Zoom H2n Review – The Portable Digital Audio Revolution

 

Zoom H2n ReviewProduct: Zoom H2n Handy Digital Recorder

Subject: Zoom H2n Review

Price:Β $159.00 ( Retail )

Cheap Place to Buy: Ebay.com

Our Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Your audience is always going to be a lot more forgiving about amateur visuals than they are about poor audio. Filmmakers must always make sure they reach a certain level of professionalism with the sound they are capturing for their project.

Today we will be taking a closer look at the Zoom H2n Handy Digital Recorder to see if it is up to filmmaking standards.

The Zoom H2n Review – Product Overview

A few months back we were lucky enough to test out the Zoom H2n Handy Digital Recorder on a couple of projects. We decided to write this Zoom H2n Review about our experiences with it during the testing period.

In this review we will discuss how well it works, how durable it is, some minor drawbacks with it, and where to get the best deal when you buy it online. By the end of this review you should have a good idea as to whether the Zoom H2n Handy Digital Recorder is right for you.

The Zoom H2n is run by standard Double A batteries but please don’t let that put you off – we found that Zoom H2n could stay in active use for well over 20 hours on just one set of batteries.

Your recorded work is stored on standard SD/SDHC memory cards which offer more than enough recording time ( we made use of a basic 8 GB card throughout our two projects and there was at least 4 GB left on it afterwards ).

The device records onto 16 or 24-bit WAV files and MP3 audio files up to 320 kbps. It uses sampling frequencies between 44.1 and 96 kHz but as always – the higher the chosen sampling rate the more memory you will consume.

Mic arrangements of Zoom H2n

We usually find that the quality and mic arrangements of these portable products are not really up to standard – this was not the case with the Zoom H2n! It uses 5 microphones in a simple X/Y stereo to two channel or a four channel ‘surround sound’ arrangement.

With this ‘surround sound’ arrangement you have a pair of channels recording directly in front of the microphone then one on either side of the recorder.

For monitoring there is a pretty effective built in speaker or you have the choice of using a 3.5mm output line.

The Good And The Bad

The Pros:

  • A very convenient size to transport around
  • Great price ( inexpensive )
  • Two effective recording modes ( Stereo & Surround )
  • The choice of MP3 and PCM/WAV for recording formats
  • The ability to change through different sample rates
  • An input included so you can make use of an external mic
  • Uses simple SD/SDHC Cards as a recording medium

The Cons:

  • Does not support XLR of any kind
  • Not the easiest shape for handheld recordings

Who is The Zoom H2n For?

Due to it’s price, the Zoom H2n Handy Digital Recorder is the perfect choice for independent filmmakers or newcomers to filmmaking.

It’s extremely easy to use; the button layout is well-placed/easily accessible and the parameter controls are easy to figure out. If you are not that confident in your audio engineering skills then this digital recorder is a great place to start.

Our Final Opinion on The Zoom H2n Handy Digital Recorder

The Zoom H2n is a very capable device for it’s price – we were not expecting much from it but we were pleasantly surprised. We found it was a good all-round digital audio recorder that offers plenty of flexibility.

The audio quality often managed to rival condenser mics that are twice it’s price and it’s host of features were very easy to use. We thoroughly enjoyed using the Zoom H2n on our test projects and I’m sure the results we get with it are only going to improve the more we use it.


We hope you enjoyed our Zoom H2n Review and if you have any questions about the digital recorder or want to leave your own personal review, please leave a comment in the section below.

51 Comments

  1. Hi Chris,
    I enjoyed reading your review about the Zoom H2n digital recorder.

    I have a few questions for you.

    When I was in school, I used to have a tape recorder to record my classes, do you recommend the H2n digital recorder to use for that purpose?

    What is the recording range of this digital recorder, can I be sitting at 5-10 feet from the source of the sound and still record it with good sound quality?

    Thanks
    Sonia

    • Hi Sonia,
      I’d certainly recommend the Zoom for something as straightforward as that – the built in mics are excellent and can take in the whole scope of a zoom with ease. I also found that there was little ‘self noise’ when the mics were recording giving a professional sound to whatever you choose to pinpoint.

  2. Hello, and thank you for this review! I found the information very informative and it answered quite a few of the questions I have been researching. I have been looking for a high definition portable recorder for my son who wants to record school lectures. I think that the Zoom H2N is perfect for this, but I was curious what the recording range for this device would be? Would my son be able to sit 20 feet from a professor, and still be able to get a good recording?

    • Hi Allan,
      Yeah the camera would cover that distance in a blink of an eye but I’m not sure the professor is going to be that pleased about ending up on YouTube LOL. Maybe point out to your son that it’s best to ask this teacher’s permission before pulling the camera out and popping them on the big screen πŸ™‚
      Glad the review was useful to you – the camera is an awesome choice!

  3. I almost thought that could of been a studio mic at first! But that’s pretty cool, and the sound quality is pretty good then? I personally would rather just use the voice recorder on my phone, its easier to hold, but I’m sure there are people out there who’d really appreciate this review!

