Zoom specializes in making devices that record high-fidelity audio for music and film, and the Zoom H4n is no exception. It's a digital voice recorder that comes with features like prerecord and voice activation, so it excels at capturing simple audio during lectures and interviews. That said, the H4n's best features are those designed for musicians and amateur film producers. With an XY crossed unidirectional microphone design, recorded sound has excellent stereo depth and doesn’t sacrifice definition. This makes it ideal for capturing live performances and field recording for film.
While the Zoom H6 is the best digital audio recorder for creative professionals, it’s also very expensive. The Zoom H4n Pro is a more affordable version of the H6, capable of recording high-fidelity audio but lacking in overall versatility. The main differences between the two field recorders are that the H6 has more XLR inputs, more recordable tracks and removable microphones. That said, both record audio at the same high sampling frequencies and bit rate.
The H4n Pro uses WAV and MP3 playback formats. You can convert the WAV files to MP3s, which compresses the audio and slims down the file size. This is important because the H4n only comes with a small 2GB of storage – recording an hour of a live performance can result in a WAV file large enough to completely fill that space. An SDHC slot allows you to add up to 32GB of additional storage.
The device’s best feature is its four-track recording. With the four tracks, you can layer and mix sound to create a stereo landscape you can't achieve with single-track voice recorders. The XLR/TRS inputs can be used to add extra microphones and instruments as well as to connect directly to mixing consoles, which is ideal for recording live performances. It also features a metronome and a tuner – essential tools for any musician or songwriter.
You can also connect the H4n to video cameras to record audio for film, making it an excellent tool for podcasters and amateur filmmakers who need high-quality audio to match their videos. It's also a good tool for Foley artists who recreate sound effects for film because it’s portable enough to take anywhere to capture B-roll sound.
The Zoom H4n Pro is an excellent recording device for creative professionals who don’t want to spend over $300 on the Zoom H6. It isn’t as fancy or as versatile, but it still captures high-fidelity field recordings.