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Zoom H4n Handy

Handheld 4-track digital recorder

2 Reviews

Item # 851H4N

This item is no longer available.

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Our take on the Zoom H4n Handy

For musicians, inspiration can strike at any time — at rehearsal, on stage, or while practicing scales at home. The Zoom H4n makes sure you're ready to capture those ideas while they're still fresh. The H4n is a digital recorder, four-track studio, computer audio interface, and high-powered effects mixer you can hold in your hand. With lots of useful features and an easy-to-use interface, the H4n is sure to be an indispensable tool for amateur and gigging musicians, as well as videographers. Plus, its compact size means you can keep it in a gig bag, so it's always ready to record wherever your musical brilliance reveals itself.

A musician's best friend

For musicians, inspiration can strike at any time — at rehearsal, on stage, or while practicing scales at home. The Zoom H4n makes sure you're ready to capture those ideas while they're still fresh. The H4n is a digital recorder, four-track studio, computer audio interface, and high-powered effects mixer you can hold in your hand. With lots of useful features and an easy-to-use interface, the H4n is sure to be an indispensable tool for amateur and gigging musicians, as well as videographers. Plus, its compact size means you can keep it in a gig bag, so it's always ready to record wherever your musical brilliance reveals itself.

Zoom H4n handy recorder

Connect mic cables and 1/4" instrument or line-level cables into the H4n's combination XLR/TRS inputs.

Many ways to record

Two microphones sit atop the H4n, configured in an adjustable XY pattern to capture high-quality stereo recordings of a band rehearsal or performance. On the bottom are two combination XLR/TRS inputs, which can accept balanced mic cables as well as 1/4" cables from a guitar, a keyboard, drum machine, or mixer. Record up to four tracks at once using the built-in mics and inputs for laying down song ideas with bandmates, or use overdubbing to work out tunes by yourself. There's also a 1/8" input for an external mic — perfect for a lavalier mic if you're shooting video for a news gathering. Monitor your recordings by connecting your headphones to the 1/8" output, or use the built-in speaker to play them back for others.

Built-in mixing, effects, and amp modeling

Want to apply effects to your recordings? The H4n's built-in mixer offers a variety of options, including compression, reverb, and a low-cut filter. If you're a guitar or bass player, you'll love the amp modeling feature, which allows you to re-create lots of cool vintage tones based on classic amplifiers with your directly connected instrument. Add markers to your recordings, change playback speed or pitch, punch in and out to fix sloppy passages, and mix down to stereo or dual mono files in high-resolution WAV or space-saving MP3 files. Then, your files will be ready to share, either with the included SD card or through email or upload with your computer.

Computer recording with Cubase LE

The H4n's USB port isn't just for sharing files on your computer. It also lets you use this recorder as an audio interface. Install the included Cubase LE software, and turn your computer into a multi-track recording studio. Take that two-track guitar-and-bass duet you recorded, and use it as the foundation of a fully realized song. The H4n provides the connections for your instruments and mics, while Cubase gives you the editing and mixing power of a full-fledged digital audio workstation. Apply the H4n's effects to your input signals to eliminate latency as you monitor your performance.

Check out the APH-4n accessory pack for ways to make your Zoom H4n even more useful.

Product Highlights:

    Special Features:
    • 4-track simultaneous recording
    • adjustable XY microphones (90-120 degrees) for high-quality stereo recording
    • XLR and 1/4" inputs for use with microphones, electric guitars and basses, and line-level signals
    • can serve as a USB interface for a PC or Mac®
    • overdub recording mode for additional recording alongside a previously recorded take
    • built-in mixer lets you create a stereo mix from multitrack recordings
    • built-in effects include limiter, compressor, low-cut filter, and guitar and bass amp modeling
    • playback options include loop, variable speed, and variable pitch
    • add up to 99 marks per recording
    • 1.9" backlit LCD display
    • built-in speaker
    • built-in chromatic tuner and metronome
    • records linear PCM WAV files (BWF) in 16- or 24-bit, with sampling rates of 44.1/48/96kHz
    • records stereo MP3 files with selectable bit rate up to 320kbps
    • up to 11 hours of operation with "AA" batteries (not included)
    Connections and Dimensions:
    • 2 combination XLR/TRS inputs for use with microphones, instruments, and line-level signals
      • +24 or +48V phantom power for both inputs
    • 1/8" (3.5mm) mic/line input for optional microphone (with 2.5-volt plug-in power)
    • 1/8" (3.5mm) line out/headphone jack with dedicated volume control
    • USB 2.0 port (Mini Type B) for connection to a computer
    • input for remote control (included with Zoom APH-4n accessory pack)
    • slot for SD/SDHC cards
    • threaded insert for connection to a tripod or a DSLR camera with the optional HS-1 adapter
    • 2-7/8"W x 6-3/16"H x 1-3/8"D
    • weight: 9.9 oz.
    Supplied Accessories:
    • 2GB SD card (installed)
    • windscreen
    • USB cable
    • protective case
    • mic stand adapter
    • Cubase LE software DVD-ROM
    • AC adapter
    • warranty: 1 year
    • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

