We’ve been waiting for a sub$200 field recorder. CDM’s Josh Jancourtz found this one at NAMM: no availability, no PR, but some interesting details.

Here’s a serious play for budget mobile recording from Zoom: a US$199 recorder with an integrated mic and some unusual flexibility thanks to 3 integrated capsules. Translation: point this at whatever you want to record, then adjust to one of five mic patterns to “frame” it exactly like you want. Zoom had only a spec sheet and non-functioning unit on the floor of the NAMM show, but here’s the summary — at least on paper:

  1. 3 mic capsules and mid and side patterns allow front 120-degree cardioid, front-90 super cardioid, rear 120-degree cardioid, rear 90-degree super cardioid, and 360-degree polar

  2. USB interface; works as an audio interface — meaning this doubles as a USB mic

  3. WAV 96/48/44.1 KHz, 320kbps VBR MP3

  4. External mic for plug-in power stereo mic

  5. Time stamp function


There’s no mention of a flash card slot, but I’m guessing the slot would at least be there. This could finally hit the sweet spot for a mobile mic, both in terms of design and price. Availability: unknown. We’ll be watching.

And just in case you wondered how we figured out those specs — this is one way of releasing information about upcoming products:

  • Volothamp

    Isn't it stereo?

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    It does seem to be stereo; if you're asking about the stereo plug-in mic, I think that spec just means there's a stereo mic jack. That would, of course, mean this is fairly limited in terms of external mic support — but that may be the only kind of mic you'd want for this particular device.

  • http://www.onlyhousemusic.org Nicholas Vegas

    hmmm, could be great for some field recordings & the Price Tag looks also very friendly.

  • Kodama

    There is a guy on this forum that claims to know some folks from Samson:

    http://www.2090.org/zoom/bbs/viewtopic.php?t=7914

    Now I'm torn between this & the H4 :-/

  • ColMustard

    According to the copy sheet I got from a rep at the show, it records to SD cards up to 2GB and ships with a 128MB card (the sheet actually says "128GB" but uhh…)

    It also claims to be able to "record 360-degree as 4-channel data, which can then be authored into 5.1 surround sound" I'm not sure how that works on a 2-track recorder, but… ok.

    It will also be including Cubase LE.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Thanks, Kodama. The ext. mic explanation makes sense to me — 5v power for electret condenser stereo mics. Those are the ones that would typically output stereo 1/8"… Sony et al have made some. I think you'd be more likely to use the built-in mic, anyway; since there's no transport, there's no need to be isolated from the device. (Now, if only there were a way to mount the thing on a mic stand … or if Zoom were to offer an accessory.)

  • cdmr

    The Zoom portable recorder i have is a gigantic pain in the ass. The interface is so poorly thought out. Nothing is where you want when you want it so you're constantly haveing to sort through menus to start a 'spontaneous' recording session. But the worst part is it requires Zoom software to 'extract' the tracks once you download them to your computer. Awful.

  • Kodama

    cdmr, which recorder do you have?

    Peter, a Tripod adapter ships with e H4, not sure if you can adapt that to a mic stand?

    I think I might be leaning more toward the H4 for possible utility purposes from the inputs, the effects, and the 4 track recording, and because it's shipping now.

    But, the H2 is intriguing for it's price, size, simplicity (maybe better interface), 3 mics, and price…And will I ever actually use any of that other stuff cause I mostly just want to use it for voice & field recording?

    I wonder if the mics are the same as the H4's?

    I wonder when it ships?

    I wonder if it realy is a 2 or 4 track?

    I wonder if my head will explode in a powderkeg of sweet consumer-ism as I try to decide on what cheap Chinese field recorder to get myself with my XMas Amazon gift certificate?

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Oh, yeah, a tripod adapter should be just fine.

    I wonder about tracks, too; they say the surround capabilities are because of "signal processing", so they may be performing some kind of strange voodoo in a stereo-encoded signal. Add that to the long list of questions here. Hopefully we'll find out more before anyone's head explodes. :)

  • ColMustard

    I used the H4 to record presentations from the NAMM convention floor. The biggest issues I had were the serious amount of handling noise and it didn't like the el cheapo SD card that I had in it.

    I agree, the H4 OS is a little weird to get around and boot-up was slow, but over-all, it wasn't a bad machine.

    The mics on the H4 did the job well for it's use. So I'd hope they used the same capsules or better.

  • http://www.onscuredrecords.com Esrom Cole

    I bet the 4 track stuff requires you plug in an external stereo mic. Then both can record 2 channels each. Just a thought.

