Zoom H2N: The Future of Portable Recorders
Samson, the company that makes Zoom recorders, sent me 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 around with it, I must say that I am quite impressed with their new recorder.
Thoughts Post Demo
I wrote a blog on the H2n before I got my hands on it and I had some things that I thought were lacking. For instance I did not like how there was no XLR, 1/4 inch combination input like on the H4n. My doubts were quickly erased when I used the on board mics and played around with the menu functions. The mics are great and implementing an external input would have made the recorder larger and less portable.
In addition I did not like how a shoe mount was not incorporated into the package for DSLR cameras. I quickly realized that not only can you easily purchase an adapter to work with the H2n, but also that the mic should be operated by someone separate from the camera man. This will insure the best possible audio recording when working in the medium of film. For musicians, I think it is one of the best portable recorders for capturing instruments. You now have options for how you want to capture sound which is a huge plus in my book.
One of the things I could not comment on previously was the actual feel of the recorder in my hand. I was able to see photos and review specifications but it was not until I got my “grimy little paws” on it, that I was able to see how versatile and portable this recorder actually is. The overall size is smaller than the H2, but that’s because all of the menu functions are now selectable within the LCD screen. That allows for a much larger mic capsule with the 5 on board mics. Brilliant!!!
But what I really like is that the side with the LCD screen is recessed. So when you pick it up and hold it, it feels like it should fit into your hand. This is a huge improvement from the H2 where you had a boxy feel. The H2n feels much more ergonomic with its design. The record button fits into the recessed part of the recorder, which helps with being accurate when selecting the perfect time to record and stop. No more errors when recording on the fly.
So Samson provided us with some test recordings which we used in the video. I had a chance to do some of my own vocal recordings, but felt that you guys would want to hear how instruments sound, as well as noises out in the field. Now that we have some content for you to drool over, I will take the time to do some of my own field recordings and report back with links to the sounds.
So listen closely to the test recordings that Samson provided. If you put headphones on and listen to the train, it feels like you are surrounded by the sound of the train. Also if you listen to the mid side recording of the drum set, you can hear the tom tom playing though the right side while the main beat is coming from the left. This type of stereo surround sound recording is such a new and exciting innovation for these recorders. It blew me away and got me really excited for the future of portable digital recorders.
I highly recommend picking up this recorder when we get our shipment here at uniquesquared.com. Its small, lightweight design and top quality on-board mics (there are 5!!! holy cow!!!) make it the perfect recorder for all types of audio geeks out there. I am picking mine up as soon as I am finished writing this sentence. Done!
Transcript:So this is Taylor from uniquesquared.com and today we’re talking digital portable recorders once again. This time we’ve got Zoom’s H2n. Now this is a brand new recorder from Zoom, it’s next generation from the previous recorder the H2. So we’re going to get into it, I’m going to show you the construction, the features that are involved with it, and then let you listen to some sample recordings. Let’s check it out. So one of the first things we want to talk about is the construction. I have here the H2, which is Zoom’s first recorder in this line, and right of the bat you can tell the difference in the mic capsule size, which is really nice because you know you’re going to get a better recording with this larger mic capsule over here on the H2n. One of the other things you’ll notice is the LCD screen. Now it’s a little smaller on here, and much bigger on here, which is really nice so you don’t have that eyesore problem trying to hunt down your menu functions. I really like what Zoom did with that. One of the things I will mention though is a prototype, so when it ships it may look a little different that what you see now. But I can assure you that all the functions are going to remain the same as what I’m about to go through. So you have your menu selection, your play/pause as well as your track selection, and your power and hold feature for saving battery life. You’ll also have this analog mic gain adjustment which is really nice, so a lot of times that stuff is selectable through the menu and you have to monitor that through the LCD screen. But now if you’re hearing the clipping or you’re seeing it visually on the screen, you can simply adjust that on the side without any problems, I really like that. Looking at the other side, you’ve got your mic line in over here as well as your volume adjustment for your headphone monitoring and your USB out, now this converts audio through your USB 2.0 so it’s one of the fastest converters of audio on this recorder. Now you also have this remote in so you can hook up a remote which comes with an accessory pack that Zoom provides. It’s got things like a tripod stand, and a DC power and USB connection, and a lot of other things that really compliment this recorder well. One of the other things that I really like is the speaker on here, it’s got an onboard speaker for monitoring so you’re not always having to fumble with headphones. If you want to listen to recording immediately you can do that by listening through the speaker. Ok so let’s talk about the microphones that we’ve got on here, it’s got the XY mics that you find on the H2. But this is the very first recorder that has mid side recording. Now mid side recording is very cool because you can record your source directly and monitor though the sides. Now that’s very nice and this is the first recorder that does that, I can’t stress that enough this is a new innovation in portable digital recorders. But not only that, you also have two channel and four channel recording. Now this helps for developing a surround sound recording. You switch it to two channel and it just uses the mics on the back, you switch into four channel and it uses all five mics on this recorder. Yes I said it, five mics on this recorder, how cool is that? So one of the most important features on this recorder besides the microphones is the brain, which is all the features which are selectable within the LCD screen. Now this recorder records in 24bit 96k, you can also record in wav or mp3 format. And one of the other functions in here which is really nice is the input function which allows you to do different things, like you can put a low cut filter, you can also put compressors and limiters on there. And there’s three different compressor modes, three different limiter modes. Really nice to have that versatile option for your onboard recordings. It’s also got system setting functions and a USB function for transferring all your audio, just kind of basic standard stuff on any portable recorder. But the real standout feature on here is the data recovery system. So if you’re out in the field recording and your batteries suddenly die, don’t worry because all your recordings will be saved. It saves from the last thing you recorded basically until the batteries die, so it works in the same way that a lot of certain softwares work where you have a recovery system for all your files. I really like that about the H2n, especially as a field recorder. Some other features to mention is that it comes with a two gigabyte card. It can record with a 32 gigabyte card which is really nice. It also runs for twenty hours on two double A batteries, that is phenomenal, really really like that. It also comes with Steinberg wavelab LE software, and if you’re one of those guys that’s just getting started with recording it’s really nice because you have a software to start playing around with to trim your recordings or beef them up with some equalization or whatever functions you want to add on top of that. So now that I’ve gone over the construction and the features, as well as the microphones and the LCD screen. I’m going to let you guys listen to a couple sample recordings to let you guys see how this thing sounds. So now that you’ve gotten to hear what it sounds like, I’m going to give you my take on the H2n, it’s great. I’m a musician and a filmmaker so I like the versatile options you have. You can take it in the studio and record or as a filmmaker you can take it to record dialogue as well as sort of like room tones and ambient soundscapes to be able to put them into your soundtrack. One of the things that I found limiting is that you do not have a ¼ inch XLR input on the H2n. But after playing with the onboard mics you don’t really need it, these microphones sound really great and I think putting an XLR and TRS input on here would have actually limited what this thing is because it’s supposed to be a small portable recorder. Putting those inputs on here would have made it a lot larger and bulkier. So I think Zoom did a good job actually not putting them on here and I look forward to using this thing a lot in the future. But to find out more information check us out on uniquesquared.com. You can also check us out on our blog at uniquesquared.com/blog where you’ll see a write up on this and a ton of other products. 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