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Zoom H4n Portable Digital Recorder

Zoom H4n Digital Recorder Review

The Zoom H4n represents the next generation of portable digital recorders. 96khz/24bit recording in the palm of your hand, with available multi-channel and multi-track recording capabilities. Guitar players will enjoy the host of instrument friendly features including a metronome, tuner, and effects with programmable presets.

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Zoom H4n Recording Modes

Recording Modes

Depending on the mode selected options for Lo Cut, Compressor/limiter, Auto Levels, Phantom Power, Plug in power (for battery powered mics), and recording to a mono mix are available as menu options

The H4n has three recording modes Stereo, 4 channel, and multi-track. Stereo Mode is probably the most useful mode initially.

4Ch Mode enable the H4n to record the onboard OR plug-in stereo mics along with inputs one and two, which can be dynamic or phantom powered mics via XLR/1/4″ connection, OR other instruments by the 1/4″ combo plugs. In 4 Channel mode .wmv format files at 44.1/48khz and 16/24bit depth are the only options. The pre-amp level settings for channels 1 and 2 are linked and not able to be set individually. In4ch mode the files created are two stereo files. The H4n is easy to set-up and entirely portable, really an ideal location recording solution. Or for band practices and small scale recording sessions.

Tip: Turning the ‘Monitor’ feature on in the menu options makes it possible to monitor your guitar or other signal on inputs 1 & 2 for settings effects or levels without recording.

The MTR (multi-track) Recording Mode allows you to record 4 independent tracks or in stereo pairs. Effects can be assigned to individual channels as they record. There are many effects to choose from with presets for guitar, vocal, studio effects, with more available via your own pre-sets.

Additional Features:

The Tuner can be set for Chromatic, Guitar, or Bass Modes. Chromatic finds the note you are playing automatically and indicates it’s pitch. Guitar and bass modes use the side jog/dial button to select the string you want to tune individually. There are open tuning settings available also. You can tune from the 1&2 inputs or the built in mics.

The Metronome has various click tones and can be set to count in before recording, click during recording and/during plkayback. This is a great practice tool for building speed and accuracy, as well as a click track for recording. Drummers may want sound isolating headphones or ear buds so that the click track isn’t drowned out by the drums themselves while playing. The metronome as click track worked great when jotting down some guitar playing ideas. The H4n, a pair of headphones, guitar and guitar cable are an instant anywhere recording and practicing rig. You can load the SD card with your favorites (converted to .wav format) to listen and play along with. You can also load up mono or stereo files to act as a base for multi track recording.

Conclusion

We give the Zoom H4n high marks. It’s loaded with features, is easy to use and does what it claims to do, well.

Test Recordings

Below you’ll find several test recordings made with the Zoom H4n. There’s also a field recording of a thunderstorm and a running water sound effect. All of these recordings where recorded at 44.1/24bit which is better than CD quality. All of the recordings were then edited for length and converted to 256kbps .mp3 files. Unfortunately the large file size limits our ability to show off the highest quality 24/96 recordings in their native format. But like any high quality recording device the quality of what is initially recorded effects the quality of the final audio file.

Click on the left end of the player to start playback.

By ModGuitar Senior Editor

I have been building and modding guitars for 20+ years. My goal is to share my knowledge with readers, as well as offer affordable learning and do-it-yourself resources.

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