    Matt TheDopestMatrix

    • Yeah it does look a bit like a studio condenser mic doesn’t it! The sound quality was really surprising when I first used it – I was expecting phase problems and high noise levels but it was really smooth. For the price it’s quite extraordinary – top quality πŸ™‚

  4. So my sister is starting into amateur film development. But she does a lot of work with shows, performances and theatre production, rather than up close and personalised filming. Would this mic still make a good difference in filming these types of productions? Could she just strap it into her camera in order to capture better what her camera probably can’t?

    • Hello again Sarah! Nice to see you back here so soon ( and nice to see the site is proving so valuable to you! )
      This mic is pretty much suitable for all sorts of filming – I was amazed at the quality and the reach for such a reasonable price. When I first started out in this business Zoom were nothing more than a pretty bad budget option but boy have they moved on in style!
      Most cameras will come with decent enough mics built in but there’s always a need for a different audio angle – this mic is an excellent all round option if you do not have a high budget.

  5. When I read that it takes batteries, it did kind of put me off. On a good note It’s amazing that the battery life last more than 20 hours.

    I do have a couple of questions, if you use it for 15 hours, does the quality deplete because of the battery?

    The other questions is, If I’m working all day on a project, when do you recommend changing the battery? Thanks!

    • Hi Evelyn,
      I’m happy to report that the product lasts well throughout the battery life-cycle. Although it says up to 20 hours on it’s specs I would keep an eye on it after about 15 hours – you never know! It’s always a good idea to take extra batteries with you as you never know how long a project/shoot is going to last πŸ™‚

  6. Hi, Chris.
    Thank you for the Zoom H2N Review $150 dollars seems to be a reasonable price for this mic. I wonder how it would perform at a live music event that is very loud say 90db and up. I am sure it would be good for voices although, I am not sure about, music.
    Dan.

    • Not at all Dan – it’s actually excellent for recording live music. We have captured 3 local gigs so far in crowded halls and they all came out rather impressively. It’s the quality of the actual diaphragm itself that makes it what it is – for the price it’s pretty awesome!

  7. Interesting gadget. Never seen or heard of one of these, but it looks very useful.

    I especially like that it records in two formats, MP3 and WAV, both of which I use when editing on my computer.

    The other feature that looks great, is the long life of the battery. Bonus that it also looks easy to use.

  8. The fact that the device in question doesn’t support XLR is a little bit off-putting, but not impossible to work with. πŸ™‚ It definitely is true that, although the audience will tend to be a bit more forgiving with things that have to do with visuals, audio is something that has to be perfect when recording anything. When you meet up with the price, specs, and functionality, it doesn’t get any better than that. I can’t wait to see your next product.

    • No it’s geared more towards the digital domain than the analog ( hence the lack of XLR ). These days most analog signals end up being converted into WAV at some point in the production process anyways. πŸ™‚

  9. Makes me want to get into the film making business. Good review with everything you need answered. Obviously digital recorders have come a long way since I used them years ago in college. I can not believe they have 5 microphones. It is certainly one I would consider if I were in the market.

  10. Hi Chris
    Great review on the Zoom H2n. I enjoyed the pros and cons of the Zoom H2n. It’s affordable and a nice size. I also like that you can change the format and put a external mic to the device. I would recomend this device to anyone interested. I would use this personally for recording my professors in class.
    Great site!

    • Nice one Kevin – good to hear you are looking into this mic further ( and where would a review be without Pros and Cons? )
      πŸ™‚
      Good luck with the mic

  11. Very good review on this digital recorder.

    Great technical even know I don’t know what some if it stands for you are very through with the information.

    I assume this device could be used for many other projects besides film making? And, can you tell me if the average person just wanting to record something would need 2 or 4 channel option? Like I said I am a novice at recording devices so any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks again for the information.

    Jeff

    • Yeah I’ve used this little baby to record an acoustic session Jeff and it totally rocked – it suits many kinds of audio environments! The channel options will vary on what you are using it for, so…what are you planning on using it for?

  12. Thanks for the detailed review Chris. I wonder if this is also good for recording an interview between myself and an interviewee using its internal mics.

    • Yeah this would work fine in a interview situation – just pop it on the table, press record and go!

  13. Hi Chris,

    You have clearly explained that this product is great for film makers.

    My question is, can we use this for recording meetings? We are currently using mp3 recorders for recording meetings and taking notes.

    It would be great if this product can also serve that purpose.

    Thanks in advance for the enlightenment.

    • Yes this product is an excellent choice for picking up audio from a meeting/office situation πŸ™‚

  14. Hi great review, though Im not a guy who is in that field, but i did get to learn more about what a person needs to be a good filmmaker. Filming takes work and having something like that make doing all the funnier. Thanks for the review. And I be sure to come back if I do get interested in this field.

  15. Hello Chris!

    Great review you have here! I think I found something similar recently but I don`t remember what it was. I need something to record rehearsals I do with my band and h2n looks like the right thing for doing it. You mention filmmakers and this makes me believe that h2n picks up and records sounds from the surrounding space with great quality.
    May I ask, did you use it in any way yourself?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Igor,
      Yes I’ve used it in many live audio engineering situations – it’s been excellent in all of them so far!

