Zoom H4N gets much needed firmware update for independent level control

This for me was the biggest issue with the Zoom H4N and why I switched to the Tascam DR100. Independent level control. Having two XLR inputs with one gain control for me was a deal breaker. You would rarely, if ever have both levels correct for two inputs. Now with the new firmware you can, by simply clicking the channel you want to change the level of and then use the side buttons to increase or decrease that channel.

It is shown here by Aaron Stewart…

Zoom H4n – Independent Audio Controls from Aaron R. Stewart on Vimeo.

Download the software by clicking here or the image below…

I still prefer the Tascam as it has dual power (AA and lithium ion rechargeable which is very useful for phantom powering), proper independent dials, higher gain controls and is actually cheaper these days but the H4N is 4 channels and is still a great audio recorder…


  1. I read too many complaints about the noisy pre-amps and poor battery life when powering a mic to be sold on the Zoom. Instead, I’m trying to decide between a JuicedLink and a Sound Devices MM-1 with a cable to attenuate the line level signal into the camera. The latter option lacks levels, but I can check them on the 60D prior to recording and there’s a chance Canon will update eventually to display them during recording as well.

    As this is my first post, I’ll say thanks Philip for the excellent blog. It influenced me to finally jump into a 60D and DSLRs in general for video work. I look forward to your impending 60D review to find out if you like it as much as I do. Hopefully the GH2 doesn’t steal all of its glory. I also bought the Sigma 30mm as my first lens on your recommendation. It was a great choice, but now I’m already desperate for the Tokina wide zoom whenever I shoot indoors so that’ll have to be next.

    Please keep the advice coming as I will keep reading.

      1. I have the 60D, so no MagicLantern firmware yet, but the JuicedLink 454 has a headphone jack for monitoring and some basic LED meters to check your levels. It also has the ability to defeat the AGC used by the 7D and T2i, but that’s not relevant to the 5D and 60D owners. I just found that in audio tests, it sounds better than the Zoom. The Zoom holds the advantage if you want to record separate from the camera, but the JuicedLink has a lower noise floor.

        Here is one of the audio comparisons I found helpful, though it is a bit out of date:


  2. That’s a good update for people that still have one. I got fed up with no dual levels and some other things I didn’t like about it so I sold it. I got a DR-100 and I am very happy with it. Better sound, dual levels, dual battery system and looks like pro kit.

  3. For those of you wondering whether you’ll need to spring for a tascam or a zoom with your new agc-free 60D, I’m afraid the answer is still yes (for critical audio like interviews anyway). Did a test with a juicedlink box and a sennheiser 416 shotgun mic, recording in a voice-over booth and monitored back in a dolby mixing room. There’s enough hiss introduced by the 60D pre-amps to make it a no-no for using the audio from a controlled environment that has a minimum of background noise (although it does scrub up pretty well with a noise reduction plugin.) My sound guy reckons it would be fine for vox-pops in the street, and any stuff you need exterior sync atmos on. Hope this helps.


    1. You sound like you know your craft, so I’m probably not saying anything you don’t already know, but everything I’ve read on the subject suggests that it is still necessary to set the level on the camera as low as possible, one tick above muted, and then boost the levels on the pre-amp, JuicedLink or otherwise, to avoid hiss from the camera.

      Can you confirm that this was your method in your tests when you still got hiss from the camera? Like I said, you sound like you know your stuff so I hope my question does not offend, but I have a 60D and a mic and will soon purchase either a pre-amp or a pre-amp/recorder so it’s a topic of particular interest.

  4. Philip – Maybe next time you can tell me where to send what I think is valuable info to you but I think this is an amazing deal H4n and Sennheiser wireless Mic receiver and transmitter for only $699! Just thought you would be able to get to more people that I would and I thought I would have love to have seen that deal when I was buying my audio stuff
    here is the link :

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