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Rode NTG-2 with Zoom H4n problems, choosing alternatives
  • I tried to work with a boom to capture sound for a testimonial statement with this combination and I was really dissapointed. One meter distance max 1,5 and I had to push recording levels up to nearly max and result was still low. I could save the take by pushing the levels in final cut and cover the upcoming noise with overlay of atmosphere sound. This ist not the plan for upcoming jobs in the future.

    After some reasearch I found out I am not alone. H4n seems to have a cheap PreAmp and NTG-2 low recording level too. At the moment my bugdet is low too so what would be best to improve the situation? Buy a new affordable mic? A preamp like Rode D Power Plug or TritonAudio FatHead? It should be a portable, battery powered and able to be handled easily by one person (the one with the boom)

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • 105 Replies sorted by
  • I had to push recording levels up to nearly max and result was still low

    It is usual for such combos.

    I suggest to get more sensitive mike, as first measure and after this get other recorder, may be TR-100 MKII. Even better is good preamp before recorder.

  • exactly what Vitaliy said. If you're stuck with that combo, make sure you have the XLRs on mic level and use the AA battery in the mic to provide the phantom power – it may be better than what's coming from the H4n and help your levels a bit.

  • I have the NTG-2 and Zoom H4N, and see the same problems. I think the best option is to get an external pre-amp, like this one from Sears:

    http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_SPM1547001401P?sid=IDx20101019x00001a&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=SPM1547001401

    There are two main problems with the Zoom: 1) The pre-amps suck 2) It only gives control over levels, and not sensitivity (any audio engineer will tell you this is insane.)

    I'm seriously thinking of springing for a new Roland, which has much better pre-amps.

    Also, think about the NTG-3, which Philip Bloom uses. I personally got better results when I upgraded to an Azdec SGM-1X, which is good value.

    There are tons of better sound combinations out there, but it's funny I got the same one as you initially, then realized I had to upgrade.

  • @peaceonearth

    Same problem here, I am severely disappointed by zoom h4n. Not only the preamp is crap but the quality of the overall product is not suited for crtical projects. It has been broken (developed earthing hum) twice on overseas projects.

    Comparing the recording quality, Ntg-2 microphone is way ahead of zoom condensor microphone.

    If you don't want to spend anymore money then position the ntg-2 microphone close to the source and lift the levels in post production. I use adobe audition and use a compressor. Took me a while to play with settings but now I am extremely pleased with the results.

    Another thing you could try is using a cheap lavalier wired microphone like audio technica ones and plug it to zoom on the other end, this was recommended to me by Zoom technical engineer.

    Hope it helps.

  • thanks everybody for sharing your experience. As I mentioned my budget is actually limited. First step will be a PreAmp for next two testimonials, next step after my fee is paid I will sell the Zoom at Ebay an go for the Tascam. Which mic would you recommend? I wonder why the NTG-2 is so popular (NTG-3 is out of budget)

    @ahbleza is the ART Dual Pre USB suitable for one person? I see it has more than half a kilo of weight, 9V Monoblock battery is quoted as cumbersome in reviews.

    @kitano I had one GH2 with 17mm for overall scene and a Canon 5D with 100mm for close up simultaneously. Due to the wide angel GH2 the distance of 1 - 1,5m was nearest possible.

  • I suggest MXL FR-300, it has higher sensitivity than NTG (45mV/Pa versus 15mV/Pa)
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/MXL-10-inch-Camcorder-Shotgun-Condenser-Microphone-Mic-/120829797963?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item1c2204664b

    Frequently recommended NTG-3 also is better (at about 31.6mV/Pa), but much more pricier.

  • I think there needs to be a world-wide campaign against the NTG-2/H4n combination. People continue to throw $$ toward that combo even tho any search of forums in the past 18 months is only full of complaints.

    NTG-2 is a good-sounding mic but it is not sensitive and it needs to be close to the subject. H4n has good-sounding on-board mics but pre-amps are miserable for external mics.

    I too could have acquired another piece of gear ala an external pre-amp but opted instead to dump the H4n cheap and grab a DR-100mkii and eventually an AT875R. I am very happy with this combo (truly worlds of difference) whether on camera or boomed. NTG-3 would also be great. Don't know about sound of the MXL FR-300 - intriguing.

  • @WalterH

    This happens because various sites are full of old recommendations.
    NTG-2 is recommended very frequently (mostly by NTG-3 owners :-) ) Also H4n is mentioned widely, Tascam solutions not so much, despite their better performance and construction quality.

  • thats true! I bought H4n cause the guy who helped me first with sound had one in combination with wireless Sennheiser and it worked fine. Every review I read was positive. I asked some guys for a recommendation at it was NTG-2. Every review was positive too. I did not read about these complaints of the combo because it did search for a review of the combo. And unfortunatley I wasn't member of personal-view at that time cause I had no GH2. Beginner's mistake. Thank God correctable without spending a fortune.

