There’s a new firmware update for the Zoom H4 Handy Recorder, and boy is it a doozy. In fact, Zoom seems to have addressed almost every single complaint anyone’s ever had with the Zoom software. Version 2.0 (or later) includes:
- Larger fonts making the tiny display easier to read
- Battery meter shows how much juice you’ve got left when recording in stereo mode
- Specify whether you’re using alkaline or Ni-MH batteries for a more accurate battery reading
- There’s a remaining time meter in stereo mode
- Mono mix recording in stereo mode (In other words, you’ll still be recording on two tracks, but the output will be dual mono instead of true stereo. This doesn’t save you any space on your memory card, but it does make voice recordings more accurate).
- Low cut filter with 10 presets for reducing background sound
- Auto recording mode starts up a recording when there’s sound above a certain threshold and pauses when it gets quiet
- Support for SDHC cards up to 4GB (Previously you could only use SD cards up to 2GB)
- Convert WAV files to MP3 directly on the unit to save space
- Divide large files
- Normalize files to bring up the volume on the recorder (Depending on the card you’re using, this could reportedly take almost as long as recording a new track, so you might be better off waiting until you get to a PC to do this).
- You can now turn off the input signal when using the USB interface mode. In other words, you don’t have to hear the mic or line input sound all the time
I downloaded and installed the update, and so far I’m pretty impressed. I would have preferred a true mono recording option in the stereo mode, even if that sounds like a bit of a contradiction. Once you become comfortable recording in mono using the 4-track mode, it’s not that hard to do. But since you don’t get a battery meter or remaining record time display in 4-track mode, it would be nice if you could do make true mono recordings in the 2-track mode.
You can download the supplemental Zoom H4 manual (PDF link) and see in-depth descriptions of all the new features if you want to read up a bit before messing with your recorder’s firmware.
The software update does nothing to solve the electric pulsing noise problem when you’re running on battery power, so the best solution is still to build your own battery pack. And of course, the Zoom H4 still has a few hardware issues like noisy preamps when using external mics and loud handling noise when using the internal mics.
But this update is still pretty sweet. It certainly makes up for the last disappointing firmware upgrade.
Update: A couple of people have contacted me to let me know they were having problems installing the firmware. So here are three things to make sure you’re doing:
- Make sure you check to see what version of the Zoom firmware you’re currently using and download the corresponding update file.
- When Zoom says put the update file in the root directory of your SD card, this does not mean the Sys folder. Instead, the file should not go in any folder at all.
- Make sure your Zoom is plugged in when performing the update.