Portable Recording | Gear Nebraska

by Brendan G-W

The Zoom H4n is a piece of gear that I have wanted to get my hands on for a while. It is a field recorder that combines portability, versatility and great quality in one great tool. The H4n records to both SD and SDHC cards, and with a maximum capacity of 32 GB, you would be hard pressed to run out of recording space. The unit can run off of either two AA batteries or an A/C adapter. It has a stamina mode, which can increase battery performance for up to 11 hours of continuous use.

The H4n can record at 24 bit 96kHz, which surpasses CD quality. To save space, you can choose to record at 16 bit 44.1kHz or in MP3 format from 320kHz and down.

It features a built-in reference speaker in case you don’t have headphones to check the levels. Audio files can be transferred to a computer via a USB 2.0 port or by a card reader.

The built-in X/Y microphones can capture a true stereo image at any distance without phasing issues because they are aligned on the same axis. They are adjustable from a 90-degree field for a more directional recording to a 120-degree field for a wider depth for room or outdoor recording. Zoom added two inputs on the bottom of the recorder that accept both XLR and ¼” inputs to turn it into a four-channel unit. A decent built-in preamp, as well as phantom power, are nice touches. Dynamic or condenser microphones can be plugged right into the mix. For a great live sound, the stereo mics can be used in conjunction with a feed from the console. Individual volume controls help to ensure that clipping doesn’t occur.

The H4n has three recording modes. In two-channel stereo, it uses the onboard stereo microphones. Four-channel stereo mode uses the microphones as well as the stereo inputs on the bottom of the unit. The multi-track mode allows two-channel simultaneous recording, with the ability to overdub up to four channels. Another nice feature is that the H4n can be used as a USB interface, to record directly to a computer.

The H4n has a tuner built in, and you know I like those. It also has some onboard effects, but they are nothing special. Any basic computer recording software will have better options.

This is a well-built recorder with a wide variety of uses.

Thanks to Ingrained for the H4n loan (check out their vids to hear how the H4n works at live shows), I will be purchasing mine later this week. And a special thanks to Mr. Dan McCarthy for lending his time and talents on the piano.

Brendan G-W is an Omaha native. Some of his fave things this week are not being towed (bummer for the car I’m watching being towed right now) and Love Drunk — they should be your fave too. Got a comment or suggestion? Leave it here or send an email to brendan.gwalsh@gmail.com.

Here's a little clip I shot on my walk home from Dan's. Enjoy.