Photo: Josh Jancourtz

Everyone is looking for the Zoom H2, a nifty portable flash recorder with a merciful street of around US$200 and a built-in mic. We know because you’ve all started hitting our ancient page on the H2. It in fact isn’t shipping yet; Sweetwater has an explanation on their site:

The Zoom H2 is expected to begin arriving in stores in August (slightly delayed by an improvement to the microphone design).

Just to demonstrate I’m not linking to them for affiliate cash, I’ll, erm, not link to them. But I expect you can find them (add a dot-com to their name) or try your favorite retailer and perhaps get a similar story.

It looks very nice, and I have to admit I’m myself looking for a new portable recorder. It seems like it’d actually be worth spending the extra US$100 and getting a Zoom H4, which adds XLR/line ins and phantom power for when you need them. (It’s also got four-tracking capability and effects, but the external mic in to me is the big draw.) Advice?

There’s such interest in this, I think we may need to make a portable recorder mega-page. Leave your suggestions here.

We broke the story on the H2 and deferred to our friends on O’Reilly on reviewing the H4. But you will find lots of reader comments (surprisingly, more H4 feedback on the H2 story — check out comments). Could help you make a smart purchasing decision; I’ll be using it to make mine:

Recording@NAMM: Zoom’s $199 USB H2 Mobile Mic/Recorder, Found in the Wild
O’Reilly Reviews Zoom H4 in Hawaii: Good, with Quirks

  • eric

    I think if I want to use external mics, I'm going to want an external pre as well. So the H2 makes more sense for me.

  • Damon

    Sampler's dream…

  • richardn

    I've had a Boss Micro BR for the last few weeks and am really surprised how much I like the 4 track & editing stuff on it… I can put together a drum track with bass line very quickly just by recording random bits of stuff from around me and using the "paste multiple" to put it together…

    I only got the unit because it was the cheapest mp3 direct recorder with plug-in power [for a Sony ECM957] that I could find.

    Being a bit of guitar player all the other features have been a real bonus.

  • ryan

    <blockquote cite="sweetwater">

    he Zoom H2 is expected to begin arriving in stores in August (slightly delayed by an improvement to the microphone design). Sweetwater has a great relationship with Zoom and we’ve worked together with them to prioritize our orders so we’ll have them in stock as early as anyone.

    To ensure the earliest possible delivery of your order, it’s best to make sure we have your pre-order in advance of our first shipment. That way we can ship your H2 to you as soon as we receive our first batch from Zoom.

    They say this about any product they don't yet have in stock and hasn't been released yet.

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

    Sorry, Ryan, I was in a hurry; I should have cut off the second paragraph. (And I've done so …)

    The bit I found interesting was the microphone design part.

  • Brian Kennedy

    I've been really interested in seeing reviews of some of the cheaper digital dictation machines for music purposes. Here's a link to a device made by Olympus

    For what these devices do, the 200$->$400 units by m-audio,edirol, and zoom all seem overpriced to me…

  • http://www.milezero.org Thomas

    We've got a couple of the Marantz PDM recorders at work now. They're pricier and a little bulkier, but the sound quality's very good.

  • http://www.thisischristhompson.com Chris

    I've had the Edirol R-09 since it came out and couldn't be happier. The only issue that was scaring people back then was the "flimsy battery case," which I found to be a complete non-issue. It is still good as new.

    I love catching random field recordings that happen unexpectedly. This thing is so well designed I can grab it from my bag, have levels set and be recording, all with one hand in about 3-5 seconds. And its so light that carrying it around with me everywhere is totally convenient.

    Haven't tried any of the other units but never really had a reason to.

  • http://rekkerd.org loops

    Patiently waiting for this one. The H4 was a little over my budget but the H2 is right on the money and does exactly what I need.

  • http://dalasverdugo.com dalas v

    I would love to see a dedicated page for portable recorders. I love these things.

  • Seth

    This will be replacing my m-audio microtrack if they let you monitor through the headphones BEFORE you start recording.

