I use the Zoom H4n when I want really good sound quality compared to the awful laptop built-in sound card. It seems like the audio clips if I turn it to 100 on the H4n. What is really the 1:1 ratio, so that maximum output from the computer will give maximum output on the Zoom H4n? (So it doesn't clip, and doesn't stay way below.)

1 Answer 1


The level you need to set on the H4n would depend greatly on the signal level coming in from the computer and may even be affected by the type/length of cables in between. As with any other recording device you will need to experiment a bit to get the levels right.

First turn the levels down to a point where they are not clipping. Record the loudest thing you will be working with and find the loudest part of the recording. Turn up the levels a bit and record just the loudest section again. Repeat until it clips and then turn it down just a bit. This will get you a safe recording level for the loud stuff.

If you are also recording quiet stuff you can either adjust the levels accordingly or add a compressor to regulate the levels a bit automatically.


You will run into a similar problem on the output from the H4n to any other device. Some devices will accept higher levels than others without clipping, and the type/length of the cables used will still have an effect.

Unfortunately, there is no way to find the level you seek without experimenting.

  • Yes, I know this. I was talking about the output I get from the Zoom H4n. I've plugged it into the computer, and set it as the default sound card. (I use USB.) Then I start the media player and the audio clips. I have to turn down the output "gain" to stop it from clipping. Do you know what level Zoom has set for a 1 to 1 signal reproduction? May 4, 2012 at 4:40
  • I updated the answer to reflect output from the H4n May 4, 2012 at 13:31
  • I'm sure that Zoom know what is a 1:1 ratio. I mean that if you set the output to 100, the signal clips out of the Zoom H4n. You play a sound that is almost 0 dB on the computer, and it is sent through the USB cable digitally, where it is converted in the Zoom H4n. The problem is that the Zoom makes the audio clip, if you set the volume on it too high. It is probably so that you can turn up the volume even if the input from the computer is too low. And I'm wondering what will give a 1:1 ratio. What do you set the volume to be to get a -0.01 dB signal from the computer to be rendered as a -0.01 May 4, 2012 at 15:55
  • dB on the Zoom H4n? May 4, 2012 at 15:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.