Samson ZOOM H2n(ext) Handy Digital Recorder - ZOOM Forges Ahead of the Pack…

      Date posted: January 18, 2012

Zoom H2-next
Samson ZOOM H2n(ext) Handy Digital Recorder

Sugg. Retail: $199.99, H2n Accessory Pack: $35.99

Manufacturer; ZOOM Corporation

I’ve admired and owned ZOOM  products for a few years now, both H4 and H2 passing through my studio and out into the field. Those reviews have already been published, and this Japanese company has now taken over its own worldwide distribution of its newest products. The H2n(ext) is quite a step forward from its predecessor, this best shown by offering its description from the company’s web site:

-Five built-in mic capsules provide Mid-Side (MS) stereo, 90° X/Y stereo, 2-channel and 4-channel recording modes

-Records in WAV up to 24-bit/96kHz and MP3 up to 320kbps

-Newly designed user interface

-Additional functions include Lo-cut Filter, Compressor/Limiter, Auto Gain, Pre-Rec, Auto-Rec, Tuner, Metronome, Variable Speed Playback, Key Control, A-B Repeat, File Dividing, Normalize, MP3 Post-Encode, Marker and Surround Mixer

-Data recovery function protects against unexpected recording errors

-Over 20 hours of operation using two standard AA batteries

-Operates on battery, AC or USB bus power

-1.8-inch backlit LCD display with 128 x 64 resolution

-Analog-type Mic Gain wheel

-Built-in reference speaker

-High-Speed USB 2.0 card reader function

-1/8-inch Mic/Line Input and Phones/Line Output stereo phone jacks

-Accommodates up to 32GB SDHC memory cards

-Includes Steinberg WaveLab LE 7 editing software, 2GB SD memory card and two AA batteries”

ZOOM H2n-pic6
With this second generation H2, the accessories, which I would call necessary, are sold separately. These are pictured here, and include an extendable mini-tripod, a hand-holder (which also attaches to the standard camera screw mount on the recorder’s bottom), a zippered plastic semi-hard carrying case, USB and A/V cables, a foam windscreen, mike-clip adaptor, and a very useful wired remote control, which can be extended with lengths of mini-plug/mini-jack cables.

Because the H2n  turns on in record-ready mode, the remote allows instant record start (with a possible programmable pre-roll setting to catch the few seconds you just missed), a very useful feature. I use it mostly at home (with the remote) for quick-start recording of musical selections off FM or internet radio, as well as transferring music from other media such as LP or CD. Also included is a 9.5-foot extender cable for the remote, so you can set up the recorder up outside and control its record start/stop functions remotely from inside, something I will use for thunder storms (with a hairy rain-shedding windsock on the H2n, for sure).
ZOOM H2n-pic5
The line input setup can be quite confusing at first, especially if the mic pattern control setting on top of the recorder is at anything but XY-pattern recording: all other surround recording settings leave all other microphone inputs live, even when the mini-jack for front mike or line input is engaged. It took me a while to figure this out, as it isn’t even considered in the otherwise excellent owner’s manual. Therefore, if you have your speakers live when trying to use the line input, you can get an echo, or even acoustic feedback, when trying to record from a line source. of course, when recording with the internal mikes in any configuration, the hand stick is of only minimal practical use, being quite microphonic along with the rest of the recorder. With the similar accessories from the previous gen H2, I added an old Shure  rubber grommet microphone shock mount to the supplied stick to get rid of this unwanted physical sensitivity. Other elastic-based shock mounts could also be employed to this purpose.

The ability to handle up to 32 GB HDSC cards allows prodigious recording time, even at 96/24 digital resolution. Having just erased a 2 GB card, I find it offers roughly an hour-and-a-half of recording time at 96/16, and an hour at 96/24. That implies that a 4 GB card will do 2 hours at this highest resolution (only available in stereo). At CD resolution (to avoid producing a set of record-time tables, and allow you to do so yourself), the 2 GB SD card will record just over 3 hours of audio in stereo. At 48/24 resolution (a good quality level for analog sources and good broadcasts), a re-formatted or new 2 GB card will store roughly 2 hours. So, just to be contrary, I recommend 4 GB cards as a manageable size with good recording time at all resolution levels. Do the math, (including card cost), and you may feel the same way.

ZOOM H2n, pic4
But if you want to be really silly (and spend quite a lot of money), a 32 GB card will get you 16 times the 2 GB-recording time at all resolutions. That will provide a full day’s recording at CD resolution, interrupted only by the possible need for new batteries (see below) in the wee small hours if you start the previous morning. Do it when you wake up to pee.

Speaking of time (Happy 70th, Stephen Hawking!), the 2 AA batteries required for the H2n  (alkaline) are rated to provide 20 continuous hours of operation, a quite astronomical number, unprecedented in my long experience with portable recorders, digital or analog. Talk about easy on batteries! And AAs are the cheapest you can buy! The wired power supply has its practical felicities, too, offering both USB and wall wart powering, along with USB connectivity for storing and editing files with either the supplied Wavelab LE 7 or another computer editing program.

But after all this fiddling about with the H2n, the dominant remaining impression was its vastly improved sound quality over the original H2, innovative and “handy” as it was. There’s simply no comparison, the quality of both the microphones and the analog circuitry at a distinctly higher level. I owned a pair of the previous generation, one killed by a line level input when set for external microphone, and the other recently sold into Christian slavery to record church services in Somerset (I kid you not!). God rewards those who play…and record!

The ZOOM H2n  is more than just a makeover, it’s a completely new recorder, and intended to be as easy and natural to use as possible.

Andrew Marshall

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One Response to “Samson ZOOM H2n(ext) Handy Digital Recorder - ZOOM Forges Ahead of the Pack…”

  1. Tillie c-unknown Says:

    The H4n is like a Swiss Army Knife for Music/Audio/Video folk that one line says it all. Zoom H4n Rocks !!! I am an Audio Tech and I connat believe how useful I find this little gadget on the field.Grant

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