Sunday, March 8, 2009

Zoom H4n audio take 2 - second time not so charming

The Samson Zoom H4n is probably one of the more exciting digital audio recorders to come along in a while. Samson has taken the original Zoom H4 and completely retooled it with a better button layout, a new rubberized grip, a new mic layout and better preamps.

But while reader Jon Skitch sent us some fantastic sounding recordings he made using the recorder, Neil Ewers of Blind Cool Tech has sent in some evidence that the H4n might not be in the same league the Sony PCM-D50 and other slightly more expensive digital audio recorders.

Here are a series of audio samples Ewers recorded using both the Zoom H4n and Sony PCM-D50, followed by a recording made on the original Zoom H4. The original Zoom recorder actually had quite decent built in mics, but sounded awful with an external mic plugged in, especially if it was a dynamic mic. To my ear it sounds like the Zoom H4n isn't much better. What do you think?

Update: Now you can also hear audio samples I recorded myself using the internal mics and several external mics.

Sony PCM-D50 internal mics:

Get this widget | Track details | eSnips Social DNA


Same audio source with Zoom H4n internal mics:

Get this widget | Track details | eSnips Social DNA


Sony PCM-D50 with an Audio Technica mic:

Get this widget | Track details | eSnips Social DNA


Zoom H4n with an Audio Technica mic:

Get this widget | Track details | eSnips Social DNA


Sony PCM-D50 with a dynamic mic:

Get this widget | Track details | eSnips Social DNA


Zoom H4n with a dynamic mic:

Get this widget | Track details | eSnips Social DNA


Final recording with Zoom H4n:

Get this widget | Track details | eSnips Social DNA


Original Zoom H4 reference recording:

Get this widget | Track details | eSnips Social DNA


194 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting, Zoom H4n with Dynamic mic sounds shit. With its internal mic sounds average not as good as the original H4. Handling noise is even worse. With AT822 is about the best your gonna hear and thats rubbish too!; hissy. Is this faulty unit? Both Jon skitch's samples sounded promising; With Rode NT1a the results were like a high end recorder and the second sample was good too!OMG. what have u done Zoom - where is the improvement on mic preamps? This is a crap recorder.

tufts said...

listen to me the above recordings are not made by zoom h4n. In fact its Edirol R09 vs Sony pcmd50. Trust me.

Anonymous said...

With a dynamic mic:
(listen carefully)
he mentions that he is using Zoom H4 not H4n.

demon said...

Sony 10/10
Zoom 3/10 another shit product.

Anonymous said...

for internal mics

Zoom H4 new improved 9/10
Zoom H4n 6/10
Sony pcmd50 8/10

External mics

Dynamic

Sony pcmd50 10/10
Zoom H4 new improved 8/10
Zoom H4n 3/10

Condenser

Sony pcmd50 9/10
Zoom H4 new improved 8/10
Zoom h4n 7/10

So the last generation of H4 is the winner. Although its got crap interface.

beneaththecastle said...

The H4n's internal mic sounded better to me than the Sony's.

And while the dynamic mic->H4n had way more hiss than the Sony, the actually reproduction of his voice still sounded pretty good.

undercover said...

back off, Sony is king it only lacks XLR - XLR-1 is available. however its no point having XLR inputs with crap pre-amps.

SoundMan said...

Zoom H4n has better bandwidth, while sony sounds blunt although its noise level is low; its like engaging dolby c on analogue recording which has side effects.

Anonymous said...

They r both rubbish just buy Fostex FR2le(Nasa approved). You won't go wrong.

Alain said...

I found another test at:
http://www.homebrewedmusic.com/2009/03/07/first-look-at-the-zoom-h4n/

trimphat said...

Thanks Alain.

I checked the other site and Fostex FR2le was clear winner. While on this site Sony Pcmd5o was the better of the 2. Zoom looks good but does not perform well. But I still think the Fostex FR2le is the best recorder within that division and then followed by Sony. I own both those recorders and was thinking of buying Zoom H4n but its going to the be a miss; I don't desire features I want quality..Fostex FR2le wins by a mile.

Rantz said...

The story continues, I think we should wait for the tascam DR-100 and am pretty confident it will perform much better than the Sony and Zoom H4n because Tascam are professional at what they do and Zoom is merely for buget end of the market.

Mark said...

The guy admitted he is using very cheap cables which is adding too much hiss and hum, So this is not a V A L I D test.

Jack said...

check this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kad1VLMYTU

Zoom h4n is getting slaugtered by Tascam pocketstudio 5. Zoom H4 is too hissy.

Anonymous said...

Slightly OT buy I purchased a Sony PCM D50 last Friday, and found substantial mic preamp noise noticeable with both internal and external (Sony's own ECM999) mics.
As a reference, with a very short cable (8" long, mini to dual 1/4" adapter cable with no mic attached) plugged into the mic input, and the D50 recording with the gain dial at 10, I have about -32dB noise . Anyone else care to post what the internal noise of their D50 is under similar conditions? I think quality control might be an issue here.

Anonymous said...

Yours might be a faulty one or try a different MIC

Anonymous said...

am very anxious now - ordered the Zoom and was excited about it. Now am Thinking of Tascam dr100 - wouldn't touch any product from Sony - lousy aftersales.

is the Zoom such a bad move - help! The thing will arrive in a couple of days.

Nizman

Anonymous said...

Nizman

Zoom H4n is a budget product:

I would strongly consider:

- Fostex FR2le
- Marantz 661
- Wait for Tascam DR-100.

Anonymous said...

Some positive reviews for ZOOM H4n please check this link:

http://www.americanmusical.com/ItemReview--i-ZOO-H4N

Anders M. said...

I believe the H4n have been seen as a professional portable studio, and compared with other products in that league.
But the H4n is a cheap alternative to professional solutions and does not preform miracles. Comparing price and preformance I think the H4n does a pretty good job.

Anonymous said...

another question: seeing as I only need it for music, would I be right in thinking that noise from the preamps won't play much of a role? The recordings that put me off the Zoom were only of some guy speaking.
Am still not sure what to do: on the one hand I really like the idea of high quality recordings(tascam or fostex) but the four track function is kinda nice too. I am often away with my job and take my guitar with - being able to do interesting little mixes seems fun.

beneaththecastle said...

People are being ridiculously harsh here. The zoom has more detail than the sony with its built in mics, and with the external mics the only fault (certainly none of this "rubber meets the road" bullshit) is a bit of extra background hiss -- the actual reproduction quality is still quite good, not to mention the fact that you get 4-track recording and XLR inputs, at a much cheaper price than any of the suggested so-called "superior" alternatives.

In Canada we can't even buy this thing yet, and with the rotten exchange rate I'll certainly end up paying more than you guys. And I still really want it.

Anonymous said...

Zoom is ok as a speech recorder but nothing special. While Sony pcm d50 is a world class recorder used through out the pro industry. I have bought the Zoom H4n and have Sony pcmd50 as well. Sony is slightly better with its internal mics. With Dynamic mics Sony outperforms Zoom H4n. With Condenser mics its about even but Sony is more punchier and Zoom has a softer approach but still very clean. If you want more features go for Zoom but if u want better recordings Sony pcm d50 is hard to beat.

centreofearth said...

Zoom H4n does not impress me. However Sony pcm d50 does but lacks XLR inputs. So will check out TASCAM DR100.

nizman said...

Nizman

Well, I can see there are varying opinions out there. In an ideal world, I'd like to see one of the 'top' brands produce something that can do what the Zoom tries to do. I think I'll stick to the Zoom anyhow.
I was hoping the quality may be good enough to transfer guitar and vocal parts to my big Roland 24 track thing in stereo and then do overdubs - one of you guys out there says the zoom is nothing more than an ok voice recorder - sounds a bit like brand snobbism to me -I can't believe it's that bad - I even think if it had the name Sony emblazened on it that person wouldn't have been so harsh.


Could probably play the 'put the cheap whisky in an expensive bottle' trick on him and get away with it me thinks.

thanks to all those with neutral opinions btw.

Anonymous said...

Good luck Nizman. I don't think it comes any close to Sony but let alone Tascam DR-100.

