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A great-sounding pocket recorder: Zoom H2n

Zoom's H2n Handy Recorder has built-in microphones and records MP3 files and 96-kHz/24-bit high-resolution audio.

The H2n recorder

I wrote about Zoom's nifty $99 H1 pocket recorder last year, and really loved its sound, so I was curious to see how the H2n recorder measured up. It's a bit shorter, just 4.5 inches high, but fatter and a little heavier. The H2n's body is shiny black plastic, but it feels more solidly built than the H1.

It has four recording modes: Mid-Side (MS) stereo, 90 degree X/Y stereo, two-channel, and four-channel surround modes. The H2n can record MP3 files (48 to 320 Kbps) or WAV files (44.1-kHz/16-bit to 96-kHz/24-bit). The "Gain Wheel" knob is a big improvement over the H1's up/down record-level control buttons, and the large 1.8-inch back-lit display is easy to see. A 2 GB SD card is included, but the H2n works with up to 32GB SDHC cards, and there's a USB 2.0 interface to transfer files to a Mac or PC. The H2n runs on two AA batteries, and Zoom claims they're good for up to 20 hours of recording time.

The H2n and H1 Steve Guttenberg

Connectivity is pretty basic; there's a 3.5mm mic input, a 3.5mm headphone/line output, a remote control jack, and that USB port I mentioned before.

I recorded a few musicians rehearsing for a session, and compared the H2n with the H1. Frankly, it was no contest. The differences in clarity and detail were bigger than I expected. The H1 sounded dull and lifeless by comparison; so it was harder to hear the natural reverberation of the room. The H2n is a great little recorder.

Amazon sells the H2n for $188.