Zoom H4N Handy Portable Digital Recorder - 2009 Version
- Onboard X/Y Mics: High quality with easy to set selectable recording width (90 and 120 degrees)
- 2 XLR/TRS Inputs: Connect mics, instruments, and line level devices for added possibilities
- 24-bit/96kHz Recording: High resolution audio
- Expanded Capabilities: Built-in effects, audio interface mode, and onboard speaker make it the recorder of choice
- Included Accessories - old version: 2G SD card, power adaptor, microphone adaptor clip, foam windscreen, plastic case, USB cable, 2x AA batteries, Cubase LE, manual.
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From the manufacturer
In the box
The H4N comes with everything you need to create high-quality audio for video.
- SD card (2GB)
- MA2 mic clip adapter
- AD-14 AC adapter
- USB cable
- Cubase LE software
- Protective case
- Operation manual
The Zoom H4N Handy Recorder
The gold standard in portable recording
The rugged and reliable H4n has long been a favorite of videographers working on location, but is equally well-suited for live concert recording and music production.
It offers four tracks of simultaneous audio recording, a built-in X/Y stereo microphone, dual external inputs, and comprehensive multi-effects, making it the field recorder of choice for anyone looking for high-quality audio in a portable package.
- Four-tracks of simultaneous recording
- Records directly to SD and SDHC cards up to 32GB
- Built-in X/Y stereo mic, adjustable between 90˚ and 120˚
- Dual mic/line/instrument inputs with XLR/TRS combo connectors
- Up to 24-bit/96kHz audio in time-stamped BWF-compliant WAV or a variety of MP3 formats
- Requires just 2 AA alkaline or NiMH rechargeable batteries, with up to 11 hours of battery life
- Tripod mount, mic clip, and AC adapter included
Great audio for your video
The H4n can be connected to any standard tripod or mic stand, or you can use Zoom's optional Hot Shoe adapter to mount it directly to your camera, making it an invaluable addition to any videographer's field kit.
Two paths to perfect stereo
The H4n provides two different ways of recording great-sounding stereo: X/Y and MS (Mid-Side).
The built-in X/Y microphone provides two matched unidirectional microphones. The angle of the two can easily be changed from 90 degrees for a tightly focused stereo image to 120 degrees for a wider image. X/Y is an excellent way to cover a wide area while still capturing sound sources in the center with clarity and definition, making the H4n ideal for all types of live stereo recording, such as location video shoots and live concerts.
The H4n also provides an onboard MS decoder so you can do MS recording using external microphones. This powerful technique allows you to adjust the width of the stereo image in postproduction while maintaining perfect mono compatibility, making it especially useful for film, video and television projects.
Ideal for music-making, too
The H4n transforms any environment into a home studio. Its ability to record up to four tracks simultaneously, along with powerful overdubbing and punch-in features, allows you to do high-quality recording—up to 24-bit/96kHz—wherever you go.
Onboard effects such as compression, limiting, reverb, and guitar and bass amp modeling enable you to turn your musical creations into studio-quality recordings. Onscreen controls allow easy mixdown to stereo or mono, and the H4n can even convert your finished song to an MP3 file for emailing and posting to your favorite social networking site.
|Number of simultaneous tracks||4||4||6|
|Number of inputs||2||2 (expandable to 4)||4 (expandable to 6)|
|Uses interchangeable capsules||N||Y||Y|
|Provided microphone(s)||Built-in X/Y||XYH-5||XYH-6, MSH-6|
|Maximum SD card size||32 GB||32 GB||128 GB|
|Separate line out||N||Y||Y|
|USB audio interface in/out||2/2||4/2||6/2|
|Battery life (Alkaline)||6-11 hrs||15 hrs||20 hrs|
Zoom H4N Handy Portable Digital Recorder
From the Manufacturer
World-class recording for everyone
Representing the next level of professional recording performance, the H4n delivers superior audio quality and dramatically improves the user experience. Zoom’s most sophisticated handheld recorder to date will amaze, no matter the application.
Unique X/Y mic design captures perfect stereo images
The H4n’s onboard X/Y stereo condenser mics are arranged with the right and left mics on the same axis. This design ensures that the mics are always equidistant from the sound source for perfect localization with no phase shifting. Frequency response remains uniform throughout your recording. The result is great stereo recording with natural depth and accurate imaging every time.
