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Zoom H4: Awesome Handheld Recorder

Last summer I purchased a Zoom H4 Handheld Recorder in order to record live music and spur-of-the-moment ideas without my Pro Tools rig. This was quite possibly the best recording investment I’ve made so far.

The Zoom H4 records to SD cards, just many digital cameras do. It takes standard AA batteries or can use the included power supply. It has a built-in XY stereo condenser mic setup that is perfect for recording live performances, acoustic ideas and the like. In addition, the H4 has two XLR/1/4″ inputs allowing you two use two external microphones or direct 1/4″ connections.

I’ve used all three setups and have been quite happy. I’ve recorded many concerts now with the built in mics. In several instances, I’ve recorded a solo instrument with one close mic and one room mic through the XLR inputs. The pre’s are decent considering the device and the inputs provide phantom power that can be turned on in the event that you’re using external condenser mics. I’ve recorded a direct stereo line from a soundboard with the 1/4″ inputs as well and the results were quite good. One of my favorite uses is to utilize the multi-tracking feature and layer ideas with the built in mics. I can record guitar, bass, some percussion and then a lead line or vocal line if I feel like it; all with just the H4 itself.

I tend to dump the files (recorded as .wav or .mp3) into my Pro Tools software for editing though the H4 comes with Cubase LE which is another piece of digital audio recording/editing software.

For $299, this is an investment worth making. I would suggest it for anyone who needs a nice quality handheld recorder for any purpose. It suits the musician well because of the ease of use for recording ideas and even has some simple onboard effects and mic-modeling. For those who don’t need the multi-tracking or the extra inputs, the H4 has a little brother; the Zoom H2.

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3 Responses

  1. […] with many pictures, videos and recordings from my time there. I’ll be armed with my trusty Zoom H4 handheld recorder and my simple (but reliable) Canon digital […]

  2. […] it’s my Zoom H4 handheld recorder (reviewed here). It seems that Samson Technologies (the parent company for Zoom as well as the amplifier company, […]

  3. […] set up my trusty Zoom H4 Handheld Recorder and sat down at the piano to start working on ideas. I soon had some material that was quickly […]

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