Recording live band practices. Need better method/equipment?

We have started playing again, and have a Zoom H2 to record our band practices.
In 2009, my friend was using “MixPad” to add some EQ to this 1 track mix, and it really “fattened” up the sound.
Can he just use Audacity to accomplish this post-proc on the 1 track recording? If so, what is the menu setting to do this?

First, is it worth getting a Yeti mic instead of using the Zoom H2? Or Sony ECM-MS957 - Stereo Condenser Microphone?
H2 accepts an external mic, but that seems to defeat the purpose of buying a $200 recorder.
But, I want better quality, and the H2 quality is pretty bad. It sounds very “thin” and drums sound like cardboard.

Otherwise, any best practices for this Zoom H2 setup?

We set it on “Low” gain.
To get direct MP3 output, we use “Front”
(and not 2/4 channel which only does huge WAV files)

We position it far away…in the back of the room.


The H2 is famous for producing very, very nice recordings on its own, as is the H4. It’s also famous for mediocre microphone amplifiers for external mics. That’s not its forte.

The H2 has billions of different ways to combine its internal capsules for a sound recording. Oddly, I didn’t see mono in there – doesn’t mean its not. You could be listening to one of the matrix signals or the back channel and that would sound terrible.

You’re recording the room, not just the band. If your room is an echoey bathroom or unpadded garage, the band is going to sound ‘Home-Style’ and amateur no matter what you do.

Close miking gets you straight into multiple microphones, a mixer and recorder – but should give you a huge leap in quality.


You know MP3 damages the music, right? It’s designed as a compressed delivery format and not a production format. That and you can’t make an MP3 from an MP3, so you may be shooting yourself in the foot right at the beginning. Use a Stereo WAV process once and see if it doesn’t help – or at least sound a lot better.

You would have to submit a sample of before and after “fattening” for us to figure out what you did. You have the sound equivalent of “I need to paint my room, what color should it be?”


I think the H2 recording quality is pretty bad.
It is not even close to reproducing the sound in the room.
It basically sounds like a cheap tape recorder from the 1980s.

It sounds just as bad on the WAV file.
As an aside, MP3 is a perfectly fine sounding format.
I only ever listen to mp3. It is perfectly fine to my ears, if you’re not a purist.
Millions of Ipods and Youtube videos aren’t wrong.

I always have it on the “Front 90 degrees” setting, saved to mp3 with low gain. That’s it.
I would be interested in knowing what other recording settings there are.

The “mixpad” EQ makes it listenable.
What’s the best way to post an mp3 sample of my recording?
I’d like to post a before and after, to tell if my before should really be better.
B/c the wording “very very nice recordings” means we are on very different wavelengths.
The only thing this is good for is taping “ideas” that you can remember.
It is not worth of ever “listening” to like a commercial song.

"kozikowski"The H2 has billions of different ways to combine its internal capsules for a sound recording. Oddly, I didn’t see mono in there – doesn’t mean its not. You could be listening to one of the matrix signals or the back channel and that would sound terrible.

Koz, can you explain what you mean here?
I just read the 94 page manual, and see no reference to anything beyond the 4 main settings (front, back, 2 and 4 channel stereo)

My error. It’s the H2n that has Matrix, XY, Mid-Side, etc.

Mix a five second sample down to mono and Export as FLAC. That should be small enough to post here on the forum. Do two, one before fattening and one after. You may only get three seconds in. The limit isn’t that large.

I’m fascinated you appear to be the only H2 user that hates it. I know people whose H2 no longer has paint on it because it’s always out on a job.

You can attach files to forum messages with the “Upload Attachment” selections at the bottom of forum messages.


Did you buy your H2 new?

Yes, I bought the H2 new. And it’s not the H2n.

I will post the samples, and I appreciate you helping me get to the bottom of this, before I spend all sorts of money on a “real” microphone.
I have a band practice tomorrow night. I’ll record some, and post a few variations.
Maybe my expectations are too high, but it would NEVER be mistaken for a pro recording, for sure.

Sometimes the positioning of the mic can make an huge difference… I’ve seen this in real life, it’s not just theory… :slight_smile:

Yes, Bruno spent about six months with us recording his guitar. Successfully, as I recall.

