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Hand held digital audio recorders have until now sacrificed ease of use and flexibility for size and convenience. With the Zoom H4n Zoom electronics has come up with an intelligent merger of both design and functionality, putting almost all of the functions of a desktop recording studio into a package that looks good, feels solid, and does its job very well.

 

 

 Zoom H4n Gets Top Marks As A Top Tier Portable

Zoom H4-nThere is a reason that the Zoom H4-n has consistently scored as one of the top rated digital audio recorders almost every year since it debuted. It's one of the most solid, versatile portables that you can buy and the glowing customer reviews prove it.  I used the H4-n over a period of two weeks to record my school band rehearsals as well as to record general outdoor sound clips for use in a now defunct podcast series.  The thing that makes the H4-n so valuable to me as a teacher and as a musician in general is that it can serve so many different roles and do so with very high quality, clean audio recording capabilities.  

The first thing you notice when you look at the H4-n is that it is much larger than what you would think a hand held recorder would be.  It's big, roughly the size of three old cassette tapes stacked on top of each other, but inside that package are two high quality capsule microphones arranged in an X-Y coincident pair pattern.  If those two mics aren't sufficient, like if you want to record multiple audio sources at once you can also plug in two XLR mics into the H4-n's built in, full size XLR combo jacks.  This allows you to record up to four channels of audio at one time.  

In terms of audio quality there are very few recorders out there that do as good a job at accurate audio reproduction.  While recording my ensembles it picked up things that I never noticed in real time, and after things were done I could either listen to the files through the built in speaker or headphones or I could pop out the SD card to edit on the computer.  

While it's not the smallest recorder out there the features available on the Zoom H4-n make the inconvenience of the larger size totally worth it in terms of usability and versatility.  In many ways it's like having a full blown recording outfit in your briefcase and well worth the investment.

Primary Features of the Zoom H4n

Type of Recorder (Pocket/Desktop): Pocket
Number of recording channels: 4
Multiple Pickup Patterns: Yes, 90/120/360
Best WAV Recording Formats: 24 bit/ 96kHz
Best MP3 Recording Format: 320kbps/ 48kHz MP3
Mic setup/coincident pair/etc.: coincident pair X/Y
Internal Speaker: Yes
Inputs and Outputs: Mic/Line/XLR x2/Phone x2
Phantom Power for External Mics: Yes
USB Connectivity: Yes w/cable
Integrated Tuner/Metronome: Yes
Software Included: Cubase LE
Size and Type of Memory: 1GB SD Card
Maximum Memory: 32GB SDHC
Windscreen: Yes
Batteries/Supplied: AA x 2/ not provided
External Power Connector/Supplied: Yes/ provided
Plug and Play: Yes
LCD Backlight: Yes
Variable Pitch Control: Yes
Variable Speed Playback: Yes
Included Accessories: Solid plastic carry case, mic clip adaptor
 

To compare this portable audio recorder with other similar recorders from other companies please visit our Portable Digital Audio Recorder Buying Guide or our Desktop Digital Recorder Buying Guide

  • Guest - Chad Criswell

    While the Zoom H4n digital audio recorder is larger that it's contemporaries, it still fits in the palm of the hand, and the extra bulk is well worth it due to the large amount of features that it provides. The H4n is the only hand held audio recorder reviewed that has built in full size XLR inputs and phantom power on board, as well as a built in tuner and metronome, four channel stereo surround recording capability, the ability to serve as a USB audio interface, passing captured audio directly through to a computer connected via USB cable.<br /><br />In testing the H4n performs admirably. It does all of the things that similar devices do but the added inputs, outputs, and microphone features make it come out on the top of the list. The only thing separating this unit from being on par with some of the desktop audio recorders is the lack of CD burning capability. Zoom has gone the extra mile with this device, and it is sure to be one of the most popular hand held digital audio recorders on the market.

  • Guest - Andrew

    Joe Pisano of MusTech.net has written his own review of the H4n and it is posted over at Soundtree.com. If you want another perspective on this device be sure to take a look:<br /><br />http://www.soundtree.com/articles/zoomh4n

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