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Old September 5th, 2007, 03:26 PM   #1
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First Impressions of the NEW Zoom H2 Recorder

Here is a review for the New Zoom H2 recorder that I posted in another forum last week.

These are just myself and another audio posters first impressions of the unit.

I am going to break down theunit into Pro/Cons.

Pros:
1. Small form factor (even smaller then the edirol R09). this will make it very easy to place on a groom or person without getting in the way or looking too clunky.

2. Very nice build. The finish is very nice satin steel finish (yes it's plastic), and very solidly built. It actually feels much more substantial and well buit then the H4.

3. Maunal controls.
a. Nice recessed buttons that make it very easy to navigate, as well as avoid buttons from accidentially getting hit during recording.
b. Recording levels can adjusted on the outside of the unit. No digging into the menu like the H4. Yippee.
c. 4 different mic configurations.
90 degrees: record from front of mic element
2 Channel stereo: mic records from front and back of mic (you can place this right on a mic stand in the middle of a band and record either teh entire band at once, or face one side of the mic towards the crowd and the other towards the band to record both sources.)
4 Channel Surround: Record in the same manner as 2Ch, EDIT: Correction: Creates two seperate WAV files (labels them SR***L and SR***R)...thus allow you to set the 3D panning of the four mic elements. This can either be done in computer sound program, or the unit itself (you can set your levels after recording, to create your 4 channel mix).
120 degree: record using the back of the unit to record in a 120 degree radius.

d. L/M/H Gain settings onoutside of unit for quick adjustments when needed

5. Normalization: you can normalize your recording right in the unit with no need to do it on the computer

6. Menu adjustable AGC/Compressor/Limiter

7. Digital audio passthrough. Record to the unit and send teh identicle signal to your camer (via wireless) by way of the Phones/Line OUt 1/8 port

8. 1/8 Mic and Line in ports. Don't have actual tests with this yet, but they are there for easy access. Actually this unit is really meant to be used as a mic recorder and external mics shouldn't be needed. BTW Mark mentioned to me today " One item I'm concerned with is the ext. mic circuit...will it allow GS lavs (etc) to plug in and record without the audio falling into the noise floor..." I wouldn't worry about that too much as you should be able to use teh units external gain settings to prevent that. I believe that you would have to supply mic power to the lavs though (which is in the menu).

9. SD card recording: From early reports you can record to SD cards up to 4GB without a problem. And some selected 8-12 GB cards. The only drawback here is that you have to format the cards outside of the unit.

10. High fidelity recordings. You can record in as high as 24/96 WAV format. No worry about sync issues for the most part here. We'll have to see when reports roll in from the field.

11. Built in mics. The mics actually sound a bit cleaner than the H4 mics do. Again, we have to wait till I or others get it in the field.

12. Time stamp and track marker function in WAV record mode.

13. Good news on the lav issue...not only do regular lav mics work (you have to enable mic power through the menu) but GS mic wired for the iRiver works also. When you're using an ext. lav mic with a typical wired configuration, it will record to left channel only. If you use a Giant Squid that was configured to work with your iRiver, it will record to right channel.... "

14. Good and bad news for the hold funtion... Bad news...the on/off switch is still active so if someone shuts it off...well..... Good news...the recording goes through shut down process so you won't loose file.

15. Unit will use either akaline or oxyride batteries...I would recommend oxyride for long record times at receptions

* Explanation of oxyride battery: Oxyride batteries use updated alkaline chemistry that includes a finer grained graphite and manganese dioxide, allowing a denser fill of material. With an advanced substance for the cathode or negative (-) side, called oxy nickel hydroxide the batteries maintain higher voltage. Oxyride batteries also utilize a vacuum-pouring technology in the production process, allowing more electrolyte to be packed into each battery for increased durability. Hence, increased power and a longer life....

16. Full-time Monitoring: To enable full time monitoring of the input signal, press the menu key. Scroll through unitl you see "monitor" and select "on"

17. Another "cool" feature: by pressing the play/pause button while recording, you can set a BWF (Broadcast Wave Format) compatible cue point. Not sure all NLEs can read this info...but it places a marker on the audio timeline. This would be benifical in a long recording to identify important areas when scrubbing a timeline

18. Ease of transferring files to the computer over the iRiver...no more importing files to the iRiver music manager to convert. Simply select "USB" on the menu and the computer sees the H2 as a removable drive

19. Latest Update on SDHC cards: Just purchased SanDisk (comes with SDHC reader for your computer) and PNY SDHC 4GB cards from Circuit City. The H2 recognized them and formated them with no problem. They also function perfectly. Still waiting to see what the best deal might be on obtaining 8GB SDHC card.

20. You are able to format and use 8GB SDHC cards. I purchased this 8GB Transcend SDHC card, and was able to format the card in the H2 itself and use it.



Cons:
1. Form factor for mounting on a mic stand. The H2 has a 1/4 thread at it's base, which means that the unit is really meant to be mounted straight up. They do supply a small pole of some kind that could be mounted inot a mic holder if needed. But I would hate it.

2. SD card loads from the bottom. The same bottom that the unit mounts. Means that you have to remove the unit to change cards. However, if you use long running 2-4 8-12 GB cards, then there woould be no need to remove these cards when recoding in the field.