    That always pissed me off about the m-audio.

  • http://www.simonsound.co.uk simonsound

    I'm currently setting up some training to teach people how to use the H4. In the past I had used the Edirol R-09, which was great and easy to use but I was impressed by the features of the H4 – two XLR inputs, phantom power etc.

    However, now I have had the opportunity to play with the H4 I'm not so impressed. For me the biggest problem is that there is no way to set input gain without going through the overly complicated menu system. Yes there are Mic sensitivity switches on the side of the unit (l/m/h) but these aren't really good enough for setting precise levels.

    Another bugbear is that menu system. A joystick type controller on the front of the unit acts as your way in to the two main settings menus but also acts as the transport controls. And its a bit strange that that joystick controller isn't your main way of navigating the menus – for that you use a jog wheel on the side of the unit.

    There is no way of pausing a recording. You have to stop, thus creating a new file every time you want to pause.

    I think if you are willing to put up with these annoyances then the H4 does have its good points, and for the money it is great value. Built in effects, works as a USB input box, 4 track recording, they even throw in a handy cradle so you can fix it to a mic stand (£50 to get this for the Edirol)

    I'm just hoping they have ironed out these problems with the H2 as its size and 'pocketability' are appealing.

  • http://www.musicmmm.com Matte

    Seth, i've got the H4, and it does just that. You push record once and you get the meters and monitoring audio over the phones, you push it again it records.

    By the way, i love my H4, it sure has got its quirks, the interface, the gain settings, the build quality (seems cheap, but holding up to this point) but it has features (external mics, phantom and preamp) that no competitor has at that price point.

    I was the audio guy on a amateur – semi pro short movie shoot last weekend, and brought the h4 along, everybody loved it and it proved useful in a lot of different situations!

  • Pingback: Zoom H2 Handy Recorder, shipping slightly delayed by an improvement to the microphone design

  • seismo

    i bought the H4 [mainly] for recording voice overs. having the XLR inputs is sweet, and the setup works as expected.

    it's also hysterical to plug an RE27 (the shiny RE20) into a recorder that is smaller and 10x lighter than the mic itself.

  • eS

    yes, the H2 (like the H4) looks like a bargain. Kind of hyper feature-packed. But I wouldn't swap it with my Edirol R-09. I know, on paper it didn't impress me that much, but you really have to use it in order to understand why it's THE best bit bucket you can buy for under 500€: awsome sound quality, one hand operation, boots up very quickly, foolproof user interface and files management etc… :-0

  • Perc

    The only thing that may stop me from getting a H2 when it comes out is if I can or cannot attach my contact misc up to it. There is supposedly a passive mini mic input (non-XLR). It remains to be seen how useful this is. Contact mics don't require much pre-amping so it might be okay. If it can't do this then its no good for me.

  • Perc

    And by misc I mean mics of course.

  • http://www.berkshireradio.org nick

    Each of these units has nice features, but I haven't found the one to nab yet. The m-audio is getting a little long in the tooth, being one of the first in this field. I also noticed that several places have dropped their official price on it to $299. Does this suggest a new version to be imminent (any whisperings?).

    Having said that, the H2 looks pretty interesting, but I really would like something with a (fully-powered) mic input.

  • pete

    As an early adopter of the MicroTrack I can say that getting the features you think you want is a good idea. I have made usable and surprisingly high quality recordings using the stock T-mic on the MT, but having those TRS inputs with phantom has probably made the difference between buyer's remorse and satisfaction. The "pro" inputs are so much better than the 1/8" input. I've run a pair of StudioProjects mics on it (C4's or B2's) and the results are great. Regarding the Zoom-ternatives: I'm sure that the H4 is a great device, but I am still happy having something smaller and easier to handle. I don't need a lot of the extra doo-dads on the H4, so that is part of it too. About the H2… If I had the option I may have saved the $$ and gone that way, taking the H2 for what it is and getting the most out of it. As it is, I have done a lot of recording with my MT while the H2 is still vaporware.

