Review: Zoom H2n audio recorder

As a journalist, I often rely on interview recordings to check the quotes that I have written, just in case I got them wrong.

Until recently, I have been using a voice recorder app on my Android smartphone. That app does not record my interviews clearly, especially in a noisy environment, such as a coffee shop.

A dedicated audio recorder, such as the Zoom H2n, would do the job better.

For those who are unaware, Zoom is a Japanese company that is known for its professional audio equipment used by artists and musicians.

The H2n is one of Zoom's best recorders to date. With five microphones and four recording modes, the H2n's uses go beyond recording one-on-one interviews.

In the mid-side recording mode, the H2n uses its unidirectional mic to capture sound directly in front of you, and a bi-directional side mic to record sound from your left and right.

I used this mode most often, as I found it extremely useful for recording interviews with the main newsmaker along with two or three people in a room.

Moreover, you can also increase or decrease the side mic's recording level to control the width of the stereo image. This could be useful to people who are recording band performances.

The X/Y stereo mode is more for capturing stereo recordings in a studio. Without the unidirectional mic in operation, my voice recordings sounded a little distant.

The last two modes - two- and four-channel surround - are perfect for capturing recordings during conferences.

I tested this during a forum and was surprised by the results. The panellists sounded crystal clear, along with members of the audience who spoke from across the room.

The H2n also comes with a mic gain knob that you can use to increase recording levels.

I found this handy for capturing conversations with soft-spoken interviewees.

By default, all recordings are saved as uncompressed WAV files, which can fill up a memory card quickly.

If you do not need the high audio fidelity of WAV recordings, the H2n has a nifty MP3 format converter onboard that lets you convert WAV recordings into MP3 files.

While you can play and manage your recordings through the recorder's controls, it is much easier to do so by transferring the files to the PC, as you have to traverse a few levels in the menu interface to play or rename a file.

The H2n's battery life from two AA-size batteries is rated at more than 20 hours. Indeed, the recorder's battery indicator was at its maximum level even after recording more than 10 hours' worth of interviews.

The Zoom H2n is a professional-grade recorder with a set of excellent mics that capture high-quality audio in diverse settings.


Price: $240

Microphones: directional (XY, MS and mid mics); bidirectional (MS side mic)

File formats: WAV, MP3, BWF

Input gain: 0 to +39dB

Input jack: Line/mic stereo mini jack

Output jack: Line/headphone stereo mini jack

Built-in speaker: 400mW

Weight: 130g without batteries


Features: 10/10

Design: 8/10

Performance: 10/10

Value for money: 6/10

Battery life: 8/10

Overall: 8/10

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