio), but when I push play on GH1 the zoom doesn’t start, so I have only the video-audio on GH1. It seems that there is no connection between the two devices. Do you have any idea of what is it wrong?/what mistake have I done?
    Thanks in advance!
    Bye
    Roberto

  35. The Sescom cable is an audio cable only, it doesn’t provide any remote control/communication capabilities with the camera. You just have to get used to pressing Record on both the camera and recorder.

  36. So I got that cable, and unfortunately, I’m getting some auto-audio level crap on the d7000 side that is causing my recordings to sound like crap. Someone asked what the internal D7000 settings were for your test and I am curious as well. I’ve set the D7000 audio sensitivity level to 1 and it’s “ok” but anything other than that with the settings I have on the H4N (volume 50, on-board mic sensitivity 60)cause a huge increase in gain when there is no speaking which just ramps up the hiss.

    I think it is all on the D7000 side as the pure audio in the H4N does not have this and it looks like the best bet is to rip out the WAV files and manually synch (which is the work I was hoping to avoid).

    Oh well. Still messing with it.. Maybe there’s a magic setting somewhere of magical D7000 firmware update down the road to solve that issue.

  37. Hmm just so I understand correctly.

    I have my H4N plugged in via my DSLR mic input via the sescom ln2mic-h4n cable and then I have my Rode NTG2 plugged in the H4N.

    When I press RECORD on my DSLR, does it automatically pick up audio from the H4N + shotgun or do I need to also press RECORD on the H4N?

  38. Will the Sescom LN2MIC-ZMH4-MON cable work with the Olympus LS 20m and the SONY NEX-7. I am doing some recording of my kids ROCK band stuff at SHOWS and wanting a better audio solution than the Rodes. Until I get a ZOOM H4n can I use it with the Olympus LS20M and Sony DSLR or any Camcorder?

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  40. I have a Nikon D3200 and just purchased the cable to hook up my Zoom H4n and I don’t want to try and sync the audio with the video. So how do I set up the camera and H4n so it will be synchronized automatically?

    Thanks so much! Eileen

  41. Dear Sam,
    It’s great to have someone, how answers all the questions about this matter, because it is really hard to find someone out there who does!
    Just a question. Isn’t this cable good for the job? It comes with the Zoom accessory pack, and it is also cheaper, and you get some other stuff in it also. Here is the link:

    http://www.thomann.de/gb/zoom_aph4n.htm

    Thanks in advance!

  42. I’ve used only a standard 1/8″ to 1/8″ cable to go from the H4n headphone out to the mic input on my DSLR with good results by using setting the output volume level on the h4n low (around 15) and the audio controls in the DSLR very low (a few clicks from off).

    Is it still possible that this setup, because there is no in-line pad provided by a cable like the Sescom, could damage the mic input on my DSLR???

    Or is the pad I’ve created by keeping the output and input levels low while still getting good recording levels good enough?

    I’m a fan of the Sescom cables but I’m just curious if my setup is likely to do damage to the camera’s input?

    Thanks!

  43. why is it necessary to put the sescom cable from my zoomh4n to my DSLR? i would use it basically to avoid syncing. but if it stays the same then i dont understand the need of plugging a 3.5 mm jack from dslr to zooh4n. can someone explain me please what the virtues are of the sescom cable. why is it good to connect the camera to the recorder if it is the same if u dont connect it

  44. Hey, I would like to use my Zoom H4n with a Cannon LEGRIA HF R506 video camera,
    do you know if it’s possible? wich cable must i buy?
    Thanks for everything,
    Your answer will be a salvation :)
    Blanche

  45. Unfortunately, your camera doesn’t have an external microphone input, so you can’t use your H4n to record directly into your camera. Sorry! You will have to record your audio externally on the H4n, and sync the audio and video on a computer during post production.

  46. Hi Sam,

    I just purchased the H4n accessory pack and when Iuse the attenuator to plug the H4n into my Nikon D3200 the Nikon records high levels of hiss with only a faint recording of the actual sound. Any ideas what might be happening?

