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Which Zoom recorder (or non-Zoom recorder) to buy? #2885496 08/31/19 11:58 AM
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I need to replace my old Zoom (purchased in 2006 or something!) The recording I made for the ABF recital was actually using a Zoom H4n borrowed from the library here, which is great except they have a 3-day borrowing period, and they only have two, so it's not available very often. So, can anyone help me figure out what to buy? I'm starting with the assumption that it's the H4n that I want, right?? (I won't be recording guitars, but at some point I might record piano+violin, but I could still use the h4n right?)

Looking at Amazon, there are multiple iterations of the Zoom H4n -- they list them as "2009 model" "2015 model" etc. There's also a 2016 model, and then one of the bundles I found, Amazon lists it as first appearing on Amazon in Feb 2019. I'm guessing that's because of the bundle and not because the Zoom itself is a newer model? Speaking of the bundles, they all include different items, so it's kind of hard to compare, and some of the bundles don't make it clear which model the actual Zoom is.

So, my questions:

1. Is there any difference between these 2009, 2015, 2016 models?

2. How much memory should I buy? 32g?

3. Besides the memory, what other items might I consider? I don't think I need those external mics, but the remote control might be nice? I already have a full-sized tri-pod btw.

4. Finally, I've used the Zoom H4n, so that seems like the easy choice, but if there's something else I should consider in a similar price range (Tascam??) please let me know.

Here are the two models/models I thought looked best:

Zoom w/ Movo bundle (2019 model??)
https://www.amazon.com/Zoom-H4n-PRO...45&s=musical-instruments&sr=1-45

2017 Zoom bundle Zoom H4n w remote etc


Thanks in advance!

Last edited by ShiroKuro; 08/31/19 12:01 PM. Reason: fixed links

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Re: Which Zoom recorder (or non-Zoom recorder) to buy? [Re: ShiroKuro] #2885527 08/31/19 12:54 PM
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There is also the zoom video recorder.



"The piano keys are black and white but they sound like a million colors in your mind.“
Maria Cristina

Re: Which Zoom recorder (or non-Zoom recorder) to buy? [Re: ShiroKuro] #2885544 08/31/19 01:15 PM
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Don't make it harder than it already is
I don't think I'm interested in getting a video recorder.

whome


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Re: Which Zoom recorder (or non-Zoom recorder) to buy? [Re: ShiroKuro] #2885595 08/31/19 03:46 PM
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I'm basing this on my own Zoom H4 (older than the "H4n" model):

a) A remote control would have been very useful for me. I wish I had one.

b) You will eventually want to get other microphones. For piano and guitar, or piano and violin, a Behringer C-2 or C-4 pair will give better results than the built-in mics on the H4n. (They have better sound quality, IMHO, and you can separate them (one for piano, one for guitar or violin). The H4n has "phantom power" and XLR connections to handle true condenser mics, like those.

I don't know the quality of the mics in the bundles. I'd trust the Behringer mics more.

I don't think you'll need a "dead cat" windscreen -- useful outdoors, but over-kill for use indoors. The H4n should come with a foam windscreen (my H4 has one), that works fine for indoor use, and for close-up work with a singer.

c) If you record in "WAV" format (uncompressed), with 24-bit samples, stereo, 48 kHz (which gives good results, in my experience), one hour of recording requires:

. . . 3600 seconds per hour x 3 bytes per sample x 2 channels x 48,000 samples per second = 1.0 Gbytes of storage per hour.

So a 32 Gbyte memory card gives abut 32 hours of recording -- if that's enough for you, it'll work fine.

If you do any photography, you might have some SD-format memory cards lying around. They should work fine.

I really like my H4. The H4n has some additional features -- a built-in date/time chip, and a much better user interface, and some additional recording options -- that make it even better.

Good luck --



Last edited by Charles Cohen; 08/31/19 03:46 PM.

. Charles
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Re: Which Zoom recorder (or non-Zoom recorder) to buy? [Re: ShiroKuro] #2885882 09/01/19 01:35 PM
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ShiroKuro Offline OP
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Charles, thanks so much for those detailed comments!! Esp re microphones, I guess I'll think a little more seriously about external mics, although maybe prioritize choosing my own rather than getting some in the bundle.

