I’m still waiting to get my hands on a Samson Zoom H4n digital audio recorder, but the folks at Samson tell me one of the biggest improvements over the original Zoom H4 is that the new recorder has better preamps, which means you should get less hiss when using an external dynamic or condenser microphone.
Update: The audio for this article was originally uploaded to an online service that no longer exists, so unfortunately it is no longer available.
I hope to get a demo unit soon and post a complete review. But in the meantime, reader Jon Skitch managed to snag an H4n and he sent me the following audio sample made using the recorder and a Rode NT1A microphone.
The noise floor appears to be much lower than on the Zoom H4, which means you get cleaner sounding recordings, at least with a high quality mic like the NT1A. While it’s not an apples to apples comparison, you can check out a few recordings I’ve made with the Zoom H4 and an EV RE50b dynamic mic in my original Zoom H4 review and my Sony PCM-D50 review.
Excellent recording, this recorder sounds better than both my Marantz 670 and 661. I will sell my Marantz 670 and invest on this one.
At last Zoom has created a serious professional field recording tool. Awesome!!
Hmmmm, gorgeous. Now would just like to know how it sounds with Dynamic mics. Will definitely by this product (BTW good voice).
Graham Riches says
Excellent demo left enough gaps to determine the noise floor level. I am very impressed with the recording.
super clean, very transparent and crystal clear – near state of the art (studio grade). I think its sounds better than Marantz 661 and its cheaper too, with better built in mics. Not forgetting loads of features.
A real winner.
Like i said in the previous post i were thinking of buying XLR-1 adaptor for sony pcm d-50 but after listening to this demo i may consider buying this unit.
I personally think the recorder is good but am not sure about those mics it seems very vulnerable – it needs protective caging. Apart from that it sounds good as my Korg MR-1000 (nice demo). For that price its a steal.
Ultra clean pre-amps with very detailed, crystal clear sound. Need you to try internal mics next to check handling noise.
This is by far the best recorder in the planet for the money. Only one snag no wireless remote in the package. Apart from that –
I have edirol ro9HR and am happy with it but i am quite tempted with this recorder because it has XLR inputs. The recording quality seems very similar to my recorder. I think via XLR you have a more cleaner pro sound. oh! nice demo.
I must say this is real gem and probably puts an edge on my Sony D-50 because it employs XLR inputs with very clean pre-amps. After listening to the above demo; i decided to capture the recording using my PC sound (lynx Reference 2) with its line-out into my Sony D-50 line-in just to hear noise floor level in SoundForge. The result were astonishing ; it seemed lower than D-50 yet it delivered the same punch and power. With massive experience Zoom has created a monster which is gonna be hsrd to beat at this price!! “A KING HAS BORN”
you can find a sample with the pcm-d50 and the NT1A at wingfield audio. Though it’s a little hard to hear since there are no silent “gaps”. also, an external phantom power supply was used.
Even if Sony pcm-d50 sounds the same as Zoom H4n when using external power supply with NT1A mic, i would still recommend Zoom H4n:
1. Its cheaper and uses 2 batteries only,
2. Sony will use 2 boxes because it does not employ XLR inputs and that defeats the object of being portability.
3. Zoom H4n offers better features. ie MP3 recording,
can be used as an interface card, can tune guitars, has special effects and it also offers mono/stereo/multi-track recordings and much much more…
BTW the sound at wingfield was cleaned up using a software, probably used noise gate, reverb and compression to enhance the sound quality.
H4n is the winner.
I am quite new to portable recorders,
Brad. which one is best buy:
1. Sony pcm D-50
2. Tascam DR-100
3. Zoom H4n
Graham Riches says
My choice would be H4n as you can listen to the demo above that the mic pre-amps are very clean. It can record up 24/96 and has XLR inputs. It has loads of features check this link (a video on zoom H4n):
I hope this helps.
