Field Recorders & External Mic Input – PCM-D50, H2n, H2 all with NT4

Friday, September 9th, 2011

I was a bit surprised at the small difference I heard in recordings made with the Sony PCM-D50 alongside the Zoom H2n in my last post, and both sounded very close to the Rode NT4 reference track to my ear. A pleasant surprise, indeed considering the cost difference. But many folks who recommend the D50 do so because of its ability to handle external mics, a job poorly handled by the Zoom H2. (more…)


Field Recorder Comparo – Sony PCM-D50 & Zoom H2n

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

A friend loaned me a Sony PCM-D50, a unit that many people seem to feel is at or near the top of the heap in hand-held recorders. Since I just got my Zoom H2n I thought it might be interesting to compare them with some level matched, same source clips. And as long as I’m putting up recorders I threw in the old faithful Zoom H2. For a reference I included a Rode NT4 stereo mic connected to the Echo Audiofire Pre8 here at Digital Duck studios (my upstairs man-cave). (more…)


Second Look at the H2n – External Mics and Line In

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Here are some more observations on the new Zoom H2n recorder. In this entry we’ll look at the Mic/Line input for connecting external mics and line level sources. In the H2 these were separate inputs, with the mic input controlled by the Mic Gain H-M-L switch while the line input had no adjustment. On the H2n these inputs are combined and the Mic Gain dial adjusts the sensitivity of that input. (more…)


First Look at the Zoom H2n

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

I’ve probably recorded more hours on my Zoom H2 than any other recording device I’ve ever owned. It’s handy and functional, but still some distance from perfect, I’m afraid. When I heard about the new Zoom H2n and read the feature list I knew I’d get one as soon as they were available. Happily they were released a bit ahead of schedule, and mine is here. (more…)


New Blog Look, New Camera, New Video

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Lately I’ve been dragging myself into the 21st century in my web design and implementation efforts. I recently overhauled my slack key guitar site, and helped out a local hula group with their site as well. All this new knowledge got me thinking about good old Homebrewed Music and its rather generic look, and the result is this new three column fluid layout. I hope you find it easy to read and navigate.

I also made a big step in my video camera arsenal with a shiny new Panasonic Lumix GH2. (more…)


Zoom Q3HD with and without the Zoom H2

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

I’ve been a bit frustrated as I thought about using the Q3HD in the field. We’re getting ready to head to O`ahu and I’m looking forward to shooting outdoors in the beautiful scenery and weather there. As good as the Q3HD mics are, their sensitivity is a bit low, and they’re going to be pretty far away to pick up the sound of an acoustic guitar outside. I would really like to see a preamp for external stereo mics, like the 1/8″ mic input on the H4n. With this feature I could use my very effective Rode NT4 stereo mic and put some very nice audio into my videos. With the current configuration I would need a portable battery powered preamp, adding to the size, weight, and complication on every shoot. (more…)


Zoom Q3HD vs. iPhone 4

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Video is going through some wonderful transitions these days, and the addition of 720p HD to the iPhone got me to sign on the dotted line with AT&T. Honestly, I rarely use the feature, but it seemed like a natural comparison to the Q3HD – after all, if the iPhone does the same job, or close to it, the Q becomes a lot less attractive. (more…)


A First Look at the Zoom Q3HD

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Most of my video work consists of “look at me” videos I post on YouTube, shots of my slack key guitar playing. The audio is at least as important as the video, and a couple of my camcorders, the Sanyo Xacti HD2000 and the Kodak Zi8, were chosen because they had some sort of audio input and some degree of control over that input. In both cases, though, I’ve never been really happy with the audio I was able to record with these cams, even when I used an external source. Both these cameras, and others I’ve tried, have some kind of processing on the audio that attempts to maintain a constant level. And, of course, the audio circuitry gets a pretty small share of the development and manufacturing budget. The combination of these factors results in noisy distorted audio unless every detail is exactly right, a rare thing indeed. (more…)


About the Blog

    Howdy, my name is Fran Guidry and this is my Homebrewed Music blog.

    I play Hawaiian slack key guitar and recorded my solo acoustic CD at home. Most of the recording information I find on the internet seems focused on bands, drums, multitracking, and so on but my main focus is recording solo acoustic guitar. Lately I’ve been enjoying video recording along with audio, so that shows up in the blog as well.

    I’m also a guitar nut. I love big ones and little ones, handmades and factory guitars, cheap ones and expensive ones. So I’ll be sharing the fun of exploring guitars as well, along with the challenges of amplifying acoustic guitars for live performance.



    My recording philosophy is pragmatic, skeptical, not super critical. After all, the performance is by far the most important component of a track, and every aspect of any recording is a matter of taste.

    But I do like to know “about stuff.” Back in hifi days I learned about double blind testing. I learned that we humans can easily hear differences that don’t really exist. The more I’ve learned about our human auditory system, the more I’m skeptical of what people say they hear, especially if they claim that a particular microphone or preamp or cable has some magical property.

    I’ve only been recording since 2001, and when I started I found the usual places on the internet. I sought advice and accepted it, thought I would improve my recordings by using more expensive equipment. It didn’t work.

    Two things that did seem to lead to better recordings were experience and room treatment. Getting an appealing sound is the combination of many small details, and learning those details only comes from experience. Amd the sound of the recording space is obviously a big factor.

    I’ve only recorded seriously using digital technology, but I remember trying to record rehearsals and gigs back in analog days. I don’t have any nostalgia for analog recording and playback systems at all. I think even low end digital systems can capture marvelous recordings. So when I look at gear, I look for good specs: low noise, broad flat frequency response, wide dynamic range, low distortion. I’m not interested in colorful components, mics and preamps with a sound, I want the sound to be the sound of my guitar.

    But the last word is that I’m just learning and I hope you find something useful in my posts.