Zoom=hiss
Sony=Digital

Your choice=cancel the order and wait for Tascam DR100.

nizman said...

tell ya what Anonymous, I'll try the zoom and if it's crap, I'll tell my story to the world or even more farther afield. After that, I'll have a try of the Tascam.

As mentioned before, have been burned twice by Sony aftersales.

Lizcosk said...

I bought my H4 mid august last year its a very good tool for what I need but its screen is rather small. Apart from that it very good; no complaints. For last few weeks I was very tempted with H4n and finally got mine yesterday. It looks very good but there are down side to this recorder. The major one is the sound. On every input/output it has above average hiss. The recording with internal/External (condenser/Dynamic) mics and or monitoring is not has good has the H4 recent production. I am going to go through all testing once more and if no joy i am returning the product. :-(

Anonymous said...

H4n is not an improvement but a clear failure.

Trident said...

Some readers with in this blog are deaf as well as daft. Listen to the above samples!!. Sony wins by a mile. Even Brad Admits it.

Brad Linder said...

@Trident: I wouldn't go that far. I refrained from saying which is better because I wanted to leave it up to y'all to decide. To my ear, the H4n does a better job of reproducing the human voice with its internal mics -- based on these recordings. But I find the amount of hiss on most of these recordings quite disturbing. Personally, I'm not OK with that much hiss, but some readers seem to be.

I'm still going to withhold final judgment until I get a unit to try out for myself. But since Neil got his before me and was kind enough to send in the sample recordings, I wanted to share them.

Anonymous said...

What's the closest in features to the Zoom H4N out there?

Trident said...

whats the point of having features if the product can't perform. Thats my theory. The reproduction on Zoom H4n is .. you have guess it. HISS. This is my opion.

Anonymous said...

just read six customer reviews about the Zoom h4n - they were all extremely satisfied. One of them recorded classical guitar and was ecstatic about the warmth and clarity - maybe someone put a Sony sticker on it?

I don't think it's possible to put out complete rubbish in this competitive environment. 350 bucks is 350 bucks.

I even did some recording with my iphone with some 79 cent four track software , going through the normal phone mouthpiece. The sound was really impressive and I'm sure the Zoom must be much much better.

I burned a cd from my iphone recordings and no-one could believe the quality.

Looking forward to the Zoom arriving.

Anonymous said...

go to American musical supply - great reviews from musicians - no mentions of too much hiss.


So to all the detractors: hiss off!

Trident said...

Listen to above samples that explains it - so hiss back in. There are too many recorders out there better than H4n. Ie Sony pcmd50, Fostex FR2le, Marantz 661 and 660, Olympus LS-10, Edirol RO9H
........tooo many to list. I am tired.

Anonymous said...

H4n is a hybrid of H2/H4.

Pre-amps from H2 -shit
Features of H4 - but with hiss.
weak mic design - will break no caging to protect it.
Optional remote - wired remote only should be part of the package. (Tascam/Edirol offer wireless remote with the package).

Gale said...

I have (H4n) had my recorder for the past few days and i am happy with it. TBH with dynamic mics (SM58) it does sound hissy but this does not bother me because I will only use dynamic for live performance only. Will mainly use Condenser (AKG C1000) and internal mic for recording; that sounds quite good, sorry i can't compare this recorder with another. The Sony pcm-d50 does sound better but i wanted XLR and am happy with what have got.

Anonymous said...

For internal MIC. Original Zoom H4 reference recording sounds the best, followed by Sony pcmd50. H4n - no comment. :-[.

Anonymous said...

Its like comparing dictaphone with pro recorder. SONY HAS SIMPLY RIP IT APART. NO COMPETTION. Is this the bestH4n can do. On the other hand tbh H4 sounds quite decent.

Sony 9/10
Pro recorder
Zoom H4 8/10
Decent recorder
Zoom H4n 3/10
Hisssy Recorder.
(yes rubber meets the road; to much friction=severe handling noise.).

uarda said...

My minidisc sounds a lot better than Zoom H4n and probably close to Sony pcmd50. Shall wait for Tascam to release there model.

Lizcosk said...

Can anyone help me with this Zoom H4n its just to hissy; am i doing something wrong?

Lizcosk said...

At last the problem has been resolved. By default the Compressor/limitor has been set to "on" and this feature was responsible for adding the extra hiss and reproducing very forward sound - (avoid this feature - use software to deal with this). Now the sound is very clean, even my dynamic mic sounds very good. The sound is pushed back to middle with no hiss. checked internal/external and monitoring - all TOP NOTCH. Very happy with the product. So when you buy this product ensure the Comp/limitor is set to "off". BTW "Ewers" Please re-record those samples again.

Gale said...

Thankyoy for sharing this information Lizcosk.

I have turned this feature off and can report with confidence the hiss has gone down by 70%.

nizman said...

- Good to hear!

I had the impression that Ewers was enjoying his assassination of the Zoom- looks like he doesn't know how to operate a philishave!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with u Nizman.

Ewers should have made sure that all settings were at default before e-mailing those sample. Should also use proper cables rather than cheap ones. "where rubber meets the road" bullshit!. Look @ those settings carefully and report back "Ewers" or your face will be be rubbing the road.

Fezzer said...

Hey, Brad! can you please put Jon's samples here. I am trying to compare.

beneaththecastle said...

Is hiss the only thing any of you care about when you record? Hiss can be easily removed, but detail sure as hell can't be added. The H4 sounds nice in a soothing radio broadcast kinda way, but for a musician, it (and the sony) way too dark.

You guys awarding the H4n 3/10 are actually listening to these samples? Or just trying to reassure yourselves that that your more expensive Sony hasn't quite been beaten yet?

Anonymous said...

I agree with the last post to certain extent. If these Sony guys were really serious about high quality, (to record a dry crisp leaf snapping on a cold winter's day or to capture the purity of a bluebottle's fart) they wouldn't be defending anything under 2000 bucks.

I guess all these sub 500 bucks hand-helds do a fine job recording guitar and vocals.

Angel said...

Come on lads u cannot blame readers in this blog. Those samples are to be blamed. Sony does sound better but if the Zoom H4n were recorded with COMP/LIMIT off, it would become a different story. So the person who originally sent those sample please ammend them otherwise the readers in this blog r becoming out of control. Please control yourself - lets give H4n one more chance. May be with the right settings it may produce a top notch recording. Until then we wait...

Trident said...

Even with the right settings it gonna produce nothing but Jack...take it from me(Ewers is not stupid and its not his fault if the machine can't perform - so back off).

TRIDENT.

John said...

SONY RULES!!

Recesst said...

At beneaththecastle. By using hiss control its going to affect high frequency so the overall sample will become too flat and this will result in losing focus and clarity. Thats not my idea of presenting my final gig - with Digital u don't mess around that area unless u have cheap analogue recorder**FOOL**.

Mastersound said...

Zoom H4n's key selling point is just features not quality but with minimum features you always seem to have high quality.

Marantnz 661 - minimum features - High Quality - good all round.
Fostex Fr2le - minimum features - High Quality - ultra low hiss.
Sony pcmd50 - minimum features - High Quality - excellent with low output mics, brilliant drive.
Zoom H4n, OT features - Average Quality.

Its like in Audio world with good amps u don't even need tone control as under the skin engineering will take care of the sound.

beneaththecastle said...

the marantz is going for almost $800 on ebay, the fostex between 6-8 hundred, the Sony between 6 and 7 hundred and the Zoom sits comfortably at $450 (Canadian dollars, of course).

How on earth are those other recorders even relevant to this comparison? For the slight improvements in sound quality you pay nearly twice the price? Law of diminishing returns kicks in pretty harsh here, especially if what these guys are saying about the compressor is true, not to mention some of the other comparison tests out there.

Graham Riches said...

Zoom H4n is very good recording tool but everyone has to understand that its loaded with features so one can make mistakes very easily so therefore needs to take extra. Perhaps if we can listen to new samples of dynamic mic and internal mic again with comp/limit off. Then we would have some idea of this Super recording tool, "It will surprise You".

Graham Riches said...

