upgrading to H4 Handy recorder

Discuss the Zoom H6, H5, H4, H4n, H2, H2n, and H1. Please don't "post and run". Participate in the discussion. Thanks.
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beck
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upgrading to H4 Handy recorder

Post by beck » Sun Sep 24, 2006 1:57 am

Ok guys,

I'm making the jump.. WOW! 24-bit stereo recording AND 16-bit 44100 4-track mode AND USB interface AND can use the device as 24/96 recording card AND includes Cubase LE AND it has zoom's effects, a tuner, metronome.
and the price isn't bad (street price ~$300). And most important i can put it in my pocket. I downloaded the manual from Samson's site to check it out and verify, looks like it supports up to 2 gb SD cards. I bought one at andy's online a little while ago. So I guess that means I'll be selling my PS-04 since i can't afford both devices.. It's been a fun ride but i'll be happy with the better sample rate and the USB. I've been wishing and hoping for someone to make something like this for about 3 years, and finally there exists a pocket-sized CD-quality multitrack recorder. Zoom had to be the one to do it, they seem to make the best stuff. The only other 24-bit recorders (Marantz, Edirol, Core Sound, M-audio) can only function as recorders, not as USB interfaces as well (to my knowledge) and nobody has a 4-track recording functionm, let alone WITH effects and metronome and tuner. I started working on it myself with an hp ipaq 2215 and i guess I'll sell that now.
Can't say how happy I am, but hopefully that doesn't change when i get the unit :-) anyway I'll let you guys know how it goes.. The beauty of Zoom's stuff (IMHO) is that they have these multitrack recorders loaded with features, good quality, at a much lower price than everybody else (and nobody else is even in this field AFAIK with cd-quality pocket-studio).
So if anybody wants a PS-04 in really good condition (I did do the noise shield mod listed on this site, that's still there) including all original packaging and manual, a 128 mb card (don't have the original 32 mb, i lost it), and a handy carrying case, let me know. I'll probably fleabay it otherwise real soon.
I was talking about this issue with dwight engen a while back, and wishing there was someone that would come up with a unit like this. And they have. The only lacking thing seems to be (to me) maybe a more fully featured metronome with actual drums (maybe like on the PFX-9003) but they probably couldn't squeeze it in with everything else. I'll be using something like hydrogen or something else anyway for drums on my workstation.

cheers,

Matt
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Post by nicka » Sun Sep 24, 2006 8:27 am

Besure to post us a full review of the unit matt.
It would be a great little recorder for the right purpose as it would be very handy for myself when i go away to do some quality acoustic recordings but no drums in it really let it down in my opinion.
Does the unit have a click track for timing.
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beck
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Post by beck » Sun Sep 24, 2006 11:43 am

Hi Nicka,

It does have a click track/metronome in it, so for me that's sufficient. If you were willing to sacrifice a track i guess you could always import or record in a drum track from some other source (i.e. your ps-04, a pfx-9003 or the computer), for me that's not as big of a deal since i'm more acoustic and don't use drums as much.. if I do use drums I'll just program them later on the pc (much easier IMO than on the PS-04 anyway, check out hydrogen if you're looking for a nice free drum machine, it's originally on linux but has been ported to windows, there are plenty of soundfonts around that will work on it as well). For me I think this unit is the right fit since i'm looking for something very basic with really great sound quality, but for others they may be disappointed that it's not more like the ps-0x's with a real rhythm unit and more effects. I will write a review as soon as I get it!

cheers,

Matt
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Post by tonyoci » Sun Sep 24, 2006 11:48 am

The reason I won't get one is the apparent lack of V-takes. Only 4 tracks just isn't enough for me. I'd be happy if you could tell me that it does have v-takes.

BTW: Many discussions on H4 have occured, here's the most detailed one

http://www.2090.org/zoom/bbs/viewtopic.php?t=6136
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Post by kraps » Sun Sep 24, 2006 2:37 pm

tonyoci wrote:The reason I won't get one is the apparent lack of V-takes. Only 4 tracks just isn't enough for me. I'd be happy if you could tell me that it does have v-takes.
Well, at first (and while reading former discussions) I also thought the "standalone all-in-one workstation" is the way - if it doesn't have drums and a bunch of v-tracks and mastering tools and... and... then the hell with it.
But then, I gave it another thought...

First, when did I ever do a mastering job on the PS04? and programming drums on the PS04? do I really mess with this? I ususally just pick a single pattern as a guide and replace it with a decent drums track later on the PC. Frankly, most of the people here had enough with the PS04/MRS drums sound, right? lest we forget the Toneport (or other audio interfaces) trend...

