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Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?

02 Mar 15 - 08:02 AM (#3690905)
Subject: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick

I have a Zoom H2 recorder which I've used in various locations and conditions. Invariably I've got amazingly good results.

However, the choir to which I belong (The Liverpool Socialist Singers) is planning to record a CD and have asked whether my recorder might be up to the job.

I have no doubt that the recorder would be, but I doubt that the inbuilt mics could capture the physical spread of the choir (around 180 degrees, and upwards of thirty singers).

Does anyone have any experience of using a Zoom under these sorts of conditions? I should add that we'll be using a church with excellent acoustics.


02 Mar 15 - 08:11 AM (#3690909)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: Will Fly

I have two of the little beasts and I've recorded a choir concert using both. I used the rear mic on each - with the wide pan setting - and placed them on stands so as to capture the width of the wire. Took a bit of trial and error to get the optimimum spacing.

I did some volume adjustment afterwards using Audacity, and synched up the .wav files in Garageband on my Mac Book Pro. Sounded good.

The important thing is also to experiment with the distance between the Zoom and the voices - and here the acoustics of the place will be important. I wasn't in a church, and I suspect that the church ambience would add some interesting complications!


02 Mar 15 - 08:12 AM (#3690910)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: Leadfingers

Have you access to a 'decent' mixer and extra microphones ? A spread of mics mixed and fed to the Zoom may be a better option


02 Mar 15 - 08:16 AM (#3690913)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: GUEST,alex s no cookie

Generally quite good, but you need mains power as they eat batteries. Therefore not so good for impromptu sessions/off the cuff stuff.


02 Mar 15 - 08:22 AM (#3690914)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: Will Fly

I always use them plugged in if I can for that reason.


02 Mar 15 - 08:30 AM (#3690915)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: Mr Red

My experience with the H2N is good, especially as you can record 4 channels. I don't record choirs but I would guess you would have the same issues with any single microphone point. The ballance is what it is in that situation. If you have a H2N then you have the time to experiment durng choir practice. My approach might be to move the recorder around and see which is the best position, it is not always obvious with walls and their absorbancy. Go for the maximum in sample rate, and use WAV, which may be the only format available in 4 channel.

It is a good little recorder, a fair repertoire of features, and the only con is if you hand-hold. The battery cover can make a noise if squeezed. I put it on a camera tripod sometimes.


02 Mar 15 - 02:33 PM (#3690992)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: GUEST,Blandiver (Astray)

If you recorded it standing in a big circle with the H2 in the middle.... And choose a nice acoustic too - right in the middle of Paddy's Wigwam should do nicely!


03 Mar 15 - 02:45 AM (#3691072)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: GUEST,Eddie1 (Cookie lost forever)

Like the idea of using the Zoom in the middle. You have the advantage of being able to adjust volume.remove noise etc from each track individually.
Not important here but I use my Zoom H2 primarily for radio interviews by myself or others. It's very simple to explain the operation to a newbie!

Eddie


03 Mar 15 - 03:15 AM (#3691080)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: Mr Red

If you put the H2 in the middle of a circle I would certainly record as 4 channels. Sort out the stereo in the editing. If you don't there will be anomalies in certain directions. Have a look at the polar gain diagrams of each setting. Consider a horseshoe instead of a circle. and do the editing before settling on a mode, and choir shape.

I use the shotgun mode for recording interviews, especially in the open air. So effective I have to remember to speak up when asking questions, and stand to one side, not behind.

And check the button on the top hasn't moved, it is so easy to grab the H2 and not realise it has moved.


03 Mar 15 - 03:29 AM (#3691082)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: Joe Offer

I've plugged my H2 Zoom into the PA system mixer at church, and I've also recorded with the Zoom on a microphone stand set high and in front of the choir. I think I prefer the latter.
Works dandy, though.
-Joe-


03 Mar 15 - 11:07 AM (#3691168)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick

Thanks for the help folks. The logical thing to do I suppose is to try it with the inbuilt mics in various positions, as per the above suggestions. I suspect though that we're going to end up using external mics and a mixer.

