Tag Archives: zoom q8

Zoom Q8

text_img_5177I recently acquired a Zoom Q8 video camera. It’s quite an unusual gadget – hard to know whether to describe it as an HD video camera with a great microphone, or a great microphone with an added HD video camera. I think of it more as the latter, because sound quality seems to be the priority here over video quality… which is why I got it. Oh, and it is also a 4 track audio recorder.

It’s definitely something you should work out in advance what you want to use it for. I wanted something that would enable me to record my son’s drumming and my playing simultaneously onto separate channels, so I was thinking of getting a Zoom H4 or H6, but when I discovered the Q8, the camera was an unexpected bonus.

The way the four track recording works is that the built in mic (which is interchangeable with other Zoom mic modules)  uses two of the channels, and you can plug in two mono sources, or one stereo source. So in this example, the built-in mic recorded Tom’s drumming, my electric bouzouki is on the third track, and we used the fourth for a guide track (which was then discarded).

The Q8 can either record  a single video file containing a mixed version of the audio, or (as in this case) separate audio tracks for each channel. I imported the video and audio into Logic Pro X, adjusted EQ, overdubbed the other instruments, and generally messed around with it.

The camera has a wide angle lens, which means the edges of the video curve it (as you can see above). One of the advantages of this though is that you can have the camera (and mic) very close to where you’re playing and still get a good view with the camera. There’s another example of this in the next video, recorded in garden with a much quieter instrument. Somewhat ironically (considering the name of the manufacturer), there is no optical zoom on the camera, but it does record very high resolution (above 1080p, but below 4K), so you have plenty of scope for cropping the video and still leaving a good image.

Outside, the mic does suffer a bit of wind noise – a foam windshield is included, which I used in this video but you still notice it (e.g. around 1min 05sec). There’s a lo-cut filter to reduce the impact of this, which was turned off during this recording.

The Q8 can also be used as a USB mic for an iPad or Mac/PC. This is the one feature I’m a bit disappointed with. Yes, it works, but the latency is so bad, it’s pretty much unusable. If all you want to do is record the audio onto the iPad, I suppose it’s OK, but even with direct monitoring, it’s impossible to keep multiple tracks in sync. I was particularly disappointed with Zoom Support’s unhelpfulness when I asked them about this – they tried to tell me that such latency was inevitable, which is clearly nonsense, because I can use a Zoom H2n with my Mac with no noticeable latency (doesn’t work with the iPad though). Anyway, although this is disappointing, it wasn’t the main reason I bought the Q8, and hopefully it will get fixed with a software update in the future.

Apart from that, overall I’m delighted with the Q8. It does what I wanted it to do very well indeed. But it is a very specific device for a very specific purpose so probably won’t suit everyone.

 

Catching Up #4: Card Tricks

8SQM_DE035D4D-861F-4C02-AF99-134F216B4D8A_largeOf all the infuriating we-know-better-than-you limitations that Apple place on iPad users, few annoy me more than the inability to copy anything else photos and videos from SD cards. I have two Zoom portable microphones that record to SD cards, but I can’t transfer these recordings to the iPad using the Apple camera connection kit (CCK).

However, I have discovered a useful workaround using a Kingston MobileLiteWireless (MLW) device. There’s a newer version available (which I haven’t tried), but you can get the original for less than £20 now.

Once you’ve installed the MLW software on the iPad and connected it to the device (fairly easy – just follow their instructions, basically the MLW acts as a WiFi access point), you can transfer files to Cubasis using the process describe below.

First, choose how the card is connected to the MLW – you can either put the card in the device or (as I have done in this case) connected the microphone to the device with a USB cable and turned on the mic’s card reader mode.

20150413_195753000_iOS

Then you can browse the files – in this case I am using a Zoom Q8 so I have both audio and video files.

20150413_195805000_iOS

Choose the one you want, and you can play the audio.

20150413_195822000_iOS

Now if you tap the icon in the top right corner,  choose the “Open in” menu.

20150413_195837000_iOS

 

Now choose Cubasis (or app of your choice). Bizarrely, you can open in iMovie, but not in Garageband.

20150413_195842000_iOS

 

In Cubasis, go to the Media browser and you’ll find the file under “Audio”

20150413_195931000_iOS

And finally, just drag it into your project.

20150413_195943000_iOS

It sounds like quite a few steps, but is fairly easy when you get the hang of it. In some ways it’s actually better than using the CCK because:

  • you don’t need to take the SD card out of the microphone
  • you can preview the files before you copy them to the iPad
  • if you haven’t already got the CCK SD card reader, it’s actually cheaper to buy a MobileLiteWireless than a CCK.

The only disadvantages I can think of are:

  • the WiFi connection to the MLW can be a bit erratic at times
  • I haven’t worked out a way of importing the files into Garageband yet