How to use the Zoom H4N as a USB microphone | Video School Online tutorial

Directions:

  1. Plug in your Zoom H4N to your computer via usb cable
  2. Use the menu scroller to scroll down to Audio I/F and select
  3. Scroll down to ‘Connect’ and select
  4. On your computer, select H4N from your microphone input preferences

I watch as many tutorials online as I create. Actually, I watch a lot more video tutorials on YouTube, Udemy, Skillshare, and other channels than tutorials I create. One thing that always bothers me is the poor audio quality that many tutorials have.

I admit though, getting good audio is really hard. You need not only a good microphone, but a good environment as well. Many of my first video tutorials had sub-par quality. And right now, even though I’m using a $75 HD web camera with a decent stereo microphone – the Logitech C920 – my audio isn’t as good as many other professional video creators. Check out the Logitech C920 here:

So I was thinking of purchasing a new microphone. I heard of a few good podcasting microphones like the Heil PR-40 or the Blue Yeti USB microphone (seen below). Both would be great options because they are USB, and can plug straight into my computer.

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I have a Zoom H4N and professional Sennheiser lavaliere microphone set that I’ve used in the past. But honestly, it is kind of a pain to record audio to the audio recorder, then have to upload and sync. I use the screencasting software Screenflow, and the great thing about it is that it can record audio, my screen, and video – and it automatically syncs everything up. If I had a professional USB microphone, I would increase my editing efficiency and microphone quality dramatically. So I thought my only option would be to purchase one of these microphones. But they cost upwards of $100, up to a few hundred!

Then I got creative. Like I mentioned, I already have the Zoom H4N recorder, which is an audio recorder and stereo microphone all in one. The microphone is actually REALLY REALLY good quality. Professional musicians, documentarians, and video creators use this recorder all the time. It’s not cheap! But it is SO versatile. Click on the image below:

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I wondered – can I use this microphone as a USB microphone? Could I somehow plug it in to the computer and turn it into a USB mic? A quick google search gave me a surprising answer – yes! And it’s not some sort of trick. It’s a built in feature of the Zoom H4N! I tested it out, and my audio is 10x better.

 

I hope you enjoy this great tutorial. And now you can look forward to better audio from my video tutorials!

And there you go! You have a professional quality microphone to record anything straight to your computer!

Cheers!
Phil

2017-08-23T08:50:04+00:00
  • I just tried this with my old Zoom H2, and it worked like a charm. Phil, you rock my world. THANK YOU!

    • Phil Ebiner

      So glad I could help Kathleen!

  • I’ve just bought my first 1/2 decent mike – I looked at the blue yeti – but ended up buying an Audio-Technica – it should arrive next week! I’m super excited to see how much difference it makes!

  • thank you! this helps so much & I need to do this for an interview on Friday!

  • antie ksusiasths

    hi man i want to use it for recording guitar and the same time recording with the pc’s camera,what program do i need to do this?

    • Hi Antie!
      You can use something like Camtasia, which allows you to record your webcam and another microphone (like the Zoom H4N) that is hooked up to your computer. You could also probably use any webcam recorder like Quicktime player (not sure if this works for PCs), and just make sure you choose the right audio input for your guitar.

  • JChris

    Will this work with a Zoom H1?

  • Lee Pillar

    Will this work with an Olympus LS-20M ? Thanks

    • I’m not sure, and couldn’t find anything online that says it would.

      • Lee Pillar

        Thanks bro. Yesterday I’ve tried to plugged it into PC(Win7 system) and the results turned out to be a lil tricky. The recorder was actually recognized as a PCM microphone, but the sample rate selection column was grayed out and stick to 2CH 16bit 16000Hz, far inferior to the recorder’s 24bit 96000Hz maximum output. Is there anything wrong with the setting or simply a limitation from the system or recorder itself ?

        • I’m guessing if the settings are grayed out – it means you only have the automated options, and it is just limited.

          • Lee Pillar

            Alright, I think I have to cope with that, though somewhat disappointed. Again, thanks man.

  • Alberto Matos Soto

    I was shooting an interview when mi h4n start having trouble with the SD. Then I get to this page and figure out how record straight with my computer. But… When I check the recordings it was a mess, everything seem high pitch or something and there are some words that repeats just after the interviewer said them.

    Is there a way I can fix this audio?

    • That is really strange Alberto. It seems like maybe there’s an issue with the SD card. Have you tried with a different SD card to see if you get the same issue?

      • Alberto Matos Soto

        It was reordered on the computer. There wasn’t any SD card on the H4N.

  • Hank Moody

    Hi Phil! Thank you for this tutorial! You are talking about using it as a USB mic to record videos. Will this work as a USB mic for Skype or LIVE podcasts, as well?

    • Yep, totally! It becomes a ‘usb mic’ that can be used for any type of computer program like Skype as well.

      • Hank Moody

        Great, thanks!!

  • A.

    I am planning to get the H4N pro to use it primarily for my saxophone skype lessons (as a usb mic) and secondarily for recording my practice sessions.
    Do you have an idea if I can use it in skype maintaining the 24bit 96000Hz rates?
    Thanks for the help

    • I’m not sure about the rates on Skype – but I can tell you that it works well with skype. I use it all the time – no problems.

  • Mark Stephen Bower

    Hi Phil,

    I’m currently using the H4n with skype and computer recording and I notice that every so often the audio will repeat itself. For instance when I listen I hear

    “The the mic will often repeat repeat itself”

    How do I fix this?