(Thinks. Here's me, a crusty old atheist, brought up in the best traditions of Marxist philosophy, and a champion of the musical outpourings of the lower classes. I never in all my born days thought I'd end trying to record a choir in a church.)


03 Mar 15 - 11:11 AM (#3691170)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: Will Fly

It's called chilling out and being relaxed, Fred. Enjoy it!


03 Mar 15 - 12:45 PM (#3691183)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: Steve Shaw

Vaughan Williams wrote a lovely mass for unaccompanied choir, Fred. He was an atheist too. Can't you see a compromise coming on...?


03 Mar 15 - 04:04 PM (#3691214)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: GUEST,Eddie1 (Cookie lost forever)

All very well Steve but did Vaughan Williams use a Zoom H2?


03 Mar 15 - 04:14 PM (#3691217)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: Steve Shaw

Maybe the prototype....


03 Mar 15 - 04:53 PM (#3691226)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: GUEST

Fred, there should be no problem for a socialist to participate in any church activity. The core values of socialism and the church are quite similar, though they've diverged in implementation (primarily in that the church tends to seek voluntary conformance with those ideals, while political socialists often try to force people to behave decently).

The first Christians lived as a commune, sharing their collective possessions and income. The most devout Christians -- monks -- continued that practice, and still do so today.

In the nineteenth century, socialists were active in mainstream churches. Charles Kingsley, poet, novelist, historian, Cambridge professor, and lifelong vicar of Eversley, Hampshire, was a frequent contributor to Christian Socialist magazine, and he served a term as chaplain to Queen Victoria and as tutor to the Prince of Wales.


03 Mar 15 - 06:52 PM (#3691248)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: Joe Offer

Various positions???

Fred, Fred, Fred...

Since this is a choir (albeit a Socialist choir) and the performance is in a church, I think only the Missionary position would be appropriate....

-Joe-


04 Mar 15 - 05:25 AM (#3691317)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: GUEST,The autoharpoonist

I love my Zoom H2. The only thing I don't like is the small screen. I also have a H4 and the screen is larger.   Recording quality is great.


04 Mar 15 - 05:51 AM (#3691326)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: Steve Shaw

Agreed on the H4. Though I often find that adding a bit of presence with a computer program, compression I suppose, can help to give the recordings a bit more life. "A bit" being the operative term. Compensates for having had the recording level set on the low side to avoid clipping.


04 Mar 15 - 09:36 AM (#3691392)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: GUEST,Jon

As far as I can make out, RVW did have an athiest period but he became an agnostic.

As for the Zooms, I have an H4 and find the screen a bit small and the interface fiddly. I don't use it anywhere near enough to justify replacing it but the H4n (which replaced it the H4 some time ago) does look better.

I'm totaly out of my depth here but I notice the H2 has 2 sets of mics with front doing X/Y pattern at 90% and rear at 120% angles so I guess you could experiment with both for the best stereo effect?

The H4n seems to allow this change by turning the pair of mics. The H4 is fixed.

Both the H4 series do allow the use of a pair of external XLR mics (/TRS) and can suppy phantom power.


04 Mar 15 - 10:15 AM (#3691407)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker

Can more experienced users confirm my suspicion that the H2n is unable to record
simple single track mono ???


04 Mar 15 - 10:59 AM (#3691431)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: GUEST,Jon

I can't offer the experience part but according to the documentation:


[...]by setting the MONO MIX function to ON. The stereo signals from the built-in mics or an external source will be mixed to mono, and the same signal is recorded to the left and right channel of the stereo file. It is not possible to record a single monaural file.


Antother site I looked at has:

"The external stereo microphone socket provides the fifth, and, for most documentation purposes, the best microphone option. A Sony ECM-MS957 stereo microphone gave good results. If a mono external microphone is used, the H2 records the left channel only."


But that might mean you get a "blank" right track.


As well as mono mix, the H4 has 4 track mode. See here


04 Mar 15 - 11:32 AM (#3691438)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: GUEST,Jon

Sorry, you had said H2n. I didn't know of that one (although I was aware of other newer models H5 and H6).

Documentaion for H2n goes:

Yes, it is possible [to record mono]. In MS stereo mode, set the SIDE MIC LEVEL to OFF. This allows you to record in mono, which is suitable for capturing interviews and narrations. This recorder, however, cannot create mono files. For further information, please see page 22 of the operation manual.


