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Improving recording quality of the Zoom H5. Extra microphones?

1716 Views 9 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Saxray
Hello everyone,

I have a Zoom H5 which I use for casual recordings of rehearsals and gigs and I think the sound quality is usually pretty decent. However, the H5 also has two XLR inputs and I´m toying with the idea of buying two extra microphones in an attempt to improve the recording quality. I don´t intend to spend too much since this is only a hobby project, but have been considering cheapish condenser mics (the H5 can provide phantom power) such as the AKG C1000 (seems practical since it can also run on on batteries) or AKG P170. Anyway, I guess my questions are:

1. Would the C1000/P170 be suitable for this kind of recording? If not, are there any better contenders in the same price bracket?
2. Would there be a significant improvement in sound quality as compared to the built-in Zoom mics, or would I have to spend (much) more?
3. I also have a spare Shure Beta 57. Would that be suitable? In that case I guess I would be better off just buying one more of those.

Thanks in advance!

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Hi, Saxray! That's a great question. If you're recording rehearsals and practice sessions and want better sound, plugging a stereo pair of small-diaphragm condensers into your Zoom recorder is definitely a good idea. I don't think your Shure will be sensitive enough for miking a whole group, you'll probably want condensers. Dynamic mics like your Shure are better for close-miking since they're passive. (Keep in mind, in addition to the mics, you'll need to get enough stands and cables to set them up, if you don't already have them.)

I, personally, would stay away from modern AKG stuff. There are affordable alternatives these days with much better quality control. While I haven't personally used them, the Line Audio CM4 gets REALLY great reviews, is remarkably affordable, and is hand-made in Sweden. You can get a pair of them for under three hundred bucks, which is a bargain for quality mics. People also like the SE8 and, if you can budget for some better gear, Beyerdynamic MC930 -- that last one is a really good quality German-made mic with a strong pedigree and high quality, but not quite as expensive as other German industry standards like Neumann or Schoeps.

I recently wrote a lengthy blog post about how musicians can step up their home recording game, give it a read if you're curious in case you find it useful! Good luck on your quest.
Hi HeavyWeather77,
Thanks a lot, that was exactly the kind of information I was looking for! I guess I should have mentioned that I´m talking about recording the whole band I´m playing in (12-piece soul/funk band), and not only myself. Does that change anything?
I will definitely check out the Line Audio CM4. I quick search showed that it is available for as little as USD 110 here in Sweden, which is almost exactly the same price as the AKG C1000.

When it comes to faithful vs enhancing, I guess I´ll settle for faithful, even though we could definitely do with some enhancement as well...
Fortunately, this is only for fun and the recordings are not intended for any commercial use.

Cool! I didn't even notice you're in Sweden when I suggested Line Audio, that's awesome. He seems to be doing really, really good work for a very affordable price, audio engineers rave about his stuff.

I assumed you wanted to record a whole group, and that's exactly why I recommended a stereo pair of small-diaphragm condensers. They'll give you a very honest rendition of what happens in the room. If you were just recording yourself, I'd recommend different approaches, probably more along the lines of the article I linked to above.
Yeah, sorry, I realized that´s what you meant when I re-read your post.

I´m planning on mounting them in a X-Y fashion on a single mic stand, using one of those stereo bars (like the K&M 23560). Would that work alright, or would I be better off separating them a bit more? It would keep the set-up really simple, and minimize the cabling and number of stands needed. For gigs, there would possibly also be room for a video camera that I could connect to the H5´s Line out.

Thanks a lot everyone! I’m a complete novice when it comes to recording (as you have probably already guessed...) and this has been really helpful!

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