  • Husband of my Wife

    I'am a jazz musician, I not experienced in recording technology. I am looking for a recorder that I would like to use in spontaneous situations like for example jam sessions. D'you think guys that ZOOM H2 would be suitable? Heve anybody already used ZOOM H4 for similar purpose?

  • Husband of my Wife

    P.S. Sorry for typos.

  • seismo

    just wanted to add that, as i discovered this weekend, the JOBY gorillapod tripod and the H4 are a match made in geek heaven.

    http://www.joby.com/products/gorillapod/original/

    i assume that the H2 will be tripod-ready, too, so the same should apply.

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

    Hmmm, so the current winner seems to be R09 for design, interface, and integrated mic use, and the H4 for a cheap way to get both internal inputs and XLR ins. That mic level issue is a pretty big deal, though.

    @Husband of my Wife: for recording jam sessions, the H2 should be more than adequate! That's a time when the internal mics are actually ideal. I've tested the R1 (predecessor of Edirol's R09) and it was very nice for that, as well. Of course, keep in mind, none of us have actually tested the H2 yet, so this is all theory for now.

  • bengo

    the r09 is hissier than my old sony minidisc with sony stereo ecm907 condenser, but v v v convenient.

    the h4 is great with its own mics, but the interface is stupid, it looks like a toy, and the ext in's are said to be bad by my oral history chum (not tried).

    v interested to see if h2 comes up with the goods.

  • http://www.simonsound.co.uk simonsound

    Yeah the H4's lack of dedicated input gain control is a major problem. I do a lot of sound recording and having to go through about 5 or 6 button presses to set levels is just not cutting it.

  • http://www.leafcutterjohn.com/ leafcutter

    I have had the H4 for a while and am quite disappointed with it for a number of reasons. The first being the recording quality. When recording on battery power i can hear quiet beeps when the recorder writes to the flash card – this is a complete pain in the ass and make the H4 more or less useless for quiet recordings in the field. If you search the net you'll find much discussion on this! The recording level setting issues are also a pain and i find the unit to be a little on the large side compared to MD. Also it is so conspicuous it's just not funny. On the positive the built in mics are good for the price, battery life is great when recording mp3's rather than wav's. I really miss my MD and binarual mic set-up!

  • tencentcat

    Here's a lot of detailed info on the H2: http://www.samsontech.com/products/productpage.cf

    Looks like it has a dedicated mic gain control (L/M/H).

  • http://www.luketan.com luketan

    I've been using the Edirol R-09 for almost a year now, and I love the quality of recordings and ease of use. It started futzing on me about a month ago but the response time on getting it fixed from roland was good, and their support department was friendly. I recorded my last project "ghosts in the flophouse" exclusively with the R-09, and I feel it to be one of the soundest recordings I've done.

  • velocipede

    I'm very interested in the surround recording feature of the H2. It could be a fabulous field-recording unit if it meets expectations.

  • eS

    @tencentcat: well, the H4 does have a dedicated mic gain control indeed, but Low/Medium/High doesn't actually seem to be the best way to fine tune your recordings on the fly… ;-)

  • hohosantakiller

    I had the H4 for a while. It was ok for louder recordings, and you get a wind shield thrown in, but for quieter vocal or field recordings it was a complete waste of time. I lost a days recording work due to the fact that it has an very audible hum which changes pitch when you change sample rate. Originally I thought this could be fixed with a system update – whilst updating the system you are told to keep the unit plugged into the mains, and when I did this the noise disappeared only to reappear when the unit was unplugged and battery powered defeating the point of having a portable recorder. There was something on the samson/zoom site about the way the circuit is built and the flashing record LED but this has disappeared. I would only consider buying the H2 after lots of people have tested it. These things are normally cheap for a reason.

    I am thinking about getting the R09 but am concerned about the hiss for quieter recordings. Any thoughts? Or even better, any recordings?

  • eS
  • ?????

    SO… IT'S ALREADY AUGUST!!! WHERE IS H2?!?!?!?!

