Technology changes too fast! :: Zoom H4n

By the time you’ve finished reading this post, chances are at least one piece of technology has been replaced by something smaller, more powerful and easier to use. As an audio engineer, I experience this stuff on a day to day basis. I may purchase a new pre-amp just to see someone come out with a better version with added functionality only weeks later. 

These occurrences are even more common around this time of the year with the music products industry. It’s been almost a month since the Winter NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) trade show took place and companies and releasing their new products for the year. 

I experience a love/hate relationship with this trade show; I love checking out all of the new gear that is soon to hit the floor. There are all kinds of amazing improvements being made, particularly in recording and synthesis. But I hate when a piece of gear gets replaced by the “mark II” version or worse, becomes obsolete altogether. 

Today, 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, Hartke) is releasing the H4n. Now realistically, I knew this would happen at some point. But why now?

The worst part, is that the new version is packed full of all kinds of great new features. Here’s a quick list:

  • Built-in X/Y stereo mics record at either 90° or 120°
  • Four channel simultaneous recording using built-in and external mics
  • Digitally controlled, high-quality mic preamp for improved audio quality
  • Large 1.9-Inch LCD screen and improved user interface for easy operation
  • 24bit/96kHz Linear PCM recording for pristine recording
  • Built-in reference speaker to check recordings
  • Shock resistant rubberized body for improved chassis protection
  • Broadcast Wave Format (BWF) compatible time stamp and track marker
  • Records on SD/SDHC media of up to 32GB for maximum recording time
  • Variable speed playback capability for “phrase training”
  • Stamina mode enables 10 hours of continuous battery life
  • Onboard mid-side matrix decoder for additional miking possibilities
  • Built-in mounting joint for tripod and mic stand mounting
  • USB 2.0 port for faster file transfer
  • Optional remote control (RC4) available


One of my favorites has to be the ability for the H4n to record to up to 32GB cards. That’s a major downfall of the H4. I can only go up to 2GB in card size right now. It hasn’t been horrible, but to not have to switch out cards during a longer session would be wonderful. Another great feature has to be the 4-channel simultaneous recording capability. Now you can record with built-in mics as well as external mics at the same time. This is great when you’re recording direct from a sound board but also want to get the room sound. Also, the H4n has a built-in mount now for attaching it to a stand. Ironically enough, I came across the H4n as I was searching online for the possibility of getting a new cradle for my H4 (I seem to have misplaced it…). 

What does this mean? Well, I’ll likely be selling my H4 and picking up the H4n in the near future. I’m a victim of technological progression. What can I say?


The new H4n by Zoom

The new H4n by Zoom


One Response

  1. I agree – the new H4n sounds great. I like that you can now date and time stamp recordings. The clip on the battery lid on mine is broken and I need to use a pen knife to open it, so I’m seriously thinking about getting the new one.

    By the way, I upgraded the firmware in my H4 and now it can support 8GB SDHC cards – maybe bigger even, but that’s the biggest I have. You can download the f/w update from the zoom support site


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