Recording 101: Microphones - OFFICIAL DISCUSSION


Firstly, I’d like to apologize if this question has already been answered in another discussion forum. When using a Zoom H4N as my recording device and hooking up a condenser mic with an XLR cable, how do i decide between using the LEFT or RIGHT input? I want to record stereo and am not entirely sure how to achieve this.


Hey Jim, sorry for the slow reply!

So to achieve a stereo recording with mics going into the XLR inputs, you’d need two separate mics; each channel is going to be mono. (While XLR cables can carry stereo signals, I’d assume your mic is mono, as most generally are, and software-side, I’m not sure the H4 would understand a stereo signal on a single input.)

As you’re in all likelihood getting a mono signal off a single mic, it doesn’t matter which input you use. If you’re using two mics, picking left and right based on physical setup can be convenient organizationally for when you hit post.

If you happen to want to record stereo simply so the audio doesn’t sound lopsided (i.e., 100% left channel or 100% right channel), you have two options - you can set the H4 to mono recording mode (so it’ll write both the left and right channels with the same signal, meaning you’ll technically get a stereo file with two identical channels), or you can simply use one channel and just make sure it’s set as a mono track or center-panned in post. If your question is something more along these lines, I can elaborate if the above is too brief/confusing!


Ok that makes a lot of sense. Thank you so very much for getting back to me on it. I appreciate it. I’ve watched all of your tutorial videos and have learned a lot from this site. Thank you so much for all of that.


Awesome; that’s great to hear! Let me know if you have any questions in the future!


Hi Kevin, what microphone is used indoors and what is used outdoors? And why?


There’s a lot more factors that can influence microphone choices depending on the specifics of the environment - both indoors and outdoors can have a huge variety of challenges. That being said, typically cardioid mics work well indoors, as they have a directional but relatively forgiving pickup pattern, giving a nice, natural sound indoors and sometimes letting you pick up multiple actors at once, if they’re close to each other. Outdoors, shotgun mics are generally favored as they’re more directional, which helps cancel out environmental noise (typically why they’re boomed above the actors, angled down towards the ground). However, shotgun mics are less forgiving, and it’s easier for actors to fall off-mic, and voice pickup quality can degrade pretty quickly. Lavalier mics will work in both scenarios, though I usually recommend them as a secondary option to a boomed cardioid/shotgun, rather than relying exclusively on them.

As I mentioned though, every space will behave differently acoustically, so these are broadly applicable suggestions, but if you have multiple mics available, always test them out before you roll a take, and try out different equipment options if necessary. If you’re looking to just get one starting mic, I’d probably recommend an onboard directional plug-in like the Rode VideoMic Pro, or if you go boom mic, a medium-sized shotgun mic. Shotgun mics can sometimes make voices sound a little strange in terms of quality indoors in certain scenarios, but I’d err on the side of getting a solid mic that’ll get you clean speech indoors or outdoors.


Thankyou, i already have the rode videomic rycote, I use that as my boom connected to the zoom h1. Now im thinking of upgrading to a NTG2 and an h5.


If that’s within your budget, those are solid choices! The NTG2 is in the right zone where it’ll perform pretty well for you in most indoor and outdoor scenarios, as long as you don’t have any outstanding noise issues (which to be honest even with more situation-specific gear you could probably only reduce, not outright get rid of).


Thankyou again, but really should i purchase the ntg 2 or should i look for something bigger?


That really depends on your budget and your overall big priorities. You can produce totally competent, technically-sound work with an NTG 2 in most scenarios if used properly, and in many cases I don’t think it’s smart to over-spend on really high-end equipment unless it’s absolutely essential for some very specific reason.

My guess would be that the NTG 2 is appropriate for what you’re working on, and should serve you well for years. I wouldn’t drop huge bucks until you either decide to spend the potentially tens of thousands of dollars on a full-featured, “completely pro” level audio kit, or you get to the point where you’re hiring someone with that kind of gear to handle it for you! Both of those might be options further down the road, but just know you can produce professional-level content with much less gear. We were at best at about NTG 2-level for season 1 of Video Game High School; we didn’t even have an independent audio recorder. :sweat_smile:


Thankyou a lot. Or should i pickup the ntg 4+ with a blimp? How would that be?
And… are large diaphragm condenser mics used on booms?


You’ll likely want to have a blimp if you anticipate shooting outdoors - most mics will come with foam windscreens which are usually adequate indoors, but if wind starts picking up outside, it’ll start impacting your audio, and in the worst scenario potentially damage or break the microphone.

Large diaphragm condensers are not used on (film production) booms! I’m sure it’s been done, but it’s certainly not common practice, and I wouldn’t recommend it. Many would be difficult to mount properly, and I’d be worried about damaging the mic as well. Shotgun mics and small diaphragm condensers are functionally better fits.


Yeah that practice ended decades and decades and decades ago!


The new Deity shotgun is around the same price as the NTG2 and I’d certainly recommend it instead. (I’m using the original Aputure Deity as my back up to my Sanken CS3e, and getting the latest Deity soon for review)

Because the NTG2 is pretty bad, really only a “student” or “videographer” grade shotgun rather than a first choice for a pro sound mixer. (the NTG3 is the only one from Rode worth seriously looking into, which like the Deity the NTG3 is meant to be an alternative to the classic 416 shotgun, which are all in a totally different ball game to the NTG2/NTG1/NTG4/etc low end ones)


If you move up to shooting with a mirrorless camera then a cheap/quick/easy way to sync is to use a few iOS devices with this: And a Tentacle Sync E on the camera.