    Aaron

  47. Re: Sescom LN2MIC-ZOOMH4N Cable.
    Thank you for the excellent video; it is very informative. Will this cable works for the Zoom H2n? I’m looking for similar cable that will work with the H2n. Thanks.

  48. Do you still need to sync the audio in your edit software if recording Zoom H4N audio to the camera? When you press record on the camera does the H4N automatically start also or vice versa? If not, how is it synced?

  49. Hi webmaster do you need unlimited articles for your website ?
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  50. Hi I’m new to the DSLR audio world and had a n00b question,
    what is the point of having a cable that links between the DSLR and the H4N if you have to match them together in post anyways? How is this procedure any different than simply recording audio with the H4N detached from your DSLR and then editing in post?

    Unless the cable allows the Camera to capture audio from the H4N directly on the card, what is the point of this?

  51. Hi, this is Edu from Barcelona. What a great post!

    Sorry for being late but can somebody confirm to me if this cable works with the Blackmagic Production camera 4k and the Tascam DR-60D?

    Thank you so much for the help!

  52. … another “late question”, too …

    Do I need this cable only for DSLRs or e.g. for connecting the H4n with a (consumer) camcorder, too? (e.g. Panasonic HDC-SD707)

    Thanks a lot!
    mtemp

  53. There’s no such thing as late questions, only stupid ones. JUST KIDDING! All questions are always welcome.

    As long as the video camera has a 3.5mm mic input, you can use a Sescom cable. I looked up your camera model, and a website I found stated that it has a mini-plug mic input. If that website is correct, this will work with your camera.

  54. Hey Sam, thank you for the video. I bought the cable because of this video but as a guy wrote in a comment above I am only getting the left channel working on my 70D. I can see both channels picking up audio on my H4n but on the camera only the left channel…:(

  55. Hi Fernando. Hmmmm… What was your audio source? Were you using the built-in stereo mics? External mics? One mic or two? Have you tried plugging headphones into the headphone output of your H4n to determine if the signal it is outputting is on both sides?

  56. I was using the condensed buit in mics of the H4n. I returned the cable and ordered just an attenuator cable with a h4n accessory pack they have on Amazon. Thanks anyways!

  57. This was very helpful, as it opens up my options. I’m going to start filming a bit with my EM5 Mark II. I have the battery grip, so it does have a headphone jack as well as a mic input.

    Now I need to figure out my mic setup. I know it’s hard to buy gear without a specific task in mind, but the best I can say is that I want versatility (since I’m not sure what I’ll be doing.) I mostly do event photography, so let’s assume I’ll be doing the same with video for the most part.

    I was looking at the Rode VM Pro, but now I’m thinking I might want to do an H4n or H5. It’s about the same price, and it seems like it could have many other functions down the line, whereas the Rode is just an on-camera mic. Is this a good idea, or would I be better off sticking with the Rode? Or would you recommend something else entirely?

  58. Hi J. You’re right. It’s hard to make a recommendation. But, having just a shotgun mic would be better than having just an H4n or an H5 to capture an event. Properly capturing the audio for an event is challenging even when you have lots of sound gear. A shotgun is better because you could leave it on your camera when you shoot at all times. If you needed to capture someone speaking to the camera, you would NEED to put the camera within three feet (1 meter) of the person speaking, otherwise it will sound distracting to the viewer. In this situation, just quickly explain to the person on camera that you need to get the camera that close for good audio. They should be cool with it. If you get a Rode VideoMic, make sure you pay the extra to get one with the built-in Rycote shockmount. The shockmounts that Rode makes on their own are awful, and the Rycote mounts are the best in the business:
    http://amzn.to/1QBT0jY
    http://amzn.to/1ThUowT

  59. Hi. Wanted to ask, if i dont use the attenuator cable but a regular 1/8″ Y cable can that destroy/damage the dslr’s mic in? Canon T3i to be exact. Thank you.

  60. Isn’t the purpose of a slate (beyond documenting the shot) to help sync the audio to the video by matching the snap of the clapboard? If this cable glues the audio to the camera video, what’s the point of using a slate?

