If you are like me, you realize that the video quality of the Canon 7D is amazing.  Not so amazing is the sound. The Canon 7D has an integrated mono microphone.  It also has a mini-jack stereo input. However, both are controlled by an auto gain feature that is not user adjustable. The internal microphone works OK, but is that good enough to match the video quality?  Fortunately, there are solutions.

For the Canon 7D you have two basic choices.  You can add an external microphone designed to plug in to the 7D, or you can go with an external audio recorder.  I decided to go the external recorder solution and chose the Zoom H4n.

Buy the H4n on Amazon

The Zoom H4n is a 4-track external audio recording device.  It records on to SD cards with super high-end audio.  It has two on-board microphones that can be user adjusted 90˚ or 120˚.  It also has two phantom powered microphone inputs for 4-channel audio recording.  You can pick up a Zoom H4n for about $300.

I have been playing with the H4n for a couple of weeks now and I must say that it is relatively easy to use.  However, the hard part is syncing the audio back to the video in post production.    I was able to do this in iMovie with great difficulty.  (Maybe i missed the easy way to do this. )  I found it much easier to use Final Cut Express to sync the audio.

Last weekend, I recorded my daughters show choir group performing the National Anthem at a local baseball park.  I created three videos with different levels of sound.  The first video is using the internal microphone of the Canon 7D.  The second is using the audio from the Zoom H4n.  Both audio tracks were normalized before uploaded to YouTube.

In the final video, I played around with noise reduction using Audacity.  Check out the videos.

Using the internal Canon 7D Microphone Audio Normalized

Using H4n Audio Normalized

There is a notable sound quality improvement using the Zoom H4n. I used the included foam cover to help reduce wind noise. I am sure that I could get better results with one of those furry sock things.

Using the H4n Audio with Noise reduction

I think I went too far with the noise reduction. I added about 10dB or noise reduction. I think if I play with the settings, I can get better results. There is always next time.


If you want your audio to match your video, the Zoom H4n is an excellent solution. It is a more expensive solution then an external microphone, but you have so much more control and ability to place the audio recording separate from the video recording on the Canon 7D.