live recording with over-driven bass

I was in a live Choral performance this weekend, and forgot to position my Zoom H2n recorder until too late, so I set the it on the floor and hoped for the best.
Recording is good enough to bring a smile to the Chorus members, but my Upright Bass is both too loud and causes some over-drive distortion on some notes.

I can roll-off the Bass EQ to help some, since it’s just Bass, Piano, and Singers. But is there anything to be done about the Bass distorting at peaks?
I can include a waveform screen-shot if it helps.


No. We believe you. Sitting the Zoom on the floor is actually a valid technique to mic a theatrical performance. You need to know that part of the advantage of this technique is it doubles the sensitivity of the microphone(s). In your case, it drives the capsules in the head into mechanical overload which condenser elements do under stress conditions.

The two sentence version: The microphone stops being a microphone to everything – all the instruments – while it’s overloading. There is no recovery from that kind of distortion. Some microphones don’t come back from that kind of stress, either. Once the mylar plates inside the capsule touch from high volume sound, that’s the end of the microphone.


If it’s any consolation to you, this is precisely the problem that people have when they try to record a rock concert on their camcorder during a live performance. Same microphone type and same problem.

“The bass notes are really loud and crunchy and I can’t hear the lead singer.”

I can’t prove this, but I bet bands let camcorders in knowing there’s no chance of getting anything valuable.