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

    Um… it had been August for 3 hours so far when you wrote that. Safe assumption would be some time *during* the month of August. But I'm sure Zoom appreciates your enthusiasm…

  • Vector

    I contacted zoom a couple of weeks ago and they said it wouldn't be out for quite a while. I can't remember the exact wording (it was my work address and i'm currently at home) but i vaguely remember it implied it wasn't going to be till towards the end of the year, certainly not August.

    They've clearly redesigned the whole thing (adding an extra mic capsule) so who knows when it'll be out.

    I already have the R-09, but am hoping i can use this to make quick surround recordings.

    By the way, i hear you can fix the H4 beeping/whinning issue by recording at 96KHz and i think one of the OS updates helped things too.

  • me

    As for me, I gave up today and bought the Edirol R-09.

    I you wanna know something about ZOOMs, all answers are there:

    info@zoom.co.jp

    Take care ladies & gentelmen.

  • Digby

    richardn, what are the recordings like with the sony mic? I tried some location records with the MicroBr built in mic and the results were not good.

  • http://www.moonmilk.com/ ranjit

    I received my H2 today from etailelectronics. If you have any questions that can be answered by the manual, post 'em and I'll try to answer. Sound samples will take a bit longer since I don't have anything interesting to record at the moment.

  • Digby

    So, what are your first impressions of the H2?

  • http://www.moonmilk.com/ ranjit

    Here's a short bit of sample audio from the H2, recorded using the front (90 degree) microphone pattern while walking around tonight's Etsy/CDM music night.

    http://www.moonmilk.com/07/08/H2-Etsy-CDM-8-24-07

    I normalized it in Audacity because I recorded at too low a level (I could've set the gain switch to H instead of M). It's also been trimmed slightly, encoded to mp3 to save space. Otherwise it's just as it came out of the H2.

    Impressions: it's incredibly small and light! I'm used to heavy metal cameras. The interface is slow and clunky like some sort of medical device from the 1980s. But the important things– gain, levels, mic pattern, and record/stop– are pretty much instantly accessible. It takes about 4 seconds to boot up when you turn it on, which feels like forever if you want to catch a sound. The fact that the power switch actually has two positions for "on" and "off" rather than just one button for push-on push-off is old-fashioned and endearing to me.

    The package included a cloth carrying case with drawstrings, and a fuzzy foam windscreen. I don't think these are mentioned on the samsontech product page.

  • Digby

    ranjit, thanks for that write up and sample. I will look out for these when they are available in the UK.

  • bentropy

    Hi Ranjit and all,

    I'm almost ready to put down my money for an H2, but am most concerned about the accessibility and precision of the 'record level' control. Are there only 3 levels – H/M/L – or are those the quick course adjustments with another, still easily accessible fine-tuning of record-level? I'm concerned because the H4 was said to have a really poor interface, burying this crucial function down menu layers. Precise record levels are essential to getting a good s/n ratio, and thus getting good recordings. On a portable, this should be fast and easy.

  • chuckles

    when's the new Microtrack out?

  • http://www.moonmilk.com/ ranjit

    I haven't tried it, but the H2 does have quick level control: while recording, the rewind and fast-forward buttons become level- and level+. (You can see the labels in the photo.) The buttons aren't clicky, so it might even be possible to adjust levels without making too much noise in the internal microphones.

  • http://www.moonmilk.com/ ranjit

    I forgot to say, that's in addition to the H/M/L coarse gain switch, which is a slider on the side of the case.

  • http://www.skiphuntphotography.com skiphunt

    ordered mine a couple days ago. Are you lovin' it yet? Or wish you'd got something else?

    Does it have 4 mics? Have you tried out the 360deg recording yet? Cool? Or just a useless gimmick?

    Solid build? Any strange clicking like was reported on the H4?

  • ronin

    Hey ranjit,

    thanks for sharing your impressions on the H2.

    You said that it takes 4 seconds to boot. this is very short, compared to ALL other recorders. are you sure about this, do you really have watched your clock? i´ve read that the h2 needs 25 seconds to start up… but i would love to hear that its really just 4 seconds.

