Zoom H4N Gain Troubleshooting Guide: Fix for Common Issues

by | Recorders

Are you having trouble with your Zoom H4N? Is the sound quality not what you expected?

The Zoom Hn4 has an internal preamp so it results in having a lower gain. To combat this you’ll want to use a booster or amplifier like the Cloudlifter CL-1 or the Fethead. Next, you’ll want to use your preferred editing software’s tools to amplify the signal as well, and finally check that the mic placement is not affecting the signal negatively.

Related: How to Charge the Zoom H4N.

How to Fix the Common Issues

Here are some troubleshooting steps to help fix your Zoom H4N if it’s not giving you the correct levels.

First, use a booster or amplifier with higher gain so that everything sounds clear even at lower volumes before recording. Check out our SE Electronics Dynamite DM1 Vs. Cloudlifter comparison guide to learn more about boosters.

If you are using Audacity to edit your podcast, use Amplify and Normalize which will bring down all high-end frequencies. We’re only interested in what was said being recorded instead of how loudly they were speaking (you can also do this manually afterward). All DAWs have this functionality, they are just called and done differently.

Finally, make sure mic placement does NOT affect where quiet noises, such as breathing, show up. Mic placement is one of the biggest issues when recording using a microphone like the Zoom H4N.

Related: How To Use Zoom H4N with iPhone for Recording Professional-Quality Audio

Tips to get better sound

These tips apply to all microphones but it’s a good reminder on how to get the best quality recording possible:

  1. Record on WAV format instead of MP3 because it has better quality audio files for editing when addressing these problems.;
  2. Keep the device’s sensitivity on the low gain to overcompensate during recording sessions which could lead to distortion;
  3. Try setting compressor/limiter to Vocal presets and the level controls on automatic;
  4. Ensure the correct microphone is selected;
  5. Use headphones when doing interviews to avoid your microphone from picking up the other person’s voice as extra noise.

Related: 5 Best Podcast Recorders For Capturing High-Quality Audio


So far, we’ve looked at some of the most common Zoom H4N gain troubles and how to fix them. If you’re still having trouble after trying these tips, make sure to leave a comment below with as much detail as possible so that we can help you out. In the meantime, happy recording!

Thanks for reading!