This is a recorder that is very popular because 1)it is inexpensive 2)it has XLR inputs 3) records 4 channel audio 4) is super easy to use. Although the preamps are not as good as other recorders in the class, the 4 channel recording (really 3 since the onboard mics have very little stereo separation) really set this recorder apart. Ergonomically it is smartly organized, and it is super easy to use. This recorder has no digital inputs and no line input which limits its potential expandability, although they way the recording time is over 10 hours, I found, realistically, recording time using phantom power to be around 5-6 hours.

For oral history, I like the fact that you can simultaneously record two interviewees using the external XLR inputs and use the onboard microphones to record the interviewer. For many machines you have to use either/or the onboard or external microphones. This one does record using both external and onboard inputs simultaneously fairly well. The onboard mics do not physically adjust so it is difficult to point the machine at two audio sources, limiting the capability for the onboard mics for oral history. The preamps on this recorder are ok, but not even in the same ballpark as as the Tascam DR-100 MK II (which does not record 4-channel audio).  There is no doubt as to why this recorder became so popular, especially with videographers and filmmakers using their DSLR cameras to record dual source audio. I found the  Super easy to use so an easy recommendation. Not my favorite in class, but darn good.  For a useful overview of features on the H4n check out Zoom’s website:  http://www.zoom.co.jp/english/products/h4n/.

Quick Summary:

Memory: SD/SDHC
Sample rate /Bitdepth: up to 24/96
Microphone Input type: External: XLR Internal:  Uni-Directional Stereo Condenser (X/Y configuration)
Phantom Power: yes
Interface: USB 2
Cost: $ 269

 

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Douglas A. Boyd

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