I do want a remote I think.

If anyone else has any comments, please share, esp regarding the different years and whether they are actually any different (given that all are called H4n).


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Re: Which Zoom recorder (or non-Zoom recorder) to buy? [Re: ShiroKuro] #2886054 09/01/19 10:35 PM
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I am in the process of writing a review for the Piano Buyer of portable audio recorders, priced between $149 and $199 in the US. In the mix, I have a Tascam, a Zoom, an Olympus, a Roland, and a Philips. There's one I definitely don't like, but the other four have distinct pros and cons.

The review is still being written and sample recordings analyzed. It should appear in the upcoming fall issue, fwiw.


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Re: Which Zoom recorder (or non-Zoom recorder) to buy? [Re: ShiroKuro] #2886319 09/02/19 03:53 PM
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While I just begin my piano journey, I have some experience recording classical guitar with Tascam DR-40 which might be of relevance here, also.

Pretty much any decent portable recorder with at least 24 bit/96 kHz WAV/BWF resolution has sufficient recording specs including distortion and S/N ratio.Multi-step low cut filter, and headphone output are also standard features these days I guess. Therefore, the recorder model does not matter much, leaving convenience and familiarity aside.

There is only one important feature to look for considering piano size - you can't achive good direct stereo results with built-in mics; Phantom power XLR inputs is a must if you don't want to limit yourself to mono or ambient recording. XLR/TRS Combo are nice to have but are not necessary.

Choosing a good matched pair of microphones with right output impedance (around 1/10 of of your recorder input impendace) for your recorder is the only decision you should concentrate on. And mics for ambient recording from a listener position might not be the best choice when you record direct - close to strings.

As I understand, the main difference between recording of guitar and piano would be the much bigger sound source, and bigger dynamic and frequency range of piano. Therefore, my experience with specific mics (for example, with guitar I always recorded direct with DR-40 on tripod) does not apply here. I found one introductory article about piano recording which may help you start in choosing mics and their positioning: https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/piano-recording

Another question, by the way: considering that you need recorder for piano, why handheld recorder? Have you considered an audio interface or field recorder instead?

And have you cosidered Tascam? DR-40, DR-100 and their newer iterations have remote, and are not worse that Zoom, this is for sure.

Last edited by VladK; 09/02/19 04:02 PM.

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Re: Which Zoom recorder (or non-Zoom recorder) to buy? [Re: ShiroKuro] #2886379 09/02/19 07:52 PM
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Another "How to Mic a Piano", from Shure:

https://www.shure.com/en-GB/support/find-an-answer/how-do-i-mic-a-piano

I think there's more on the Shure website. And I remember something here, on the "Adult Beginners" or "Pianos" forum, but I can't find it.


. Charles
---------------------------
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: Which Zoom recorder (or non-Zoom recorder) to buy? [Re: ShiroKuro] #2886463 09/03/19 03:58 AM
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I just ordered a Zoom Q2n-4K Audio/video recorder.

Ill let you know how i think about it.

Re: Which Zoom recorder (or non-Zoom recorder) to buy? [Re: U3piano] #2886494 09/03/19 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by U3piano
I just ordered a Zoom Q2n-4K Audio/video recorder.

Ill let you know how i think about it.



Oh, please do. I am considering the Q2n-4K as well.



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Re: Which Zoom recorder (or non-Zoom recorder) to buy? [Re: NobleHouse] #2886511 09/03/19 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by NobleHouse
Originally Posted by U3piano
I just ordered a Zoom Q2n-4K Audio/video recorder.

Ill let you know how i think about it.



Oh, please do. I am considering the Q2n-4K as well.


No problem.

Re: Which Zoom recorder (or non-Zoom recorder) to buy? [Re: NobleHouse] #2886557 09/03/19 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by NobleHouse

Oh, please do. I am considering the Q2n-4K as well.


I just got it deliverd an half hour ago, and after a quick tryout here are my first impressions.