Zoom H4n is very good recording tool but everyone has to understand that its loaded with features so one can make mistakes very easily so therefore needs to take extra care. Perhaps if we can listen to new samples of dynamic mic and internal mic again with comp/limit off. Then we would have some idea of this Super recording tool, "It will surprise You".

Brad Linder said...

I checked with Neal and he says he doesn't believe the compressor or limiter were on when he made these recordings. But he's going to double check.

Trident said...

like I stated the guy did not make any mistakes. Simply its just cheap nasty make believe recording studio. A piece of crap!!!! no good will only collect dust. If u want to waist money go ahead.. Blow it.!! ITS A GIMMICK -COWBOY.

Anonymous said...

dear Trident something tells me you bought a Sony and you can't wait for that Neal guy to post his findings. You are sad!

Listen to some satisfied customers you brand snob fool!!!!

Trident said...

Listen Anonymous the recorder your going to buy is workman's like. Its for people who does not care about quality. If your an enthusiast like me you will consider digging a bit deeper and getting the right unit in the first place - instead of regreting later. So be safe and buy a decent recorder with good pre-amps.

-Edirol R09HR
-Olympus LS10
-Marantz pdm660

All of the above are in same price range and also seem to perform better too. No excuses please. Thenjust buy little mixer to complete the system.

Anonymous said...

not only that H4n doesn't perform well but is ugly too!!!

Anonymous said...

getting back to you : Firstly, I nhave heard what the Edirol can do and it's ok - nothing more and it doesn't meet my requirements. I'm a songwriter, I make my money from music and I'm not really interested in recording the birds singing or the water running by. By the time I have used some of those on-board effets the hiss(which by all accounts seems to be the result of the default set-up) won't be audible. I want four tracks and xlr.

None of the machines you mentioned are really top notch for professional bird fart recorders like yourself whereas the Zoom is designed for musicians who wanna put down a quick and listenable to demo and maybe also the bootleg .
my requirements are different from yours - maybe you should cough up aqnother grand so you can do your hobby tzhing a bit more professionally.

For album production I have a big fuck-off studio

Anonymous said...

Why are u buying a budget machine!!! if u have a big studio. u should looking out for something like korg mr1000 fool.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Brad:

I wanted to pass along a comment by a fellow connected with the Nature Sounds Society listserv, whose name is Oryoki. (This information came to me by way of Dan Dugan (Dan Dugan Sound) in reply to my inquiry to see what Dan had to say about this new device).

Oryoki had the following to say about his use of the new Zoom H4n recorder:

The following are HIS comments only:

"A little more testing of my H4N revealed some quirks.

First, if you try to record using a single mic connected to XLR with phantom power on, the other channel records a relatively high level of noise. This seems to be caused by the unterminated XLR input. Plugging in a second mic, but leaving it turned off, reduces this noise.

Second, with phantom power on, the noise level is higher than with it off and the mics receiving power from an external power source (ART Phantom II in this case).

Third, the 1/8-inch (3.5 mm) minijack on the rear of the recorder has less self-noise than either XLR input. Recordings made with a Rode NT1A mic powered by an ART Phantom II power supply and connected via the minijack had very low levels of self-noise.

Fourth, the right XLR of my H4N has a higher self noise level than the left XLR input. The difference is quite noticeable.

These listening tests were performed in a very quiet setting, and with the goal of finding the recorder's self-noise level. If you record in a setting with a higher level of ambient sound, the H4N recorder's input noise is likely to be masked."

Thanks
Richard Links
Links Sound
Berkeley, CA

Trident said...

Hahaha, more problems its not even reliable too.

Jay said...

whats the point of having xlr if they are unbalanced and produce very very high self-noise

Anonymous said...

another flop from zoom.

Dave said...

last time it took Zoom almost 3 years to solve pulse problem using batteries with H4. Wonder how long it will take them resolving hiss/unblanced xrl issue?

Anonymous said...

They won't. we will have to modify it our selves!!!

Anonymous said...

use Art phantom II. A 2 box solution that will defeat the object being portable!!

Nemo said...

Enough! at least they have tried.

Trident said...

u mean back to the drawing board, m8ey. hahaha.

Angel said...

come on lads lets give H4n one more chance - lets wait for those new samples.

Trident said...

There r no new samples. It will be the same samples....it will produce jack.

-Hiss
-unbalanced channels - never mind
multi channel support.

mind u it works fine through that 3.5mm jack(mic) as long u use external box (Art), Then will give it a new name Zoom/Art Combo - both r budget they will work well together.

Anonymous said...

In mass production there is got to be a few faulty ones.

Trident said...

Thats what they r perfectly faulty.

Anonymous said...

Your a funny guy...

Robinson said...

Story ends here.

Sony pcmd50 the "winner"
Zoom H4n floored in 1st round

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with last post to beat Sony pcmd50, you need a real power house. The way it drives Dynamic mics, especially low output ones; no other sub $800 device can do this.

Vincent said...

I have Fostex FR2 a real heavy duty machine even this can't beat Sony pcmd50 when it comes to dynamic mics. Its also very capable with other types of mic like condenser. The mic pre-amp is the most powerful I have ever come across A supreme machine. With the Zoom H4n, I very like the wide stereo 120 deg it really works. You need to compromise between features and quality recording. If your musician you may lean towards Zoom H4n but for ENG, Field recording, Environmental recording, Nature recording and live performance Sony pcm d50 is hard to beat - the most accurate reliable limiter i have ever operated.

Anonymous said...

What did u expect.

Fiat beating BMW..hoohahaha "LOL".

Anonymous said...

Zoom H4n offers the best value and features in the planet but let down by poor performance. They should work harder with there products to compete with other leading manufactures.

James said...

I tell u what Zoom H4n is history (not interested), But however looking forward to the new Tascam DR100.

nizman said...

If you go to
http://www.homebrewedmusic.com/2009/...-the-zoom-h4n/ you'll hear that , well ok, there is hiss, but the sound is detailed and warm - and teh guy seems to know what he's doing. He says its not the best in the world but he hardly gives it a slating - quite the opposite in fact.

While the Fostex produces less hiss(not buckets less) the highs seem to have much more of that 'sizzling' digital sound that I hate. Zoom sounds warmer.
I'll try it this week when mine arrives. If it's no good, which I doubt, I'll test teh Tascam dr100.

There seem to be a fair number of satisfied customers out there.

Anders M. said...

All this 'hiss' talk leaves me disturbed. Should we in fact conclude that H4n is bad value for money or just what can be expected in the sub $400 price range?

Furthermore I like to know how much better the Sony PCM-D50 performs with internal mic in field recordings, compared with the H4n.

Anonymous said...

Anders - there is some hiss but nothing deadly. As mentioned before, this machine is meant for musicians who want to put some ideas down in a half-decent way. The Sony may indeed be a tad better but is a lot more expensive. But the way you brand heads talk one could get the impression that you think Coldplay will record their next album on a Sony PMT orPmD or whatever. What you can't do on any of these so called superior devices is have a go at working out harmonies and bass lines etc. The zoom offers us that at reasonable price. And the, that last samples I heard are really quite nice - a million times better than what Im achieved with my first 4-track recorder.

Anonymous said...

Sony pcmd50 is a lot better than Zoom H4n. The components used through out is of militery grade. The mic pre-amp is awesome. It even beats many high end recorder. The battery life is outstanding with 4 AA Lithium you can get upto 50 hours record time. The build quality (Metal), feel and ease of use of the machine is superb. Most function are hardware base. Limiter function is studio style. Hiss is ultra low from both mic and line in. The headphone amp is very powerful - sounds very big. You also have true recording level control - very accurate.

Anonymous said...

Zoom H4n does not Sound warm it sounds very harsh like a cheap analogue recorder. Its metallic, hissy, artificial reproduction some what using internal software base simulation. Very poorly constructed body and even with the rubber there is still too much handling noise - why? badly design. THe mics r very vulnerable as thee is no caging to protect it - so they a likely break easily in short term. Not forgetting unbalanced XRL inputs
that are very hissy and creates an unusual huming sound when phantom power is activated. Zoom has not got this product right like its previous models - another cheap budget product with a very high markup, simply avoid it.

