Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Zoom H4n unboxing



Good news, everyone! I finally got my hands on a Zoom H4n demo unit. I'll be putting it through the paces over the next few days and I hope to determine how it stacks up against similar machines like the original Samson Zoom H4 and the somewhat more costly Sony PCM-D50.

Keep in mind, my background is as a radio producer. I'm not a nature recordist, a bootlegger, or a musician (at least not a very good one). So my primary interest is in finding a computer that does a good job of recording vocals and ambient sound in a variety of settings using a variety of inputs including dynamic and condenser microphones and the built in mics. So my review's not going to be definitive, but hopefully I'll be able to tell you within a few days whether I can recommend this recorder over others that I've tried.

In the meantime, you can check out this unboxing video I shot this afternoon.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I got mine recently but was very worried while I was waiting after reading all posts in this blog.
Now I've tried the H4n with dynamic mic (sennheiser md21 and beyer m58) and the built in mics ... and condenser mic... with or without compression...
This material works very well (better than the marantz pmd660 I use at work).
I can't understand the amount of hiss that was on the Ewers' samples. Maybe it was a defective one.

Anonymous said...

Good news, i'd like to be able to use the machine with an MD21. Did you record in a quiet room and speaking softly? That's what Ewers did and should be a thorough test.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Brad!!!

-Michael K.

Maciej Miąsik said...

Private video - cannot watch.

Maciej Miąsik said...

Working now, never mind.

Pete said...

I'm a recording engineer and producer. I wanted something portable and found this unit to be what I was looking for. I ordered one yesterday and it came this morning.

After spending the past few hours recording the beginning of a new audio book I'm working on, I've found the recordings have NO hiss once the wav files are copied into my PC and played via editing software (with no FX used). When they play on the H4n you do hear a little hiss, but now from the PC into my headphones, there is NO hiss. I'm stunned at how great the recordings sound!

If you are on the fence about this unit, it's fantastic! I'm using a CAD GXL2200 condenser mic and couldn't be happier with this setup.

Thanks Brad for all the info you have about the H4n on your site. It really helped me make up my mind.

Pete

Graham Riches said...

Hold your Breaths Guys and Girls, now the moment of truth has arrive. Please Brad, record all devices again so we can check comparison. Just to remind you all that I was one of the first person to know about this because the research department within Zoom stated they are working on a new H4 (via e-mail), which I posted in the other blog. At the time I thought it would replace H4 but this was not the case, its actually Zooms top of the range portable recorder with bulk of features. The following areas are very important:

-Sound quality - internal, External mic (Dynamic/condenser).
-Headphone amp quality
-Handling Noise with internal mic.
-limiter - can this avoid distortion.
-low cut- can this tackle wind.
-How effective is supplied wind shield.
-Ease of use.
-Interface-how effective is it in bright light.
-Build quality.
-Battery Life.
-Boot up time.

We all look forward to your review.

Graham Riches said...

update.

-check reference Speaker.

dxace1 said...

Nice brief intro on the
Zoom. I'm waiting for
my TASCAM 100 and will see
how it compares.

Brad -- did you see my
note on the firmware update
for the LS-10 (check the
Olympus site for the latest
on that)....

Tapeleg said...

I am so excited for the test, it tells you how big a geek I am. I really want to know how it does with an RE50.

Graham Riches said...

Sorry Another update:

-compare 3.5mm mic input vs XLR input.

beneaththecastle said...

I actually unboxed my own one of these the other day. I spent today wandering around the university with some friends, recording whatever strange noises we came across. It's actually kind of embarrassing. At least with a camera people know what you're doing!

First impressions (and this is only using the built-in mics) are very positive. Captures voice beautifully, and does a surprisingly good job with environments (particularly some unique wind tones that I was almost certain would come out all mushy).

Anonymous said...

your not going to perform any miracles are you. Its gonna sound the same Shit!!
So why bother?HISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

Anders M. said...

The H4n have too much handeling noise and background noise. I've only tested the build in microphones, and after reading all the 'hiss' talk on the other blog I could not believe that it was true. I really trusted the H4n to be what I wanted it to be. I can comfirm the noise is real, especially the handeling noise.

Nick said...

to beneaththecastle what do you think of Brad's samples of H4n, D50 and H4 through headphones?
To me H4n sounds over equalised (its like setting high frequency beyond the scale). Sony is smooth, more balanced and has more quality to it. Zoom h4 sounds fine at certain areas but seems to have wow/flutter like digital jitter - is the SD card not compatible or not tested; its chopping.

beneaththecastle said...

I think in Brad's samples the D50 gives a more pleasing reproduction of his voice. But in my own tests with the H4n -- listening to my own samples through a set of studio monitors -- I don't hear any unbalanced tones, provided the preamp gain and microphone distance are appropriate for whatever i'm trying to capture. Also, Brad's guitar recorded with the D50 sounds too dark for my tastes -- when he slides his fingers down the fretboard you can hardly hear it, but with the H4n it's quite audible.

But in all honesty, I think each of these devices sounds very good. It comes down to the price; and just I don't hear ~$150US difference to justify the Sony, not to mention the extra $500 (!) needed for proper XLR inputs.

Kabot said...

No need for Sony.
For voice repro, get the Zoom.
Sounds really great for voice.
RE20 in external kicks booty!

Anonymous said...

Had my Zoom H4n for a month now. I use it for recording band rehersals and live gigs. It's awesome IMO. The ability to record the condenser mics to one stereo file whilst simultaneously recording the 2 xlr's to a separate stereo file (eg a desk feed) is the killer feature for me. Once the 2 stereo files are on my pc I can mix them together to get the best of both worlds.

Kabot said...

No need for Sony.
For voice repro, get the Zoom.
Sounds really great for voice.
RE20 in external kicks booty!

beneaththecastle said...

I think in Brad's samples the D50 gives a more pleasing reproduction of his voice. But in my own tests with the H4n -- listening to my own samples through a set of studio monitors -- I don't hear any unbalanced tones, provided the preamp gain and microphone distance are appropriate for whatever i'm trying to capture. Also, Brad's guitar recorded with the D50 sounds too dark for my tastes -- when he slides his fingers down the fretboard you can hardly hear it, but with the H4n it's quite audible.

But in all honesty, I think each of these devices sounds very good. It comes down to the price; and just I don't hear ~$150US difference to justify the Sony, not to mention the extra $500 (!) needed for proper XLR inputs.

Maciej Miąsik said...

Private video - cannot watch.

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