First off, this thing is small! Of course i saw it before in pictures and youtube video's but it's still smaller than i thought.

Now..


The bad:

- Video quality is horrible. I knew it wouldn't be great because i read the reviews, but it's worse than i thought. It's like this:
> Great lighting conditions, like outdoors: Picture is fine
> Normal lighting conditions, like indoors in daytime: Picture is grainy
> Bad lighting conditions, like a dark room or night time: Picture is very grainy

- The screen is horrible, and very small. It does does it's job, you can see what's in the picture.. but just know the quality is not bad, it's horrible

- The speaker is a joke, i wonder if it is broken, and that's not a joke. But... considering the quality of the video and the screen, my guess it's just the cheapest and smallest thing they could find to put in. To call it horrible would
be too positive by far. This is nothing like a smartphone speaker, which are quite good these days. This "speaker" is only good for the "bleep" sound when you use a function.


The good:

- Sound quality is truely top notch, couldn't ask for more. Seems to be much better than my old zoom H4.

- Easy to use, one press record, quickly figured everything out without problems. Everything works fine and quick, no lagging menu options or anything.

- It has got a screen, a speaker and a headphone jack. So you got everything you need if you quickly want to see/hear what you have recorded. Even tough the quality of the screen and the speaker are horrible, the function is there.



Conclusion:

Im impressed by the sound, and dissapointed by the picture quality. I think in normal lighting conditions the picture should not be grainy. My smartphone (xiaomi mi a2) does much better in that aspect. I think this is kind of a wierd device, because it's really good one one side, and really bad on the other side. I feel happy with my purchase and ripped off at the same time. Also the screen should be at least a little better, it's terrible, but for my purpose (recording myself playing) that won't be a problem, it just gives the impression that i got it off ali-express.

I think it's still a good buy with a purpose like mine, because (as far as i know) there is no competition at this price point, and therefore i have no other options than to live with the crappy picture quality, to get the superb audio quality.

If you have an iphone, i would personally look into this zoom microphone attachment instead of buying this, to get good audio and video quality. Since I use android, that's not an option for me.

Re: Which Zoom recorder (or non-Zoom recorder) to buy? [Re: ShiroKuro] #2886606 09/03/19 03:15 PM
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From "first principles":

. . . If you have the camera set to record in some high-resolution format, and you (and others) will be playing the recordings on a computer screen:

. . . . Try recording in a lower-resolution format -- say, 2000 x 1200 pixels.

That might reduce the amount of "graininess" in the recording. It's an easy experiment to do.

The "cost" of high-resolution recording is that the pixels, on the camera's sensor, are very small. And that leads to increased graininess (which is caused by too few photons per pixel).

Reducing the recording resolution lets the camera's logic combine the light from several sensor pixels, so the photon count goes up, and the graininess goes down.

If it doesn't help, it won't have cost you anything.


. Charles
---------------------------
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: Which Zoom recorder (or non-Zoom recorder) to buy? [Re: ShiroKuro] #2886615 09/03/19 03:38 PM
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I might have exaggerated the grainyness a little. It might be more normal than i thought.

I just tried filming with my smartphone, and it's also a little grainy in lower light conditions. I just used it for filming only a few times so i didn't notice that before.

I think it's better than the zoom tough, but ill compare it later.

Re: Which Zoom recorder (or non-Zoom recorder) to buy? [Re: ShiroKuro] #2886623 09/03/19 04:17 PM
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Tiny camera lenses are going to produce grainy videos (and pictures) in low light.

If you have a decent camera, you can sync the video from it to the sound from your recorder in your computer. I've been doing that with my videos.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Which Zoom recorder (or non-Zoom recorder) to buy? [Re: ShiroKuro] #2886628 09/03/19 04:41 PM
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Something few mention, but is important. The zoom take a LOOONGG time to boot because they seem to be reading the SD card. A bigger card makes boot take forever. As in multiple minutes if you have a bunch of files on the card.