Anonymous said...

might as well use the old tape recorder.

beneaththecastle said...

listening to these samples again with some higher-end speakers (I was using cheap headphones before), the difference between the internal mics on the Sony and the Zoom is pretty clear. The Zoom sounds much better -- brighter, more articulate, and less claustrophobic. And since the primary duty of a field recorder is to record sounds in the field, seems like a pretty clear choice to me. And even if one were to use a dynamic mic, most likely it would be to record something loud like electric guitar or snare, in which case the hiss wouldn't be an issue because the gain wouldn't need to be as high.

Nick said...

This zoom H4n is cheap crapy , plasticky, sounds very hissy, woolly, loose, and very very fuzzy. It has hiss in every single inputs including unbalanced xlr. Fostex FR2le is in a different class, i use this pro tool every day. The results are outstanding, clarity is far superior and its highly detailed.
The recording never distorts thanks to its high quality electronics. Even with Dynamic mics its sounds good - close to Sony pcmd50. So listen carefully to the above sample "Zoom H4n with a dynamic mic - where rubber meets the road;friction;grinding very hard. its neither good with external or internal mics" - by "Ewers"! a PERSON WHO KNOW WHAT HIS TALKING ABOUT!!**DICKHEAD**

Nemo said...

I like the Zoom H4n and this blog is annoying me. ok, its a bit hissy but it does sound fine. Brad, can you please remove those samples. Thankyou.

Anders M. said...

I'm weeping. Looks like I have to return my H4n and invest more money (regretfully) in the PCM-D50

kerowin said...

What I hate in life is nobody likes the truth. I know it hurts but Sony pcm d50 is in totally different class. Please don't remove those files. There is no doubt about the champion here.

$2000
Sound devices 702 rules

$1500
Sony pcm D1 rules

$1100
Korg MR1000 rules with Tascam HPD2

under $800
Sony pcmd50 rules with Fostex FR2 le
next prob Marantz 660

under $400
Marantz 660 with Zoom H4 (classic- recent production).
next prob Tascam DR1

Kerowin said...

under $800
next Marantz 661-correction

Frank said...

The rule about sound is quite clear if its hissy the sounds going to be abit bright and open. TBH try to enhance a recorded file with dynamic mic using H4n will be a nightmare. Normalising it will increase background noise and this will become very harsh to the ears. If you decide to use noise reduction or even hiss reduction the whole file will lose clarity and detail (mid-high). Just buy a proper recorder (clean preamps) and boost signal with confidence.
You have no win situation.

Anonymous said...

Zoom products are highly concentrated in features not in quality but however companies like Sony, Fostex, Tascam and Marantz care about quality of sound. So be safe and by a branded product.

beneaththecastle said...

Nick I don't know what you're talking about. NONE of these recordings "distort" and none of them sound "very very fuzzy". If you're hearing that I suggest you either get your speakers or your ears checked, because the H4n CLEARLY reproduces more detail the Sony, and I'm sure a waveform analysis would confirm it.

As for the hiss, other comparison tests (including one with the Fostex, posted earlier in this thread), demonstrate only a marginal increase in hiss, certainly not what we're hearing with Ewers and his self-admittedly faulty test.

Anonymous said...

The jury is still out for me on this one to a certain extent. I admit that branded products can be better but it's no rule of thumb. Zoom is without a doubt a 'budget'manufacturer but while all the componenents in my 'big' studio are branded, my acoustic effects pedal is a Zoom and I'm absolutely delighted with it's performance.

Like the guy in the previous post says,the comparisons with Fostex for example do not reveal huge differences and and the on-board extras make this little thing a very attractive option.

If I find the hiss unbearable I will return it but no real evidence yet. Did anyone go to the link for homebrewed music I put up last night? I think the audiofiles are more than acceptable


And as I stated before , the other brands have simply failed in creating a product that leans towards the musician/songwriter ie a product that allows four track recording with all the other features.

If Tascam had one on the market I would be sorely tempted but they don't!

Trident said...

This product does not record well in 2 channel never mind in four channel. I completely agree with Nick it does sound very fuzzy - connected via m-audio delta 66 line out into Cyrus 8 amp
into Mission speakers. Zoom's recording sounds shit-too hissy, a bit like listening to long wave. Sony sounds good with real punch and power at the same time well controlled balanced sound.

Trident said...

next i try with my sugden amp with monitor audio speakers.

Anonymous said...

I think we should not buy the first generation of Zoom H4n and let the manufacturer fix all the hardware problems. Perhaps in the next 6 months or so; majority of problems should be cleared. (hiss/unbalanced XLR)

beneaththecastle said...

The homebrewed music thread provides, to my ears, a much fairer comparison. The H4n is obviously no slouch in recording acoustic guitar, and I don't hear any balancing issues either.

Perhaps those so quick to dismiss should listen to a few more samples than Ewers' before condemning outright.

saks said...

Zoom H4n is simply a cheap product aimed at lower end of the market. So if you want performance then you will have to pay more for it. And it doesn't come cheap. Sony is far superior to Zoom H4n but if you want fancy features buy Zoom - this product is for gadget lovers not for serious musicians.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with last post, Zoom h4n is for freaks not for pros!! With all the evidence thrown in this blog that this product is of very poor quality. Why do these freaks keep arguing. Sony is King. Zoom is cheap little gizmo.

Nemo said...

I feel very sad , please remove those samples**PLEASE**; I beg you.

Jimmy said...

Hey! Brad, when are you likely to test this product.

Nick said...

How on earth can you compare a product which was chosen by Nasa;if its good enough for them its good for me. check this link:

http://www.dolphinmusic.co.uk/article/2429-fostex-fr2le-chosen-for-blast-off-with-nasa.html

Zoom is merely a dictaphone in comparison.

Anonymous said...

k, Fostex FR2le knocks Zoom 4n in 1st round less than 20 sec.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant samples! Zoom H4n is an interesting product but I only want a simple recorder with XLR inputs. I will wait for the Tascam DR100 because i find Fostex FR2le abit bulky.

Anonymous said...

This product (H4n) is fucking crap!!! full of hiss. I will stick to my Marantz analogue recorder.

beneaththecastle said...

No offense, Brad, but your readership is moronic. Nobody is actually arguing here; they're all just spewing vitriol without a sound basis.

And when I see people coming in here posting "guys now I'm scared did I make the wrong choice" because half of the commenters here are happy to propagate negative perceptions that are only vaguely shaped by actual facts, I get upset. The people posting "IT'S FUCKING CRAP" based on a single set of samples that even the author himself claims are flawed seem to be doing so not out of any desire to actually evaluate these devices critically, but to bolster their already-cemented opinions. And such behaviour is detrimental to the industry, since it convinces those consumers with slightly weaker critical faculties that only the expensive brand-name products are worth buying.

Anyway, listen to more samples before you go making such sweeping, ignorant statements. Check out these links:

http://surround2011.blogspot.com/2009/03/analysis.html
http://www.homebrewedmusic.com/

Anonymous said...

http://surround2011.blogspot.com/2009/03/analysis.html

I have checked that link this is using different recorder so don't get clever.

Steve said...

The samples recorded hear seems to differ from the chinese sight. So do you think this recorder is faulty? or perhaps it has not been operated correctly?

beneaththecastle said...

Well, Ewers himself admits the cable is hissy. So while I'm not disputing the claim that the Zoom has more noise than the Sony, it probably doesn't perform as poorly, noise-wise, as this test (and the homebrewblog test, and, to a lesser extent, the japanese site) would suggest.

Steve said...

Ok fair enough you have made your statement about "Ewers himself admits the cable is hissy" why did it dramtically effect Zoom H4n and yet the same cable produced a decent recording with Sony pcmd50. Can you please explain that?

beneaththecastle said...

The Sony is quieter, obviously. Maybe with great cables it would be completely silent. Doesn't really matter to me.

Homebrew blog uses the H4n with various mics and it doesn't have nearly as much hiss as it does here. And we still don't know for certain if Ewers had the Zoom's compressor on or not. On the homebrew test, the Fostex -- an even more expensive unit than the Sony, and that's without any internal mics -- is only slightly quieter than the Zoom. And even then we're talking about recording a fingerpicked acoustic guitar at 30 inches, which is an extreme test for most setups.