    • Mark Stephen Bower

      Fixed. Switched to 48kh when after audio/if option.

  • Can you also record the audio track to the SD card as a backup in case the computer crashes or whatever?

    • that’s a great question. and unfortunately, you can’t. Once you put the Zoom into ‘interface mode’ it can’t also record.

  • Hey Phil, Thanks for the handy tutorial. Greatly appreciate it! Funny thing, I ordered the Blue Yeti and THEN found your video showing that I could use my Zoom H4n. So here I am testing it out and there’s something odd happening. Curious if this has happened to you. I’ve got the Zoom connected to my iMac via USB. And when I do a test record via Quicktime, the audio is recording in double speed… so my voice sounds like a chipmunk! LOL. Any ideas what might be happening?

    • Hi Faith,
      That’s really strange! I have never come across that. The only thing I can imagine is the sampling rate messing something up. When you plug in the H4N, and choose to make it the ‘interface’ try changing the Frequency to 44.1 if it’s not already on that.

      • Hey, thanks for the speedy reply Phil! So I tried restarting the computer, restarting the zoom, tested it on 44.0/44.1/44.2/44.4 Frequencies.. still getting the chipmunk. If you think of anything else let me know. Otherwise, the Blue Yeti may end up getting used after all. 🙂

        • Merv Rosenquist

          I’ve played with the speed function a bit but I’m not crazy about it.
          There are 4 buttons at the bottom of the screen on the H4n, the 3rd one is “Speed” , press that button and use your scroll wheel to set it at 100%, if it’s still faster than you like, try it at a lower setting. I’m not aware of any other setting (even in effects the menu) so I hope that’s your problem and I hope this helps!

          • Faith Fuller

            Hey Merv, Thanks for your help. Really appreciate that! Just found the solution which I posted above under my original question.

          • Merv Rosenquist

            Thanks for the solution, Faith!
            I am planning to do a voiceover to part of a video with the Zoom connected to my computer but I haven’t tried it yet.
            This info will help a bunch, thank you so much for posting it!!
            The “Speed” function I mentioned is only for playback and only if it was recorded on the Zoom. It looks like we cannot record audio directly onto the Zoom while connected to a computer, so, I was offering the wrong tip for a solution.
            I’m happy to know that Zoom’s customer support is as good as I had hoped. I’ll mark this page so I can refer to your solution when it comes time for me to use it on the computer.
            Thanks again, Faith!! 🙂

      • Faith Fuller

        Hey Phil… you were right (sort of)! Instead of going into “Tuner Calib” where it has 441HZ/442HZ/etc” (I was looking in the wrong place), Turns out I needed to go into “audio I/F”, choose “frequency”and then change it from 44.kHz to 48kHz. That did the trick. No more chipmunk! I found the solution after contacting Zoom customer support. In case anyone else has this issue, here are the instructions straight from Zoom: “When connecting your H4n via USB to your Mac, you are given the options of “storage” and “audio I/F.” After selecting “audio I/F” you are given 2 more options of “frequency” and “connect.” Before connecting adjust the frequency from 44.kHz to 48kHz.” There ya’ go. Problem solved. 🙂

  • Merv Rosenquist

    Just a tip, try pointing the H4n directly toward you for best audio, the slots in the side are for cancelling out ambient noise while the tip is for direct audio, I like using the 90 degree setting rather than 120 degree by rotating the onboard microphones. Notice the difference in sound quality when you turn the H4n to show us the setup. At that point you are speaking directly into the left channel 🙂

  • TimGeorge

    I just bought a ZoomH4n pro and also started using an external dedicated mic plugged into XLR. However, the sound volume using the external mic is extremely low compared to using all the exact same settings using the internal mics. I read that others have had the same problem. I also switched to phantom power to try to help, but it didn’t do much good. Any input? Thank you

    • I’ve had the same issue, where the audio isn’t as loud as just recording straight into the Zoom. What about on your computer? Are you using an app that you can control the input? Or once you do actually record, does it seem really low still? I’ve had success boosting the audio 6-10 db so it’s right under peaking, which sounds great for YouTube videos.

      • TimGeorge

        Hi Phil. I’m not sure what you mean, “about on the computer?” I’m just using a dedicated external microphone for the Zoom then I download the Mp3 into Audacity. When I do this using the internal mics the sound is high enough but not the external mics. I’m new to recording, so not sure that you mean by boosting the audio 6-10 db, how can you do that? I contacted Zoom and they replied with a lame solution: “The XLR inputs are absolutely designed for microphones. Have you tried changing the Rec Level using the Rec Level rocker on the right side of the device?”

        • Hi Tim, so it sounds like you’re not trying to record into the computer, but rather straight into the Zoom. Then you transfer the files to your computer for editing.
          If that’s the case, what Zoom told you is correct. You’ll just need to use the level dial on the side of the device to increase the record level. You can do this for either the XLR inputs or internal zoom mic.

          • TimGeorge

            Of course I increase the level dial on the side of the device, but the point is using an external mic is not loud enough compared to using internal mics. This a problem that Zoom needs to remedy. I think the external mics are designed for musical instruments more than voice.

          • Yes, it depends on the external mic. They have different qualities. What are you using?

          • TimGeorge

            Good early morning from Saigon, Vietnam. I’m using a Micro Behringer ULTRAVOICE XM8500. It offers more clarity than the internal mics but its not loud enough to use for my podcasts.