in the spotlight - Zoom H4n Handy Portable Digital Recorder

    Zoom H4n Handy Portable Digital Recorder
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    Zoom H4n Handy Portable Digital Recorder
    Zoom H4n Handy Portable Digital Recorder
    Zoom H4n Handy Portable Digital Recorder
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    Putting the Spotlight on our Techs
    joe Joe
    Tech Specialist for over 1 year.

    I grew up surrounded by music, and for the past 6 years have been playing drums, bass, and guitar. I also gig frequently as a drummer in a blues/rock band.

    "Zoom definitely made it user friendly, and man do these little mics pack a punch..."

    The Zoom H4n is simply a great sounding, easy to use, digital recorder. Loaded with effects, tuner, metronome, a built in speaker and bundled with Cubase LE, this little recorder lived up to Zoom’s reputation for making quality products.

    For my trial with the H4n, I used it how it is most commonly used, for live recording. When I started it up I was expecting an elaborate set up, with setting mic sensitivity and recording type. I am happy to say recording with the H4n is as easy as turning it on, setting the mic level with a volume knob and pressing record. Anyone can use this little recorder. Zoom definitely made it user friendly, and man do these little mics pack a punch. Without doing any editing or equalization, you can get a crisp natural sound out of the mics. I found this to work exceptionally well on acoustic guitar and vocals.

    When I was recording a band practice with the H4n it picked up every detail. The one thing that was a little over powering was my cymbals, it could be due to the placement of the recorder but the cymbals seem to really cut through. The condenser mics also seem to have a hard time picking up the lows, but by utilizing the two external mic inputs you can get a much more full sound. I would highly recommend this for a band looking for a way to chart their progress, or to improve their sound.

    When I used the H4n I didn't even scratch the surface of what you can do as far as editing, stereo recording or using the onboard effects. From my time with this recorder I could tell Zoom has raised the bar for all digital recorders. Not only did they put out a great sounding quality device, they did it at an affordable price. I have to admit, it’s pretty handy!

    brent Brent
    Tech Specialist for over 17 years.

    Not quite born with a bass in my hands but pretty close as I have been involved in music for over 18 years.

    Knowledge and technical expertise comes from years of studying as a recording engineer and playing bassist in various bands.

    "the sound quality of the built-in mics is really where the H4n shines..."

    The popularity of the original Zoom H4 showed that putting a lot of usable features in a compact and easy to use form factor is what many people have been looking for. After using many different field recorders for film and post work, I felt that the H4 was cool but I was a little concerned with how it would hold up. Enter the H4n. When I first got my hands on it, I noticed right away that Zoom had stepped up their game. The H4n just felt more substantial thanks to its rubberized exterior and solid construction. Being familiar with the original H4, I was expecting an easy to use interface but without even cracking the manual, I was exploring every facet of this piece. In fact, right when you turn the unit on, it is ready to record. The menu is very self explanatory, even when using more advanced features like all the built-in dynamics and effects.

    The sound quality of the built-in mics is really where the H4n shines. I was impressed at how open and clear they sounded without displaying any shrill or harsh top end. The acoustic guitar we recorded sounded full and rich. Another new feature I really liked was the four channel simultaneous recording using the built-in mics along with two external mics. I found this to work really well in recording band practices or ambient recordings. Zoom even incorporated some small touches like a built-in speaker and a tripod mount. These seem like no-brainers to me, but there are a number of other recorders that overlook features like these.

    After tracking our acoustic guitar along with vocals, I tried out the on board compression and reverb. These worked very well, however, because of the easy plug-and-play USB connectivity, I preferred transferring the files into my DAW and editing from there. If I was in the field and needed to mix down a few tracks, I would feel perfectly comfortable doing minor audio surgery on the H4n.

    For every product, I try to find at least one or two things I feel could be improved on. However, the H4n shined at every task I threw at it. I would recommend this unit to anyone looking for an easy-to-use recorder that just works. At this price, you can’t go wrong with the Zoom H4n.

    roger Roger
    Tech Specialist for over 1 year.

    I grew up surrounded by music.

    I've been playing guitar, drums, bass, and harmonica for over 6 years--Gigging guitarist in Blues/Rock band.

    "good sound quality that won't break the bank. ..."

    Zoom products have a reputation of being affordable, user friendly, solidly built and full of features which are usable for most all musicians. The H4n handy recorder does the Zoom name justice and has quickly become a top seller since its release earlier this year.

    I was personally very excited to hear there was another handheld recorder by Zoom in the works. I have used the Zoom H2 on numerous occasions and it has been a great machine for recording live band practices and performances. The H4n is definitely a far improvement of the previous models with improved sound quality of recording and effects.

    After opening the package I started off just looking at all the features and noticed it was much more solid feeling than the H2 I own and I know it will last for quite some time. I wanted to use it to record my band practice, which started within 5 minutes so I took out the manual and was pleased to see a quick start to set up for recording, so after literally 2 minutes I had it all set up and in record mode!

    I found the onboard effects to be a nice addition, which is one of the things that put the H4n above the competition. Also the ability to change the speed of songs from 50-150 percent while keeping pitch is great for when you want your band mates to learn a new song idea.

    The recorder can support up to a 32GB SD card for virtually endless recording time (about 550 hours in MP3 format!) It is also bundled with Cubase LE recording software for recording through the H4n onto your computer as an audio interface.

    My short time with the H4n was a very positive experience. I was glad to see Zoom took the time to put together a manual that doesn’t take an engineer to understand. I would recommend this for anyone looking for an easy to use portable recorder with tons of features (far too many to list in this review) and good sound quality that won't break the bank.

    In the Spotlight Zoom H4n