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Richard Graham



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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Richard Graham]
      #383075 - 20/11/06 03:30 PM
Alternatively, a future firmware update could maybe let us turn off the access light for low-level 44.1 kHz recording.

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Phillip



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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Richard Graham]
      #383088 - 20/11/06 03:46 PM
Quote Richard Graham:

Maybe using a 9v battery pack would fix this problem too? After all, for most 'field' recordings, you are not likely to have a handy AC outlet (although you could record at 96kHz I guess!)




Perhaps someone would try the 9v battery pack idea which has also been suggested in another forum. It may work fine, but it does reduce the portability advantage of the H4 as well.

True, there are not handy AC outlets in the field, although a vehicle could provide DC power through the cigarette lighter, using an inverter.

My solution at this point is to record only at 96 KHz when on batteries.


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Huge Longjohns
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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Richard Graham]
      #383090 - 20/11/06 03:47 PM
Well that's rubbish, really, isn't it, to put it mildly? I was literally going to buy one tomorrow so now I won't. Basically what they're saying is that it doesn't work with batteries at the sample rate that 999 out of a 1000 people will use it for. DOH! DOH! DOH!. Well done the Zoom QC dept. Looks like they've made up my mind to buy the R 9 instead!

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crofter
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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Richard Graham]
      #383101 - 20/11/06 04:00 PM
I only get this pulsing noise when I use a 2 gig sd card I bought and not with the supplied 128 meg card, the noise is very quiet anyway and inaudible in normal recording,I only noticed this noise when I used some sensitive in-ear phones and even then only in a quiet room with nothing to record anyway.


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Richard Graham



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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Huge Longjohns]
      #383106 - 20/11/06 04:06 PM
Quote simonplent:

Well that's rubbish, really, isn't it, to put it mildly? I was literally going to buy one tomorrow so now I won't. Basically what they're saying is that it doesn't work with batteries at the sample rate that 999 out of a 1000 people will use it for. DOH! DOH! DOH!. Well done the Zoom QC dept. Looks like they've made up my mind to buy the R 9 instead!




I wouldn't dismiss the H4 so quickly! First off, the beeping will only be audible on very very quiet recordings. Second, if you are recording something that quiet, what is wrong with using 96/24?

For most (musical) uses 44.1/16 is fine. For the rest, there is 96/24. Pas de problem.

--------------------
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Huge Longjohns
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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Phillip]
      #383161 - 20/11/06 06:11 PM
Quote cwillsher:


ZOOM is aware of this problem which is a design flaw on their analog circuit board (or so they told me). They have been very open about this problem which I find quite admirable in a company.





It would be a lot more admirable if they told us when they were going to ship product that was fixed! So, to sum up, you can't record MP3s or 44.1 or 48k on batteries because of software and hardware issues!

I exagerrate to make a point, but jeeez, it's really not good enough is it for a £250 machine? Are you absolutely SURE you can't hear the noise when you turn up your monitors on a quiet passage?

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Scramble
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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Richard Graham]
      #383162 - 20/11/06 06:11 PM
I'm tempted, but the other thing that worries me (apart from the beeping noise) is the fact that other people on other forums have reported problems with using 2Gb cards (and I'd certainly want to use a 2Gb card).

Anyone here tested it out much with a 2Gb card?


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Huge Longjohns
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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Richard Graham]
      #383163 - 20/11/06 06:13 PM
As Homer would say (the yellow chap not the old greek): It just gets worse and worse!

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Phillip



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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Huge Longjohns]
      #383171 - 20/11/06 06:28 PM
Quote simonplent:

Are you absolutely SURE you can't hear the noise when you turn up your monitors on a quiet passage?




If you mean can I hear the noise at 24/96, I cannot when listening on headphones (Sony MDR-7506) at full volume.

But it's possible that there is a tone there nonetheless present on the recording.

However, at 44.1 and 48, the tone is blatant at high listening volume on very quiet source material and it has an obvious musical note/frequency which makes those recordings useless for anyone who can hear it.


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Len
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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Richard Graham]
      #383191 - 20/11/06 07:24 PM
This is a real bummer - I was going to get one this weekend but clearly do not want to live with a defective product - and no I do not want to burn up disk space at 24/96!

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Phillip



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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Len]
      #383197 - 20/11/06 07:57 PM
Quote Len:

This is a real bummer - I was going to get one this weekend but clearly do not want to live with a defective product - and no I do not want to burn up disk space at 24/96!




If you can purchase the H4 from a store that will allow returns and a refund, I would strongly suggest you try it out for yourself for a couple of days.

You may not be as bothered by the tone as others are.


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Rob C



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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Phillip]
      #383207 - 20/11/06 08:25 PM
Quote Phillip:

However, there is a problem when recording at 44.1 and 48 KHz. There is an audible (and visible as a wave form in a DAW) periodic tone (corresponding to the blinking of the H4 access light) on all recordings made with battery power. (This tone may also be there at 24/96, but I cannot hear it.) There is no tone present when using the AC adapter.




