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I hooked up a Zoom H4n to the "speaker out" jack of a mixer with an XLR splitter cable. So the Zoom H4n was on one side of the splitter and the room speaker on the other side of the splitter. I have done this many times before and gotten great sound.

I set the Zoom to "Level Auto-On" hoping that the loud music would not be distorted. But not only was the music distorted but the spoken words were also distorted. The resulting audio recordings are unusable. I'm not sure where the problem lies: the mixer outputting a distorted signal (although the sound coming out of the speakers in the room sounded fine), the splitter XLR cable, the Zoom H4n.

The left and right channel bars on the face of the H4N were stuck on -6db, without ever wavering, even during the speeches.

By the way, I actually used two H4Ns, each on a different speaker-out lead. So I had two splitter cables, one attached to the speaker-out RIGHT channel; one to the speaker-out LEFT channel. I did this in case one of the H4N died during the recording (which has happened to me before). Both H4Ns produced identical unusable recordings.

What signal do the XLR ports on the H4N expect, line, mic, etc.?

Any light you could shed on this problem would be appreciated.

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XLR inputs are mic inputs on the H4n, not line. Put a 40db pad or so on the line and it will probably work ok, though you may still have some quality loss from impedance differences depending on the output.

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