Zoom H4n review: Zoom H4n

The H4n runs off two AA batteries, and includes internal settings to maximize performance from either alkaline or rechargeable batteries. At its default setting, you can expect around six hours of continuous WAV recording. For longer recording times, you can switch the H4n into a stamina mode that offers up to 11 hours of WAV recording. No matter how you cut it, though, you're still not getting the 12 hours of recording promised by the Sony PCM-D50, but the $100 you save may be worth the sacrifice.

Now, we could spend paragraphs trying to describe the sound quality of the H4n and the benefits of its four-channel recording feature, but instead, we'll let the audio do the talking. Alan Stewart and Jesse Clark from the Bay Area music group Agents Del Futuro let us sit in on a rehearsal session, where we captured sounds ranging from acoustic guitar to African thumb piano. We recorded these audio snippets using the H4n's four-channel mode, set at the default 16-bit/44kHz resolution. Both two-track and four-track versions of the recordings are included, to give you a sense of sonic advantages of four-channel recording.

Several of these recordings also take advantage of the H4n's internal compression and limiter settings, which we've noted in the description. Aside from volume adjustments and fades, no postproduction processing has been applied to the recordings, except to convert them into constant bit rate 256Kbps MP3 files using LAME encoder version 3.97. The samples are short, but hopefully convey our satisfaction with the H4n's recording quality and capabilities.

Acoustic guitar
(stereo mics with limiter)
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Acoustic guitar
(stereo mics with limiter, direct piezo mic with compression, 3-channels)
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Thumb piano
(stereo mics only with no compression, 90-degree mic pattern)
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Thumb piano
(stereo mics with no compression, 90-degree mic pattern, stereo piezo mics with compression, 4-channels)
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Drums
(stereo mics with limiter)
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Drums
(stereo mics with limiter, overhead snare mic and kick drum mic with compression, 4-channels)
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Acoustic guitar and vibraphone
(stereo mics with limiter)
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Acoustic guitar and vibraphone
(stereo mics with limiter, plus ribbon mic on vibes and piezo mic on guitar, both with compression, 4-channels)
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Drums and lap steel guitar
(stereo mics with limiter)
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Drums and lap steel guitar
(stereo mics with limiter, and overhead snare mic and kick drum mic with compression, 4-channels)
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Rainy boulevard
(stereo mics with compression, windscreen)
Listen now:

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Where to Buy See all prices

Zoom H4n

Part Number: H4n Released: Apr 1, 2009
Low Price: $199.99 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Apr 1, 2009
  • Built-in Display LCD
  • Weight 9.9 oz
  • Sound Output Mode mono
  • Type digital voice recorder