Should I go for the H4N or H6N? at

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Old September 9th, 2013, 03:14 PM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Quebec, Canada
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Should I go for the H4N or H6N?

Hi all,

I am looking to buy a portable audio recorder, having worked with the H4 before I was satisfied with the result. Being a tech nerd, I tend to go for the latest but this time around my wallet simply can't afford it. I've read a few articles here and there and, aside from the obvious new features, there doesn't to be that much of a difference soundwise between the two, or is there?

I want a recorder so that I can offer a complete package for those one-man band type of productions : interviews, small corporate stuff and the likes, anything bigger than that and I usually hire a soundman.

Thanks for your input
Phil Gosselin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 10th, 2013, 10:26 AM   #2
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Glasgow, Scotland
Posts: 1,508
Re: Should I go for the H4N or H6N?

I've been trying to find out how much quieter (if at all) the new H6 is over the H4n. Not sure I have the answer for that yet, but last week I gave in and got one anyway as the local dealer had them at a very good price.

I have an H4n which I have used for a number of events, but I find it a little too noisy when recording in a quiet environment. Having said that, for most of the events I record, the noise floor from the audience, traffic outside, heating ventilation etc is such that it is not normally an issue (similarly with outdoor work). For me, the advantage of the H6 is the 6 channel recording as I find I often run out of channels on the H4n, and I can't be bothered with the hassle of humphing along a computer DAW to set up on location.

I started this thread recently in the hope of generating a bit of discussion, and you will find some links to reviews that others have done. Our new member Fran Guidry is seems impressed and he has been using the H6 for longer than I have.

EDIT: Just remembered about this article about the harmonic distortion levels on the H4n when using the TRS inputs with an unbalanced signal from a CD player. Might put you off it a bit if you would be using unbalanced inputs!
Colin McDonald is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 22nd, 2013, 08:51 PM   #3
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Re: Should I go for the H4N or H6N?


Thank you for your reply and your links. Though useful, I found the information to be WAY too technical for my needs.

Please don't think that I am belittling your time and effort, it's just that I am hoping for a :

"I know audio, if you are on a budget just go for the H4"
"The 100$ difference is really worth it because of all the perks and 25% better audio capture, so go for the H6"

If you are any other reader has fiddle with both models and the answer becomes a no brainer please share it with me.

Phil Gosselin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 24th, 2013, 04:50 AM   #4
Join Date: Dec 2007
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Re: Should I go for the H4N or H6N?

Phil, I had this all ready yesterday but the whole post disappeared into cyberspace while I was previewing.

I have indeed 'fiddled with both models', though obviously rather more with the H4n as I have only had the H6 a few weeks. I have used the H4n many times on location indoors and out, and have used it to produce an audio CD of voice and pipe organ where there was a minimal budget.

I can't tell you which one to buy, but it is clear to me the the H6 has the following advantages:

1) The H4n is prone to mechanical damage to the fixed XY mic. I find that the best thing about the H6 mic modules is being able to leave them in the box (though the XY module is perfectly satisfactory for a quick and dirty recording, particularly if using a remote control to avoid handling noise). This thread covers that issue and also the next:
2) The built in mics in the H4n can contribute an unwanted signal to recordings made with external microphones unless you remember to turn the input gain on the unused Internal mic inputs fully down.
The inputs in the H6 are directly routed to the tracks and it won't record on the L/R (mic module) tracks unless you plug in one of the modules.

3) The H4n requires an external pad in order to connect to a mixing desk with a +4dB line level output. The H6 will accept a pro +4dB line level input from a mixing desk on its TRS inputs, and has switchable -20dB pads on each input if required. I found it worked fine without the pad, at a gain level of about 2. YMMV.

4) The gain control on the H4n is through a menu (although it is fairly quickly accessible) but I much prefer the physical gain control knobs on the H6 which can be seen all the time (unless you have the thing stuck on top of a camera on a high tripod).

5) I am finding the H4n noisier than the H6 under most conditions. It might even be worth recording in 24 bits on the H6 (the general consensus is that 24 bit recording on the H4n merely serves to generate larger file sizes). The Mid/Side mic on the H6 is quite noisy though. Fran Guidry has helpfully put this demonstration online:
(Thanks Fran!)

If you have been happy using the H4n up to now, it is cheaper and can produce decent recordings if used carefully. Neither device is state 'of the art,' but I can't justify trading up to Sound Devices standards for the events (and the budgets) that I deal with.

6) The H4n goes through its 2 x AA batteries PDQ when using phantom power on external mics.
The H6 uses 4 x AA cells and is lasting significantly longer. Can't give you a figure because its still on the first real set (of Varta Industrials). The supplied cells didn't last very long though I gather they are regarded as for testing only.

Last edited by Colin McDonald; September 24th, 2013 at 05:04 AM. Reason: Another reason added
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