PRO AUDIO
Taylor

Taylor
July 12, 2011

Zoom H2n Portable Digital Recorder Announced

Zoom, the industry leader in portable digital recorders, has just unveiled their latest foray into the portable recording market, the Zoom H2n Handy Recorder. It features their latest microphone technology with five mic capsules on-board. Five mic capsules?!? There are definitely some noticeable improvements to the microphone technology on this bad boy.

WHAT’S NEW

  • Five built-in mic capsules provide Mid-Side (MS) stereo, 90° X/Y stereo, 2-channel and 4-channel recording modes
  • Records in WAV up to 24-bit/96kHz and MP3 up to 320kbps
  • Newly designed user interface
  • Additional functions include Lo-cut Filter, Compressor/Limiter, Auto Gain, Pre-Rec, Auto-Rec, Tuner, Metronome, Variable Speed Playback, Key Control, A-B Repeat, File Dividing, Normalize, MP3 Post-Encode, Marker and Surround Mixer
  • Data recovery function protects against unexpected recording errors
  • Over 20 hours of operation using two standard AA batteries
  • Operates on battery, AC or USB bus power
  • 1.8-inch backlit LCD display with 128 x 64 resolution
  • Analog-type Mic Gain wheel
  • Built-in reference speaker
  • High-speed USB 2.0 card reader function
  • 1/8-inch Mic/Line Input and Phones/Line Output stereo phone jacks
  • Accommodates up to 32GB SDHC memory cards
  • Includes Steinberg WaveLab LE 7 editing software, 2GB SD memory card and two AA batteries
  • Optional accessory package (APH-2n) includes remote control with extension cable, windscreen, AC adapter (USB type), USB cable, adjustable tripod stand, padded-shell case and a mic clip adapter.
  • Five built-in mic capsules provide Mid-Side (MS) stereo, 90° X/Y stereo, 2-channel and 4-channel recording modes
  • Records in WAV up to 24-bit/96kHz and MP3 up to 320kbps
  • Newly designed user interface
  • Additional functions include Lo-cut Filter, Compressor/Limiter, Auto Gain, Pre-Rec, Auto-Rec, Tuner, Metronome, Variable Speed Playback, Key Control, A-B Repeat, File Dividing, Normalize, MP3 Post-Encode, Marker and Surround Mixer
  • Data recovery function protects against unexpected recording errors
  • Over 20 hours of operation using two standard AA batteries
  • Operates on battery, AC or USB bus power
  • 1.8-inch backlit LCD display with 128 x 64 resolution
  • Analog-type Mic Gain wheel
  • Built-in reference speaker
  • High-speed USB 2.0 card reader function
  • 1/8-inch Mic/Line Input and Phones/Line Output stereo phone jacks
  • Accommodates up to 32GB SDHC memory cards
  • Includes Steinberg WaveLab LE 7 editing software, 2GB SD memory card and two AA batteries
  • Optional accessory package (APH-2n) includes remote control with extension cable, windscreen, AC adapter (USB type), USB cable, adjustable tripod stand, padded-shell case and a mic clip adapter.

THOUGHTS ON THAT

Zoom has incorporated an interesting feature that allows you to switch between different recording modes with the on-board mic. XY is still the go to setting but I would like to hear the quality in sound from the mid-side recording mode. So what is mid-side recording mode? Well for those of us that work in film, it is a great feature for capturing ambient noise that may not be directly in front of us. Your subject can be recorded with clarity while also capturing things like natural tones within a room or out in the field. How cool is that?!?

For musicians it’s great for acting as a wide range condenser microphone for studio and live recordings. Zoom is the first company to offer this technology in a portable digital recorder and it has me very excited. The recorder also has options for selecting between 2 and 4 channel surround modes which allow for optimum control when editing in post. Zoom has really listened to their consumers because having this flexibility in post production is what we want.

