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CNET First Look
CNET First Look
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>> Hey, I'm Donald Bell, senior editor for digital, audio, and MP3, and today we're taking a First Look at the Zoom H4n. This is a stereo portable audio recorder with a list price of $500.00, and a street price closer to 350. Now given it's size and price, you're obviously not gonna be using this thing to record voice memos and what to pick up at the grocery store. This is a pro audio piece of recording gear, aimed at musicians and journalists, that competes against recorders like the Edirol RO9HR and the Sony PCMD50. In other words, this thing is made for me. To be perfectly honest, I love it. Now, here's what makes this thing so cool. First of all, it's built really solid. It's a little on the chunky side compared to something like the Yamaha Pockettrak 2G, but it feels really nice. You're not gonna lose it, and the stereo mikes up top are anchored into this solid chunk of aluminum. Now, if you played around with Zoom's affordable but cheap-feeling H2 recorder, you'd be amazed at the difference in construction quality. The second awesome feature on the Zoom H4n is that it includes phantom powered mike inputs on the bottom that work with both quarter-inch and XLR connections. You're not gonna find any other dedicated recorder in this price range that can pull that off aside from Zoom's original H4, which was kind of a beast. But the killer feather here is the ability to record up to four channels at once, combining the built in microphones with the external mike inputs. If you're at band rehearsal, this means that you can use the stereo mics up top to capture the sound of the room, while also recording the sound of your guitar or a keyboard as a separate stereo file. Other features include support for SDHC memory cards, a built-in speaker, and a stamina mode that records continuously for up to 11 hours. Zoom also throws in extras like a mic stand mount, a one-gigabyte SD card, recording software, and a windscreen. All in all, this is one of the best mobile recording values out there. Sound quality and battery life are excellent, and you're getting more features than you'll find on recorders at twice the price. I'm Donald Bell, and that was a First Look at the Zoom H4n.
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