04 Mar 15 - 01:50 PM (#3691470)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: Alan Day

I have an H4 ,an excellent recorder.Many a tune of mine would have been lost to the World had it not been available.Many would be sad at this, but it keeps me amused.
Al


04 Mar 15 - 02:26 PM (#3691484)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: GUEST,G. E. Key

Can't speak for the H2, I have a Q3 and 2 Hn4's, but they presumably have the same audio electronics and firmware. Put one H2 on stereo wide(?) where the conductor's head would be, and one at the back of the hall on narrow(?). Try synching them together in REAPER or similar. Hn4 battery life - about 3 hours' reliable recording on new D**cells. I got a slim USB battery pack from Maplins and bodged a power lead, but any 5V USB charger will work.


04 Mar 15 - 06:21 PM (#3691536)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: treewind

Definitely experiment with different mic positions if you can - that's going to make the most difference in terms of getting the right sound.

If you can get some good small diaphragm condenser mics you may get better results, especially as you can try different stereo configurations:
- concincident (a.k.a. XY) for best mono compatibility
- ORTF (spaced about 17cm apart with 110 degree angle between then) for a really nice stereo image that will capture the church acoustic well.

The mics will need a mixer or separate preamp as they will be phantom powered. You could try AKG C1000 with internal 9V battery but there are better mics to be had - Rode M5 is a better battery powered imitation of the C1000; other candidates requiring external phantom power would be Røde NT5, Neumann KM184 (rent them: you don't have to buy them if it's a one-off!)

If there are balance problems either move the mics or make the choir sections move forward or back. I've used that technique in the studio very effectively on an a capella quartet.

Adding spot mics is a last resort and can create a mixing nightmare - you might fix the balance but you won't get a natural stereo image.


04 Mar 15 - 07:03 PM (#3691547)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: GUEST,Jon

Rode M3 or M5 for the AKG above?


05 Mar 15 - 08:05 AM (#3691657)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: GUEST,H4n owner

Work great with these

http://www.thomann.de/gb/behringer_c2_stereoset.htm


05 Mar 15 - 08:07 AM (#3691659)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: GUEST,Jon

Treewind knows a lot more than me but have just double checked. The Rode M5 is the pencil mic which does not take a battery but requires phantom power. These are available as "matched pairs" for stereo miking.

The M3 is a much larger beast that will take a 9V (pp3) battery.

These mics (although as far as I can see, by reputation excellent for the money) are the lower end "Rode" ones and they are sort of mirrored by the NT3 and NT5.

Treewind, have you ever tried the M2 condenser vocal mic?


06 Mar 15 - 04:45 AM (#3691854)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: Mr Red

I experimented with a shotgun mic and as far as I remember the recordings were mono but identical left & right channels. This was an XLR to mono jack cable and therefore would record the same on both channels. Mono jacks in stereo sockets do that.
Because the shotgun setting on the H2N is so good it is more convenient to not have loads of bits and cables and batteries. And all my (internal) shotgun recordings fill both channels with identical tracks.

But there are many combinations I don't use.

H2N manuals (I lost mine (temporarily)

And FWIW the polar diagram for front and back show that maybe a horseshoe is going to be the best choir configuration IMHO. See 4ch.

the recording quality settings indicate you can record at 24 bits at 96Khz sampling and I would suggest this is your best shot. But it would have to be 4 channel WAV. i.e. ready for CDs (ish).

a bit of presence with a computer program, compression I suppose
Hmmmm I would avoid that personally unless the music has a huge dynamic range. "Normalisation" would be my first thought, this should set the level across the track to the same as another track that has been "Normalised". The listener then doesn't have to adjust the volume control, and you can be less attentive on the recoding level - important if there are loud passages you didn't spot and the recording overloads, you will always err on the side of caution because of this which means levels will vary, track to track without "Normalisation".


06 Mar 15 - 05:55 PM (#3692051)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: Steve Shaw

Well, Mr Red, as I understand it just about every CD you buy has had some compression applied. Because of the caution applied to home recordings in order to avoid digital clipping, the level can turn out to be quite low, lacking presence. A bit of compression, within reason, can do a great job to put things right.


