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

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.

Directions:

[checklist]
  • 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
[/fusion_checklist]

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!

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Cheers!
Phil

2016-10-24T14:09:55+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.