The mics also adjust for variable recording patterns at either 90° or 120°. Our unique design lets you rotate each mic capsule from 90° (standard) to 120° (wide-angle) stereo for the ultimate versatility in any recording situation.
Why four channels are better than two
Everyone knows that proper miking is essential to making a great recording. The H4n is the only handheld recorder that allows you to record on four channels simultaneously by using its onboard mics with either external mics or direct inputs. You can then use its built-in mixer to blend the channels for perfectly balanced recordings. Now your recordings can be richer than ever before.
Or, to get a great recording of a live performance, use the H4n’s onboard mics to get a room mix while simultaneously recording a stereo mix from the mixing board for a live recording that is easily one of the best you’ve ever heard.
And for media and filmmakers, the H4n makes it easy to record “high definition” audio at 24-bit/48kHz with booms, handhelds or lavaliers while gathering atmospheric audio with the onboard mics. The H4n also supports Broadcast Wave Format (BWF) so your recorded files carry time stamp information. You can even set markers (cue points) during recording or playback.
For even more versatility, the H4n also features a Mid-Side stereo decoder that allows you to utilize this classic microphone setup. The H4n converts the mid and side channels into a conventional stereo (L/R) signal for even more versatility. It’s only found on the H4n.
It’s all in the preamp
The H4n’s new mics and four channel recording ability, in combination with our new, digitally controlled, high-quality preamplifier renders audio so precise, you’ll sound like you recorded in a world-class studio. And this new preamp means you can make recording level adjustments on the fly. Of course, an automatic level setting function is also built-in to optimize your levels as quickly as the situation requires.
High resolution, 24-bit/96kHz linear PCM recording
Choose up to 24-bit/96-kHz linear PCM WAV files for audio resolution that surpasses DVD quality. Or, when maximum recording time with smaller file sizes is desired, select a variety of MP3 formats from 320 kbps down to 48 kpbs to produce smaller files suitable for web or e-mail distribution.
Secure your digital memories on SD and SDHC cards
The H4n uses compact SD or high-capacity SDHC memory cards of up to 32GB for over 15 hours of recording time at 24-bit/96kHz. Or, using MP3 format at 128 kpbs, get over 550 hours of recording time on one card.
It’s about the music.
For musicians and songwriters, the H4n is also a user-friendly, multi-track studio (MTR) that records at CD quality, 16-bit/44.1kHz resolution. Plug in your guitar or bass and use the H4n’s classic amp models to inspire your creativity and find tone perfection during your recording sessions.
The MTR mode allows simultaneous 2-track recording and 4-track playback. With this feature, you can sketch songs by overdubbing vocals and instruments with ease. Level and panning can be adjusted individually for each track on the built-in mixer, and you can even do a mixdown right on the H4n. Perfect for pre-production sessions with the band.
The H4n offers a choice of 50 studio-quality DSP effects including compressor, chorus, delay, and reverb. These onboard studio effects, along with its tuner and metronome make the H4n very musician friendly.
The H4n’s phrase trainer capability makes learning new songs easy with an adjustable playback feature that changes the speed from 50 to 150 percent, while maintaining pitch. Or use its center cancel feature to suppress audio that is recorded with center imaging. And because the H4n lets you alter pitch without changing playback speed, you can choose source material, suppress the center audio and use it as a backing track while recording a vocal or guitar track.
It’s a USB audio interface
The H4n also functions as a USB audio interface, letting you record directly to either a Mac or PC. Use your favorite recording software or the bundled Cubase LE 4 from Steinberg, so you can start to produce and edit your recording right out of the box.
Everyone likes surprises, but not while you’re recording
You can set your H4n to automatically record whenever sound above a designated level is detected. This ensures that you capture everything of importance while minimizing blank sections such as when recording a conference or lecture. The H4n can also be set to continuously record the most recent two seconds of audio in memory. Now, you’ll never miss the beginning of anything you want to record, even if it begins suddenly.
Brains with a body too
The H4n has a new rubberized, shock resistant chassis that improves durability while reducing handling noise. A large, 1.9 inch LCD screen with backlit graphic display shows all the tracking information at a glance and makes it easy to navigate the functions of the unit. The H4n even has a built-in reference speaker to let you check recordings without earphones.
Faster file transfer
The H4n is now a USB 2.0 Hi-Speed device, meaning that files can be transferred to your computer at the highest rate available. Then use recording software for editing, create your own original CDs, post your recordings on your myspace page or send out your recordings by e-mail… the possibilities are endless.
