I have just recently purchased a Zoom H4n and Rode NTG2 and I am also having the same problems with not enough gain (recording in stereo, with or w/o channel 1 and 2 linked and with or w/o mono mix engages.) Using the mic at the appropriate distance from the person speaking, the gain is unacceptable low. If it is a quiet speaker, it does good to record at -36, even maxing out the record level.

I called Zoom tech support and after speaking with them for about 15 minutes I borrowed a different mic but had the same result of not enough gain. I sent the H4n in for a replacement and it (the replacement) is doing the same thing.

My set-up is NTG2 - Zoon H4n - XLR cords (brand new) - Nikon DSLR.

My questions to any experienced audio pro out there- is there a better portable recorder out there? If not, what pre-amps would you recommend that would not increase noise? What is the best way to resolve this, using a pre-amp or investing in a better mic? What are recommendations for better (yet affordable) shotgun mics?


  • I forgot to mention, I have tried with and without phantom +48v and also with ac adapter. The ac adapter actually made a slight difference but not enough to solve the problem. – David Oct 13 '12 at 14:25

An AC adaptor won't help things at all. Apologies if my answers seem obvious, but...

You do need phantom power switched on for the Rode NTG-2 to work, and of course for phantom power to work, you need XLR (male) to XLR (female) cable. (XLR to jack won't work.)

The only exception is if you put the AA battery into the NTG-2. In this case, you will want to switch phantom power off. You should get a decent level. Your problems are certainly not consistent with my experiences with the H4n, so it seems likely to be something to do with how you're using it.

  • It not in anything I am doing or not doing. I confirmed all settings with Zoom techs. I am using XLR cables - not XLR to 1/4". And looking around this forum, there are many other people who have experienced this problem. – David Oct 13 '12 at 17:02

There is not enough gain in your rig, and you need more. Short of getting a different recorder, you could add an MP-1 to your set up. Adding batteries to the mic wont solve your issue, but it would be cool if it did. You need more gain, plus the impedance between the h4 and the NTG are off. Try the SD MP-1, its amazing and will give you all the good clean gain you need. http://www.fullcompass.com/product/300436.html? utm_source=googleps&utm_medium=shopping&utm_campaign=googleps&gclid=CKuKg-H1_rICFQs5nAodyXwABw

  • @Tom Todia & @Nairn: thanks 4 the info. The SD MP-1 seems 2 be a resonable solution. Would a TASCAM DR-680 b a better 1? It seems like it is a much better recorder & wouldn't it also eliminate the need for a preamp? (I think I can return the H2n) I also found the NTG2 & shotgun mics in general r not recommended 4 recording speech in an interior with low ceilings. Should I b looking at a Hypercardioid Condenser Mic? Do you have recommendations for mics in that environment? My budget is a little tight but I need a b able to record a decent pro quality audio at minimum. Any advice would b helpful – David Oct 14 '12 at 21:43
  • The environments I will b working in to start off are business offices, private residences and possible a church but in a room that has a low ceiling. If there is a shotgun mic that would work well in this situation, that would be ideal as it would give me the option 2 work in exterior enviros as well. From what I read yesterday, it seems a shotgun is not designed for that purpose although someone did suggest a Rode NTG3 would work? Any thoughts on this? – David Oct 14 '12 at 21:52

If you do go down the road of using an external pre-amp before the zoom H4n, which can be an expensive excursion, you would benefit from a workaround from triggering your pre-amps within your H4n. I understand buying an extra pre-amp is a great investment for the H4n, as the noise off the pres can get intrusive when recording low spl sources.



Problem resolved... I have returned both the H4n and NTG-2. No use giving myself a disadvantage out of the gate.


Yes, I will tell that the Zoom H4n is a very poor audio recorder . The gain is very low. The overall quality is so so .... I returned to my Fostex mr8HD, 4 chanells simutaneos recorder with 122 hours of contimum record time with the 40GB hard drive. I am electronic engineer, so i made some mods in my fostex. I installed a 32GB ssd drive in substitution of the 40GB magnectic spin driver, and remove his internal power supply, and substituted by 12 3.7 5500mah recharged batteries. The overal weigth was reduced , and the unit is now 100% portable. The recorded time The record time was reduced to 96 hours, but is still enough for me ... I modified the input circuitry , since in fostex is very easy to do that, ad i could impove gain in 10 dB. You can obtain an unit like that in Ebay ( mine costs only 175), and ask an electronic technician to do that for you . Best regards, Leossom


I've had and am having similar issues with my H4n. If you turn the gain up too high you get static, if it's too low the sound comes out extremely quiet in recordings. I've spent hours fiddling and the only thing I can suggest is to find a happy medium, a threshold that isn't too quiet and retains quality, with this little recorder this is proving difficult to do.

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