Zoom H4 Handy Recorder
- Metronome: 5 sounds (Beat: 0/4 - 8/4, 6/8, Tempo: 40.0 - 250.0BPM)
- A/D Conversion: 24bit, 128times oversampling
- D/A Conversion: 24bit, 128times oversampling
- Signal Processing: 32bit
- Recording Media: SD memory card (16MB-2GB)
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Whether you're recording a live performance, a podcast, a class or workshop, a rehearsal, a songwriting session or even a sizzling performance of your band, the H4 has more recording tools available than any device ever made. Weighing a mere 6.7 ounces (190g), the H4 puts a remarkable amount of recording power in the palm of your hand.
True stereo imaging:
Stereo recording is often accomplished by using two microphones in a V-shaped set up that faces the performer. While this method will result in good stereo separation, responsiveness for the area directly in front of the mics will be low, causing problems with depth perception and imaging. The Zoom H4 uses an X/Y configuration where the two microphones point inward at a crossing angle. This allows the recorder to cover a wide area, and at the same time capture sound sources in the center with perfect clarity and definition. Phase differences between left and right channels are also eliminated because sound is picked up simultaneously by both microphones.
Absence of phase differences ensures natural stereo imaging
24-bit/96 kHz linear PCM format and MP3 recording:
The H4 allows 24-bit/96 kHz linear PCM recording in WAV format, resulting in excellent transparency and definition that exceeds the sound quality of CDs. This is great for capturing the nuances of an acoustic instrument while preserving the ambience of the recording location. Or record directly as MP3 files for longer recordings that still provide excellent sound quality.
Secure Digital (SD) Media
The H4 records on Secure Digital (SD) Media cards. These widely available cards boast an amazing amount of recording time in a small package. And unlike tape or disc media, mechanical vibrations do not affect recording quality. With a 2GB SD memory card, the H4 can provide up to 190 minutes of stereo WAV file recording in 44.1 kHz/16-bit mode or as many as 34 hours when recording at 128 kbps in MP3 stereo mode.
Combination XLR-1/4" Inputs
The H4, with its two phantom powered XLR-1/4" input jacks that support direct connection of external microphones, is the solution to an infinite number of recording situations. You can also use the H4's Hi-Z rated phone inputs for direct connection of guitars, bass, or any other line-input device.
Top customer reviews
Previously I had used Sony MiniDisc recorder, iRiver H140 and iPod 40 gig to record sounds. Each had its plusses but the minuses were more than the plusses. The iRiver was the best of the bunch but its menu and its interface was the worst of all of them.
Flash to present. I ordered Zoom H4 from Amazon when the price dropped sufficiently low that it matched the lowest found on ebay without having to wonder if I am going to get the good thing from an ebay dealer.
I agree with the other reviewers that the overall presentation and quality seemed to be on the lower side. The buttons were cheaply made. The body was lightweight plastic. The concern I have at this time is the longevity of the battery/ memory chip door, whether it will last the frequency of closing and opening without wearing it out. If the door is not able to close, one cannot use the unit anymore as the batteries are connected to the door at one end. The size of the unit is quite large, larger than all previous units that I own. It is still pocketable in shirt pocket even though 1/8th of the unit body sticks out and even more so with the microphones.
I have tested the unit in the field by going to the local farmers market / art fair / street fair. The H4 recorded the live music quite well and it had a good imaging. It recorded the water fountain sound very good at medium gain. I found it easy enough to use and the menus were easy to find and follow. It took some to get used to the scroll wheel on the side to change the MENU but it was easy to get used to. Compare to the iRiver H140 which had the worst menu I had ever seen and I had lost recordings because of that since I could not tell which microphones setting I was using. The menu of this Zoom unit is quite small and so folks over 40 yrs of age may need magnifiers to read the menu if you are not nearsighted.
The plus of this unit is that it uses the universal AA batteries (2 of them) and it uses SD chip (officially up to 2 gig). Of course that it can also record professional XLR microphones phantom power is really a great plus! Korg came up with a pocketable field recorder that uses 1 bit chip which is far better than most portable recorders but the funny thing is that the only microphone it's able to take is the minijack kind and it costs seven hundred dollars at the store presently.
If you find yourself you need a budget priced recorder, you really cannot go wrong with this unit. The basic function of this unit is to record sounds and it is quite easy to do so without reading a book. You decide what level you want: Wav files (three settings, from CD quality to beyond) or MP3 (with different quality levels) and you press the buttons that are on the left side of the unit. Then you press RECORD and you see the levels goes on and you can adjust the mic gain from LO MI and HI. Then press RECORD button again and voilá. I thought that was simple enough.
Sound is incredible - I use this for recording sermons (wireless mic to Input 1), and there's far more noise in the wireless mic than in the H4 itself. I also use this to record concerts both off the mixer via the inputs and from the audience using the built-in mics. Either way, there is almost no audible hiss. The recordings are hands-down FAR cleaner than what I get if I use my SoundBlaster Live External USB sound card on my laptop. It's also much cleaner than using the tape drive at church.
I can't say much about the preamps for the XLR inputs because I rarely use them (I tend to just use line-level inputs to this or use its built-in mic), but the little bit of experimenting I've done has really impressed me. It's not as good as the preamps on the Mackie board in terms of gain and headroom, but since this can do 24-bit recording and has no analog compressor, recording at lower volumes is better anyway. And as I said, the noise floor is very very low, so bumping up the gain later won't introduce a lot of hiss.
The built-in mics sound great. I wouldn't recommend using the mic modeling (do EQ adjustments in post-production, not recording). The mics provide a decent stereo image, and are detailed enough. They lack some high end transparency and are a bit boomy/muddy in the low-mid (100-250Hz or so) but it still sounds far better than most low-end mics. Plus, a little EQ in post-production can fix a lot of the problems. The signal is so clean and has such great resolution (if recording 24-bit) that you can really mess with the recording a lot without compromising the sound quality.
Battery life with 2500mA NiMH batteries is about 6 hours in mp3 mode - better than what they say, in fact. And although it doesn't fit in my pocket, it definitely fits in a small purse and is light enough not to be a pain.
Comparison to the H2: I haven't been able to compare the sound of the internal mics, but the H4 is DEFINITELY the way to go if you want to plug into a mic or a mixer. The inputs are much easier to use (with their combination 1/4"-XLR connectors) and very clean, and have separate gain and volume controls on each one.