We’ve been watching Zoom’s upcoming, unannounced $199 H2 recorder, seen at NAMM. The H2 has the advantage of price and flexible mic patterns for its built-in mic. But its shipping, larger sibling, the $299 H4, may be a better choice, depending on your needs. The H4 has basic 4-track operation, built-in effects, X/Y-pattern mics, and — most importantly, unlike the H2 — real XLR jacks for using your normal mic. That alone could make the H4 the killer recorder in this category, especially since it still costs less than competing recorders without good mics or XLR ins from M-Audio, Edirol, and Korg. The best feature: use the XLRs as mic ins for your computer, power the H4 off your USB bus, and you’ve got an instant computer interface, as well.

Mark Nelson gets the hand-on for O’Reilly’s Digital Media site. Now this getting out of hand: he writes yet another portable recorder review in Hawaii. I guess they’re getting a good humidity test or whatever, but could they maybe test this somewhere else, too? (I’m in Hawaii at the beginning of March, so I can’t be bitter. Maybe I’ll do a soft synth test, just for CDM’s competitive angle.)

O’Reilly — Review: Zoom H4 Handheld Recorder

Mark’s verdict: great for both convenience and sound quality, even if navigating menus and setting levels is clunky. That’s consistent with what we’ve heard from readers here who own the H4. Be sure to read Mark’s review, and check out the CDM comments thread on the H2 and H4 from last week. As usual, Mark has some sound clips to back up his impressions:

External mic guitar recording, uncompressed WAV

Thanks for another great review, Mark!

  • http://symbioticaudio.com W. Brent Latta

    I have a freelance gig coming up in the next week and I'm hoping it will pay me enough to get one of these to replace my old Sharp MiniDisc recorder and Sony Stereo Mic!

  • http://www.mark-o.com Mark Nelson

    "Now this getting out of hand: he writes yet another portable recorder review in Hawaii. I guess they’re getting a good humidity test or whatever, but could they maybe test this somewhere else, too?"

    Hey, c'mon. I did take the Edirol R09 to Lark Camp in Mendocino! So I tested for humidity and dust.

    Thanks for the kind words, Peter. Looking forward to reading your dispatches from Hawaii. Where the weather is currently… perfect. Not to rub it in, or anything.

    Cheers,

    Mark

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

    Hey, like I said, I get a week in Honolulu; I'm not complaining! I'm not making any promises I'll do *any* digital music reporting while I'm there, but more power to you! ;)

  • Damon

    Mark got to the joke before I did… DRAT!

  • Bird In Macaroni

    Would this be a good recorder for live gigs? Can you plug in a stereo signal from your mixer headphone jack, and simultaniously record the room and audience via the mics, and get decent sound?

  • http://www.sascha-neudeck.com sascha neudeck

    @ bird in macaroni:

    definitely not. you have to choose one option

    - mics or jacks – both simultanioulsy is not possible.

  • jacob

    Great little unit, people seem to think its a bit clunky, ( which maybe it is) but my mother in law on her own figured out how to record a recital with it, in about fifteen minutes. Not to bad of a learning curve if you ask me!!

    Also, Music123's sales guy Bobby (@ Ext. 2393) is a great help on these things, and if you ask him, he can save you a few bucks too! if you haven't gotten one yet, give him a call!

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