  16. This mic sounds really awesome! I’ve always been interested in film making, and I honestly didn’t realize you could get such a professional microphone for such a decent price. I might look into buying one for my personal hobby of making movies.

    Do you think this is pretty much the best bang for your buck type mic? Thanks so much for the review!

  17. Hi there,

    It’s exactly right that people forgive low-quality images more than low-quality sounds. Sounds should be optimal as in my opinion they often make or break a moving picture.

    If you go more towards the 96 kHz, how many minutes of sound would you be able to collect with these 8 GB SD/SDHC memory cards?

    Cheers!

    • Hi Maarten,

      That’s a really difficult question to pinpoint as every recording situation is different – I cannot really be exact with my answer. I have managed to capture many hours of live acoustic band sets on one 8 GB card but it’s always best to have a spare one handy ( they are cheap enough and add many more hours of recording! ).

  18. Great read! Short and to the point, yet enjoyable at the same time. It’s good to see there’s still quality items out there at a low price, it’s rare to see that for someone looking to start something any more. Question… What’s the range? And in order to capture surround, does it need to be located in the middle of the action or can it stay by the camera?

    • Hi Peter,

      Are you asking what dynamic range the mic is or maybe the overall sound capture range? The mic itself has different settings that allows you to place it pretty much wherever you want when filming – it’s what makes it a great choice for indie filmmakers!

  19. Hello and thank you for the great review. I have always wondered what kind of devices were used for recording voices for videos these days. Whats great about it is it works good and its reasonable affordable for anyone to purchase.I was kind of hoping it was rechargeable not have batteries for it to operate though.

  20. Hey Chris. Nice review of the Zoom H2n. You sum up the pros and cons very neatly. I was actually looking at this product a little while ago for very different reasons, as I’ve heard it’s quite useful as a simple device for recording live music.

    Obviously, using it for that reason would take away the option of recording in separate channels and therefore limit your sound mixing options afterwards but for a clean recording that captures sound without any static hiss or other unwanted noise, it really delivers.

    Cheers.

  21. Hi Chris
    Nice review, quick and straight to the point.

    I agree that sound is an absolute necessity when it comes to any film, and therefore quality of it is of paramount significance.

    Having said that, your review brings a product which in my eye, comes to the rescue of any indie filmmaker, when it comes to sound production on their amateur video.

    I really like the fact that it is within budget and makes the whole process with different file outputs and sd card slot, so user friendly.

    Once again , thumbs up for an awesome article.

    Will be back to see what you are up to later.

    Regards
    Roopesh

  22. Hi Chris,
    That’s quite an interesting article about Zoom H2n and it is certainly beneficial to the readers.
    Are there long distant courses or exclusively online courses on this?
    Thanks for ensuring to give us quality content which is very informative and worthy of implementing.

    Certainly more readers will also find the information very helpful. Wishing you a happy new year!

    • Hi Boniface,

      I don’t really know what you’re on about with regards to courses – maybe try and look for a few tutorials on YouTube?

  23. Great website, with informative information for guests and or members of your site. Think you did a wonderful job putting this site together. I think we could learn a lot from each other. Do you mind checking out my website and offering any advice possible? . I thank you for your input and for allowing me to see your site and provide feedback as well. *1*1

  24. I definitely need to invest in professional recording equipment. Unfortunately they are so darn expensive. This review describes everything that i would need or want to know for this product and find it very beneficial to choosing a good quality audio recording device. When I find the money to purchase such a device I will definitely comeback to this site! Thank you!

  25. Dayum man, sounds pretty good to me. I do a lot of filming vlogging and what not so I’ve been looking into the Rode Video mic pro. But for something this portable, inexpensively speaking what a deal! If it fits the bill of what you’ve said then I’ll definitely recommend it to my mate – he’s looking for some sort of portable mic. He’ll like your review as well (it’s nice and concise) I really liked how you just got into it and didn’t muck around. I went to look for some more equipment reviews but I couldn’t find any on the menu. I’d really recommend you doing more, you’re doing a great job at them!
    Cheers

  26. Hi Chris,

    So glad I found your website while searching on the internet, very informative and clear so great stuff! My partner is into amateur film productions so I have emailed her the link to check out your posts as well? Do you have a newsletter I can subscribe to so I can be kept informed of all your latest posts and updates? Look forward to hearing from you. Cheers, Michael

    • Hi Micheal – the sidebar of the website has a feed subscription where you can sign up for our latest posts! πŸ™‚

  27. Your site is a lot of fun. I really appreciated your review of the audio equipment. It was very informative and detailed. I also like the movie reviews on the site and the page called ‘How to make a Low Budget Horror Movie. It makes me think of Ed Wood. I hope you have more luck that he did.

  28. I was looking into purchasing a dSLR camera and a lot of reviews warned about buying a separate recording device because the audio is not that great. Definitely something I will look into.

    As far as using it on video editing software, how easy is it to export on other programs?

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