Zoom H4 Handy Recorder in action

December 27, 2006

I recorded my wife’s band at her Christmas concert. She is a middle school director (with a FINE band)- unfortunately she has to do her concerts in the gym, which is not the best acoustic venue! I was sitting in the bleachers about 50 feet or so away, so got plenty of “room” in the recording.

I first tried just the mics by themselves, then tried using some of the mic models (neumann u87 and AKG 414). I had some trouble getting the levels right- a bit tricky as you have to go to a menu to set the levels (I had heard this was the case and join others in bemoaning this feature!). After finally getting the gain set right, I was very pleased with the results!

Even from that distance, the recording was very good, though I must warn you that there is a LOT of handling noise if you move the mic around, so be very careful! I also had a problem with the unit giving me an error after pausing- I think that is due to the $13 1gig sd card that I picked up from Wal-Mart! I’m going to switch it out for a better quality card and see what happens.

All in all, the unit is a godsend as far as high quality recording on a shoestring budget. I have a feeling that the Edirol R09 is more “point and shoot”, but for the features, I’m willing to put up with a few inconveniences! Next project: recording my rehearsals in mp3 mode so that I can review them on my drive home (via my ipod) and recording my solos and ensembles as they prepare for FBA music performance assessment in February. I’ll let you know how it works out.


The Zoom H4 has landed!

December 13, 2006

What a great day!  I got my Zoom H4 handy recorder this morning at school and in no time flat (typical for me) I was mashing buttons recording my concert band (without reading the manual).  Despite many reviews saying that this unit was awkward to use, I found it very easy to place the unit in record mode and begin recording (although it was in standard mode with no mic modeling).   Without setting the levels or anything- I really mean I pushed the buttons and off I went- I got a surprisingly good recording of my wind ensemble class even though the unit was perched on top of an upright piano behind me!

The sound was full and open with great bass response, which surprised me.  I was also happy that finally in a small recorder I did not have to put up with high levels of compression just to get convenience- no “tin can” sound!

After school I sat down and read some of the manual and look forward to recording my wife’s middle school band concert tomorrow with a 1gig sd card and some effects and mic modeling (hmmm…do I use the neumann U87’s or the AKG 414’s?  Decisions, decisions…)  I’ll let you know how it goes.   Now for the best part- as I read the documentation, I found that there is also a chromatic tuner and a metronome built into this thing!  Could this be the swiss army knife of the bandroom?

And the winner is…(digital recorder for the band room)

December 8, 2006

Well, I finally decided on a new digital recorder for my bandroom. In a previous post I highlighted the Edirol R09, which is a fantastic unit…but I finally decided on a zoom H4. The deciding factor was price (no surprise here- I work at a public school!) $100 less than any competitor.

More than price, the features and included accessories and software finally put me over the edge. How can you say no to the H4’s microphone modeling feature which touts such legends as the AKG 414 and the Neumann U87! That’s almost $4,000 worth of microphones at your fingertips! The H4 is also an interface- USB connection to your computer AND has XLR and TRS inputs WITH phantom power! It also includes a lite version of Cubase software for recording on your computer.

With all of these extras, I just couldn’t pass it up. I am giving up “point and shoot” ease of the R09, but I think a little confusion with the menus is well worth the effort and “bang for the buck”. As promised, I purchased it through my personal representative (I’m not anyone special- everyone gets a personal representative at Sweetwater…) and it should be in my hands in about a week. After I play around with it for a while, I’ll post my experiences.

Remember- you really can’t go wrong with any of the latest handheld recorders- the convenience they afford (I just confirmed this after racking up all of my recording equipment and lugging it to my auditorium) will enable us to record our ensembles anywhere, anytime with stellar quality (at least as compared to the old analog options!)