Friday, September 14, 2007

O'Reilly reviews the Zoom H2

O'Reilly Digital Media has weighed in on the Zoom H2. I usually look forward to their reviews of field recorders because they're comprehensive and tend to include lots of sound clips. The latest review lived up to my expectations, but I realized something that should have been apparent a long time ago. Podcasters and broadcasters have different standards for field recorders than musicians.

OK, I always knew that. But I was naive enough to think that musicians usually need more features than those of us who spend most of our time editing interviews. After all, I've never needed to add distortion, reverb, or chorus effects to a recording on the fly or in the studio.

But it also occurs to me that there's one thing that's far more important for interviews: silence. If you're recording a band practice or a concert, the audio will constantly be loud enough that you won't notice a little preamp noise or a little electrical buzz from a Zoom H4 running on battery power. But if you're recording an interview in a quiet room with little background noise, that hiss can seem extraordinarily loud and distracting.

Don't get me wrong. If you're recording your band's performance for a CD/demo, you'll want the cleanest sounding recorder you can get too. But you're probably not going to go with the $199 Zoom H2.

Anyway, the O'Reilly review does a great job of testing out the 4 mics and explaining how to get "surround sound" with the H2. And like the H4, the H2 acts as an audio interface for your computer, so you can treat it as a USB mic or line input for a laptop that doesn't have a line input. Probably the best part of the review is the numerous audio clips you can download.

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