My point is that "needs change" and I feel that most of us realy need machines like PS04 or MRS just for the portability and ease of use for a "quick laying down of sketch ideas" job. I don't think any of those machines can actually compete with a PC and a DAW regarding mixing and editing and mastering.

When I think of my morning rendezvous with the PS04 at the local cafe' I don't recall ever recording more then 3-4 tracks and/or messing with drums or mastering tools. On the other hand I'm in a quest for a good audio card and a better microphone right now and mixing all these consideration leave me with that H4 thing as a "not very bad idea".
Not sure if it should even be considered as "a compromise".

Just my :2cents:


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beck
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Post by beck » Sun Sep 24, 2006 4:41 pm

Hi Tony,

I'd agree that the lack of virtual tracks may be an issue for some, but for myself it's not since I tend to just record a few tracks ( a bare song framework), basically just vocals and guitar, so it's perfect. Like Kraps said,
I personally have done a couple songs with zoom drums, but it takes a while to do, and it's a lot nicer to have the freedom on the PC to pick which samples you want. So for me the issue with the PS-04 was always the sonic quality and conversion issues. Other than that i liked it a lot. The fact that this can do 24-bit stereo recording and also function as a usb interface is just gravy from my perspective (I may just do some live recordings where i will use the stereo 24-bit recording). Anyway I think it just comes down to what people are looking for in a recording device. The simplicity of this unit is actually nice for me, fewer choices mean i just focus on writing the song. (and getting a nice recording quality out of it).

cheers,

Matt
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Post by nicka » Sun Sep 24, 2006 5:57 pm

Having no v-takes is no loss for me.
I did use them with the ps_04 but now with the MRS any song requiring more than 4 tracks would be done on that but just as an acoustic/singing recorder it would be very handy for me with its portability.
Using as an audio interface with 24 bit is a big adavntage with it also for adding extra tracks to an existing recording or the like.
I'll be looking at getting one in the near future but not straight away until the price comes down a bit.
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Re: upgrading to H4 Handy recorder

Post by kraps » Sun Sep 24, 2006 11:53 pm

beck wrote:I downloaded the manual from Samson's site to check it out and verify
Following Matt's lead I also downloaded the menual (it wasn't exist there yet last week) to verify on few features. Here's what I found out:

1. There IS a phsntom power for the 2 XLR mic connectors.

2. There is a Bounce Mode when in 4-Track mode where you can mixdown (ie. bounce) all 4 recorded tracks to a single mono or stereo file :!: that file can then later be imported to one (if mono) or two (if stereo) of the 4 tracks leaving you with another 2 spare tracks. some of us used to use that kind of "ping-pong" recording technic alot back in the analog recorders days. it may be tiring but since it's a digital sphere no degredation in sound quallity will accure, so if you really must overlay 37 tracks while on the go, you can still (technically) do it :lol:

3. Besides serving as an audio interface the H4 also serves as a disk-on-key (or SD card reader). that means you can drop into it any kind of file from your PC. Adding that info to that of point no. 2 above means you can drop any MP3 song or pre-recording and jam with it or add tracks to it while on the go.

4. It has a metronome which features 5 different optional sounds :twisted: , a pre-count and some other features.

5. There is a hint about "software updating" the machine via USB. does that mean that they might come up with a full featured drum machine in the future (if the market shows interest)? or does it merely leave an open door for guys like Armin to hack the machine to replace those 5 click sounds with bass-snare-hihat-toms sounds :wink: who knows.



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harmoniamundi
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hi Matt

Post by harmoniamundi » Mon Sep 25, 2006 2:50 am

Hi Matt, i'm interested in your PS04 if it's modificated (without the little ground noise).
sorry for the bad english, i'm italian.
my email is muzik4masses@yahoo.it.
tell me about your price.
bye
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beck
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Post by beck » Mon Sep 25, 2006 12:33 pm

