Zoom H4n Review

zoom h4n reviewImprovements from the early model H4

The Zoom H4n has a speaker built into the back of the unit. All that being said, don’t sell your speakers yet if you know what I mean. It comes in handy if you want to check your recording or play a clip on the fly. Also the display is a little bigger and usability has been improved to be user friendly.

Is it worth it?

The Zoom h4n has the ability to record up to 380 minutes of high quality sound in 16-bit WAV format. A 128MB card is included but a 2G memory card will boost you up to 4 hours of recording time on 2 AA alkaline batteries  The ability to work as a recording interface as well as  a 4-track recorder is pretty cool.

Construction Quality

Nothing crucial to say about this point, the device is quite standard and I never had problems with the construction side of it at home or outdoors. The plastic casing maybe sensitive to shocks and hits. If you are planning to be rough with it I would recommend getting a hard case to carry it around in.

Features

Great ROI on these one folks. Two combination XLR/TRS (1/4″) inputs. Allowing you to connect phantom-powered mics directly to the device. It’s also possible to plug guitars or other instruments as such into the 1/4″ inputs for direct recording. The two built-in microphones in an X/Y stereo pattern give you a good range of recording and the sensitivity is very surprising at first. A USB connection allows you to connect to a computer, the transfer rate is a little slow but with a little patience you get the job done.

Preamp Quality

Not the best feature on the Zoom H4n. Although they offer phantom power it does not handle well high SPL environments. Consider using an external preamp if the condenser mic you use is of good quality.

The line-in setting is a much better. Great sound quality all along the chain. One “pickle” is the gain control which has to be done using the software.

 Internal Microphones

One of the best features to my opinion are the internal microphones of the H4n. They  are surprisingly strong and sensitive. I tried them on a violin and guitar and they sounds very good. Good for Recording live music but it’s best used in low SPL environments.

A cool feature is the ability to emulate the sound signature of higher-end microphones such as the Neumann U87 and the AKG C414. It works nicely but  don’t expect the real deal this is still an emulation and it’s good for a little color in your recordings.  Also available are various compression and limiting modes and settings.

 4-Track and Interface Options

The Zoom H4n has the ability to work as a recording interface as well as a 4-track recorder. The 4 inputs the device has give you the option of recording 4 tracks simultaneously in the 4-track mode. This is great for demos and songwriters to use.

The product comes with a copy of Cubase LE, (a light version of the full professional Cubase software) which is great for editing and recording music. You can connect the H4 to the computer with the USB port, and voila! Now you have a powerful interface with preamps and inputs to records sounds and edit them on the computer.

Conclusion

The Zoom H4n is smart buy given the price. Yes, it’s not perfect but not that far from it. The basics you need are excellent – the sound is great the interface is easy to control and it goes beyond the regular field recorder.

The Zoom H4 is among the best value in portable recording out there today. An excellent  choice for both sound lovers and musicians.

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2 Comments

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2 Responses to Zoom H4n Review

  1. Would you recommend this recorder for paranormal investigations? I read that “EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) can be found between the zero and 300 Hz range, but the most accurate are found between 0 and 80 Hz.”

    Thanks for any input,
    Gloria