Stamina mode extends battery life to 11 hours
For situations where you require maximized, continuous recording operation you can select stamina mode that effectively doubles battery life, letting you record continuously for approximately 11 hours in 16-bit/44.1kHz linear PCM format.
A 1 GB SD card, windscreen, mic clip adapter, AC adapter, USB cable, protective case and Cubase LE recording software are included with your H4n. The windscreen is especially helpful to reduce wind noise. The mic clip adapter works perfectly when attaching the unit to a standard mic stand, or you can use the built-in tripod mount with a standard camera tripod.
Go remote with the RC4
An optional remote control (RC4) gives you access to a range of functions including recording start, play, stop, fast forward/reverse, recording level adjustment, and input source switching. It is also useful for preventing any handling noise.
The H4n is the epitome of sophistication made simple. For anyone who needs professional recording capability with extraordinary versatility, the H4n will give you the ability to capture everything with the clarity and resolution previously found only in the world’s finest recording studios. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to make world-class recordings, wherever you are in the world.
- Built-in X/Y stereo mics record at either 90° or 120°
- Four channel simultaneous recording using built-in and external mics
- Digitally controlled, high-quality mic preamp for improved audio quality
- Large 1.9-Inch LCD screen and improved user interface for easy operation
- 24bit/96kHz Linear PCM recording for pristine recording
- MP3 recording for increased recording time
- Built-in reference speaker to check recordings
- Shock resistant rubberized body for improved chassis protection
- Broadcast Wave Format (BWF) compatible time stamp and track marker
- Records on SD/SDHC media of up to 32GB for maximum recording time
- Auto-record and pre-record feature so you never miss a moment
- Variable speed playback capability for “phrase training”
- Stamina mode enables 10 hours of continuous battery life
- Onboard mid-side matrix decoder for additional miking possibilities
- Built-in mounting joint for tripod and mic stand mounting
- USB 2.0 port for faster file transfer
- XLR inputs with phantom power allow recording with any mic
- Supports plug-in power type external mics
- Hi-Z Inputs for recording guitar and bass
- Studio effects onboard, including guitar and bass amp modeling
- USB audio interface capability
- Low-cut filter to reduce noise
- Normalizing and file splitting functions
- Mono mix function
- Onboard tuner and metronome
- Includes 1 GB SD card, wind screen, mic clip adapter, AC adapter, USB cable, protective case and Cubase LE recording software
- Optional remote control (RC4) available
90° (standard) 120° (wide-angle) stereo
Built-in Microphone Frequency Response
H4n Handy Recorder Features at a Glance
The H4n Handy Recorder is the ultimate in professional, portable recording. A large 1.9-inch, backlit display features recording levels, file format, time elapsed, file name, remaining battery life and recording time. Optional features such as low cut filter, compressor/limiter and phantom power are also shown when utilized. LEDs indicate Stereo, 4-Channel or MTR mode.
Transport controls include one button recording, playback and pause, forward and rewind buttons. You also have greater control over functions such as Folder, File, Speed or Format selection with the Short Cut/Track Select keys. These keys double as track selectors with the Multi-Track Recorder mode.
On right side of the H4n, the Jog Dial and Menu Key are positioned together for easy navigation. Push the Menu Key to enter the menu and the Jog Dial to navigate through the plentiful features. Use the record level buttons to toggle your levels up or down, and replace your SDHC card by folding down the rubberized door.
The left side of the H4n contains a jack for the RC4 remote control, Phone/Line Output for monitoring and playback. Playback Volume, USB 2.0 interface, Power On and Hold.
Use the USB 2.0 Hi-Speed Interface to move your files to a PC or Mac for storage, editing or playback. And you can even use the H4n as a USB interface and record directly to your favorite digital audio software or the supplied Cubase LE software.
On the back, you’ll find a reference speaker, external mic input for plug-in power type mics and a tripod mount. Remove the battery cover to turn on Stamina Mode. There is also mount for a carry strap. On the bottom of the H4n, you’ll find the combination XLR/Phone inputs and the AC power input is located here as well.
Our most sophisticated recorder, the H4n is also incredibly easy to navigate and setup for the most diverse recording situations you could ever encounter. Now you can capture every sonic detail with the kind of quality and precision usually found in the world’s finest recording studios.
