|Ease of Use|
The marketplace was really buzzing when the Zoom H1 portable digital recorder was released a few months ago. Although the excitement is still there regarding the Zoom H1 I simply want to offer you my considered review, free of all the hype.
The first thing I saw, and felt, is the Zoom H1 is smaller and lighter than the Zoom H2 and H4n. Comparable to the size of a cell phone it can easily fit into the palm of your hand, so excellent portability is a great benefit. The controls on the back and side are very user friendly, and it really is simple to use as its not menu drive – so just click and record! Now you may be thinking that if it’s so small will it impair on Zoom’s renowned studio quality recording?
The short answer to that is no. The Zoom H1 still utilizes Zoom’s superb recording power. In fact the recording quality is about on par with the H2. OK if you were planning on recording a band in a large auditorium, or are a serious musician, then maybe the Zoom H4n would be better for the job, however for probably 80% of recording tasks the Zoom H1 is definitely more than capable.
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Here are some great features of the Zoom H1:
- Stereo X/Y mic configuration captures perfect stereo images
- Same frequency and SPL handling as popular Zoom H2
- Records Broadcast WAV (BWF) at 96kHz/48kHz/44.1kHz at 16-bit or 24-bit
- Records MP3 from 48 to 320kbps for maximum recording time
- Hi-Speed USB 2.0 port
So bottom line is Zoom has really hit on a winner, as the many sales and great testimonials confirm. The Zoom H1 is cleverly priced to sell in huge numbers, but very importantly it doesn’t lose much at all on recording, and whilst the two microphones wiggle a bit, and parts of the plastic are a bit weak, the amazing price and value for money makes up for this.
Here’s what one of the owners had to say about the Zoom H1:
Straight to the point: If you’re considering getting a digital recorder and your needs are simple, seriously consider this one. The sound is quite phenomenal for a recorder this size and asking price. (Zoom claims the H1 has the same frequency and SPL handing as their popular H2.) It’s simply a great recorder and I was not disappointed. (A. Iacobus)
|Ease of Use|
The Zoom H4n is Zoom’s top of the range portable digital recorder. This model takes over from the older H4, and Zoom has definitely come up with a superior portable recorder. Main reason why is because it has received important feedback from its customers, and implemented this feedback.
What you notice straight away is the recorder is extremely solid and robust, and can take knocks in its stride. It’s easy to grip thanks to its rubberized hardshell design. In fact the Zoom H4n design is overall superior to previous models. The top of the unit is metal, and plastic is kept down to the bare minimum. The controls are nice and easy to press, and the screen is the largest in the zoom range, as it should be being top of the range.
You may, or may not, have seen the old H4 model, however this had metal protecting the microphones. With the Zoom H4n there is no metal protecting the mics. Why? Because now you can use your fingers and swivel the microphones from its stereo enhancing 90 degree angle to an amazing 120 degree angle for picking up sounds in the distance, or a general wider encapsulated stereo sound.
What about the sound? Well the overall sound quality is absolutely superb. It could have been just good for its price, but no, the sound is excellent and offers a nice defined and accurate sound. The sound is up there with the best of the other top of the range recorders such as Sony, however the Zoom H4n is $150 cheaper and has more built in functions and features.
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Here are some great features of the Zoom H4n:
- Built-in X/Y stereo mics record at either 90° or 120°
- Four channel simultaneous recording using built-in and external mics
- Digitally controlled, high-quality mic preamp for improved audio quality
- Large 1.9-Inch LCD screen and improved user interface for easy operation
- 24bit/96kHz Linear PCM recording for pristine recording
Now a lot of portable digital recorders don’t come with many extra – if any – unless you pay extra. However with the Zoom H4n you receive, at no extra cost, hardshell plastic carrying case, usb cables, foam windscreen, ac adapter, mic stand adapter, manual (not easy to comprehend in parts. See below) and cubase le software, and a 1gb memory card. These are extras way above anyone else is offering!
The one minor let down is the documentation. Some of it doesn’t make sense and I don’t see how the manual got through the proof reading stage as some of the manual is certainly lost in translation.
The capabilities of the Zoom H4n are astounding. Well thought out, superior sound quality and the all round features confirm this as a highly recommended top of the range Zoom digital recorder.