Anonymous said...

For me it was between PCM-D50 & H4n
as well. But in the end I went for PCM-D50
H4n has too many features I would never use. And I think the record volume knob alone justifies the extra $$$ I spent on PCM-D50.

Mick said...

The most important factor when buying a Digital Flash Recorder is to have good mic pre-amps. In order to find out how good a mic pre-amp is you would need to do a stress test. This involves using very low output mics. On weak pre-amps the end result will have greater noise over signal. On the hand with good pre-amps the signal will get compensated with low throughput and overall results will favour signal over noise. As you can see Ewers has taken the correct measures here and the end results were quite clear. Sony uses very high grade components through out its circuit with very low latency. All the major circuits are completely isolated resulting in very low interference. The headphone is very powerful too. While Zoom has a balance between features and quality.

Steve said...

Thanks Mick.

This makes more sense to me, I will go for the Sony pcm-d50 because i don't really need that many features and neither want to sacrifice quailty for features. Its definatley worth the extra cash.

Anonymous said...

Sony pcmd50 is safe, simple, sound piece of equipment to use. I am very happy with my purchase. Thanks to guys in this blog!

Anonymous said...

It's between the pcm-d50 and the new Tascam dr-100 for me. I'm going to wait to see what the Tascam's like before deciding. High quality and SIMPLE are important to me. Durable.

Anonymous said...

I have checked the manual for Tascam DR100 and the problem is its 24/48 not 96khz. So I might go for Sony pcmd50.

Steve said...

Today I have bought my Sony pcmd50 and it actually blew me away and all of my previous recorders. I have used dynamic mic(SM58, 48), condenser mics (NTG2 , NT4), Rolls pantom power with Rode (NT2, NT1000) and also internal mic. Every recording that I have done so far its been a success!! Its very easy to use and I do like the recording level knob its very accurate. The interface is mega clear. The whole construction feels Solid. Very happy - over the moon. I love this blog.

Nick said...

beneaththecastle has finally promoted Sony pcmd50 (more Sales).
"The Sony is quieter, obviously. Maybe with great cables it would be completely silent."

Johnny said...

Sony wins hands down!!!

Anonymous said...

I don't own Sony or Zoom but have Korg MR1000. I must admit that this little Sony is real tough cookie it would even give high recorders run for money; specially with dynamic mics. I think majority of its components comes from its Big bro D1. Thats why this is a "Dynamite" recorder!! I may invest on this one as a backup recorder.

Alwyn said...

At last we have come to conclusion and turn this area into a dead blogg!!

nizman said...

Well guys, today my zoom arrived. Very good build - solid and feels substantial. In fact, looks and feels more like a recording machine than the Sony. I saw the Sony in Thomann and thought it looked like an 1980's radio!

Very intuitive and have already done a couple of recordings. The thing is excellent! Very powerful on-board mics that give loads of colour and detail. Tried the four track mode too and it's real fun!

Very pleased that I went for this machine. I want to put down a couple of guitar tracks with vocals and it performs very nicely indeed. If you're a musician who wants to put more than just a stereo track down this is your machine. Delighted with it - so glad I gave it a chance.

Maybe the Sony is cleaner but playing around with the Zoom in its three main recording set-ups is what its all about for me.


If you want to have birds singing in stereo, get the Sony!

Anonymous said...

Rubbish!!

Sony is for serious and critical recording.

Zoom is basically low end back up machine for freaks.

Have you used dynamic mic by any chance.

nizman said...

yeah - both modes ( mtr and four channel) - very good results. used akg 1000 and ab ev. Just tested with my big neumann. For putting down song ideas it's a real joy. Probably not good enough for the bird fart recorders who who want to masturbate about how good the silences are between the farts but for the last time, the zoom is for musicians who wanna put down ideas in a way that most of the other machines can't. Enough said! The 'gimmicks' are good fun - a concept that you out-in-the field bird fart recording anoraks wouldn't understand.

Anonymous said...

Put a low output mic and you will hear nothing.

Sony is for ENG, Field recording, Environmental recording, Nature recording, Important Lectures, Live venues and Live music much much more.

Zoom is for doing guitar recording only.

I have high end mixer for that.

Trense said...

Zoom may have future looks. But the sound quality doesn't live up to digital level. I have both recorders and I am using Zoom as my backup recorder and Sony as My main recorder, I also have XLR-1 to connect Condenser mics.

Have you got Sony to compare, if not then keep your mouth shut.

Anonymous said...

I am very happy for you but you seem to missing the point - you can't multi track. I have a good project studio for cd production - the Zoom will be my writing tool. Now get a life you nerd!

btw just tries my old sm beta58 - of course not as loud as the neumann but sorry guys , more than ample for my purposes.

I will not be interviewing people in the streets and I finished my degree about 100 years ago so I won't be doing lectures.

I'll turn the thing on in my hotel room when working abroad or record a an idea or two whilst sitting outside my tent in the summer while my kids are merrily splashing away in the pool probably while some of bloggers out there are comparing the dulcet tones of the greater spotted blue tit.

Anonymous said...

I bet you got more noise than sound with that old 58 using that gimmick recorder. Obviously the mic is not to blame. Anyway good luck with your toy, that's what kids play with anyway, while I go out there and earn some bread with super recording tool.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know there was money in bird farts you nerdy anorak!

Ibtw, just did an old jazz number with dare I say it... four tracks. Sounded great. You can't do that with piece of overpriced crap can you?

Anonymous said...

Enjoy your hiss pal; companies have been fighting to get rid of that in dark ages. What you have done is bought yourself a cheap analogue recorder; i hope you have features like Dolby B,C and S. Perhaps your manufacturers got so excited and forgot to add this function. Send yours back to get it upgraded as that is a must feature for u!!!

Tim said...

I agree with the last post that Zoom H4n is not a true digital recorder and it would be nice have something like a hiss reduction feature (Dolby S).

Anonymous said...

I'm just wondering...

Why is this such a mean forum/blog?

Why are people (especially the ones who become so rude and attacking and offensive in the first place, as opposed to those who finally broke down and got rude back) taking a PRODUCT - any product - so seriously that they should act like juvenile clowns who have not one stitch of respect for another human being (or themselves), or maturity, or integrity? Is it okay to treat people this way just because you don't know who they are/can't see their faces? Are you old enough to be on the internet without adult supervision?

I've seen a lot online but I expect most of these comments to be found in a forum that attracts mainly pre-adolescents whose neglectful parents are allowing them to type on a forum all about their favorite Cartoon Network action figure like Ben 10 or something...this is absurd.

Summary:

1. There are high-end recorders that DO produce a better sound than a Zoom, but are geared toward the interests of those who don't mind the relatively limited features (and are also geared toward those who either have much more money to spend on a handheld reorder, and/or get very excited about having the best of the best of the very best sound out of all the very good sounds, based at least in part on audio tests (with tests being valid, one would hope?), regardless of whether the average person with a decent ear would hear much of a difference between very good and "doesn't get better" good.

2. The Zoom in question - at this particular point in time - offers dramatically more features that aren't to many people just useless gimmicks but are actually useful "gimmicks" - than the recorders that have an edge on sound quality. Aside from it being better constructed and w/ a nice heftiness - and easier to use - than older models, it is also appealing because of its price. Many have written that people are getting a lot of bang for their buck - or maybe people on here would prefer it written: people are getting a lot of bang for the good sound-quality.

3. Beyond the obvious above-listed reasons for liking each type of recorder, each type of recorder also appeals to people with DIFFERENT USES in mind (or in some cases, multiple uses).

Okay? Okay. Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

Nizman

If you don't like our true opinion then don't use this blog. I know the truth hurts.

nizman said...

The last guy seems to think that there is 'one ' truth. How absurd!
As the post before points out, there should really be no grounds for argument here. It's simply a case of horses for courses.
The Sony may well be slightly better for the purists'stuff but I must say, the more I use the Zoom and explore its possibilities, the more I 'm impressed

It's a very very competent all-rounder and is infact the only true all-rounder.

I should add that I have experienced minimal to no hiss problems with this device.

It is truly a great piece of gear , designed mainly with musicians and songwriters in mind and performs admirally.