    What's in the Box:

    • H4N Handy Recorder 4-track portable recorder
    • Windscreen
    • 2 GB SD memory card
    • USB cable (Type A USB on one end and Mini-B USB on other end)
    • MA2 Microphone Stand adapter
    • AD-14 AC adapter
    • Hard plastic carrying case
    • Cubase LE4 software on DVD-ROM
    • Operation Manual
    • USB/Cubase LE4 Startup Guide
    • Warranty Registration Information

    Zoom H4n Handy Reviews

    Average Customer Review(s):

    (2 Reviews)

    Flexible, high-quality audio recorder

    Zap from Arlington VA on 8/3/2014

    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    This is a well-built audio recorder with a huge number of setup and recording options. It has a stereo pair of microphones and can handle 1/4", 3.5 mm, and XLR audio inputs at microphone or line level. It can record MP3 at various rates, along with .wav files. Even with its huge range of options, this recorder is very easy to set up, with an easy-to-use menu structure. I love the scroll wheel for menu navigation. This can be set up to work almost anywhere. Highly recommended

    Pros: High build quality, uses SD card as recording medium, extremely flexible. Uses standard AA batteries or its own supplied AC adapter.

    Cons: None found so far

    Zoom H4n

    DeborahW from Norwich NY on 7/13/2014

    Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

    This is the first digital recorder I've ever seen, let alone used, and it is great. The mic's are unbelievable in their pickup, the recording buttons are very easy to use and pause, the menu leading to copy, download and delete are easy to use and the 'how to' booklet is well written and easy to follow. The case for the unit was especially well received since I carried the device in my pack on hikes to record nature sounds. As a musician, I was excited to see that I can easily plug in my piano to accompany my voice recordings. This will be a lot of fun for years to come.




    Hands-on research

    Product Research


    Overview: The Zoom H4n Handy Recorder is a portable 4-track digital audio recorder with two analog inputs, two built-in microphones, and a stereo mic input. The H4n can record in either WAV or MP3 onto SD memory cards. A 1.9" backlit LCD screen (128 x 64 dots) shows the input levels of all four tracks, and lets you maneuver through the menu with ease. The unit comes with a wind screen, music production software, a 2 GB SD memory card, AC adapter, and a USB cable. The entire kit stores safely in the supplied hard plastic carrying case.

    Main Inputs: The H4n has two main inputs with combo connectors that can accept either XLR or 1/4" balanced or unbalanced phone cables (or TRS--Tip-Ring-Sleeve). The connectors use the industry standard "Pin 2 hot" protocol on the XLR, and "Tip hot" protocol on the TRS connectors. The inputs can handle both mic-level and line-level signals with ease, with internal switching contacts automatically detecting the signal type. If you are using high-quality condenser (powered) microphones, a simple menu option provides Phantom Power (+24 or +48 volts) to the main inputs.

    Built-in Microphones: The H4n has two built-in microphones in an X/Y configuration. The mics can be rotated to change the angle from 90° to 120° for a wider stereo image. In addition, a stereo 3.5mm input lets you connect an external microphone or line-level source.

    Outputs: The H4n features a 3.5mm unbalanced line output, located beneath the LCD display. It allows you to send a stereo signal to a camcorder or other device. A 3.5mm headphone jack with a dedicated volume control on the side lets you monitor your recordings in real time, or privately listen to playback. A Mini-B USB port (2.0 Full Speed compatible) provides a digital output of either a stereo mix or the individual input signals.

    File Types: The Zoom H4n can record in two different basic file types:

    • WAV: WAV files are uncompressed. In Stereo Mode, the H4n can record in any of three sampling rates (44.1kHz, 48kHz, 96kHz) and two bit depths (16-bit, 24-bit). (In 4CH mode, only 44.1kHz/16-bit, 44.1kHz/24-bit, 48kHz/16-bit, 48kHz/24-bit are available.) WAV files are automatically time-stamped, making them compliant with the Broadcast Wave Format (BWF). This allows you to precisely synchronize the audio with on-screen action in video post production.
    • MP3: MP3 files are compressed to reduce file size, making them easier to store, upload and download. You can record only stereo files in MP3. Available bit rates for recording MP3 include: 48kbps, 56kbps, 64kbps, 80kbps, 96kbps, 112kbps, 128kbps, 160kbps, 192kbps, 224kbps, 256kbps, 320kbps or VBR (variable bit rate).

