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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Zoom Handheld Audio Recorders

Zoom Handheld Audio Recorders

A handheld audio field recorder is becoming one of the most commonly used tools in outdoor production, but how it connects to other videoing equipment can be confusing. There are so many different models available with varying capabilities (some have time code, multi-tracking, remote capabilities, etc.) that it can be confusing as to which recorder would best suit your needs. This blog will go over the three available Zoom Handheld Audio Recorders.

Why would I want a handheld recorder?
The primary reason handheld recorders have become so popular is that you can use them just about anywhere to record anything - the hunter/'s voice, interviews, ambient nature sounds,- the list goes on. The first thing you'll notice about all these recorders is how small they are. You can literally hold them in the palm of your hand! They're also really easy to use with a minimum of setup necessary. Just point them at the source, press "record," and go. You can even attach them to a Gorillapod and wrap them around a tree branch.

One thing that surprises many people about the new handheld recorders is their audio quality. They sound amazingly good - much better than you might expect for the price. Part of that sound quality is due to the fact that these recorders have no moving parts to generate noise.

These portable digital audio recorders are compact, record high-quality audio recordings on removable digital media and run off of batteries. You can also connect these handheld recorders to other devices, such as DSLRs, Video cameras, etc. to record audio from an outside source. These Zoom models feature a USB port in order to transfer your recordings directly to your PC or Mac to be integrated into your video production. These can also be used as voice over microphones when connected to your computer. These models allow you to select the quality of file you want to record in (WAV, MP3, etc.)

As many of you are probably aware, electronics can malfunction all the time. You can use the handheld recorders as instant backup of your audio files. Have your audio devices connected to a Mixer (like the Azden FMX-32 3-Channel Portable Mixer) and the mixer connected to your handheld recorder and video camera/DSLR. The audio will not only be recorded onto the handheld recorder but also on the video camera.
The audio recorded into the portable recorder typically sounds better than the audio recorded into the camera. Video cameras also compress audio as they record, which further decreases the quality of the sound. Hooking up your audio and handheld video recorder to a mixer allows you an instant backup incase the audio fails on either end. 

When your out all day in the field and recording hours of footage, it can be very time consuming in post production to link up the audio with the video, that is where time coding and marks are important. The Zoom H4n recordings carry time stamp information, and can accept cues/markers to support the Broadcast Wave Format (BWF) used in professional applications. The Zoom H2n and the Zoom H4n accepts marks from the optional remote control. 

Zoom H1 Ultra-Portable Digital Audio Recorder

The H1 Handy Recorder from Zoom is an easy-to-use, versatile stereo digital audio recorder that fits into the palm of your hand. Following in the footsteps of the popular H2 and H4n, the H1 brings pro-level recording to a more compact and affordable design. Perfect for the outdoor videographer, the H1 records high-quality WAV and MP3 files to meet any professional need. The H1 has a stereo X/Y microphone configuration that captures perfect stereo images. A built-in speaker lets you listen to your recordings right away.

The H1 records your audio onto easily-found microSD or microSDHC flash memory cards, supporting capacities up to 32GB. A 2GB card is included so you can begin recording right away. The H1 records WAV audio at rates up to 24-bit/96kHz, and MP3 audio at rates up to 320kbps and VBR. The pocket-sized device runs on a single AA battery to provide up to 10 hours of continuous operation.

The simple, intuitive interface provides you with 1-button recording, while a backlit LCD display shows vital information. The rear of the recorder features controls for the low cut filter, automatic level control, and format selection. Physical controls are provided for input level and record/playback functions, so you don't have to navigate through complicated menus in order to find the features you want.

A 3.5mm mic/line input lets you connect an external microphone or music player, while a 3.5mm headphone/line output lets you connect your favorite headphones or small external speakers. A high-speed USB 2.0 port allows you to easily transfer data to your Mac or PC. A threaded tripod mount socket makes it easy to mount the H1 on a tripod, gorillapod or stand.

Zoom H2n Handy Recorder Portable Digital Audio Recorder
The Zoom H2n Handy Recorder Portable Digital Audio Recorder combines Zoom's years of experience in portable recording with enhanced technology and features to present a versatile device that can be used for film and broadcast applications, as well as outdoor videography, and much more. The H2n has an unprecedented 5 microphones built in, providing you with 4 selectable recording patterns to choose from. A simple dial on top of the recorder lets you switch between traditional XY stereo, 2-channel surround, 4-channel surround, and a mid-side stereo mode. The mid-side mode allows you to adjust the width of your stereo field for terrific flexibility. When recording in RAW mode, you can even adjust the field after you've made a recording.

The H2n records to widely-available SD and SDHC flash memory cards, and supports capacities up to 32GB. A 2GB card is included so you can use the recorder right away. When using a 32GB card, you can capture up to 50 hours of CD-quality WAV files, or up to 555 hours of stereo 128kbps MP3 files. An integrated reference speaker makes it easy to review your recordings to make sure everything has been captured properly. The streamlined and intuitive interface puts critical controls right at your fingertips. The large 1.8" backlit LCD display makes it easy to navigate through system menus and monitor audio levels. The analog-type mic gain wheel lets you make precise adjustments on-the-fly.

If you'd like to connect external equipment, the H2n provides you with a 3.5mm mic/line input, allowing you to hook up your favorite microphones, instruments, and other sound sources. A 3.5mm headphone/line output makes it easy to connect headphones, portable speakers, and other devices. A remote jack lets you connect the optional wired remote to start, stop, and pause recordings, as well as add marks. It also reduces handling noise for the cleanest possible recordings. A high-speed USB 2.0 port lets you transfer recordings to your Mac or PC. You can even use the H2n as a live USB mic, terrific for VoIP chats and podcasting. Steinberg WaveLab LE 7 software is included, giving you audio editing and mastering tools to help you turn your recordings into finished masterpieces.

The H2n offers a number of versatile powering options. It offers over 20 hours of continuous operation on a pair of standard AA alkaline batteries. It can also be operated via USB bus power, or an AC adapter (sold separately). In the event of battery failure or accidental power loss, your recordings won't be lost. A data recovery function will automatically restore you data the next time the recorder is powered on, so you don't lose one-of-a-kind audio moments. Other features of the H2n include a lo-cut filter, a compressor/limiter, auto gain, pre-rec, auto-rec, a tuner and metronome, variable speed playback, key control, A-B repeat, file dividing, normalize, MP3 post-encode, marker, and surround mixer to give you useful tools for a variety of applications

Zoom H4n Handy Mobile 4-Track Recorder
The Zoom H4n Handy Recorder picks up where the H4 left off and adds additional features to an already popular audio recorder. Ideal for recording the hunter/s in outdoor videographer and more, this palm-sized unit packs the ability to record up to 4 channels of audio at greater than CD quality.

The H4n features onboard true X/Y stereo microphones to pick up clear, natural sound without phase shifting. The mics can be rotated to select a 90° or 120° recording pattern for terrific versatility. The digitally-controlled preamp, combined with the high-quality microphones, allows you to capture Linear PCM audio at rates up to 24-bit/96kHz. The recorder captures audio to SD or SDHC cards with capacities up to 32GB. A USB 2.0 port allows you to quickly transfer files to a Mac or PC, or use the H4n as a live audio interface.

For connecting your own microphones or instruments, the H4n features XLR/TRS combo input jacks with phantom capability. A 3.5mm line output is provided, and a reference speaker is built-in for quickly reviewing your recordings. The unit operates on a pair of standard AA batteries, and features a Stamina mode to provide up to 11 hours of continuous recording at 16-bit/44.1kHz. Other useful features of the H4n include variable playback speed, automatic and pre-record functions, a low-cut filter and limiter for improving the sound quality of recordings, time stamping, a metronome and tuner, and more. The backlit LCD screen and intuitive controls are easy to use, even for the recording novice. A collection of accessories are included so you can start recording right out of the box.

Zoom Handheld Audio Recorders
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