  • If you prefer to stick with combo zoom h4n / ntg2 due to any reason, then below might be of help (kudos to mrhotrod460 user at YouTube :

    Otherwise, I would upgrade recorder or use a dedicated preamp as others suggest in this thread

  • @peaceonearth I still think you don't need to spend any money, my mic placements are between 1-2 metre, as its a uni directional mic, despite the low audio signal it records all the details. Just passing through a software compressor boost the signal to a broadcast quality. I can send you a before and after sample file if you wish.

    Another options is a device like this, this one is expensive but I remember seeing another one for around £25-35.

    http://www.felmicamps.co.uk/products/felminimicbooste.html

  • @kitano thanks again for your help. I will order the FetHead and see how it works it's 70 € which is affordable. I am doing a (even not much) paid job, I am not experienced in audio software and I want to be on the safe side. I'm going for "I hear what I get"

  • maybe change to http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/New-Tascam-DR-40-Handheld-4-Track-Recorder-/280877613323?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item41659c410b i've seen in comparison to the zoom h4n the preamps are better and can boost the low levels. alternatively the tascam dr-100mkII has much better preamps then the zoom.

    some good reviews comparing audio recorders here; http://nofilmschool.com/2012/04/audio-recorder-roundup-h4n-zoom-vs-tascam/

    hope this helps

  • Audio Technica AT875R is a hotter mike than NTG-2. This makes some difference. I sold my NTG-2. The AT875R is a less full sounding mike, true, but still very good for the price. Besides it's tiny. Still, good preamps are nescessary to get most of every mike.

  • That MXL FR-300 sounds intriguing too. The specs are better than my Audio Technica.

  • So the plan is selling H4n maybe NTG-2 too and going for a Tascam DR-100mkII and a new mic in the second round. @Vitaliy_Kiselev what's your opinion of MXL FR-300 vs Audio Technica AT875R?
    Thanks to all for sharing your experience.

  • @John_Farragut

    That MXL FR-300 sounds intriguing too. The specs are better than my Audio Technica.

    thanks for your appraisal. Unfortunately there is no distribution in Germany, at first look I couldn't even find a European distribution. Rates for shipping, custom's fee & import sales tax are as high as the price by itself.

  • Just talk with seller, may be he could declare it less http://www.ebay.com/itm/MXL-10-inch-Camcorder-Shotgun-Condenser-Microphone-Mic-/110785326785?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item19cb51eec1

    As for distrobution, it looks like MXL is US company.

    what's your opinion of MXL FR-300 vs Audio Technica AT875R?

    Normally it is pointless to ask such questions as people do not have all the mikes in the world (except pro sound guys, but they also normally have only top mikes).

  • my experience declaring less only works sometimes. If there is no clearly visible document "INVOICE" outside at the package customs insist to see a document of payment (paypal, amazon) Declaration of value on shipment document is mostly not accepted at the local custom's office.

  • Buying on a budget is always more of a gamble.

    After NTG-2, I personally wanted something that had hotter output (because preamp on camcorder was weak) and was small (NTG-2 is quite long). When AT875R came out, I heard some audio files, and it sounded good enough.

    Keep in mind that the AT875R is rated 90-20000Hz. It is meant for use onboard camcorders, so there's a bass cut off for the handling noise. So it may not be what you want. It's also why it's so small and very light. On a budget, it's always compromises.

    But it also seems the price has gone up since I bought. I bought the AT875R for only EUR 135. Now it's already EUR 189! That's less of a steal right now.

    Don't know if there are other options out there.

  • Has anyone bought something directly from Amazon.com imported to Europe? It seems that they collect an Import Fees Deposit on purchase so one doesn't have to think about import duties and tax anymore? It's already collected by Amazon, only if you buy from Amazon Export Sales, Inc. not Marketplace. Does this work?

    In this case the MXL FR300 would cost a total of EUR 157,06 (EUR 131,98 + EUR 25,08 Import Fees Deposit). I wonder if this really works. Still eBay could be cheaper.

  • @peaceonearth

    Just ask for invoice, in this case :-)

  • I always ask but mostly they don't attach one. n.b. Lanparte follow focus package came wrapped in Chinese newspaper. Thanks again for this great deal!

  • I have recently purchased a GH2. Before I had been shooting with a Sony HVR A1 and plugging my Rode NTG2 straight into it

    The sound recorded was okay, but never up to the standard I desired. I realise this was sometimes down to poor operation, but often some of the issues appeared unavoidable (noisy soundfloor, recording distance etc)

    I'm now looking to buy a field recorder to plug my mic into while filming

    I had planned on buying the Roland R26 but have had my head turned by the Roland R44.

    May I ask, if I were to invest in the R44, would the performance of the NTG2 be drastically improved?

    I might purchase the R26 for the time being and carry on using the NTG2 until I can afford a mic able to access the potential of the R44.

    I would like to upgrade the mic also, but my purchases are going to be a little sporadic for a little while, as I'm sure you can imagine

  • Is this ( http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/615405-REG/ART_USBDUALPREPS_USB_Dual_Pre.html ) the only good preamp alternative below $100 or do you recommend something else?

    I have Zoom h4n and MXL FR-300 and I think now MXL pretty much sucks compared to h4n internal mics.