I found your warning to stay away from 'our' blog kinda redneckish in a 'we don't get many strangers in this town' sort of way.

So this will be my last entry but I would like to suggest to that guy that he should stick his 'true' opinion in
a place where the sun don't shine!

Some of the entries were very helpful by the way. I apologise for some of the things I wrote - it was all good fun though.

Trident said...

Nizman

Your comments are valued and everyone has there own opinions. Why should you apologise. You haven't done anything wrong; everyone has there on unique views and I respect that and that's how it makes this blog a more exciting place. I also have been very negative and diabolical. I too would like to apologise to all you H4n lovers for being so naive.

Anonymous said...

So I wonder what people think over the underlinked tests. To me, Fostex is a dissapointment, The Sound device is a love affair, and h4 comes as safe. I believe the tests have been recorded by the author of this blog. May I ask for your opinion on the new MAudio? How come the difference in quality between sony and h4n on the blog are obvious, while they come close in the test below?

http://www.bradlinder.net/2007/10/comparing-sony-pcm-d50-fostex-fr2-le_06.html

Thank you for clarification.
Hava

Brian said...

I reckon the SD card slot opening problem can be solved with a gentle touch of gaffer tape. ;)

Jan said...

Hello,

I have been using Sony Hi-MD MZ-RH1/B with Sony microphone ECM-MS907.
I want to get rid of it because:
1) I would like to have one box not two things
2) Transfering recording music from MZ-RH1 to Mac is time consuming

I would like to buy some recording device in similar price category 300 - cca 450 usd.
I am looking for something with at least the same recording quality.
Does Zoom H4 or H4n fulill this request?
If no, which recorder would you recommend in this price categhory?

I need it for recording of:
1) singing with best possible quality
2)(mainly) acoustic instruments and rehearsals of acoustic band (new acoustic/jazz)

XLR mic imputs are not crucial for me.

Thanks in advance for your time and replys.

Jan, Prague, Czech Repubublic, Europe

Tom, USA said...

I just received my new Zoom H4n and am very happy with my first band recording. I recorded in 4 channel mode, which is why I bought the unit over others. Although the manual, on page 072, says the H4n in 4 ch mode can use mono mix mode it apprarently cannot. This only allows a stereo signal from inputs 3, L, and 4, R, and does not allow a full signal to center pan. Zoom confirmed the typo.
Hopefully I can fix this in Cubase but it's disappointing that teh manual is not correct.

Anonymous said...

I know this is thread is concerning the comparison of the devices mentioned above, and I didn't see Fostex FR2le on the list Nick. WTF??? I would hope the sound quality is better $$$$. Nick your a real Dick Tracy. You said it yourself, its a different class. Why are all you "pro's" even still talking??? Trust me, if I had it my way I would run out and buy a fostex FR 2 straight up forget the le. (a 10 second pre-record....thats cool) I am an entry level digital engineer, and I am biased cuz I picked up an H4n a couple of weeks ago, and I think it's pretty damn cool for my first "gadget". I was wondering if anyone has any info on the settings of the h4n. Or any good links to a good blog for any zoom h4n owners?? The H4n is obviously targeting musicians, and if any of you have checked the zoom web page, they are pretty up front about their target audience. Anyways, using the compressor, in stereo mode it sounds pretty bad, but that's just recording dialog. There are over 50 pre-amp settings in MTR Mode, and you can get it pretty quiet. I started wondering if I made a mistake after I found this nasty blogg. But i think it was money well spent. And the price range for the zoom was my limit. Even the Marantz 660 is $100 more. I would love to get into field recording for special effects and might have considered the Sony PCM-D50 for this, But like Nasa Nick mentioned, why not just get a Fostex?? After listening to all you "my crap smells like bubble-gum" h4n haters, I would really have to try the Sony myself. And the fact is this blog didn't answer any questions anyways. Honestly the main reason I bought the h4N is cuz you can use it for an interface, It came with editing software, its got 4 tracks, and its bad ass. For the price its great for a broke student like myself. Portable stereo/two track recorder with bounce capabilities for music, entry level field recording, Podcast, sound design/effects, and basic editing software. And after reading this I don't think I would buy the Sony based solely on the mentality of its supporters. This blog got so nasty cuz these are two devices made for two entirely different users. At least I can admit I'm a novice out to have some fun. Most of you sony guys are just stuck in the middle of when you used to have fun, and being actual professionals. I would actually enjoy recording bird farts, but I wouldn't use that peice of crap Sony for it!!! So like I mentioned above, anyone have any links to any Zoom h4n links concerning having some fun and actually throwing some ideas around, I would appreciate it.

Zenman said...

I should be getting my Zoom h4n on Wednesday. The sound tests on this page worried me a little but I'm guessing they were recorded with the lim/comp on like someone else said. The audio samples Jon Skitch sent you sound much better. And this guy's guitar sample sounds pretty good: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsiXsLo_Xgg

I'm keeping my fingers crossed I didn't make a mistake ordering this.

I don't think any of the competition can act as a usb audio interface combined with DAW software so I think I did the right thing. I'll make some recordings and come back with some samples soon. Stay tuned...

Anonymous said...

fuck off nizman!!

Zenman said...

Ok, I got my H4n. This thing is pretty awesome! I just recorded my first ever youtube video with it. I used the internal mics at the 90 degree setting with the rec level at 60. Or maybe it was 65. The zoom was placed at eye level pointed at my face a little over 2 feet away.

Tomorrow I'll record a song with some finger picking and more melodic vocals.

If you watch/listen to this, be sure to click the HQ button, it definitely makes a difference.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jU6QBq5C6sc

Anonymous said...

Wow, so much mud slinging over here. I was just trying to get an unbiased comparison of the Sony PCM-D50 and Zoom H4N.

Can anyone (Graham?) offer a balanced review of these two units side-by-side?

I can only afford to get one, so some measured feedback would be greatly appreciated!

Anonymous said...

I got the H4n yesterday.
Yes its a bit hissy at high gain with my Rode NT2a but the things I intend to record(guitar/bass amps) are loud enough to overcome this flaw.

I dunno if I haven't found the right setting but MTR mode seems a little under powered. There's no separation between inputs when recording 2 tracks(eg: guitar and vocal). It forces a mix of the two to be recorded and there's no independent level control, just 2 stereo pairs on the input(could software fix it?).

4 channel mode is fine, but I've not been able to import the files to MTR mode, which is mildly frustrating.

The effects are OK, not awesome, not terrible(though useful for writing on the run).

As a USB interface I highly recommend downloading the ASIO driver from the Zoom site as the DX driver sucks. This thing as an audio interface will give you lower latency(17ms) than my old Digitech 002r(42ms) but not as good as my M-Audio delta 1010le(6-13ms).

So I guess I'll use it when noodling on the couch, staying away from home and a replacement for my cassette 4 track which I've been dragging to band rehearsals(helps with remembering riffs when you've had too much beer).

pro's: 4 track(with overdub),
price, phantom power, fx, high z input, usb.

con's: handling noise, not enough control(really needs external mixer), latency still a smidge high, sound quality not as nice as the sony.

Zenman said...

Hey Anonymous,

You can find some good tips for using the h4n over at the zoom forum. Just google it. I just added a post today on how to get the files into the mtr mode.

I haven't tried it as a usb interface yet but someone over there said it's really good for that too.

Anonymous said...

Zenman, thanks.
I was just coming back to post that I managed to find that I figured out the file transfer system with it so that I can overdub as I please.

By the way I'm the anonymous from May 25th and that was my first post.

I don't really need the USB facilities as my Delta1010 is awesome for that, but its handy to know its there.

Plugging a guitar directly into it does sound very very good. I think to get the best SNR witha mic is to use a preamp feeding the line in as its mic preamps are a touch noisy, but generating 48v phantom is no mean feat when your supply is only 3v(Best I can do is 18v from a 9v source).

So I don't think the preamp issues are so much bad design, but a limitation of the low power available causing the headroom to be lower and the noise floor to be higher.

My rating on the first day was 85% but now that I can overdub the way i wish, it has gone up to 90%. Now if I could get independent control of each channel....

