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We here at Real Reviews can’t stop raving about our new portable digital recorder – the Zoom H4N. It’s been over two months since we got the device, but it’s loaded with so many features, we discover something new about it every day!

The H4N, along with previous sound recorders in the Zoom series, was originally designed for musicians, but it has become really popular with people working with DSLR video and indie filmmakers. We chose it for our video work after much research on sound recorders, including the Sony EX3 audio recorder and the Olympus DM-420 digital voice recorder.

It’s true that you can find cheaper sound recorders in the market, but for Rs19,000, the Zoom H4N will amaze you with its sound recording quality. And what’s unique about it is that it is the only device in its price range that lets you test recording levels while you’re recording. It also has a built-in speaker so you can even play back your recordings on field, although we recommend headphones to cut out the noise.

Watch the video above to see us test the recording levels of the Zoom H4N in an outdoor environment with considerable ambient noise, including some neighborhood boys enjoying a game of cricket and noisy Mumbai taxis.

For those interested, we were shooting at the incredibly scenic Ballard Pier – a spot we highly recommend if you’re shooting amateur or professional video in Mumbai. Not that it’s much of a secret. In fact, there was a minor film shoot happening in the adjacent lane while we were shooting our video!

Now, one of the best features of the Zoom H4N is it lets you record sound from four channels simultaneously – that is, from both the built-in mics here as well as from two external sources which you can connect to these two inputs via XLR cables. A great feature if you’re thinking of recording a musical score for your film/video – you can combine your vocals with instrumental inputs simultaneously.

To be honest, we haven’t tried this feature yet, but online reviewers swear by the in-built mixer’s ability to blend the channels perfectly.

The Zoom H4N also has rotatable mics that allow you to record either at a 90 degrees axis if you have sound coming from just one source. Or all the way up to 120 degrees, which you might need to record multiple voices in a meeting or say a live band playing on stage, where sound is coming from various directions or you want to capture ambient sounds.

The website and reviews of the Zoom H4N make a big deal of this feature but honestly, in the limited work we’ve done by playing around with mic direction, we haven’t noticed much of a difference yet. We’re guessing it will be a more relevant feature for those who do studio recordings.

Just remember, the H4N has no internal memory and so records onto SD/SDHC cards only. So please remember to keep the SD card in before you start recording. The H4N uses compact SD or high-capacity SDHC memory cards of up to 32GB for over 15 hours of recording time at 24-bit/96kHz. Or, using MP3 format at 128 kpbs, get over 550 hours of recording time on one card.

The device comes with its own 1GB memory card and most other recorders don’t, so that is definitely another plus point. The Zoom H4N also runs on something called Stamina Mode to increase battery life to a continuous 11 hours so you can just go out on field and record all day without worrying about your batteries running out!

The other great features of the Zoom H4N (that we hope to explore in future videos) are:

> Its auto record and pre-record features

> The large LCD screen that’s easy to navigate

> USB interface built in for file transfers to any computer

> Phantom power is built in to accommodate any type of microphone

The Zoom H4N comes with a plastic carrying case, USB cable, foam windscreen, AC adapter, mic stand adapter, manuals and cubase le software.

Pros: Professional sound quality, four channel recording, control over recording levels

Cons: No internal memory, slightly bulky

Product: Zoom H4N

Price: Rs. 19,000

Buy: Shalu Music Store in Fort area if you live in Mumbai

Are there any specific features of the Zoom H4N you want us to review on video for you? Just drop us a line in the comments section below and give us a week to get back to you!

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