Zoom H4


I got my Zoom H4 yesterday. All I can say is YIKES! … or maybe WOW! … uhh, I guess I could say WHOA! … I guess what I really want to say is FINALLY!

I remember when small flash memory chips hit the market thinking that they should make a recorder such as this. I am still waiting for memory slots in automobile sound systems…

So anyway, I got to use the Zoom H4 yeasterday during a rehearsal of our bluegrass group. I set up the H4 on a video tripod (that’s right, the “mic stand” mount is not a mic stand mount but mounts to a video tripod… strange concept). Then I set up the recording levels using the microphone gain switch and the onboard microphones. I turned on the limiter so that we wouldn’t overdrive the inputs and checked the meters. All looked ready. We rehearsed for 45 minutes before I realized that I didn’t arm the record function. DOH!

So I pressed the right sequence of buttons and got the thing recording. We played a few tunes and then we ended rehearsal. As folks left, I turned off the H4 and dropped the 2gig SD card into my computer SD slot. The file was there ready for me to edit. I dragged the file to my desktop and opened it DC6. The sound was clear and clean. I didn’t mess with the different microphone emulations so the sound was the default condenser microphones. Also, we recorded from a distance of about 4 feet from the recorder in our livingroom (a terrible room to record in). Inspite of my lack of knowledge with this unit, the recording turned out to be clear ,clean and pretty accurate.

I now have spent some time reading the manual and have come to reailze that this unit was probably designed to be more of a portable 4 track than a professional level 2 track recorder. There are countless effects available with using the unit in 4 track mode and the effects are customizable. In 2 track mode, you just have microphone emulations and compressor/limiter with a single preset and no customization. The only advantage of the 2 track mode is that you can record as high as 24bit 96k waves. Also, in 2 track mode you can record directly to MP3 in a wide variety of qualities (from 48kbps to 360kbps).

Here are 2 rehearsal recordings. Please forgive the endless mistakes, this was rehearsal after all.
Fortunate Son and 1st Corinthians. I added a small amount of reverb to the original recording (as per my wife’s instructions ??? ). The singer is our banjo player.

Anyway, I really like the unit so far. This thing has a lot of potential for saving me time and making on site recording much easier.



I was just listening to the 1st Corinthians tune and realized that my dog Rusty added his own percussion to the beginning of the tune (dog collar shaking…)

Very nice, Dr G.

Glad you like the recorder. Had been wondering about it myself.

Like the re-do of Fortunate Son. I am quite fond of bluegrass remakes of rockers. Hayseed Dixie does a great job of this. My favorite, however is the Austin Lounge Lizards doing Pink Floyd’s Brain Damage.

1 Corinthians has a nice easy feel throughout. The mandolin intro is reminiscent of the Alan Parsons Psychobabble motif.

I had a listen to Fortunate Son, and I gotta admit, I love the sound quality. If you could get the group in the right place in a live setting, I’d have no qualms recording the backings live and overdubing vocals, hwich were a bit buried in this case imo.
But yeah, good stuff.

Quote (Willy @ Oct. 08 2006,08:45)
If you could get the group in the right place in a live setting, I'd have no qualms recording the backings live and overdubing vocals, which were a bit buried in this case imo.

Definitely. We are just getting to know each other in this group. We have only rehearsed a handful of times (maybe 5 total) and need to be better aware of our individual volume rather than trying to remember the tune and our parts... :)

I think as we get 10 or 20 rehearsals under our belts we will gain a better sense of balance and control of the tunes we play.

I am loving this recorder. I can't wait to try it in various concert situations both with the built-in mics and with other mics. So far, the built-in mics sound slightly thin to me, but I have not used the microphone emulation yet. I want to try the Neumann U87 emulation...


You guys are on your Doc. That Zoom sure sounds like sweet little unit too!

Some of the best 'Grassers I ever ran sound for used only one LD mic. The thing was, they KNEW how to work it and they sounded great. All I had to do was sit back and enjoy.