The poster has given me some sound samples that he’ll make public if he wants to, but one of the samples in particular – STE-019.mp3 – has some straight conversation/speaking with no competition. The room is a big, empty garage or other similar size room with no soundproofing. I can almost tell you how big the room is by analyzing the echoes. It screams “I am recording the band in my parent’s garage” which is actually his complaint.

I see nothing wrong with the H2 that moving the band to a studio or other soundproof venue wouldn’t cure. The only other way to deal with this is close miking everything so the mics have no chance to pick up the room. That’s not cheap or easy to do. I suspected this from listening to one of the early clips by listening carefully to the drums. Each snare comes back from the walls multiple times. Instant mush.

As far as fattening up the sound, post a before and desirable after and we’ll give it a shot. We can’t work open ended. Even with the clips I have, I can detect a Room Peak, where the room really likes some of the notes and boosts them. That’s the other problem of a live room. It’s not just live, it’s also a performer.

There is no tool to remove echoes.


Thanks Koz!

Yes, it’s a very large rehearsal room.
Mic was probably 30 feet from the band
So, this “cardboard box / tinfoil / underwater” sound is what any H2 will sound like in a large room?
So you’re saying recording in a large room is not effective?
I guess I’ll try moving the mike closer to the band, and maybe reducing the recording level from 100.

That said, by the way, I have used the H2 in tiny practice rooms as well, and it sounds just as bad.
To me, echo is not the problem, but the entire recording quality. Drums sound like a cardboard box.
(Nothing like a decent studio recording, I mean) I really don’t think room size is the only problem.
I can’t imagine this becoming a CD/radio caliber recording, just by putting it in a better room. You know?
Therefore, I still think the H2 is really suited for recording people speaking and maybe just some rough musical “scraps/ideas”.
But, not listenable music for an ipod. (Basically, it’s a $200 tape recorder, to me)

Not just the H2, it will sound poor with any microphone.

A “decent studio recording” of a drum kit would probably involve precise mic’ing up each drum individually, possibly with two mics on the snare (top and bottom) and a couple of overheads. The kick drum mic alone will probably cost close to the price of an H2. The recording will often be made in a “drum room” that has carefully treated acoustics. Each microphone signal may be individually Eq’d, compressed, gated panned and possibly other effects such as gated reverb. There is no way to get the same sound from a single microphone.

Here’s a short sample recording made by sticking an H2 in front of a guitarist. It was recorded at 320 kbps (the recording level was a bit low so the noise level is higher than it should be). The recording was then trimmed amplified and a fade out applied but no other processing, then exported as an Ogg file (Q10).

That was a nice recording Steve :slight_smile:

I remember the other one when you moved the H2 further away from the guitar, it had a lot more noise… If I didn’t know I would never say both recordings (the second one I’m talking about is not available here) were made with the same mic! :slight_smile:
That’s why I was saying that mic positioning can make a real difference (and I had this precise example in mind).

I’m going to put the H2 right in the middle of us all, and make sure it;s not clipping by adjusting the recording levels.
I bet that will make a huge difference to getting more “direct” in your face levels.

The most important thing when setting the record level on the H2 is the H/M/L switch. This switch changes the microphone gain. If you’re recording a live drum kit this will need to be at the “L” setting.

The Up/Down on-screen level control (the buttons << and >>) just scale the digital input (much like using the “Amplify” effect in Audacity. I generally leave this set at 100, which is “no digital scaling”, so the meter will show 0 dB at the clipping level.

Yes, I keep it a low gain. Anything else clips.
I am going to put it closer, and this might improve the hollow sound.
CLOSER, but with lower recording level might give a different sound.
I’ll keep you posted.

Hey, I am reviving this old thread. I have a new recording from my H2.
I know passing this MP3 through an EQ app to fatten up the sound does wonders.

Can someone show me what options I can use in Audiacity?
I am not really sure how to use the EQ effect.

If this is not easy to learn, is anyone out there up for trying to EQ my mp3 as a favor?
I will email it to you, and see what you can do with it?
If so, just PM me your email, and I’ll post the link.

There are audio editors specifically for mp3, but their features are very limited …

However your mp3 can be processed in Audacity.

The Audacity Equalization effect is described here: