Zoom H4n and H1

Posted on Dec 17, 2010 in audio, iPad, Photography, recording, Web | 2 Comments

Zoom H4n and Zoom H1

No, this is not a test. Just a quick note on couple of  small observations which might be of interest to some.

Been playing now with Zoom H1 for a while and it has immediately become de facto recorder for my work. For obvious reasons: extremely light weight and extremely simple to use. Amazing sound quality with the built in microphones. I typically do video with dual audio system and sync it with Plural Eyes in FCP and this little toy is perfect for that job. Very good value for the money (it costs around 100€).

It does not however make its big brother obsolete. No; H4n is still my choice of recorder if I want more channels, XLR inputs, phantom, etc… I have not been that happy with the pre-amps of the H4n as compared to e.g. Maranz PMD 660 (bulky, but still my favorite),  but I get by by switching on the compressor  (comp 2) when I need it… Most of the time, however, that is not an issue.

There is one major difference between the two recorders – at least to me it is a major one. That is the way Auto Recording Levels behave. H1 goes the traditional way: when the sound is quiet, the levels go up and with the increasing amplitude, the levels go down. I really do not like that – and with H1 I adjust the levels manually.

However, the H4n is brilliant in this respect: it measures the sound levels and drops down the recording level accordingly. If the volume increases, it drops the rec level more. However, it does not adjust it to other direction, i.e. the levels do not go up and down, up and down… No, it drops it to accurate level – and keeps it there. And that is very handy, if you work fast and have no time to control for levels – or you have to hand the recorder to a journalist who can barely push the REC-button – and adjusting sound levels would be a totally  impossible and intimidating experience.

But: H4n weights about four times as much as H1, it’s one-third of the size… so if I take a recorder with me “just in case”, my choice is H1.

In case you have not noticed, Zoom did bring out a firmware update for H4n some time ago. Now you can control the levels of the two  XLRs individually – a very important update. Now you can e.g. have two lavaliers  attached and adjust levels separately – and if you switch to the mixer mode, you can record ambient as well. Very sweet… as that was one of the major drawbacks of H4n.

New Photoshelter Wall (click to view)

And  talking of updates: Singular Software just released a public beta on Plural Eyes for Mac as a standalone application. So that’s really good news if you wanted the program, but did your editing in something else than Final Cut Pro.

And actually, on the subject of updates: maybe I could mention two others, although they have nothing to do with audio: Shuttersnitch is having  an update within couple of days – and according to Rob Galbraith – it adds some interesting features. And last – but not least: Photoshelter introduced the new wall option into its galleries. IMHO, it totally rocks; see eg. my webpage – or should I call it PhotoWall – in PS.

And the best part with the PhotoWall: it is iPad compatible – no flash. Very sweet indeed.

2 Comments

  1. Jani
    February 22, 2011

    Kiitos tästä arvostelusta! Luettuani tämän, selailin hieman tietoja muualta, ja koska ne tuntuivat tukevan toteamaasi, tilasin tänään H4n äänittimen.

    Reply
    • kkuukka
      February 22, 2011

      Hyvä homma –

      se on ihan kelpo peli. Mulla nyt matkassa toi H1 koska se on vain niin paljon kevyempi ja kilot on tosi kortilla – plus vaadittava äänenlaatu ei ole niin kriittinen ja ennenkaikkea en tarvitse mitään sisäänmenoja etc.

      Reply

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