Hi Spark,

I think you might not even need to bounce always.. i mean you could import one track over another and just keep switching tracks that way (just basically switch back and forth from multiple projects the way that you switch from vtake levels in ps-04).. you may need to rename the files but it should work ok. I also like that mp3 is fully supported, that way i can even use this as an mp3 player/recorder, like you said for learning songs and parts, but for me, also as a standard media player.. it can be the only other electronic thing i carry around besides my phone. I like this unit because it really is slimmer than the PS-04 (as someone mentioned in a previous post, it looks like an electric razor :-) ), and it only takes two AA (i like the Titanium 2500 mAH NiMH myself, they rock) and that means i can actually get it into my pocket for quick use when i'm on the road or whenever. I'll probably procure some type of case for it, as I did for the ps-04. Honestly I personally would have been perfectly happy with the Ps-02 except for noise issues, a much poorer quality mic, and sample rate.. (and converting), that's why i went with the 04 over the 02, not the number of tracks.
I'd much rather have something i can actually carry around with me.

cheers,

Matt
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beck
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Post by beck » Mon Sep 25, 2006 3:50 pm

oh the availiability isn't till november it looks like.. for some reason the site i bought it at didn't list that. :-( Being a product of the microwave culture, I want one now dang it! :-) Zzounds lists the availabliity date as october 3, while others say november, so I'm not sure what the actual date of release is, but nobody seems to have it yet. anyway i'll let you all know when i get one.

cheers,

Matt
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Post by Zoetrope » Wed Oct 04, 2006 3:51 pm

Be sure to check out my H4 review in Off Topic. So far I like it a lot. Sound quality is great.
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Post by Lee » Sat Oct 07, 2006 9:57 am

Beck,

The built-in stereo x-y config condensers are pretty darn cool too. I'll have to admit that if I didn't go the TonePort route I would have definately been buying this. The portability is cool too.

Be sure to give us a "full" review once you finally get it man. :^:


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Post by beck » Sun Nov 12, 2006 1:56 pm

ok i got mine a couple weeks ago, and have been working on recording on it. So far I'd have to agree with all the previous reviews, pro and con. The device has really great sound, you get out what you put in, CD quality and better. The issues are ease of use in the 4-track mode and getting to patches, as well as the project mode doesn't seem to work for some reason (i've tried about everything, and my projects never save, maybe i need to reformat the card and start again). I bought a 2 gb SD card so i don't need to worry about space, and the size and feature set of the device is perfect for me. I like the mics a lot, still working on patches and so on. Getting to and editing features is a pain with the jog wheel, which as previously noted, is a bit too far set in so it's difficult to punch in choices sometimes. I like the joystick thing on the front, that works pretty well. I'm sure I'll adjust to it, but I do have to say that the PS-04 was much easier to use and record with as a 4-track recorder. Modifying the volume and pan on the tracks in 4-track mode is a big pain to do with the jog wheel, as Zoetrope noted. Lack of drums doesn't bother me much as I plan to use hydrogen (great free drum machine) on my pc, which gives me a lot of choices in soundfonts for drums. I did a couple of drummy songs on ps-04 (one with lots of weird drum 'n bass patterns) and it was quite a bit of work . So I'd say I'm reasonably satisfied with this thing at this point, although annoyed by some constraints of the mixer. I found a little camera pouch at home which fits it pretty well. I was a little bit worried about the mics hanging out there outside the case, but zoom ships a foam windscreeen (traditional round one like you see on an sm-58) with the unit, so i'm just going to keep that thing on there all the time (except when changing batteries), since it helps protect the mics. I haven't played with the usb interface yet (as far as recording with it), but i have transferred files back and forth in usb mode from and to my pc (linux). It is really nice to have usb connection to the device, particularly since as someone noted, getting the sd card out is really tough. I have the big 2 gb card in there now, and it's not coming out again.. I'd say editing patches in this thing is a pain (as is all mix configuration) with the jog wheel, that's my biggest gripe.

cheers,

Matt
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beck
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Post by beck » Sun Nov 12, 2006 2:43 pm

update: i figured out the project save issue : (user error - had to format the 2gb card and all worked fine as far as saving the project after that :-) ). I've looked at the microbr as well, but who wants to have their data saved in more proprietary formats that require external software to convert? no thanks. Zoom, thank you for finally giving us normal, uncompressed WAV's that we don't need some software to convert, that may or may not add more sonicissues during conversion! If the PS-04 had recorded to uncompressed 16 bit-44 khz WAVs I'd still have it.

One more thing i must say I love about this recorder is the ease of recording a new track! no going into the track menu and changing the V-take to a different number.. no just click the record button again (assuming you are in over-write mode) and you have a brand new track recording! It makes it really easy to record take after take. The issue is getting settings right to start with (effects and levels) but once that's done you're set and you can get about recording some high-quality audio :-)


I'll post a song as soon as I finish one (shortly).

cheers,

Matt
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