Here’s what one of the owners had to say about the Zoom H4n:
I generally don’t like to rate anything five stars because I feel like there’s always some room for improvement and a product is never really perfect. While I wouldn’t call the Zoom H4n perfect, I think it set out to be something and achieved it fantastically. It exceeded my expectations, especially for the price, and I use it any chance I can get. It’s very simple to operate with virtually no learning curve. Phenomenal recording quality for a portable recorder. (A. Dachis)
|Ease of Use|
The Zoom H2 has long been renowned as one of the most popular, value for money, and best selling portable recorders on the market. But does the Zoom H2 really live up to the great reputation it has? Let’s find out.
Although only the size of a deck of cards, therefore a very handy size, it is slightly bigger than some other makes. However the sound quality is certainly superior to some makes costing $100 – $150 or more. Edirol and Sony come to mind. If you are serious musician wanting absolute top quality 4 channel recording then my advice is go for the Zoom H4n although you may still be happy with the Zoom H2′s own 4 channel surround sound. It really does come into its own though when used for podcasting and voice recording.
The Zoom H2 is so easy to use. A skim through the quick start guide will be enough to get you going, and you can place it on its own stand and then go sing, play or talk away. It has plenty of settings and features, although the screen could just be a tad bigger. Although the Zoom H2 is made of plastic, apart from the mic grille, this feature actually makes it really nice and light. No built in speaker but the sound that comes from the high quality earbuds is superb thanks to the amazing 4 microphones all specially angled to 90, 120 and 360 degree patterns.
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Here are some great features of the Zoom H2:
- W-XY mic patterns with 4 mic capsules and signal processing allows Front 90 cardioid, Rear 120 cardioid and 360 polar patterns
- Finally record 360 sound as 2ch data or 4ch data simultaneously
- Built-in USB 2.0 port for data storage
- Records in WAV 96kHz/48kHz/44.1kHz at 16-bit or 24-bit, MP3 to 320kbps and Variable Bit Rate (VBR) data formats
- Time Stamp and Track Marker functions in Broadcast WAV Format (BWF)
The Zoom H2 comes with all sorts of more than expected accessories, so overall its great value for money. However the price has now been reduced even further, therefore its just got to be THE best value portable digital recorder on the market.
Here’s what one of the owners had to say about the Zoom H2:
This device has surely delivered beyond my expectations. My brothers birthday party was happening, with 6 hours of live performances in his home, including the original COASTERS group. Everything played back with sound that appeared to be identical to what I was hearing in the room where the performing was going on. (T.L. Stansbury)
|Ease of Use|
The Zoom Q3 handy video recorder is marketed as a portable digital recorder that has great sound, backed up with a video option. It’s really going up against the low-end of the market competing against the video/audio units such as the Flip video recorders. So lets have a closer look at how good, bad, or indifferent the Zoom Q3 is.
The sound? Actually very good. It uses the same microphone capsules as the Zoom H4n and with the Zoom technology the sound is definitely superior to all the low-end video models.
The video? Not the greatest video in the world, however it’s certainly good enough. Played back on YouTube the video looks fine and combined with the sound? That is what makes the Zoom Q3 so good in its field.
Yes, you could get a separate quality video recorder and separate quality sound system and pay out a fortune, along with all the carrying bulk. There are also decent video units out there, complete with quality sound but you would be hard pressed to find one under $600.
The Zoom Q3 is built specifically for ease of use. You can simply take it out of your pocket, point, click, and automatically upload to YouTube or a HDD. You’ve nothing to set up, no cables, synching or editing. For under a $100 there is nothing like it for superb value on the market.
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Here are some great features of the Zoom Q3:
- Built-in stereo condenser microphones with X/Y configuration for true stereo imaging
- Get up to 1 hour of video with bundled 2GB SD card
- Accepts up to a 32GB SDHC card for 16 hours of video
- Video resolution of 640 x 480 at 30 frames/sec (MPEG-4 SP)
- Includes on-board editing software, YouTube uploader software, Apple Quicktime, TV cable, softcase, windscreen, 2GB SD card, two AA Batteries
So this is certainly the best value quality low-end portable video recorder on the market, and if you would like some extras such as an 8GB SD card that gives you 4 more hours of video, plus case, tripod, and audio cable then you might want to have a look at the Zoom Q3 with all the extras for just $124.95.
Here’s what one of the owners had to say about the Zoom Q3:
For the price, you can’t find better quality audio in a simpler device. My neighbor and I both shot us performing a song on our acoustic (indoors) and went back and looked at the result. You couldn’t tell a difference in video. As for the audio? His Q3 is on order. Great product! (Jeff M)