    Recording Modes: The H4n offers three recording modes:

    • Stereo: In Stereo mode, you can select 2 different inputs, either Input [Mic] or Input [1] and Input [2], and operate them as one stereo file. This mode is convenient to record live performances, acoustic instrument, voice, lecture, or a subtle soundscape. By engaging the Stamina mode, you can extend the life of the batteries, but you can only record or playback in WAV 44.1kHz/16-bit and MP3 formats.
    • 4CH: In 4CH mode, the unit records two stereo WAV files: one stereo WAV file for the built-in microphones and one stereo WAV file for the inputs. This allows you to record both live sounds from the built-in mic and direct instruments via the external inputs simultaneously.
    • MTR: In MTR mode, you can record tracks in Mono or Stereo from Input [1], Input [2], or the internal microphones. You can combine them with tracks recorded in other modes or overdub additional tracks. This mode allows you to record using effects, overdub recordings, and use previously recorded sound files.

    Recording Media: The H4n records audio directly to SD and SDHC memory cards up to 32 GB. A 2 GB SD card is included. Using a 4 GB SDHC card, you can record approximately 6 hours 20 minutes of audio at 44.1kHz/16-bit WAV or 68 hours at 44.1kHz/128kbps MP3.

    Auto-Record: The H4n can detect when the input level surpasses your pre-determined level, and can automatically start recording from the recording standby position. You can independently set a start level and a stop level. Likewise, you can set the recorder to stop recording automatcally once the input level goes below a pre-determined level.

    Pre-Record: When Pre-Record is engaged, the H4n will continuously record in the background while you wait for an event to begin. When you hit the Record button, the recorder keeps the previous two seconds and adds it to the beginning of the file.

    Mixer: In 4CH mode, you can use the mixer to adjust the playback level and pan settings of two stereo files.

    Effects: The unit has two effects modules, including compression/limiting, low-cut filtering, modulation, reverb/delay, and amp models:

    • Preamp Module: The Preamp Module offers multiple guitar, bass, and mic preamp effects.
    • EFX Module: The EFX Module has compressor/limiter effects, modulation effects, and delay/reverb effects.

    Musical Tools: The H4n offers some tools designed to help musicians:

    • Tuners: The recorder can be used as a standard chromatic tuner to help keep everyone in tune. In addition to chromatic, there are other tuning modes such as guitar, bass, open A, open D, open E, open G, and DADGAD. The tuner can be calibrated between 435 Hz to 445 Hz in 1 Hz intervals. The input source can come from the microphone or the line input.
    • Metronome: The built-in metronome provides audible cues to help you set and keep the tempo. The metronome can provide a pre-count of 1 to 8 beats, or a special pre-count. The tempo can be set between 40 and 250 beats per minute by 0.1 bpm. You can also adjust the level (0-10), pattern (0/4--no accent, 1/4 to 8/4, and 6/8 time signatures), and sound (bell, click, stick, cowbell, or Hi-Q).
    • Karaoke: Music files can be converted into Karaoke form for recording vocals or additional guitar sounds over those files. You can apply center cancellation to the karaoke track, as well as change the key.

    Variable Pitch/Playback Speed: You can adjust the playback speed in a range from 50% to 150% of normal, in increments of 5%, without changing the pitch. In addition, you can raise and lower the pitch of the playback without effecting the playback speed.

    AB Repeat: The AB Repeat function allows you to continuously and repeatedly play back a portion of the track. You can set marks at the beginning and ending of the desired portion.

    Mounting Options: The H4n comes with a microphone stand adapter that allows you to mount the recorder to a standard microphone clip. It also comes with a 1/4" threaded tripod mount. With an optional hot shoe adapter (found in the APH-4N accessory pack), you can mount the recorder to the top of a DSLR or shoe-equipped camcorder.

    Power Requirements: The H4n is powered by the supplied AD-14 AC adapter. When AC power is not available, you can run the recorder on 2 "AA" batteries, either alkaline or rechargeable Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH). Battery life with alkaline batteries is typically about 6 hours. You can switch the unit to Stamina mode when using batteries to extend the continuous recording time to 11 hours. In Stamina mode, the H4n can only record and playback in WAV 44.1kHz/16-bit and MP3 format.

    USB/Cubase LE 4 Software: The H4n comes with the USB/Cubase LE 4 software on DVD-ROM. It is compatible with Windows Vista/XP and Mac OS X.

    Our Product Research Team

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