The Samson Zoom H4n is the digital audio recorder of choice among many pro users, yet it's simple enough to operate that novices can make excellent quality recordings. Reviewers find its superior sound quality and multichannel features make it perfect for recording live music, layering compositions, conducting interviews and more.
Pro-quality recordings without the need for a studio. The Samson Zoom H4n's rotating stereo mics are a big draw among users who want to make quick high-quality audio recordings on the fly, but they're particularly powerful when paired with additional external microphones plugged into the recorder's dual quarter-inch and XLR-compatible inputs. Additionally, the H4n's four-track layering capabilities, albeit more limited than dedicated multitrack music recording devices, give it greater flexibility than most recorders of its kind. The only downside is some users report distortion issues when recording with a direct line-in from an external sound source without using an additional mixer or a special cable to equalize the signal.
No-fuss field recordings are a breeze. With a streamlined interface that's easy to figure out, the Samson Zoom H4n makes it possible to capture top-notch recording on the go without a lot of fuss. But for those with a deeper knowledge of audio recording -- or the patience to pore over the manuals -- there's a lot of depth to explore among its expansive features. That said, less experienced users could find delving into the multitrack recording and mixing end of the H4n's abilities using the included Cubase software to be a bit daunting at first. Capacity-wise, you can get a lot of recording time using the included 2 GB SD memory card, and throwing a larger (up to 32 GB) card into the recorder expands that substantially.
Power, quality and functionality for the price. Compared to the sleeker Sony PCM-M10 (*Est. $250), the less pocket-friendly H4n may seem like a bulky brute, but it makes up for it in added functionality. More than just a field recorder, the H4n's many tracking, effects and recording extras, along with its high-end recording quality, seem to justify the steep price tag, experts and users say.
Review Credibility: Very Good Sound on Sound's Matt Houghton calls the Zoom H4n "a classy upgrade to an already impressive product." In particular, he cites numerous improvements in design, audio quality and functionality over the original Zoom H4. Based on his recording tests, he concludes the H4n is a lot more versatile than most recorders, and excellent sound quality and multitracking features round out its strengths. His only real disappointment is the H4n doesn't have simultaneous four-track multitrack recording capabilities, despite being able to record with four sources between the dual internal mics and two external inputs.
Review: Zoom H4n, Matt Houghton, June 2009
2. DV Magazine
Review Credibility: Very Good DV Magazine writer Rob Sandall names the Zoom H4n a top pick out of range of Roland, Zoom, Tascam, and Olympus digital recorders tested in this roundup. "We got one of the best sounds of the test out of the Zoom H4n," says Sandall, who places the H4n at the head of the pack for its "exceptional, glossy-quality sound." The side-by-side recording samples from each device included in the piece support his analysis.
Review: The Great Portable Digital Audio Recorder Comparison -- Which Is Best For You?, Rob Sandall, June 17, 2011
Review Credibility: Very Good CNET's Donald Bell tests the Zoom H4n and calls it "a mobile recording dynamo with features that outperform competitors that cost twice as much." Bell likes the two built-in microphones that can record in two-channel or four-channel mode; plus, the Zoom H4n has jacks for plugging in two external mics for additional flexibility. On the downside, Bell says the design of the Zoom H4n is somewhat bulky but it can still fit in a pocket.
Review: Zoom H4n Review, Donald Bell, April 13, 2009
Review Credibility: Very Good More than 775 users contribute to the H4n's rating of 4.6 out of 5 at BHPhotoVideo.com. Many users report excellent results using the H4n in a range of recording situations, including interviews, live music, guitar recordings, podcasting, and audio for filmmaking. Great sound quality and ease of use seem to be the top perks listed among users, while limited battery life and lost recordings due to the battery dying are re-occurring complaints. Reviews also identify whether or not the users are verified buyers and whether they'd recommend it to a friend.
Review: Zoom H4n Handy Mobile 4-Track Recorder , Contributors to BHPhotoVideo.com , As of April 2013
Review Credibility: Good At Amazon.com, the Zoom H4n receives overwhelmingly positive reviews with more than 230 ratings contributing to its score of 4.4 out of 5. Users range from professional musicians to everyday consumers, who consistently give this recorder a thumbs-up for its top-notch sound quality, sturdy build and high-tech extras. Some users had minor complaints about the H4n's bulky design, the location of the external mic inputs, and line spiking when recording from a direct line-in from a sound board or other source.
Review: Zoom H4n Handy Portable Digital Recorder, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of April 2013