  61. Yes I echo the above question. I can’t seem to find an answer to this. If you will be syncing the audio to the video later, what is the point of this special cable and why connect it to the camera at all???

  62. Hi Jesse. The question above yours is about a clapper slate, one of these things: http://amzn.to/2skz5T6

    I use it at the end of the YouTube video that’s embedded in this post. That person’s question is valid. I use the clapper slate in the video somewhat improperly. Basically, I shot the video a long time ago, and it happened to be right after I had bought that clapper slate, and I was a little too excited to use it. The way I use it in the video is largely unnecessary. I knew it at the time, but I was just goofing around. I didn’t foresee that video getting anywhere near as many views as it has gotten.

    Here’s my answer to your specific question… It’s good to use a Sescom cable because you get two copies of nearly identical audio. One copy in the camera, one in the audio recorder. If there is an error on one of them (this can happen… digital blips, random errors, etc.), you will have a backup copy.

    Using a Sescom cable also turns the portable audio recorder into a “Beachtek” or “juicedLink” type of device that allows you to plug XLR mics into the camera (if the audio recorder has XLR inputs). It also gives you the option of not having to sync the externally recorded audio file in post, if you are satisfied with how the in-camera audio sounds.

    Thanks for reading the blog and commenting!
    Sam

  63. Hi Sam,

    Do you have to change your camera settings to make it record onto the card?

    Context… I have a 650D and a Zoom H5. When I record them separately I get audio drift at about the 3 minute mark (that’s a separate issue… I don’t know why it’s doing it, I think it’s something to do with the fact I’m in New Zealand and we shoot in 25fps)

    Anyway, I thought to try and get around the audio drift, I’d get a Sescom cable and try recording directly onto the camera card AND the Zoom card, thinking maybe that would make it stay in sync.

    Well, I’m not sure I can even GET it to record onto the card. Whatever I do, the sound files (which I assume should be identical when Sescom is plugged in) give me 2x different sounds.

    I’ve tried:
    * Camera’s sound settings on “auto” (Zoom & camera card sounds are different)
    * Camera’s sound settings on “manual” (Zoom & camera card sounds are different)
    * Camera’s sound settings on “disable” (Camera card doesn’t record any sound at all, so was pointless)

    I’ve also tried various tests changing the line-out on the Zoom (0db, -10db and -20db).

    Whatever I do… I can’t make a longer clip sync, and I can’t get the sound on the Zoom card and the camera card to be essentially the same file, duplicated.

    Sorry for the massive post… but do you have any idea what I’m missing here? I’d be eternally grateful, this is driving me nuts!!

  64. Hmmm…

    Have you tried plugging a microphone directly into the mic input on your 650D – just to check if that input is functioning properly?

    Another thing: try using your Sescom cable on both of the outputs of the H5. I believe it has a Line out, and a headphone out. If you haven’t tried it with the headphone output yet, give it a go.

    Let me know if you have any luck…

  65. Hi again Sam, thanks for your answer!

    I don’t have an adapter that will let me go from my XLR cable to camera, but, if the Sescom cable is plugged into the Zoom AND the camera, sound levels on the camera settings do move up and down. If I unplug the Sescom from the Zoom so it’s just hanging from the camera, the sound levels go silent – leading me to believe that the input IS working.

    I tried two tests this morning:
    – Zoom on 0db, Sescom in line out on Zoom, camera on manual sound.

    – Zoom on 0db, Sescom in headphone jack on Zoom, camera on manual sound.

    In both instances, the sound quality of what was on the camera card was better than what I get WITHOUT a microphone at all – but it was still slightly different to the file on the Zoom’s card. (And by different, I mean fuzzier)

    The headphone jack sound was overall significantly worse, though.

    So… I don’t know. I think it’s recording onto the card??? Just not to the quality I need.

    Additionally the two sound files are out of sync with each other by the end, but the sound on the camera card seems to stay in sync better than the Zoom as I’d hoped… it’s just that that is the lower quality sound.

    It’s a mystery to me!

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