Oh and I wish they'd thought to have a Midi time Code function for syncing with my drum machine/sequencer(An old tascam does this but sounds terrible and can only handle small flash cards).

best get googling.
Cheers
A

Graham Riches said...

At Anonymous - which mics are u using?

If both Dynamics and Condenser mics go for Sony.

If Condenser only go for Zoom H4n.

Anonymous said...

What about the Edirol?

Graham Riches said...

Which model?

Anonymous said...

I mean the (Roland) Edirol R-09 HR.

Also, what does this bit mean (that somebody recently here):

"I have checked the manual for Tascam DR100 and the problem is its 24/48 not 96khz."

What's the problem, exactly? I don't know what that means... But I'm really leaning towards the Tascam DR-100 as opposed to the Zoom models (especially since it has two XLR inputs included), though I might pick up a Zoom H2 down the road, just to carry around in my man purse for something on the fly. But yeah... Let's talk about that Tascam DR-100. Does anyone here have a testimony about it?

Anonymous said...

I have a Sony PCM d50.
Right after buying it I set the recording volume at 5 and listenning volume at 5 thinking this should be safe. Turn it on and listenned to it and it literially blow my ears. Very loud.
Potentially dangerous too. I think it should have an option in the menu to set a maximum output sound level to the microphone. So that excessively loud sound can be cut/reduced, because if you are playing a quite recording and then a loud recording it could demage hearing. Also if you listenning to birds and someone walks up and talks near you it could really hurt your ears.

Couldn't tell what was noise or the market floor. Until got home. I hear noise from internal microphones starting at a gain of 2.

I've tried many external microphones at a sound shop. Most microphones would work. But the best level I could get to on gain setting with any of the microphones I tried was 8 before I got noise. Usually most microphones would get noise starting at a gain of 7.

For my own external microphone I am limited to a recording gain of between 5 and 7 if I want sound to be good and with no noise.

I've tried turning microphone off and seeing what gain can get to without noise. But it still gets noise at 8gain. If I try just a miniconnecter without cable I get noise at a very low gain setting, but thats just an issue with the resistance being seen.

It is possible that maybe the noise above gain 8 is from environment. But the fact that the mic turned off only gets to 8 gain makes me think it isn't my environment. I guess it is preemps. On line-in I get no noise at any gain setting.

Anonymous said...

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


What have we all determined here, people? What's the best all-around field recorder (satisfactory internal mics, good for recording live band practices, great external mic use, etc.) from $400-$600? I need to know... I know it's not a Zoom, so what is it?

I

Anonymous said...

Another positive vote for the fidelity, utility and value of the Zoom H4n. I'm using it successfully in the field for nature recordings at 44.1/24 using the integrated mic pre-amps and Rode NT-55s.

It's a pity that some idiots use forums like this to display their complete lack of maturity, competence and integrity.

Anonymous said...

I should add that the only thing that has really annoyed me about the H4n as yet is the fact that it loses the time/date settings when the batteries are removed.

I'm keen to find out if mine is unique in this regard?

Steven said...

I have the Zoom H4n and generally love it. However the interface could be a lot more user friendly and I have found one source of noise. If you use the AC adapter (wall wart) that comes with the unit, you will (or I should say I did) get AC hum introduced. I fiddle around with various things trying to eliminate it. Finally I took a voltmeter and measured the AC coming off the DC end of the adapter / wall wart. It should put out 5 VDC and 0 VAC, but it puts out 10 VAC in a no load situation. I compared this to another 5 volt wall wart and it had 0 VAC output. I have just sent a note to me sales rep and am confident this will get sorted out whether it is a defective unit or a poor design.

Anonymous said...

I got H4n and so far I am satisfied. Do you thing that Zoom can work the hiss problem out on a software level? I'm waiting for an upgrade, but they seem to have abandon it.

Anonymous said...

The Zoom H4n is a bad hammering in this blog, and I read through the comments they're more like a slanging match between people, than providing any constructive criticism from full technical aspects.

I think it's always good to have other peoples' views, but offering them in a prejudicial way doesn't help anyone. Fortunately this isn't the only blog dealing with digital recorders around a certain price tag. Before anyone takes on board all the criticisms voiced here, I recomment them to search out other blogs that are far more rational in their comparisons.

Anonymous said...

FYI, I have just returned my H4n and topped the difference for Sony. I am pleased to report that Sony's recording quality is miles ahead.

TheUndertow said...

Curious how folks have fared with the different units over time.

I've been doing some heavy research to start recording and while I eventually will build a studio (not sure if I'll go with Apogee Ensemble or Prism Sound Orpheus or something similar yet as the main I/O,Preamp, Converter) but I need something to tide me over until then.

I'm thinking the Marantz PMD 661 may be the best for sound quality but I'm open to ideas.

I have to say, reading through this as taken my presumed "choice" (H4N) and has left me looking for another small/mobile recorder.

Ultimately I need to pick up some mics...etc as well but the Recorder is going to be my first step.

Anonymous said...

Ive been reading these posts, and the H4n does not have that much hiss. You just need to adjust the levels correctly and it wont have hiss. If you just plug everything in and dont adjust the levels it will sound like shit, but if u experiment with it for a while you will find out that the little thing rocks especially for the price.

Lachlan said...

Sorry to resurrect this thread, but I have a Zoom H4N and was looking at a way to reduce the noise floor of my recordings. The input was set at 65 when I got it, and at this level the hiss was really quite unacceptable.

After much experimentation I found an input level of 25 - 30 to be the sweet spot for minimal hiss.

I'm feeding it from a external portable mixer (Sound Devices 442) and found these settings have greatly improved the overall quality of my recordings. YMMV.

Cheers and happy recording.

messenger said...

Hi there,

I have noise problems when recording with H4n as an audio interface. I tried to

1) lower the recording volume to 25. It works when I am using the H4n on its own. However, the buzzing noise still persists in the audio interface mode on my MAC book pro (intel chipset)

2) I tried to power up the H4n before connecting to my laptop. After which I went to the menu function to look for USB and then connected it to my MAC book pro. However, the noise still persists.

The bass guitar has no problems. I can play it cleanly with an amp. Also, I am not having any noise from the cable. Please help me!

Gabriel
from Vancouver, Canada

PS: can someone help me please!!!

TheUndertow said...

Curious how folks have fared with the different units over time.

I've been doing some heavy research to start recording and while I eventually will build a studio (not sure if I'll go with Apogee Ensemble or Prism Sound Orpheus or something similar yet as the main I/O,Preamp, Converter) but I need something to tide me over until then.

I'm thinking the Marantz PMD 661 may be the best for sound quality but I'm open to ideas.

I have to say, reading through this as taken my presumed "choice" (H4N) and has left me looking for another small/mobile recorder.

Ultimately I need to pick up some mics...etc as well but the Recorder is going to be my first step.

Anonymous said...

I have a Sony PCM d50.
Right after buying it I set the recording volume at 5 and listenning volume at 5 thinking this should be safe. Turn it on and listenned to it and it literially blow my ears. Very loud.
Potentially dangerous too. I think it should have an option in the menu to set a maximum output sound level to the microphone. So that excessively loud sound can be cut/reduced, because if you are playing a quite recording and then a loud recording it could demage hearing. Also if you listenning to birds and someone walks up and talks near you it could really hurt your ears.

Couldn't tell what was noise or the market floor. Until got home. I hear noise from internal microphones starting at a gain of 2.

I've tried many external microphones at a sound shop. Most microphones would work. But the best level I could get to on gain setting with any of the microphones I tried was 8 before I got noise. Usually most microphones would get noise starting at a gain of 7.

For my own external microphone I am limited to a recording gain of between 5 and 7 if I want sound to be good and with no noise.

I've tried turning microphone off and seeing what gain can get to without noise. But it still gets noise at 8gain. If I try just a miniconnecter without cable I get noise at a very low gain setting, but thats just an issue with the resistance being seen.

It is possible that maybe the noise above gain 8 is from environment. But the fact that the mic turned off only gets to 8 gain makes me think it isn't my environment. I guess it is preemps. On line-in I get no noise at any gain setting.

Graham Riches said...

At Anonymous - which mics are u using?

If both Dynamics and Condenser mics go for Sony.