    (for comparison, my microtrack needed around 17 seconds. way too long…:-)

    all the best

    ronin

  • http://www.beforeisleep.net Matt

    I received my Zoom H2 in the mail a couple days ago. It is FANTASTIC. I have used the H4 and the Edirol R-09, and in my opinion this is superior to both. I've always thought the Edirol was too hissy. The H2 uses the same microphones as the H4, so the sound is just as good, if not better. The form factor is perfect — a little taller than a deck of cards, and easily fits in my front pocket. Very light, even with the batteries in. Menu is easy to use. Battery compartment is easy to get to. Separate slot for the SD card, very easy to get in and out. I love the front and back microphones — it will give me a lot of freedom. I also love the fact that it stands vertically on its own with four little rubber feet at the bottom, but also includes a little tripod for more stability. I find I am using the microphone for quick and easy podcasts — I just keep the H2 in the tripod, set on the desk about a foot in front of my mouth, with Automatic Gain Control set for "speech." I get GREAT sound with very little hiss. Awesome!

    As for boot up times, I'll time it right now. I've got a Sandisk Ultra II 1 GB card in it right now, with most of the memory free……. OK, it took 10 seconds to boot up. Not as good as the Edirol, but a lot better than the 25 seconds you've read about. Bootup time probably depends on a lot of factors, including the type of memory card, how much space is free, maybe even what sound settings you're using or how much battery power is left. Who knows. Ten seconds is fine for me.

    Bottom line: I loved the form factor of the Edirol R-09 but didn't like the sound quality. I loved the sound quality of the Zoom H4 but hated the form factor. Now, in the Zoom H2, we have the form factor of the Edirol with the sound quality of the Zoom H4 — better actually, because of the multiple microphones. And cheaper than either of them!! Awesome!!!

  • Digby

    Has anybody tried running the H2 using rechargables? I always try to run my gear with them even thought you have to change batteries moer frequently.

  • Psurfer

    Hey Matt (or other H2 owners), I'd be interested in your further reports on 4 burning questions!

    1. How the H2 does in quiet environments. eg, ambient sounds where there's no traffic etc noise that would cover the unit's own hiss.

    From what I've read, the Edirol cannot cope too well w/low level sound, without resorting to an external preamp. Matt's initial post re podcast use is a good start, but recording that speech from the Next room for example, (good to learn its diff mic patterns, too) could tell more about its capabilities/noise levels.

    2. Are the mics wind protected enough (either with or w/out using incl windscrn accessory) to be used outdoors w/out rumbling in a light-to-medium breeze?

    3. anyone used H2 long enough to get a feel for the battery life?

    4. how legible is the screen in various kinds of light? -any other handling questions appreciated, too.

  • http://www.moonmilk.com/ ranjit

    I'm using rechargables (Radio Shack NiMH 2100mAh) in my H2, and they do run down pretty fast. I lose half the charge just leaving the H2 turned off for a few days.

    Yeah, four seconds is a pretty accurate estimate of the boot time for the thing. I guess it's not so bad after all!

    I find the standby/go operation of the record button a bit confusing, especially since there's no really distinct indicator to tell you that you are/aren't really recording. I've missed a few sounds by leaving the thing in standby by mistake. I'll get used to it, though.

    I find the screen somewhat illegible in any light – tiny pixelated text on a tiny pixelated screen. But it's not awful. It annoys me that when you're playing back a recorded track, it doesn't tell you the total length of the track or show a progress-bar-style indicator, so you really have no idea how much longer it's going to go.

    Here's another soundscape recording, using the 120 degree (rear) stereo pair. No windscreen, and you can hear occasional wind noise. There's some good quiet patches in there if you want to listen for hiss – I haven't listened very carefully myself.

    http://www.moonmilk.com/07/08/bbg-stream.mp3

    On the whole, I really like the thing. So small and easy to carry, and the sound's certainly way better than the microphone in my camera.

