Would you believe me if I told you that you could fit an entire recording studio in the palm of your hands? When I found out about the Zoom H4n Pro Handy Recorder, I was amazed by its versatility.
This field recorder is deceiving (in the best of ways) because it’s so much more than that. It doubles as an audio interface and triples as a fully functional mobile studio. I guarantee that the Zoom H4n Pro will give you much more freedom than your typical audio interface and more versatility than any other field recorder.
- Some major improvements on the Zoom H4n Pro
- The Zoom H4n Pro doubles as an audio interface
- Recording studio in the palm of your hands
- Is the Zoom H4n Pro worth the price?
- Make the most out of your Zoom H4n Pro
Some major improvements on the Zoom H4n Pro
The upgraded 2016 Zoom H4n Pro Handy Recorder has benefited from a couple of improvements from the previous model. It now features locking XLR inputs, higher SPL (up to 140 dB), the same preamp as the Zoom H5/H6 (better signal-to-noise-ratio), integrated effects and amp modelling.
For a portable device, locking XLR inputs are a must to avoid any disconnecting cables during recording and higher SPL means you can record louder sounds (live concerts) for examples without any distortion.
Having higher-quality preamps with better signal-to-noise ratio essentially results in more headroom.
All electronic devices produce some level of noise, but the lower that ratio is, the more clarity you can obtain from quieter sounds (more flexibility while mixing/mastering).
However, not all electronic devices have a full suite of amp models and effects which is why the H4n Pro is truly unique.
You’ll have a variety of guitar, bass and vocal signal processors to choose from and the ability to create your own (more on this later).
The H4n Pro doubles as an audio interface
Being a minimalist, I appreciate the idea of having one device serve multiple purposes as this allows me to do more with less clutter. As advertised, the H4n Pro can also be used as a 2-in/2-out USB audio interface.
Zoom includes a fully licensed version of Cubase LE 9.5/Wavelab LE 9.5 which will actually save you an expense if you don’t already own a DAW.
This device is truly an all-in-one solution, especially for beginners and/or students wishing to get the most value.
That being said, I don’t believe the H4n actually replaces a dedicated audio interface.
I personally still use this device as my main interface without any issues (at the time of writing), but you may eventually want to consider a Thunderbolt audio interface.
In essence, the H4n Pro functions as a BASIC audio interface which is what most of us need.
Recording studio in the palm of your hand
Have you ever heard of a field recorder that included a full suite of amp models and effects? The Zoom H4n Pro includes 50 presets of complete guitar, bass and vocal signal chains along with 10 user-assignable slots for your own custom creations.
You can use this powerful feature to practice anywhere, to record straight into your DAW or you can even create entire projects using Multi-Track Mode (MTR).
Editing on the H4n has its limitations, but will allow you to capture the essence of an idea for further manipulation on your computer.
The H4n’s interface isn’t the easiest to navigate, so it will take some getting used to, but you will realize that it has everything you could possibly need including a chromatic tuner and a metronome.
The amp modelling module includes emulation of Fender amps, Marshall amps, Hi-Watt amps, Ampeg amps and more ranging from clean to high-gain.
All the effects you could possibly need are included as well such as compression/limiting, low-cut filtering, modulation, reverb/delay and emulation of classic stompboxes such as the Ibanez Tube Screamer.
Is the Zoom H4n Pro worth the price?
If you wanted to use the H4n Pro outdoors, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you were planning on using an external microphone. The integrated microphones are much too sensitive for field recording (even with a windscreen).
However, it’s excellent for… Concerts, rehearsals and as an all-in-one solution for your home recording studio.
- Doubles as a USB audio interface
- Mobile recording studio (MTR Mode)
- A suite of amp models and effects
- Locking XLR connectors
- Excellent preamp with a noise floor of -120 dBu EIN
- Comes with Cubase LE 9.5/Wavelab LE 9.5
- Does not support line inputs (Mixer/DJ)
- Booting could be faster
- Navigation is difficult
Make the most of your H4n Pro
As impressive as the Zoom H4n Pro is, certain aspects of its conception are far from perfect, but this is a compromise for versatility. You may actually feel overwhelmed with the number of features loaded onto this device and there is definitely a learning curve.
I personally found that tracking guitar/bass using the amp models did not produce much as much feedback as using a software amp modeller, but I feel like it would not hurt to purchase a DI box as well for line inputs.
This extra piece of hardware will actually solve the H4n Pro’s inability to support line-level inputs from mixers/DJs.
As far as value goes, you can’t go wrong with the H4n Pro especially if you are trying to get started with very little capital.
As long as you’ve got a computer, the included Cubase LE 9.5 will give you an excellent DAW to work with as well as a basic audio interface.
The Zoom H4n Pro doesn’t include an SD card. Here’s the one I personally use:
I hope you’ve found this product review helpful. Don’t forget to leave a comment and share this post with your friends and colleagues. If you ever need any assistance, feel free to reach out. Thanks for reading!