Zoom H4n Audio Recorder

Ken Stone's FCP by Steve Douglas

It would be redundant of me to, once again, emphasize just how important the quality of the audio is both when planning preproduction, when shooting, and in post production.

For those many who have begun much of their filming using the DSLR's which, aside from being great for the photo enthusiast, can produce some beautiful video footage, but to the user's dismay, the audio quality for any of the DSLRs that I have heard is quite dreadful. Fortunately there is software that can, with little effort, ameliorate syncing issues that come when attempting to use other audio recording devices. But what about the audio recorders themselves? There are many and they vary in terms of their quality and flexibility.

Recently I have been able to borrow several of these units produced from different companies. While many of these hand held audio recorders are just fine for recording seminars, podcasts and even interviews, the Zoom H4n, which has been on the market for some time now, is my winning choice for both its build quality and audio neutrality. Just as speakers and microphones have different tonalities, spreads and colorations, so do audio recorders. In extensive tests I found the H4n to deliver rich sound in a variety of locations and under several different recording environments.

I recently reviewed the Zoom H1 recorder with favorable results. The H4n does, however, take a giant leap from H1's solid foundation and heads into the stratosphere with a multitude of additional functions, a tremendous improvement in build and handling quality and greater recording flexibility. Does that mean it is perfect? Nope but you will see later in this review that I will be only nitpicking.

Measuring at 6.5 inches long and 2.75 inches wide and a thickness of 1.5 inches, the Zoom H4n has a very solid and professional feel to it. I criticized the H1 for its cheap plastic construction despite its good audio recording capabilities, but that is certainly not the case for the H4n. The thick rubberized coating prevents accidental dropping when hand holding and, I am certain, contributes to the minimum of handling noise. read more...

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