There are tons of features on the recorder that allow you to manipulate your recordings before you take them to your preferred audio editing software. Things like lo-cut filters, compressors, and limiters are always great to throw in on the fly. Also you have the ability to control the width of your surround recordings for total control. Very cool.

H2n with MacBook

SLAM! POUND! CRUSH!

So lets go over some other cool things about this recorder. A longer battery life is of course awesome. 20 hours with 2 alkaline AA’s is a mega improvement from the H2 as well as the H4n. Looks like the LCD screen is bigger and Zoom says it is brighter but I wont know until I see it for myself. SLAM! It transfers audio with USB 2.0 for fast downloading at optimum efficiency. POUND! Also a data recovery function in case your H2n shuts down unexpectedly during a recording or before saving. Although I would like to see this feature before I can fully believe it works. CRUSH!

H2n Battery

SCRATCHING MY HEAD

I am impressed Zoom, but why after releasing the ever popular H4n did you call this one the H2n? Well I can tell you after looking at it there are some things which do not make it an improvement on the best portable recorder on the market. Instead this is the next generation of the H2 recorder which has a similar look but with a larger microphone capsule, larger screen, and internal function selections. However there are some things that I don’t really like about this recorder and do not see how they would be of value as the next generation of the H2.

H2n Left Side

First off there is only one mic line input. There is an 1/8” jack is on the side. I guess because there is no TRS or XLR input it couldn’t be an H5n. The mic gain adjustment only has 10 levels which seems odd to me. The H4n has a 0-100 mic level adjustment feature which is more in tune with proper level adjustment. I also cant tell if its a fluid dial or if it locks into one of the 10 positions. The H2n comes with Steinberg Wavelab LE.  Don’t get me wrong, Steinberg makes quality audio editing software, but if you are really investing money in a portable digital recorder, I got to believe you already have your own software that you are comfortable with.

But, there is value in this for the person who has no software, or is just getting started with audio recordings.

SHOE MOUNT ZOOM?

As a filmmaker I have to mention this. WHERE IS THE SHOE MOUNT ZOOM?!? They already know that their H4n is immensely popular among independent and even professional filmmakers and they have yet to make an adapter for DSLR cameras. I was really hoping that the next recorder to come out of the Zoom lab would be one that was helpful for DSLR filmmakers.

But if Zoom can do this to the H2n, many filmmakers may try to make the H2n work for them.  Either way, the H2n is promising news.  Zoom is stepping up their game. Who knows, maybe Zoom really is working on the H5n.  If so, shoe mount please!

THE LOW DOWN

No matter how you slice it, I like the direction Zoom is going with the H2n. It’s still small and portable and the on-board mic combines professional studio quality with consumer accessibility. You can rest assured world that I will give you a full review whenever I get my grimy little paws on this thing.

Also, if you like what you see, you can pre-order one here.

Comments

  1. Steve says:

    Now if they could include wireless remotes for the H2N and H4N and you have a total winner. (OK I know they have a wired remote but today a wireless would be far better.) Zoom is fabulous but that one missing feature would make it unbeatable.

  2. Arbie says:

    A 1/4-20> hot shoe adapter is a few bucks on ebay. Probably a better option for many video situations is to get the zoom closer to the subject(s) on a boom or hidden on a desk etc in surround sound and then you are free to move around with the camera without fear of creating noise in the mic.

    1. Taylor taylor says:

      Thanks for the comment Arbie! I agree that for many video situations, a mic on a boom is definitely the way to go. Sometimes one does not always have the luxury of a boom mic operator, and having a shoe mount becomes the go to option. While there are adapters available, it was disappointing to see that Zoom does not provide one considering the popularity of their recorders amongst filmmakers and videographers. Nevertheless I think Zoom has some of the best portable recorders on the market and look forward to showing off its features.

  3. [...] a prototype of their new portable digital recorder the H2n. I originally wrote a blog detailing my initial impressions of the recorder before I was able to get my hands on it. Now that I have had the chance to play [...]