  • Kodama

    Well on the H4, it's 4 track, but only 2 @ a time ;-)

  • http://www.chromedecay.org Bill Van Loo

    Wow, that looks great…I might have to finally ditch my MiniDisc (not that I'd get much on eBay for it). The fact that it records to SD cards makes is such an easier piece to integrate into studio workflow…no more waiting for audio to get digitized in real-time off the MD!

  • http://www.itshibrow.com _object.session

    any idea on how big this thing is? either compared to a standard (deck of cards, loaf of bread) or the competition?

  • http://fallsastar.com Foosnark

    I have the H4, and have no problems with it. The interface *is* a little weird, but since I don't do 4-track recording on it, once I got it set up all I really need to do with it anymore is turn it on and hit the big "record" button, so I'm not too worried about that.

  • http://www.penmachine.com Derek K. Miller

    I also used an H4 to record on the show floor at NAMM (see insidehomerecording.com/nammshow), and I avoided the handling noise by plugging in an external dynamic mic (SM58 or Samson Q8, which is nearly the same thing). That worked great. If you hold it still to avoid noise, the built-in condensers create a nice, accurate stereo image too. Definitely superior to the M-Audio MicroTrack. I haven't tried the Edirol R09, but just having the XLRs (with phantom power if you want) is a great benefit of the H4.

    This H2 looks to be a good deal as well.

  • Pingback: Inside Home Recording » Photos of the Zoom H2

  • Damon

    Yes, but can it take calls, text messages, run rudimentary applications, and play your mp3 collection?

    "I give you, the IZoom (BUM BUM BUM)!!!!!!!!"

  • Pingback: Digital Motion dot net » Zoom halves the H4 in a good way

  • Pingback: Coolness Roundup » Blog Archive » Zoom H2: Sub-$200 Portable Field Recorder on the Way

  • Kodama

    I called Zoom, and they said to expect this in May.

    I need a recorder now, so the H4 it is for me!

  • http://www.batmosphere.com David Battino

    The surround recording feature likely uses a form of Ambisonic processing, like the CoreSound TetraMic. Incidentally, we just published a review of the H4 today. It's by the same guy who reviewed the MicroTrack and R-09 — and once again, in Hawaii!

  • Pingback: Create Digital Music » O’Reilly Reviews Zoom H4 in Hawaii: Good, with Quirks

  • Heinz Weissing

    The H2 is without doubt a great device, but I am a little worried about the switchable directivity pattern, because this may mean poor low-frequency sensitivity. I need a device for recording church organ music which has frequencies well below 50 Hz. Does anyone know details about the frequency response of the H2? If it is flat enough down to low frequencies I will buy one as soon as possible.

  • http://www.banjonut.com The BanjoNut

    I had been thinking about the R09 until I saw the really high reviews by the H4 users. Not that the R09 is bad. But, I don't remember seeing a product with so many ravingly good comments as the H4. Now I see where there is an H2 coming in May. THIS is probably what I want because of how I will be using it. I don't record from mic or instrument inputs because I want truly LIVE recordings from accoustic only jam sessions…Bluegrass to be specific. Most jams are with the musicians in a circle making the 360 feature of the H2 tantalizing at this point. I guess I'll wait and take a look at one in a couple months.

  • dukeh62

    Hey folks,

    FYI…The H2 is shipping the week of 4/8. Sweetwater is taking orders now.

    I'm not affiliated with them…just letting you know.

    Oh…and I just ordered mine!

  • Moses Lawn

    Does anyone know if the H2 will use AAs for battery power like its big brother, and will it come with an AC adapter??

    I was about to buy the H4, but this seems closer to my needs, smaller and cheaper. Cheers ML

  • Pingback: Skyphe.org » Blog Archive » Just another Easter afternoon

  • Neesk

    Would the H2 be usable as a standard one- or two-channel audio interface using external mics or just as a stereo USB mic? I mean, could I plug in an external mic or two to those little 1/8" inputs and record to the laptop?

  • http://encosion.com/ encosion

    I'm salivating… After trying a very unreliable and severely flawed Neuros Digital Audio Player with external pre-amp and mic, and the 5G iPod with the for-a-long-time-non-existent third party adapter – XtremeMac MicroMemo (which broke after light use)… I'm sick of unreliable commercial solutions to field recording… I'm fortunate enough to be living in Tokyo at the moment and will investigate availability here, and hopefully pic one up a.s.a.p!