For this reason I strongly recommend a small card if you plan to turn the device on/off all of the time. It may be meaningless to you if you turn it on, then set up external mics, on and on, But if you envision having it at the piano desk and quickly turning it on to catch an improv or something, fugetaboutit with the larger cards.

Small cards are cheap, so maybe have a small one, 1-2 GB, and then a larger one for extended recording. And keep the # of files on the card as small as you can get away with.


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Re: Which Zoom recorder (or non-Zoom recorder) to buy? [Re: RogerRL] #2886637 09/03/19 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by RogerRL
Something few mention, but is important. The zoom take a LOOONGG time to boot because they seem to be reading the SD card. A bigger card makes boot take forever. As in multiple minutes if you have a bunch of files on the card.

I've just switched my Zoom H4n on, and it took exactly 45 seconds to boot up and ready for recording. It has a 32GB card and currently has about 50 files in it, and about 20% of recording capacity left.


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Re: Which Zoom recorder (or non-Zoom recorder) to buy? [Re: bennevis] #2886647 09/03/19 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis

If you have a decent camera, you can sync the video from it to the sound from your recorder in your computer. I've been doing that with my videos.


That is exactly the hassle im trying to avoid by buying a decent audio/video recorder. grin

Re: Which Zoom recorder (or non-Zoom recorder) to buy? [Re: U3piano] #2886653 09/03/19 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by U3piano
Originally Posted by bennevis

If you have a decent camera, you can sync the video from it to the sound from your recorder in your computer. I've been doing that with my videos.


That is exactly the hassle im trying to avoid by buying a decent audio/video recorder. grin

The optimum distances - and positions - for video recording and sound recording are different.

Separate mics are a much bigger hassle (and cost)......


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Which Zoom recorder (or non-Zoom recorder) to buy? [Re: U3piano] #2886659 09/03/19 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by U3piano
Originally Posted by NobleHouse

Oh, please do. I am considering the Q2n-4K as well.


I just got it deliverd an half hour ago, and after a quick tryout here are my first impressions.

First off, this thing is small! Of course i saw it before in pictures and youtube video's but it's still smaller than i thought.

Now..


The bad:

- Video quality is horrible. I knew it wouldn't be great because i read the reviews, but it's worse than i thought. It's like this:
> Great lighting conditions, like outdoors: Picture is fine
> Normal lighting conditions, like indoors in daytime: Picture is grainy
> Bad lighting conditions, like a dark room or night time: Picture is very grainy

- The screen is horrible, and very small. It does does it's job, you can see what's in the picture.. but just know the quality is not bad, it's horrible

- The speaker is a joke, i wonder if it is broken, and that's not a joke. But... considering the quality of the video and the screen, my guess it's just the cheapest and smallest thing they could find to put in. To call it horrible would
be too positive by far. This is nothing like a smartphone speaker, which are quite good these days. This "speaker" is only good for the "bleep" sound when you use a function.


The good:

- Sound quality is truely top notch, couldn't ask for more. Seems to be much better than my old zoom H4.

- Easy to use, one press record, quickly figured everything out without problems. Everything works fine and quick, no lagging menu options or anything.

- It has got a screen, a speaker and a headphone jack. So you got everything you need if you quickly want to see/hear what you have recorded. Even tough the quality of the screen and the speaker are horrible, the function is there.



Conclusion:

Im impressed by the sound, and dissapointed by the picture quality. I think in normal lighting conditions the picture should not be grainy. My smartphone (xiaomi mi a2) does much better in that aspect. I think this is kind of a wierd device, because it's really good one one side, and really bad on the other side. I feel happy with my purchase and ripped off at the same time. Also the screen should be at least a little better, it's terrible, but for my purpose (recording myself playing) that won't be a problem, it just gives the impression that i got it off ali-express.

I think it's still a good buy with a purpose like mine, because (as far as i know) there is no competition at this price point, and therefore i have no other options than to live with the crappy picture quality, to get the superb audio quality.

If you have an iphone, i would personally look into this zoom microphone attachment instead of buying this, to get good audio and video quality. Since I use android, that's not an option for me.



Thank you for your review. Very disappointing.



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