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I have a Zoom H4N & i recently bought a Rode NTG-2 with the Rode Blimp but the levels are really low when i record even @ REC Level 100%. So im thinking of buying a Preamp for my setup - Sound Devices & other high level mic pres are too expensive for me right now, So i thought of buying a "FEL Mini MicBooster Extended XLR" - here is the link - http://www.felmicamps.co.uk/products/felminimicbooste.html.

I've seen a little good reviews about this mic pre & its handy for field recording + cheap as well.

I would like to get some professional opinion before I buy this stuff.

12 Answers 12

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You shouldn't need any extra preamp for this setup. Have you checked in the input meny? Make sure phantom power is turned on. (+48v)

  • Many thanks for the answer tommy jansen. Yes, I made sure the +48v is on in my zoom h4n, but still the levels are low. I read somewhere here that the software REC level can be cranked up in H4n - if so could you please tell me how to doit or may be i should try to stuff a battery in my NTG2 for phantom? Your advice is much appreciated tommy - kindly furnish cheers... – Bala Oct 19 '11 at 9:12
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The H4N, while a solid little device, is notorious for having weak on-board preamps. It works great in loud situations, where less gain is needed, but doesn't have the power for quiet/high-sensitivity work.

I looked at the link you posted. Haven't heard of this product before, but it's an interesting little device. The only thing that concerns me, is that it is a fixed boost of 20dB. I think you'd be better off saving up the cash to buy something like a Sound Devices MixPre. Not cheap, but nowhere near as expensive as some of their other gear. It would also give you two channels, so you could feed both inputs of your H4N if you add another mic in the future.

Another option would be to look for a used field mixer on eBay or some other place. You can get a used Shure FP31 very cheaply now-a-days, though it is only a mono output. Shure FP32 and FP33 are both 2 channels out, and you might be able to find one of those for a reasonable price.

P.S. I seem to remember something about the H4N's inputs being Hi-Z at line level, but I'm not sure. You can try contacting Varun Nair. I know he found something about the Hi-Z issue that prompted him to build some in-line pads to deal with it. Might be in your interest to find out what he knows.

  • Thanks very much shaun, Thats a good idea:) - I'll contact Varun nair. – Bala Oct 19 '11 at 15:02
  • @Shaun yes, the 1/4" TRS ins are Hi-ZI, but the XLRs are not. Both run through the preamp though. – Stavrosound May 9 '12 at 0:18
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The NTG-2 can run with a single AA battery.

If you're not recording loud sources that should be acceptable. Try it that way.

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I use the same stuff you got, I don't know if it would make a difference but if you haven't already try updating the firmware or check if its the cable your using. This must really suck, good luck.

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One user says he had success with a Rode D-PowerPlug: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/392814-REG/Rode_D_POWER_PLUG_D_PowerPlug_In_Line_Cable_Mounted.html

I have also seen FetHeads and Cloudlifters suggested as alternatives, though I haven't heard much about them.

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I just used the Zoom H4N Yesterday. It worked fine with shotgun mic. and really quiet sound sources. Make sure you're on the external mic setting

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I'm having the same problem - the sound is low with the rode NTG-2. I'm assuming it's a setting that is off in my Zoom. I don't understand all of the settings. I tried resetting to factory default but still the sound is low. I've read comments on other forums to check the "gain" and "levels", but don't see those options. Can anyone advise on what settings in the Zoom are best for one-on-one interviews in a quiet space, with shotgun mic?

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I kept searching and couldn't find any answers so started changing the settings in the Zoom H4n. Changing the Mono Mix to ON made a huge difference. The sound level noticeably increased. I'd be curious to know about Mono Mix and what it means, if anyone can explain.

  • "mono mix function... allows a single external mic to be heard in both the left and right channels when monitoring the recording." - transom.org/?p=5851 :) – Alan Pring May 10 '12 at 14:56
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Just had the same problem last Sunday. Zoom H4N and Rode NTG2, low levels. We had it on mono mix. I used it with the battery and not with phantom power (whoops). Anyone get any ideas on what to record with using a rode NTG2 instead of a Zoom?

  • If you have a new question please use the ask a question button. Answer posts are reserved for answers on Stack Exchange. – Rory Alsop Feb 10 '14 at 23:01
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I have used a NTG3 with phantom 48v from a H4N. Works great. Then I used a NTG2 with battery and/or phantom 48v and found the levels very low. I had to normalize in audacity etc. Not good.

Mono-Mix is used to record mono (dialogue). It makes the Zoom record the same on both channels so when you load it up into Audacity you will see the 2 stereo channels. But the recording is the same on both - so delete one and hey presto, your mono dialogue that your post-processing sound guru will love you dearly for.

My issue still stands though - the recording is low - even with rec levels maxed out. I was very surprised at this. Therefore I am doing some research into pre-amps e.g. Sound Devices MixPre and Sound Devices MM1. However, I am taking the whole set up to some people much more experienced than I tomorrow so maybe it might be my set up that's wrong on the Zoom. I will soon know!

So far it looks like a portable pre-amp is in the cards - or a NTG3.

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The Fethead Phantom is not compatible with rode ntg2.

The Fethead "regular" is compatible, so long as ntg2 is using AA battery.

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I read that NTG2's impedance output is too strong 200ohms while the H4N's input impedance is too low (1.5Kohms), making the H4N pre amps weak. Normally the difference should be higher than 10x. Thus 200 ohms x 10 > 1,500 ohms. That's why an NTG1 shotgun microphone which has an output impedance of 50 ohms works better: 50 ohms x 10 < 1,500 ohms. No setting in the H4N will fix this. That is why some people who use a shotgun microphone with a lower output impedance would wonder why people complain about the NTG2 and H4N question. The probable answer is to boost the signal with a fethead preamp. It adds 18-20db gain.

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