The Zoom H4n handy recorder is the most popular field audio recorder on the market. This handy little device is revolutionizing the way we look at the deployment of field audio recording for DSLR video as well as the recording of live music, podcasting, post production sound effects, and many broadcast applications.
With the onset popularity of the new go anywhere portability of DSLR cameras in professional production it is imperative to equip comparably portable peripheral equipment. The Zoom H4n is perfect for these applications. Typically in order for a production to have the best audio possible there is a technician present on set with his or her own kit of dedicated gear. This kit includes a slew of audio equipment including very complex field audio recorders, mixers, wireless lav mics, transmitters, receivers, boom poles, blimps, shotgun mics, and a coffin case full of cables and connectors, as well as all the necessary equipment to sync up with the cameras. This poses a problem for videographers working on smaller productions or documentary pieces with limited budgets. In the best case scenario the more responsibility that can be placed in the hands of capable professionals the better your results will be; however, in some cases videographers simply cannot afford to hire a technician to operate all of the conventional audio equipment needed for great sound. The Zoom H4n is the perfect solution for such applications. In today’s “run and gun” video production industry indie film makers wear many hats including the sound guy.
The Zoom H4n is equipped with a coincident pair of condenser microphones set in an x/y pattern for binaural stereo imaging at either 90° or 120°. In addition to the onboard mics the H4n sports two XLR ¼ combo connectors with a phantom power supply and the ability to record all four tracks at once. This means that you can have a boom mic and lavaliere on your talent or you can record ambient sound with the onboard stereo mics all to discrete tracks on the H4n. As you can imagine that makes the H4n a very powerful recording tool for taping live shows or record anywhere it isn’t practical to bring more complex recording equipment.
There is also an available remote control (RC-4) with standard transport controls and track arming, a very handy feature since the H4n has a ¼ 20 tripod mount as well as a mic stand adaptor. Just a bit larger than an iPhone and weighing just over 2lbs, the H4n has no trouble being mounted to a fish pole or camera shoe.
Zoom really hit the nail on the head with this device and now they are introducing the Q3HD which incorporates the same x/y stereo mics, preamps, and encoders as the H4n with a 1080i digital camera, comparable to the popular Flip cams. This sort of professional quality equipment designed for ease of use and the quick turnaround of production makes me very excited to see what’s next from Zoom.