06 Mar 15 - 05:57 PM (#3692053)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: GUEST,oggie

Zoom H2's are very good for what they are, cheapish digital recorders.

Would I use one for a CD which would be played through a decent system? No. MP3's sure but a proper stereo DC the mikes just aren't good enough, if they were the H" would be at least twice the price and three times as big.

Steve


07 Mar 15 - 05:51 AM (#3692140)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: Mr Red

if the level is low it needs amplification. If the quiet passages are too quiet after the crescendos, compression. The clues are in the names.

Normalisation is a common setting in audio editing software like Audacity. It "amplifies" to a level 3db's below clipping (or you choose your headroom). Then save. All tracks will sound as if at the same level. It is the cleanest processing you can do, and introduce virtually no artefacts.

Normalisation is real, with the same volume. Compression is unreal though common in most wallpaper music.

Compression in commercial CD's is normal in Pop music, but you would get a lot of stick for suggesting it in classical music.
The "encoding" it is being confused it with is the separation of the high and low frequencies, with the high frequencies boosted before sampling, and de-emphasised in the CD player. This is because the high frequencies are low in energy (volume) and the sampling and digitizing introduce artefacts that annoy classicists.
Don't take my word for it Wiki on pre-emphasis - it was touted in august journals I read in the 80's as the equivalent of LP RIAA compensation or the pre-emphasis on FM transmission (UK & US differ in the latter).

Notably it claims that ripping tracks may not take this into account. Pick yer software!

Home-made CD's would not normally have any of this fancy encoding. Basicall PCM (think WAV). 16 bits, take note, I have never recorded at 24 bits so don't know what software handles the editing or the CD encoding/burning/downsampling side with 24 bits. Research would be needed.

The H2N is very good at what it claims to do. It all depends on your budget. I used to record on a pocket memo (micro cassette) in the 70's and got all sorts of snotty comments. As I pointed out at the time "Compared to no recording, how would you rate the quality?". Followed by silence. I then got the words I needed to sing the song. And the tune.


07 Mar 15 - 06:09 AM (#3692144)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: GUEST,Jon

Hi fi buffs would probably yell but I put a compressor in the living room last week. Some classical stuff just seems to go from inaudible on the quiet passages to ear splitting. At one end of the scale, dad wants to turn it up and at the other, mum was screaming it's too loud. Reducing the dynamic range has eased this problem.


07 Mar 15 - 06:24 AM (#3692147)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: Mr Red

Habituation!
The audio world is full of compression, so we expect it. And we think it is odd when it is not there.
We loose the higher frequencies as we get older, and more to the point, they are more likely to annoy than be heard, when loud.
As Quad (amplifiers of exceptional quality) said in their adverts in the 70's "Been to a live concert recently?"
This is why HiFi buffs think LP's are warmer than CD's. They are habituated to a limit on frequencies governed by the mechanical limits of stylii and the wear on LP tracks. CD's tell you in no uncertain terms when they are worn. LPs don't, without spectrum analysers.
I once went to a lecture by Baxandall (luminary electronic engineer on amplifiers) and he had a loud speaker cabinet maker, in tow, who championed horn enclosures. He convinced me in his dissertation until he said "Of course to really appreciate the enclosures you have to listen to trumpets"
Hmmmmmmm. Spot anything?


07 Mar 15 - 06:33 AM (#3692152)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: GUEST,Jon

In this case, maybe getting older maybe part of key at least with my father. He only has one working ear and needs a hearing aid. My mothers hearing still be quite acute altough not as sensitive as it once was. I can't remember hearing these but she claims to have been able to hear bats up to her 30s.


07 Mar 15 - 07:40 AM (#3692160)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: GUEST

Another thought you have conjured, Mr Red. A live concert I went to as a youngster. Twas in Rhyl and it was a male voice choir and in the second half, the Black Dyke Mills band.    They were very powervul with all the brass.

As a total drift. Maybe my one life listening has suffered over the years. I've heard John Williams in St Asaph cathedral. WNO doing Barber of Seville in Llandudno, John Ogden playing piano in the Arcadia in Llandudon but seemed to drift away from my parents tastes even though I'd call all these good experiences with music.