  • boa

    Question to H2 users:

    To copy files from H2 to your computer (or inversely if possible: from computer to H2), do you need extra software, or does it work just like flash memory (or Edirol R-09): copy without any extra software?

  • http://www.skiphuntphotography.com skiphunt

    've had an H2 for 3 days now and have run all of the features through the paces… done some field recording, ambient bar noise,VO, etc. And so far, I have to say it's everything I was looking for.

    I'm not an audio engineer but I've worked with some over the years… edited video/audio for broadcast… shot film and recorded dialogue to DAT… done a little recording and editing of audio for local radio spots, etc. So, I'm not completely foreign to the audio realm. I'm just not an engineer or bit cruncher.

    Yes, I'm sure there are units costing 4 times more that can give a more faithful reproduction, etc. But, I only wanted something light and small to put in my camera bag that didn't require ectra mics, cables, etc. That was capable of getting decent recordings in a variety of situations without much fuss. I'm a photographer and wanted to play with doing some ambient work as soundtrack for my images (http://www.skiphuntphotography.com). So, the H2 is perfect for me.

    However, since I've now gone through every feature.. I've notices a few problems. First, I DID get some dropout (I think). I can hear a series of click sounds in random fashion. But, ONLY if I first record in 4channels 48k 24bit OR 44.1 24bit and then use the unit to 3D Pan the mix and encode the two pairs down to one stereo pair. The resulting stereo pair will have this "clicking" sound consistently. Yes, I'm aware it's better to do your post in the computer. But I wanted to test everything. If I do a 4channel recording in 16bit and re-encode to a single stereo pair.. it's fine, no clicking. And, even if I record in 4channel 24bit.. the source pairs are fine without clicking. ONLY when re-encoded to a single pair via the H2's onboard processing.

    Second problem is that when I select a stereo file to "nomalize" within the menu, the H2 takes an awfully long time working on it. Says "searching peaks".. then after an hour it says…. "Now Processing". This goes on for hours or until the battery dies. AND once you start the process, it won't let you cancel. It just keeps either "searching" or "processing". I couldn't even get it to force quit by turning off the power. The only thing that worked was pulling the batteries. I tried again with another file and the exact same thing.

    Like I said, it's not that big a deal since I'll do all my post later and NOT with the H2, but there are definitely a bug or two under the hood… at least with mine. Likely a firmware fix. Can anyone test theirs and tell me if it does the same thing? Maybe I got a flawed one.

    Everything else is great. I love this little thing and will get much use out of it. But, I really wish they had put a metal tripod mount on this thing. I've carefully mounted the H2 on several devices over the last three days, and the threads are already looking pretty worn.

    Mine starts up pretty fast 4-5secs by the clock. I'd read others saying it took much longer, so I thought maybe the larger your flash card effects it. Tried a 1GB and it too was 4-5 secs startup.

    So far… other than the definite on-board processing bugs (others have confirmed the normalize function not working either) I like it.

    Need to experiment with external mics more though.

  • http://www.skiphuntphotography.com skiphunt

    One other annoying feature of the H2. I reformatted a disk in the H2 unit and it reset ALL of settings. From battery choice, to compression, and even the date! Everything was wiped out. Seems like the unit would at least hang onto the date on a reformat disk. But, it's really more of a nuisance than "issue".

    Took me awhile to get used to hitting the record button once to go into record mode… then hit it again to go into standby.. then again to actually record. Missed a bunch of recordings but not I make sure the counter is activated so not such a biggy.

  • http://www.skiphuntphotography.com skiphunt

    Anyone know of a reasonably intuitive Mac OSX app that will let me play with these 4Channel stereo pairs the H2 creates? And make a 5.1 mix?

    When BeOS was getting attention.. I remember seeing one of their Audio 3D 5.1 surround apps that seemed VERY intuitive. Anyone know what that app was called? if that ever got ported over to OSX? And if something like that would work with the 4channel stereo pairs the H2 creates?

    Anyone tried yet?