  • http://encosion.com/ encosion

    Mailed the Zoom office in Japan, but since it's 'Golden Week' I doubt I'll get much response this week… I also went to the Ochanomizu – the musical instruments district – today and saw the H4 in a couple shops… None of the shop owners seemed to know anything about the H2, nor when it'll be available… I'll have to wait for the Zoom Japan to get back to me… I also tried visiting their offices today, but as I suspected they were closed…

    P.S. The H4 is currently going for Â¥29,400 ($245 / £123)…

  • http://encosion.com/ encosion

    "Dear Sir, Thank you for your inquiry.

    We plan to release the H2 on this summer. However, the specific release date is not fixed at this time. Please be kind to understand.

    Sincerely yours,

    ZOOM Corporation."

  • ez1

    I want a real cool small pocketable recorder and this H2 sounds like a tasty piece of candy.

    Just that my big thing is size. I want Small.

    What are the dimensions of this unit.

    Is it ipod or a circa 90's cell phone?

  • grif

    great post. lets keep each other informed

  • benji

    ez1 – the H2 is slightly bigger than the palm of your hand. Can't wait till they come out!

    Check the picture: http://www.soundprofessionals.com/cgi-bin/gold/it

  • nemo

    3 mic or 4 mic? I read in Wikipedia something about 4 mic. And WHEN ZOOM H2 WILL BE RELEASED?

  • http://www.poppinfreshmedia.com skiphunt

    I'm waiting for this too. All the articles say 3 mics.. but Samson says 4 mics on their site. Which is correct?

    I've been waiting 3 months for this though… if it doesn't ship soon, I think I'll get something else. Tired of waiting.

  • nemo

    Does anybody from the ZOOM company read this page? If yes, please let us know when you'll release H2. Online stores already sell it although it doesn't yet exist!

  • m

    Also waiting for this one to show up… any update about it's release would be appreciated.

  • ong

    H2 originally had 3 mic, but they delayed the launch to change that to a 4 mic module apparently! Dont know if it has the effects that H4 has though; and does it ship with Cubase LE?

  • http://www.skiphuntphotography.com skiphunt

    I DID see one site with a release date of August 24th. Anyone else confirm that?

  • Suzanne

    Can anyone tell from the specs whether the H2 will be the same high quality recording as the H4, especially for classical voice? I don't know what all the specs mean. Also, any suspicion on whether the price will drop from $199 after a few months or not?

  • Rjmail

    As to shipping date, here's what it says on the Sweetwater site (glad I just discovered the H2, and haven't had to wait thru 6 months of delays!)

    "The Zoom H2 will begin shipping from Samson in late August. Sweetwater has a great relationship with Zoom and we're working closely with them to prioritize Sweetwater orders so we'll receive quantities of H2 as early as anyone.

    Initial demand for this hot new handheld recorder is very high. To ensure the earliest possible delivery of your H2, please place your pre-order as soon as possible."

  • DK

    They are now shipping from Samson. I picked one up yesterday from a local store but haven't unpacked it yet.

  • http://www.skiphuntphotography.com skiphunt

    DK.. have you unpacked it yet? What are your first impressions? Build quality? Any clicking as was reported on the H4? Tried the 360deg recording yet? Is it useful, or just a needless gimmick? Compared on-board mics with an external yet?

    I know you just got it yesterday.. but inquiring minds want to know!! ;-)

  • Foleyuser

    The H4 had issues with the display circuitry causing audible squealing sound and beeps on quiet recordings. Anxious to know whether the H2 has similar problems.

  • David Adler

    Have used the H2 for a few days. Works very well and much easier to use than the H4 which I sold. Only disappointment is inadequate volume using an external battery powered mic.

    There is a program which increases volume of

    a recording that came out too low. Waiting for

    a reply from Samson regarding external mic

    recommendations.

  • Recordy

    Even if you use a mono mic, you can just take the data from that channel. It should not matter that the mic jack is stereo even if you need to use a mono mic.

  • Pingback: Create Digital Music » Zoom H2 Portable Flash Recorder Coming Soon; Mic Design Delay

  • Memo

    I'd love to learn about home recording and am considering the Zoom H2 or Boss Micro BR.Any suggestions which is better for a muso who knows very little about recording technicalities ?

  • JSteg

    I want to record choir rehearsals (about 40 voices and piano) with either an H4 or H2. Which do you recommend for this use?

    Thanks!

  • http://antwbender22.livejournal.com/613.html NatWeena22

    I've read probably nearly all the posts on your blog and just want to say I'm a huge fan

  • http://link Kelvin97

    It would be necessarily true that a certain physical state is felt a certain way. ,