Zoom H6 & Shure SM7b Recording Issues

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Zoom H6 & Shure SM7b Recording Issues

Post by greenday999 »

Hey all!
Fledgling sound recorder here, but my friends and I have started a podcast so I'm diving in head first to try to figure everything out!

Some insight on what we're using and our recording setup:

*We have a Zoom H6 (with the adapter to give us 6 total inputs) and 5 Shure SM7b microphones, with sE-DM1 Dynamite inline preamps attached to each one.

*Phantom power is on for all inputs (we even have phantom power adapters for the 2 additional inputs from the adaptor that don't have phantom power built-in)

*We have a limiter setting selected on the H6 but honestly, it doesn't seem to do too much

*We sit around a large table for recording in a kitchen. Not ideal recording settings admittedly, but it's what we got to work with!

While recording, it seems like the levels we're recording on the H6 are all over the place... Even when the volume dials are set to 3, the levels will peak even if we all just are laughing. They'll go from very low to flashing peaking red.
I've heard people say they record with the volume dials set to 5-7, but doing this would completely blow out the sound for us.

I would love some tips or tricks or any help on how to solve these issues and just give us a better overall sound!

Further Information In Case It's Important

*We record straight onto the H6, then I export to a computer where I do post-production in Adobe Audition.

*I have to do some Noise Reduction (as there's a decent amount of room noise and hiss even at those lower levels)

*To get "clean" audio while each person is talking, I have to go through the episode and mute everyone else's tracks when they're not talking, because those microphones will pick up the person who is talking, and it makes it sound like they're talking in a large room and doesn't sound "pure" (hopefully that makes sense haha)

Thank you so much in advance for any help you can all give, I can't wait to get better at this aspect of our production! Trial by fire over here haha.
THANK YOU!
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Re: Zoom H6 & Shure SM7b Recording Issues

Post by James Perrett »

I'd guess that you probably don't need the inline preamps. Normal conversation has a very wide dynamic range so you could easily set the levels so that a typical conversation level is -30dBFS yet still clip if someone starts shouting.
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Re: Zoom H6 & Shure SM7b Recording Issues

Post by greenday999 »

Thank you so much!

From all the research I did I saw that having a lifter of some kind was necessary to get clean gain from these types of microphones...?
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Re: Zoom H6 & Shure SM7b Recording Issues

Post by blinddrew »

Frequently, but not always. It depends on the source and how close you're working them.
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Re: Zoom H6 & Shure SM7b Recording Issues

Post by James Perrett »

greenday999 wrote: Thu May 19, 2022 9:11 pm From all the research I did I saw that having a lifter of some kind was necessary to get clean gain from these types of microphones...?

SM7s were in use for many years before these add-on preamps came along. They could be used with a decent quality mic preamp with no problems. However, budget mic preamps were noisier and, as more and more people tried to use these low output mics with budget preamps the manufacturers came along and created these add on preamps.

As I understand it, the preamps in the H6 are the same as those in my U-44 audio interface so they are usable but probably around 6dB noisier than a state of the art preamp. There is a possibility that the add-on preamps would help but it would be worth trying a session without them.
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Re: Zoom H6 & Shure SM7b Recording Issues

Post by greenday999 »

This is amazing info, thank you so much!
We're recording again on Saturday, so I'll definitely try without those preamps added in the line.

Any advice on how to get a cleaner audio sound from each individual mic? I've seen other podcasts where the members are in close proximity, but their audio sounds so clean to just their voice. Our mics seem to pick up everything and wayyyy more "room?"

Maybe that will be lessened without the pre amps involved?
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Re: Zoom H6 & Shure SM7b Recording Issues

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

If you're applying dynamic compression or limiting you will make the ambient room sound and reverberation much more obvious. And the more mics you have open at any one time the worse it will be too.

The ideal way of improving things is to 'deaden' the room, and the easiest way of achieving that is to hang blankets or -- better still -- winter-weight duvets from t-stands behind each talker, so the mics are pointing at the duvets.
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Re: Zoom H6 & Shure SM7b Recording Issues

Post by Exalted Wombat »

Lose the preamps.

Make sure the talent is using the SM7b mics properly. They're designed to be used pretty close to the mouth. Talk to the mic, not to the room.
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Re: Zoom H6 & Shure SM7b Recording Issues

Post by resistorman »

The SM7 and other mics used for “radio” are almost always used very close to minimize environmental noise and get that big fat sound from proximity effect. This requires an inline compressor/ limiter for each channel due to sudden spikes and discipline in working the mic IE turning away from the mic when you laugh etc. Is the limiter on the H6 only for the mic/ aux input? Can’t recall.

Some thoughts.

Can’t pick a much worse recording environment than a reflective kitchen.

Sound treatment is crucial.

Newer recorders featuring 32 bit recording at least won’t overload, but you still face editing.

Gates are your friend.

Maybe this would help your mix down: https://www.wtautomixer.com/
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Re: Zoom H6 & Shure SM7b Recording Issues

Post by Mike Stranks »

Was having a ponder overnight... as you do... but Hugh's got here before me...

Fix the room!

Over recent years I've been involved with two community radio stations and offered them some 'technical' advice. In both cases they had good/excellent kit in acoustically dreadful rooms.

Similarly, during lockdowns I was receiving recordings made on very modest kit, but recorded at home. Those recorded in acoustically-dead environments were surprising good in their 'raw' state. Those that weren't - in some cases using identical kit - gave me all sorts of problems.

If you're in the UK then I can recommend Studiospares' 'own brand' acoustic panels. Mount them 1" off the wall - I just use battens - and they can make a dramatic difference...

You say that you record in a kitchen... 'nuff said... ;) If acoustically treating that is a no-go - and I'd suggest it almost certainly is for all sorts of reasons - then find another, and better, room.

You can experiment with technical solutions ad infinitum. But ignore the elephant in the room - see what I did there? :lol: - and you'll constantly be wrestling with issues.

Magic-wand: no processing when recording, plenty of headroom and treat/relocate.

Good luck! :thumbup:
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Re: Zoom H6 & Shure SM7b Recording Issues

Post by blinddrew »

I record quite a few podcasts in acoustically terrible rooms* and generally the best option is to work through all your normal editing then delete or mute all the sections where a mic is open but not capturing the main content.
It doesn't take long and makes a big difference.

* being normal work meeting rooms I can't treat them either.
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Re: Zoom H6 & Shure SM7b Recording Issues

Post by Mike Stranks »

blinddrew wrote: Fri May 20, 2022 4:36 pm I record quite a few podcasts in acoustically terrible rooms* and generally the best option is to work through all your normal editing then delete or mute all the sections where a mic is open but not capturing the main content.
It doesn't take long and makes a big difference.

* being normal work meeting rooms I can't treat them either.

Are you sure about that? Is it a budget thing?

Acoustic treatment doesn't have to be expensive or overly intrusive - viz my constant banging the drum for Studiospares acoustic panels :) - and can make a big difference to the general environment of an meeting room, making it a pleasanter place to be, irrespective of any recording requirements.
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