  • http://www.skiphuntphotography.com skiphunt

    Here's a couple quick voice tests I did between the H2 onboard FRONT mics at 90deg and a Sennheiser ME66 MONO mix. Both recorded at 96khz 24bit… and coverted to mp3 320kbps for web delivery.

    http://www.poppinfreshmedia.com/h2test.html

  • http://www.moonmilk.com/ ranjit

    I'd be interested, too, in finding out about Windows applications that can work with 4 channels, create a surround mix, maybe even do virtual surround for headphones. (Since I don't actually have surround speakers!)

  • Cezary_J

    I'm interested in A/D noise of H2 (24/96 line input shunt with wire or small resistor). Can anyone publish such wav file (even short) for measuring purposes?

  • http://jeveruzi.blogspot.com nuqfihoaaz

    Situated in the shadow http://zicosabi.blogspot.com nuqfihoaaz. can be found kecujice century post [url http://kefogehu.blogspot.com [/url]

  • http://www.jeffhamburg.com igor56

    Just wanted to add my 2 cents to this discussion as a classical composer, not a recording engineer. I had (have) a Microtrack and not only did the battery die rather quickly, the entire unit did not really survive a short plane flight in my carry-on and the mike also took a bad hit. M-Audio is giving me a rough time about who can do the repairs, since I bought it in the States and neither the German or British folks will accept it. Pain…

    So I got me an H2. Had a concert two nights ago and recorded it without doing a lot of experimenting with best recording settings and such. I was blown away with the result. Far better than the Microtrack, which was for me so much better than what I was getting with a DAT. It is fast, responsive, easy to use once you get the idea. Downside: small letters (though I am 50, I can easily read it without glasses), battery life horrible (two penlights just made it through the 50 minutes of recording) and using the built-in software to edit takes a very long time. I tried the limiter function and that took more than two hours to do the 50 minute piece and then it took about 4 hours to convert it to mp3. Results for classical music (voice, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, violin, bass and percussion) were very good, no extreme cut-offs. If I can solve the power problems, I will be one happy feller.

  • Drew Weber

    I'm visually impaired, so naturally I'm an audio freak, and love all that technology has to offer. I've worked in a nice home studio setup for a few years now, and know a thing or two about digital audio. So now, with that said, I'll give my take on this recorder.

    I haven't had it for long, so sure theirs lots to learn. To keep this some what short, I'm basically raving about the quality the H2 gives. The internal microphones I'd say are amazing, for a peace of equipment in this price range. Already I've put them through several tests and they, for the most part have proved themselves. When almost no sound is present, their is a very low hiss, which would only b expected. A recording of voice in 44.1 wave format yields an almost studio like recording (sounds like a nice microphone plugged directly into a sound mixing board). Loud sounds if levels are set right sound great to!

    To backup my statements, check out these audio samples I have recorded. These samples will cover loud sounds.

    Recorder Setup at time of recording: internal microphones were in surround/stereo mode. (all four microphones were active and mixed down into two channel stereo). Samples were recorded in 44.1 Wave format, volume was maximized in Goldwave and saved to mp3 128 KBPS.

    H2 Drums Sample

    H2 LFE Bass Test

    H2 Loud Guitar Amp Test

  • Drew Weber

    If your planning on using the h2 as a line in recorder: you'll want to pick up a "in line headphone volume control". This is because the volume of the line in jack on the h2 is some what to high for some line outputs.

    running inline volume control to h2's line in jack.

    plug the line out source into the inline volume control's input, from volume control's output, go into h2's line in jack.

    Get what ever other adapters you think you'll need to connect.

    The inline control lets you turn down volume going into h2's line in jack, especially useful when source doesn't have volume control.

    And, so you don't have to go searching, try radioshack, got mine today for $10.00.

    And to answer your next or, mabey first question, no you can't turn down actual line input volume on h2.

  • Dark Moon

    Hi

    Some reviews notes that it it not possible to record loud music because of clipping also in "L"-position. Drew Weber has recorded a loud guitar that sounds great. What's about a whole band in a band room ? (when ear protecting is necessary ;-)

    And what's about using the H2 as an audio interface. If I run a record AND a playback track in Cubase/Logic do I hear the mix on the phone line out?