If Condenser only go for Zoom H4n.

Zenman said...

Hey Anonymous,

You can find some good tips for using the h4n over at the zoom forum. Just google it. I just added a post today on how to get the files into the mtr mode.

I haven't tried it as a usb interface yet but someone over there said it's really good for that too.

Anonymous said...

I know this is thread is concerning the comparison of the devices mentioned above, and I didn't see Fostex FR2le on the list Nick. WTF??? I would hope the sound quality is better $$$$. Nick your a real Dick Tracy. You said it yourself, its a different class. Why are all you "pro's" even still talking??? Trust me, if I had it my way I would run out and buy a fostex FR 2 straight up forget the le. (a 10 second pre-record....thats cool) I am an entry level digital engineer, and I am biased cuz I picked up an H4n a couple of weeks ago, and I think it's pretty damn cool for my first "gadget". I was wondering if anyone has any info on the settings of the h4n. Or any good links to a good blog for any zoom h4n owners?? The H4n is obviously targeting musicians, and if any of you have checked the zoom web page, they are pretty up front about their target audience. Anyways, using the compressor, in stereo mode it sounds pretty bad, but that's just recording dialog. There are over 50 pre-amp settings in MTR Mode, and you can get it pretty quiet. I started wondering if I made a mistake after I found this nasty blogg. But i think it was money well spent. And the price range for the zoom was my limit. Even the Marantz 660 is $100 more. I would love to get into field recording for special effects and might have considered the Sony PCM-D50 for this, But like Nasa Nick mentioned, why not just get a Fostex?? After listening to all you "my crap smells like bubble-gum" h4n haters, I would really have to try the Sony myself. And the fact is this blog didn't answer any questions anyways. Honestly the main reason I bought the h4N is cuz you can use it for an interface, It came with editing software, its got 4 tracks, and its bad ass. For the price its great for a broke student like myself. Portable stereo/two track recorder with bounce capabilities for music, entry level field recording, Podcast, sound design/effects, and basic editing software. And after reading this I don't think I would buy the Sony based solely on the mentality of its supporters. This blog got so nasty cuz these are two devices made for two entirely different users. At least I can admit I'm a novice out to have some fun. Most of you sony guys are just stuck in the middle of when you used to have fun, and being actual professionals. I would actually enjoy recording bird farts, but I wouldn't use that peice of crap Sony for it!!! So like I mentioned above, anyone have any links to any Zoom h4n links concerning having some fun and actually throwing some ideas around, I would appreciate it.

Tom, USA said...

I just received my new Zoom H4n and am very happy with my first band recording. I recorded in 4 channel mode, which is why I bought the unit over others. Although the manual, on page 072, says the H4n in 4 ch mode can use mono mix mode it apprarently cannot. This only allows a stereo signal from inputs 3, L, and 4, R, and does not allow a full signal to center pan. Zoom confirmed the typo.
Hopefully I can fix this in Cubase but it's disappointing that teh manual is not correct.

Brian said...

I reckon the SD card slot opening problem can be solved with a gentle touch of gaffer tape. ;)

Anonymous said...

I'm just wondering...

Why is this such a mean forum/blog?

Why are people (especially the ones who become so rude and attacking and offensive in the first place, as opposed to those who finally broke down and got rude back) taking a PRODUCT - any product - so seriously that they should act like juvenile clowns who have not one stitch of respect for another human being (or themselves), or maturity, or integrity? Is it okay to treat people this way just because you don't know who they are/can't see their faces? Are you old enough to be on the internet without adult supervision?

I've seen a lot online but I expect most of these comments to be found in a forum that attracts mainly pre-adolescents whose neglectful parents are allowing them to type on a forum all about their favorite Cartoon Network action figure like Ben 10 or something...this is absurd.

Summary:

1. There are high-end recorders that DO produce a better sound than a Zoom, but are geared toward the interests of those who don't mind the relatively limited features (and are also geared toward those who either have much more money to spend on a handheld reorder, and/or get very excited about having the best of the best of the very best sound out of all the very good sounds, based at least in part on audio tests (with tests being valid, one would hope?), regardless of whether the average person with a decent ear would hear much of a difference between very good and "doesn't get better" good.

2. The Zoom in question - at this particular point in time - offers dramatically more features that aren't to many people just useless gimmicks but are actually useful "gimmicks" - than the recorders that have an edge on sound quality. Aside from it being better constructed and w/ a nice heftiness - and easier to use - than older models, it is also appealing because of its price. Many have written that people are getting a lot of bang for their buck - or maybe people on here would prefer it written: people are getting a lot of bang for the good sound-quality.

3. Beyond the obvious above-listed reasons for liking each type of recorder, each type of recorder also appeals to people with DIFFERENT USES in mind (or in some cases, multiple uses).

Okay? Okay. Sheesh.

Johnny said...

Sony wins hands down!!!

Steve said...

Today I have bought my Sony pcmd50 and it actually blew me away and all of my previous recorders. I have used dynamic mic(SM58, 48), condenser mics (NTG2 , NT4), Rolls pantom power with Rode (NT2, NT1000) and also internal mic. Every recording that I have done so far its been a success!! Its very easy to use and I do like the recording level knob its very accurate. The interface is mega clear. The whole construction feels Solid. Very happy - over the moon. I love this blog.

Anonymous said...

Sony pcmd50 is safe, simple, sound piece of equipment to use. I am very happy with my purchase. Thanks to guys in this blog!

Anonymous said...

For me it was between PCM-D50 & H4n
as well. But in the end I went for PCM-D50
H4n has too many features I would never use. And I think the record volume knob alone justifies the extra $$$ I spent on PCM-D50.

Steve said...

Ok fair enough you have made your statement about "Ewers himself admits the cable is hissy" why did it dramtically effect Zoom H4n and yet the same cable produced a decent recording with Sony pcmd50. Can you please explain that?

anonymous said...

I just have to say, I recently bought and have used the H4n and have been quite happy with it. I just hope too many people aren't being desuaded by the pathetic excuse for conversation happening in this forum.

This is honestly the most immature review / discussion thread I have ever seen for a product.

You would also think that people trying to call others morons would learn how to spell correctly.

One more thing: your, you're, there, their, etc. they all have different uses that we learned in 3rd grade. Learn to use them correctly.

Adam Saverian said...

Doesn't the unit have built in limiter/gate functionality? Use that.

Adam Saverian said...

This youtube video proves that by configuring the H4n correctly one can get get some really good sound out of it. As far as I'm concerned vocal tests say a lot more than most instrument tests.

Johnny said...

I think Sound Devices 702 is the only way to go, if you don't want to worry about quality issues, especially if you are using high quality microphones (Neumann, Schoeps, etc.).  Its only $2000, not $20,000, so it is attainable for the average person with a little saving up for it.

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nige said...

I've just got hold of a Zoom h4n and realise it's aimed more at a musician than as a field recorder. The XLR's aren't standard line level which I find a bit odd. Mixing pro gear with consumer stuff like the Zoom is never a good idea though

ron said...

no soundman worth his salt should even dream of relying on built in compression/ limiting on any recorder.

Adam Saverian said...

Ron, Yeah, you're right. In fact, I used to own a Zoom h4n and the noise floor isn't that great once you start using the built in compressor. And part of the reason I sold it was because configuring the compressor was next to impossible. I thought it would be nice to have some built in compression on a field recorder. I was wrong, at least in this case.

Joe said...

I just bought a h4n and was concerned about the noise and hiss. When I recorded and played back on the device itself, you can definitely hear a horrible hissing noise (I think the cheap speakers on the device have something to do with that), but when I imported to my computer and played back, I couldn't hear it! I had to put my ear close to the speakers and the noise from the computer (a quiet iMac) pretty much drowned out the hiss. Only when I put on some expensive headphones was I able to hear a small hiss in the background. To me, it works great and it does capture guitar tones very nicely. As a classical guitar player, I've heard other recordings where the guitar sounds just awful and clanky, but with the zoom it sounds quite rich and has a wide, full tone. It made my cheap $300 guitar sound as big as a $3,000 Ramirez. My conclusion, can I make CD quality recordings with this? of course not, but does it do the job for every day stuff? Yes.

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