3. No XLR inputs. Well we knew this. And not really a bit con, since I wouldn't be using an external mic with this unit. Except for maybe a lav.

4. Levels can't be adjusted while unit is in Hold mode (hold the Menu key to put the unit in "Key Hold" mode). You can pwer the unit down or adjust the L/M/H gain switch on the unit if needed.

5. Never insert or remove the SD card while power to the H2 is on. Otherwise data can be destroyed.

6. When you change SD cards, the H2 does not retain your current setings. EDIT: Your settings seem to be cached in the SD card themselves and not the H2 memory. So if you inserted a brand new SD card you would get the deffault 44/16 WAV settings.


These are just some quick obeservations.
And more and sound tests and info will be added to this thread when they become available.

I will say, that for those looking for a relacement for their IRivers. That's a small form factor, inexpensive (only $199 and that was the actual retail price for the 1GB IRiver. And this can record on SD cards for up to at least 4GB.), record in MP3 (why bother), when you can record in WAV 16/48, 24/48 or 24/96, built in stereo mics, that can record in 4 channel surround, and much more.

From what I have seen first hand, It's here in the form of the H2. While it won't be the best audio unit out there. It will be the best low cost unit out there.

Everyone please feel free to add to this post, to inform other users and potential buyers of both he good and bad.
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Old September 5th, 2007, 04:24 PM   #2
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Nice and quite comprehensive review. thanks for doing that.

quick question...so if i wanted to use an sm57 with the H2 (or any other XLR-connection mic), i culd just get an XLR-to-minijack converter and plug ir right in and it'd work fine, yes?

(let's ignore the issue of long-cable runs etc)
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Old September 5th, 2007, 04:30 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu Holmes View Post
Nice and quite comprehensive review. thanks for doing that.

quick question...so if i wanted to use an sm57 with the H2 (or any other XLR-connection mic), i culd just get an XLR-to-minijack converter and plug ir right in and it'd work fine, yes?

(let's ignore the issue of long-cable runs etc)
That would work. Or you could use an XLR to 1/8 cable.

The only thing that you have to make sure with the H2, is that you use a mic that is self powered (Doesn't need 48v Phantom power).
As the H2 only supplies 8v of power. Basically, enough to power a lav mic.

There is a good informative Blog going on the H2 here:
http://www.oreillynet.com/digitalmed...der_detai.html
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Old September 5th, 2007, 06:33 PM   #4
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Great info Michael. I think this is an expanded version of something you posted a while back? I seem to remember some of it, but there's much more detail now.

How problematic do you think the issue of the on/off button ignoring the hold is? Would it be easy to turn it off by mistake if it were inside a groom's jacket pocket, for example?

Good news that the GS mic works, as I have two of them.

For event videographers, what do you think the best application would be? Lapel mic to record groom? Leave it on the altar to get the officiant when he's up there? On a mic stand for musicians? Or all of the above?

You don't seem happy with how it mounts on a pole. Why is that? Vertical is no good?

I love that is has a compressor/limiter. Much safer and would give more latitude in levels for less noise.

Full-time Monitoring? Do you mean the ability to hear what is being recorded? Why would that ever be turned off? I'm not sure what you are getting at here.

Great post. Thanks for all your time and info. Sorry about all the questions. Ignore if you are too busy.

Cheers,
Vito
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Old September 5th, 2007, 07:41 PM   #5
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Vito see my answers below.

"How problematic do you think the issue of the on/off button ignoring the hold is? Would it be easy to turn it off by mistake if it were inside a groom's jacket pocket, for example?"

No worry about the power switch turning off accidentilly. It on the side of the unit and it's recessed and pretty stiff. I actually have a hard time switching it on sometimes.

"For event videographers, what do you think the best application would be? Lapel mic to record groom? Leave it on the altar to get the officiant when he's up there? On a mic stand for musicians? Or all of the above?"

All of the above.
Personally, I would use it with a lapel mic on the groom or officiant during a ceremony. And use it to record a live band in 360 degree 2 or 4 channel surround. You could also place the mic (verticle on a mic stand in the middle of the band with the drums being furthest away) and record in 2 or 4 channel stereo, and face the front of the unit towards the crowd and the back of the unit facing speakers or a band. And get a good recorded mix, by using just one unit.
I prefer using the H4 with XLR mics to record muscicians during ceremonies, as I can adjust both channels being recorded. The H2 is so affordable (by SD recorder standards) that they most likely will be replacing my R09's.

"You don't seem happy with how it mounts on a pole. Why is that? Vertical is no good?"
After playing with it more, I don't mind it, as it's designed to be a verticle mic recorder. What I don't like, is the fact that it mounts on the bottom amd you load the SD cards in the bottom of the unit as well.

"Full-time Monitoring? Do you mean the ability to hear what is being recorded? Why would that ever be turned off? I'm not sure what you are getting at here."
Fulltime monitoring means that (when full time monitoring is turned on in the menu) you can monitor and adjust your audio without having to be in record (pause mode). The only thing about this to remember is that if you are in this mode and try to listen to what you recorded, the mic is still active and you will hear what is around you.

Feel free to ask me any further questions, as I'm still digging deep into the runnings of the unit.
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Old September 5th, 2007, 08:21 PM   #6
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Thanks, Michael. Great info as always.
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