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  • Craig

    I've bought an H2 to record rehearsal sessions; it's fine for acoustic instruments, but when we turned the volume up, the recordings were VERY distorted, no matter what I did with the input settings. Can anybody recommend an external mic, that will work with the H2, that can handle very loud sound levels?

  • David Geffner

    This has been a great discussion. Thanks very much! I am choosing between the Zoom H2, the Edirol R-09 and the Tascam DR-1 to replace my Sony MD player (loved the MD player but Sony stopped making it and when my two year old kicked mine off the desk, fouling up data track, memory and record, I figured it's time to disc-less). No one has mentioned the Tascam, which retails for about $300, less then the Edirol bur more than the Zoom H2, so I would be curious if anyone has any samples to post from this unit or opinions about the Tascam vs. the other units. Also I have called Roland and Zoom and both insist the unit will mount very simply as a USB drive on the desktop of my Mac, and I can download or upload in Leopard 10.5.2 with no problem…famous last words as I have had numerous compatibility bugs with Leopard and other apps/volumes since installing. any experiences with mounting and interfacing in Leopard would also be appreciated. Thanks!

  • Colin Lamb

    A) Zoom H2 Start-up time. After a number of 'runs' with various card sizes and brands I graphed the results and found a very nearly linear relationship. Minimum time is 5.1 secs (no card inserted) + 1 second per Gbyte of card size. ie. 1GB card = 6.1 seconds, 4 GB card = 9.1 seconds and 16 GB card (largest I have) = 21.1 seconds. This is for cards which have already been formatted for H2, and which don't have any photos or other file types on them. New cards or those with other kinds of files do take longer. For fast/impromptu recordings I now just keep a 1Gb card in the H2 all the time. This gives 6 sec. start up, and and nearly 90 mins recording time at my 'default' setting of 16bit/48Khz sample rate. I use a suitable larger card for planned/longer sessions, where there is time to set up the H2 beforehand.

    b) Battery life. Current drain is about 220Ma recording/playing (16/48Khz). I've tested a variety of alkaline, lithium, and NiMH cells. On average (3 runs)of each type) Good brand-name alkalines gave just over 5 1/2 hours. Lithiums gave gave 9 1/2 hours, and NiMH cells lasted from 9 1/4 to 10 hours. Given that NiMH cells are so much more economical (even allowing for the cost of a really good charger) I just have several pairs on hand and rotate them regularly. I do keep a couple of Lithiums in my bag also as they have at least a 6-8 year shelf life, and thus are good insurance.

    c) I agree that the lack of a track duration indication/bargraph on playback is a pity – who cares what the remaining blank time is when listening to a track, although it can be useful when recording.

    I'd also like to have the 'File' menu at the top of the list, and some of the functions I don't use placed at the bottom. (or the facility for users to rearrange the list to suit their own needs). Minor quibble!

    c) The sound quality. Maybe not exactly 'studio', but I compare it to the results I was getting from good condenser mics, metal tapes and a hi-grade cassette recorder with Dolby C and HX-Pro. It is very acceptable, both in terms of sound quality and noise level, even using the in-built mics. It is succeptible to handling noise unless one is very careful, so I usually tripod mount it, or else don't move a muscle while hand holding it. With an external pre-amp and mics the results are better still (with some care with levels to avoid overload on the line input.)

    d) Ruggedness. What ruggedness?! I keep it in a stiff, close fitting,velvet lined digital camera case (still fits in a trouser pocket, or a baggy shirt one)and it has taken any number of bumps and drops unscathed. The battery and card covers will probably break eventualy, but it will work without those anyway.

    e) Overall. Given its size, convenience and the fact that it cost less than a single mediun quality condenser mic. the results are quite amazingly good for the things I use it for. These include: School music practices/performances, concerts (Including Andre Rieu) organ recitals, church services etc.