Zoom H4n for 4-channel podcast-recording

Zoom H4nI used to record my podcasts directly into my computer with Audacity. That worked great for me until I did something stupid: running too many CPU-intensive apps while recording.

I decided to buy an external recorder, not just for the reliability, but also for new features.

After a lot of research, I settled on the Zoom H4n Portable Digital Recorder for the following reasons.

  • The H4n has a better stereo separation so you can hear left and right better when recording with it.
  • The H4n has XLR inputs and a built-in preamp.
  • The H4n records in four channels.

Of these features, the most important to me was the four-channel recording. I use this to separate our voices from the sounds (music, voicemail, sound clips, etc.). This separation makes it much easier to edit things later, if I need to.

For example, if I mess up my timing on the outro, I can simply reposition the background music because it's separate from the vocal track. Or I can also run dynamic compression on my vocal track without it messing up my fades on the music.

I highly recommend the Zoom H4n Portable Digital Recorder and will be recording remotely with it at BlogWorld NYC this year.


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This is a post from the “daily podcasting photo” series. Learn more about the series, including how you can sponsor a day, at Daniel J. Lewis's personal blog.

About the Author
As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters and Zoom H6 for Podcasters courses, the Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin for WordPress, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcast about how to podcast. Daniel's other podcasts, a clean-comedy podcast, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, have also been nominated for multiple awards. Daniel and his son live near Cincinnati.
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Rich
12 years ago

Look forward to meeting you at Blogworld NYC Daniel. I use the H2 and I really love using it to record my show.

Rich
12 years ago

I will be there all 3 days. So I will most likely be all over the place 

Steven
Steven
12 years ago

So you can plug an xlr mic, like the PR40 directly into these recorders?

Richard Farrar
Richard Farrar
12 years ago

I can’t praise the Zoom H4n enough either and have also used this for recording interviews for my podcasts in the field with excellent results: http://www.plantadvice.co.uk/garden-advice/podcasts/the-2011-chelsea-flower-show/1

Chris Rodriguez
12 years ago

I used an H2 for a few years (now relegated to outdoor recording) and have upgraded recently to the H2n and love it, especially the larger brighter display.  The Accessory pack is a must (but the H2n probably should have come with those things anyway).  Has anyone (with H2n or H4n) noticed the “heartbeat” sound while plugged into AC power?  I saw this on a forum (about the H4) and I do hear it on the H2n – have to really turn things up to hear it and it disappears on battery power – but it doesn’t appear to get on the recordings.

Chris Rodriguez
12 years ago

I notice it now at normal volume only because I’m now keyed into it, but turn up your master volume on your mixer and if it exists in your setup you’ll hear it.  The beats are very similar to an actual heartbeat, and I’ve seen it mentioned in other forums.  The pitch is on the higher end.  In a way it sort of reminds me of that sound in the movie “Contact”.  It’s definitely a power source issue.

Carl Valeri
12 years ago

I did over 46 interviews one week for SunNFun Radio. The editors had much praise of the recording quality. You can listen to the interviews  at my blog ExpertAviator.com.

One question. The manual states you cannot charge batteries using the H4n.  Is this not correct?

Darrell Hale
Darrell Hale
11 years ago

As of today, from the Zoom website at

http://www.zoom.co.jp/english/support/faq/h4n.php

Q: Can I use nickel-hydride (Ni-MH) rechargeable batteries in the H4n?

A: Yes. However, please note that the H4n does not have a function for charging the batteries. You should therefore use a commercially available charger designed for the batteries you are using. Also, to ensure that remaining battery capacity is indicated correctly by the H4n, set the “BATTERY TYPE” option in the “SYSTEM” menu to “Ni-NH”.

For details, see page 128 of the Operation Manual.

Tonya Mork
Tonya Mork
10 years ago

Daniel,

How are you splitting the music, clips, & voicemails from the voice audio? Are you running everything into your mixer and the to the Zoom? I have the X1204USB mixer and am looking at the Zoom or Roland R05. I like how you can separate out tricks with the Zoom, it sure how you’re doing it.

Thank you,
Tonya

Dan Franks
Dan Franks
10 years ago

Hey Daniel, I bought this on your recommendation and love it! The only thing I’ve noticed is my recordings come out nasally. Like treble too high and no bass. I was previously going through my Xenyx 802 mixer into the recorder, and was able to mess with the levels so this was not a problem, but there was a hum that I was able to eliminate by going straight into the H4N.

Is there some settings I can adjust within the recorder itself? Right now I have been recording on Stereo mode, default settings.

Thanks!

Dan Franks
Dan Franks
10 years ago

ATR 2100.

Mike
Mike
9 years ago

Hey Daniel, awesome input here. I considered this recorder, however went with the Xenyx 802 and UCA202 interface going into my laptop (PC). I am using the ATR2100 as well and cannot get rid of the ambient noise when recording- the noise removal does not work for when I’m speaking. I’m not sure if it’s the settings, the mic, the mixer or a combination of a few issues. I was wondering if you can lend some insight or if just going with the recorder would be better. I use Audacity, too. Thanks!

diegojoker
diegojoker
10 years ago

Hi Daniel! Whats your opinion about Tascam dr-40? it seems to be similar to this zoom and much cheaper.

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