That was a very harsh statement you put forward for wingfieldaudio; if you listen to those samples carefully you can here back ground noise. Please in future don’t add ludicrous statement, if you don’t have enough evidence behind it.
This is simply a nice looking digital recorder. Has very large LCD Display.
I may look into this one. Presently, I own Edirol RO9 and am not happy with it because there is hiss in every input/output stage. How does headphone amp sound on this one?
This is a very neat package all in one studio that really works for you. The value is very good that makes this recorder really shine. Its got more features than swiss army knife and lot more stamina than average recorders. This recording tool will set standards and make other manufacturers think twice releasing another recorder. This is just gonna take the mass market with real storm. hahahaha to Sony, Fostex, Marantz and Olympus,
OK. this is a good recorder but there is too many recorders to choose from. Which one is right for me?
Excellent recorder for both speeches and music – sounds like a high end recorder. I am definitely going for this recorder and forgetting about Marantz 661.
Hehe, dreaming and speculating is fun. I am just glad that Zoom has looked at the other brands out there, listened to the users and made such huge improvements… I have the H4 since it came out… it is VERY hard to read the tiny screen, and that silly thing you have to put on it to be able to mount on a tripod. The improvements made to the H4n are exactly the things I have been dreaming of.
I mean, simultaneous 4-track recording…WOOOW! All the gigs I have played, wishing I could capture BOTH me and the audience in a nice way…or to be able to blend the sound from my speakers with a direct recording for added presence/clarity/legibility… awesome!
Kudos to Zoom for pushing the envelope again. I am VERY impressed with this upgrade. Let’s hope I’ll be able to afford it…even if the price is outstanding.
The buzz on this has been terrific, but it seems that reviewers all got a peek at it in early January, and nobody has had a chance to use it. So I wait for something that looks like an objective review. I have used the H2, and the user interface is awkward, to put it mildly. Does the H2N, with all the extra buttons and larger screen, make big improvements on the UI? And are the preamps really so good? Et c. I see today that vendors finally have it in stock. I hope to see more reviews soon.
FYI this product is not H2N its H4N. Listen to the samples carefully. It does seem a decent, easy to use recorder.
Can anyone tell me which would be the best for recording live classical music, the Zoom H4n or the Fostex FR2-LE? Opinions are unanimously positive about the Fostex, but it’s quite a bit more expensive than the H4n and the H4n also hasn’t been out that long, so less has been written about it. How do the new and better preamps of the H4n compare to those of the Fostex?
no idea m8. just listen to the above samples. lol
check this blog for your answer.
This machine lost to mighty Sony pcmd50.
I have the H4N. It seems great.It is a truly beautiful piece of equipment. With all the features it has and the price being $439 (In Canada) it is a far better deal than the others in its class. It sounds great to me – Im no expert.
I have tried it with a studio mike and a Sure SM58, inside, outside, in vehicles the works and it works great. When I record ambient sounds in a room, then play it back on my headphones its so clear and real that I find myself answering someone I hear on the recording. Its that clear!
I'm sorry to disagree with you guys, but I feel someone should give an other perspective, for potential buyers reading this. To my ears the H4n is a decent recorder, but sounds somehow hollow and thin' also the preamps are not something I would happy to use, lack of definition, overly bright and too sterile. I would NOT call it's audio recording quality stellar or pristine as some people commented in any way. I'm sure for many people it is good enough and for sure gives you a lot for what it costs, but I feel it still leaves a lot to be desired in the audio department.
I am an audio engineer and I always look for the best possible audio quality first, even for a low cost machine like this one, and then features, and I just felt someone had to put the record straight on this one…
I bought the H4N and I am very satisfied with it
this is a quick recording from it, I used the multi-record track mode and used my shure Beta 57a phantom mic to record my vocals which I recorded in my truck thanks to the portability of this unit, recorded my guitar direct line and then recorded guitar with the H4N mics.
I made this for my Wife.
That recording was done at the NAMM show using the H2n.