Zoom!

I love my new Zoom H4 portable digital recorder! I got one for Christmas recently (thanks, Santa), and it's awesome!

I started by trying to set it up to use two inputs -- guitar and mic -- at home.  I thought I'd go all out, and run my vocals through my JoeMeek compressor and then through my ART Tube MP.  I also tried using the stereo output from my guitar (internal mic and split piezo), through my little Fishman mixer, and then into the Zoom.  After wrestling with it all and getting nothing but hum (the Tube MP, I think), and then realizing in the end that I was short one input to record the sound of my feet, I gave up and tried the built-in stereo mics on the Zoom itself.

Oh MAN!  I'm very impressed with the sound, and it's SO easy.  I'm still tweaking the placement, and setup, but I've already recorded two demos, which I've posted (Talk and Consensus).  It's not pro quality, but it's pretty damned good for demos, I think.  

I've also started recording my open mic performances.  I'll post one when I get one I'm happy with.  

Oh -- and I've found that my performances recently have suffered because I'm not practicing with amplification.  It's just different to have the mains up and the monitors shouting at me.  Actually playing through my amp (I have a Crate Acoustic) is problematic because it's extra equipment to have out (and around two 6-year-olds), and it's just loud in the house, so I have to be pickier about when I play.  So I'm using my H4 to simulate playing on stage.  I just set it up, put it in record-enable mode, turn the volume up, and plug in the headphones.  That way I can hear myself through the headphones while I'm playing, much the same as if I had the house PA turned up.  I think it's really going to help my performances.  I'm even going to practice with a microphone in my face, just to get used to that, since I've found it makes a difference how I sit, physically, as well.  

Incidentally, I'm experimenting with my physical setup for performances.  I don't like sitting on a tall stool, or standing, because I can't tap my feet and I don't like the way the guitar hangs on me.  A shorter stool lets me reach the floor, but the guitar doesn't sit in my lap the way I like.  I've tried sitting in a chair, and that works, but I don't like sitting so physically low on the stage (Chris Smither gets away with it, but that's him).  So I've started practicing at home with a short stool, but putting my right foot on the neck of my guitar case, which I set beside me.  I like this because it gets me up, but I can still tap my feet, and the guitar sits comfortably on my right leg.  Plus, I think I might even mic my feet once I get the rhythm down and figure out which shoes I plan to wear, because the guitar case makes a nice, consistent sound.  I've even thought of installing a built-in mic into my case (but that would work better if both my feet were on it when I played, and putting the guitar case right in front of me is really cumbersome on stage).

(I wonder if Clapton when through all this...)

Anyway, I love my new Zoom H4.

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