Top Customer Reviews
I setup the Kodak Zi8 about 5 feet from the sound source, which is an upright piano... that's me noodling on it. The Zi8 is mounted on a tripod.
About 15 feet away from the piano, I've setup the Zoom H4n recorder. This unit has an XY stereo microphone built into it. It also has the ability to record two inputs, in the form of XLR or 1/4-inch. So, we'll be hearing the built in XY microphone on the unit as well as a pair of AKG 414s which I positioned above the piano, pointing into the open lid.
"Kodak Zi8 Internal Microphone"
Here we hear the internal microphone on the Zi8. Mono, a bit noisy and perhaps a little too close to the piano to capture a clean sound. In any case, this does the trick for capturing an idea, but definitely doesn't cut it if you're looking for high-quality audio.
"Zoom H4n XY Microphone"
Here the stereo image opens up suddenly. This XY microphone which is built into the unit is capturing a very natural, coincident stereo sound. It's a very reflective room, so you hear that, as the microphone is about 15 feet from the sound source.
"Zoom H4n Pair AKG 414s"
Here we're hearing the pair of AKG 414 microphones pointing into the piano. Because the microphones are very close to the sound source, there is significantly less "room" sound. This would be more suitable for a studio recording, while the XY sound would be more appropriate in perhaps a classical or field recording.
"Zoom H4n Mix of XY + 414s"
Here we have the best of both worlds. We have a blend of the direct signal from the 414s AND some of the room sound from the XY microphone. I believe this is the best overall option in most scenarios.
Finally we return to the Zi8 internal microphone to hear the major difference when using external audio equipment. At under $200, I believe the Zi8 does a great job capturing the visual and at under $300, the Zoom H4n does a remarkable job with the audio.
However, there are a few flaws IMO:
1. Boot-up time is ridiculously long.
This device is completely unsuitable for spontaneous dictation or recording - forget about it. If you power this thing up to capture something impromptu, you'll either forget what you were going to say or the event will be over before the device is ready to use. I don't know if there's a tiny floppy disk it's reading during boot up but I cannot explain why it takes 30+ seconds for a device to become ready. It's ridiculously slow - it may not seem like it, but when you're on top of a ladder and getting ready to turn on an ambient recorder for a live show capture, you're hanging up there for awhile before the recorder will be ready.
2. Battery life is lousy
I put new batteries in this device and it didn't last more than 2 hours or so. I got this device to record ambient audio to be used to sync multiple video camera shots of live performances. I stick the recorder up on a light truss and turn it on.. it didn't last long and turned off. I discovered there is a "stamina mode" you can put the device in, and that helps but I'm not sure what difference there is between the two modes.
3. Date/Time is lost every time you change the batteries.
We have been in the era of non-volatile memory for decades. Why can't this device remember the date at least, when the batteries are being replaced? This ruins time-stamps on the files.
4. Inflexible file hierarchy
Speaking of files.. the system uses an impersonal file system that cannot be renamed or made more human-friendly. folder01, folder02, folder03, etc... really? I renamed the folders to something more descriptive and the device ignored them and re-created the same un-descriptive folder hierarchy for storing its files under. How difficult is it to at least be able to read the SD card and use the existing file folders? It would be really useful if I could create my own, more descriptive folder names on computer, stick the card in the device and read them. folder01, folder02 doesn't mean much.
The controls are all easy to operate and the menus are logical and intuitive. This recorder is definitely worth the cost if you need a hi-quality 1-4 channel recorder. It is well-built with top-quality components and will last you for years if you take good care of it (it comes in a hard plastic case which you can use to transport it).
You can also buy a remote control to use with this. I have it, but have never needed it. Still, I expect there will come a day when I will need to set up the recorder closer to the subjects I am recording without my being right next to it. It comes with a reasonably long wire to give you some distance, but it isn't very well insulated so it would break or could be cut easily. I would install a protective covering of some kind over the control wire before putting it into service in a professional environment. Something like what is used to wrap wires inside a computer case would do nicely. The remote is very thin and easily fits in the palm of your hand making it easy to hold on to and since it has the same control layout as the front panel of the H4N, it is very easy to use. All in all a well thought-out and implemented design.
If I had to find 1 fault somewhere, it would be that the door to the SD card opening doesn't seem to click into place and can easily come open, but I have yet to have that happen and even if it did, it wouldn't cause a problem - it is there more to keep dirt out than anything else.