07 Mar 15 - 07:56 AM (#3692162)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: GUEST,Jon

On classical btw, one of mum's favourites was Campoli who played in the CBSO when she was living as a student in Brum.


25 Mar 15 - 06:03 PM (#3696901)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: treewind

"The Rode M5 is the pencil mic which does not take a battery but requires phantom power. These are available as "matched pairs" for stereo miking.

The M3 is a much larger beast that will take a 9V (pp3) battery."


You're right, the M3 is the one I was thinking of, as a copy of the C1000 and able to be battery powered.

Treewind, have you ever tried the M2 condenser vocal mic?

'fraid not, nor have I actually tried the M3, but I was guessing that with Rode's name on it wouldn't be too bad.


26 Mar 15 - 12:16 AM (#3696989)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: Joe Offer

I checked Amazon, and found I bought my Zoom H2 recorder for about $160 early in 2009. I am still very happy with it, 6 years later. I just recently tried hooking the external input to my computer's headphone jack, and found that it makes good recordings of anything I can play on my computer.
The newer H1 and H2n recorders look really cool and appear to have controls that are easier to operate, but I guess I can't justify replacing my H2 because it still works so well. The little cover over the SD card is broken, but I guess that's not a valid excuse for buying a new recorder.
-Joe-


26 Mar 15 - 04:07 AM (#3697015)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: GUEST,Blandiver (Astray)

A warning for users of the old H4 - they only operate on SD cards which are getting scarce these days. I'm down to my last workable 2GB card, so when that packs in (as it will given the absurd click 'n' flick mechanism for getting it out the machine - but of the old H4's many & various design flaws) I'll be looking to upgrade, unless I can find a supply of reasonably priced high quality SD cards. A shame, as it still works perfectly for field & studio work. Chiz.


26 Mar 15 - 05:30 AM (#3697036)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: Mr Red

SD rare? Try micro SD with adapter. The only proviso is "what it the Gb limit for your device?"
It is what I do for my cameras, recorders and the laptop only reads standard SD size. Phones take micro.


26 Mar 15 - 06:15 AM (#3697048)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: GUEST,Blandiver (Astray)

That's SD rather than SDHC (anything over 4GB?) which is the norm these days. The old H4 won't accept them.

I use a Micro 2GB in my Zoom H1 - just tried it + adapter in the H4 and - yay! It works! Thanks for that, Mr Red. You've saved me a few quid...


26 Mar 15 - 08:16 PM (#3697329)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: Tattie Bogle

Yes. The older H4s won't take anything bigger than 2Gb SD cards, and they are getting harder to get but I have 5 or 6 of them and just keep deleting old recordings off them and re-using the cards after transferring recordings to computer. Have used a couple of off-shore suppliers to get new good quality 2Gb cards at very reasonable prices.
As for "eating batteries" (and card space) I have recorded several concerts we have done and got more than an hour's worth of recording out of 2 AA high capacity rechargeable batteries, starting at full charge, and similar time span recording on wav format on one 2 Gb card.
Still very impressed with quality of recording: even playing acoustically in a cathedral, you can hear just about every instrument in a group of 15+ players.


15 Apr 15 - 10:52 AM (#3701978)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: GUEST,sciencegeek

well... I started with a portable stereo Marantz cassette recorder - so light after hauling around a 60 pound reel to reel Ampex... lol
if the dang capstans didn't wear out & parts become so hard to find, I might still use them... though analog vs digital is really such a time dependent issue.

I've been using Roland R-09 & 09HR with lots of good results and will continue with them... but this thread got me thinking about the ZOOM units...

so I bit the bullet and after some shopping around now have the H4N unit - big screen may help with the aging vision :)- hope to figure it out in time for NEFFA at the end of this month.


15 Apr 15 - 03:33 PM (#3702028)
Subject: RE: Tech: Zoom H2 Recorders. How good are they?
From: Joe Offer

I have what I think is one of the original H2 recorders (bought in February 2009). It works fine with an 8 GB SDHC card. I think I've had cards as big as 32 GB, with good results.

-Joe-