Yep... I've discovered this myself after buying one. It's fairly obvious.

I'll be doing the same as you... but it's not ideal. Part of the attraction was the ability to make MP3 recordings and slap them straight online. Not really possible unless there's a fix.

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Phillip



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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Rob C]
      #383283 - 21/11/06 02:35 AM
A user in another forum posted that his solution to the noise problem was an external 8xAA battery pack (using 1.2v NiMH rechargeables) plugged into the 9v DC input. There are no more periodic tones or "beepings" on his recordings.

Obviously not the ideal set-up for a "Handy Recorder", but the upside is that battery life will probably quadruple with the pack.


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Jeraldo



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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Rob C]
      #383286 - 21/11/06 02:58 AM
Quote Rob C.:

Yep... I've discovered this myself after buying one. It's fairly obvious.





Do they all do this? Strange that the SOS reviewer missed this.


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crofter
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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Richard Graham]
      #383301 - 21/11/06 08:26 AM
There is a firmware update due this month that may address this very slight defect, I'm very pleased with this piece of kit and as I don't record the beating of butterfly wings I will experience no problems as it is.


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Huge Longjohns
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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Richard Graham]
      #383330 - 21/11/06 09:20 AM
There's no mention of 'this particular defect' being addressed on their website, just a driver issue and the MP3 issue. As a previous poster reported, the problem was, according to Zoom, a badly designed circuit. Silence on this topic on their website, presumably because they'd have to recall all the ones they've sold and give a replacement once they've sorted out the design and manufacture of one that works.

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Richard Graham



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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Scramble]
      #383337 - 21/11/06 09:26 AM
Quote E P Gumby:

I'm tempted, but the other thing that worries me (apart from the beeping noise) is the fact that other people on other forums have reported problems with using 2Gb cards (and I'd certainly want to use a 2Gb card).

Anyone here tested it out much with a 2Gb card?




I use it all the time with a 2GB card (Sandisk). I have had no problems with the card, or with beeping (and I only ever record @ 44.1kHz).

I think certain people are over-reacting slightly!

--------------------
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crofter
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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Richard Graham]
      #383370 - 21/11/06 10:17 AM
"I think certain people are over-reacting slightly! "

my sentiments exactly, this is a great device, if you want pristine audio you will have to spend a lot more money


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James PerrettModerator



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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: crofter]
      #383377 - 21/11/06 10:32 AM
It seems that most of the low price portable recorders (like the M-Audio and Edirol units) seem to have suffered from noise issues so this problem should be seen in context. The problem is likely to be either down to the grounding scheme inside the machine or possibly due to insufficient power supply filtering. These require a fair bit of analogue design experience to get right. Good analogue design is something that doesn't seem to come cheap.

Cheers

James.

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JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration.
http://www.jrpmusic.net


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James PerrettModerator



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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Richard Graham]
      #383379 - 21/11/06 10:39 AM
Quote Richard Graham:



I've read in this or another thread that it's possible to modify battery powered devices to use higher voltages... what are the risks? And does anyone know why a device that accepts 9V from a power-supply, should only have 3 volts worth of batteries?

Does anyone think it would be possible to create a 9V battery pack that plugs into the PSU input on the H4? Justy an idea that popped into my head just now. Then, there wouldn't be any need to mod the H4, and I'd have thought it would be safer for the H4's circuits too.




The external battery pack is probably the way to go. Probably the ideal solution would be to use a rechargeable lithium ion pack from someone like Hawkwoods but they're not cheap and the voltage would be slightly too high. These units possibly use a switch mode power supply to convert the input voltage to the voltages required internally. If it does then it is likely that it has been designed to accept a wide range of voltages but I would want to get hold of more information before I tried any different voltages.

Cheers

James.

--------------------
JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration.
http://www.jrpmusic.net


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Richard Graham



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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Richard Graham]
      #383390 - 21/11/06 11:14 AM
Quote rnms:

There is a firmware update due this month that may address this very slight defect, I'm very pleased with this piece of kit and as I don't record the beating of butterfly wings I will experience no problems as it is.




You've said it may address this defect, could you give us some more info?

I've just done a recording at maximum gain in my fairly quiet office, and as well as pre-amp noise and one side of a very dull telephone conversation two rooms away, I can indeed hear the dreaded 'tone' fairly distinctly when I listen at top volume on my headphones (Sennheiser PX200).

I can't say I'm overjoyed, but let's get some perspective on this. Did anyone seriously expect a £220 piece of kit that runs off a pair of AA batteries to be able to produce noise-free ambient recordings of silent rooms at maximum gain? Let's forget about the 'tone' problem for a moment, what about mic and pre-amp noise (of which there is plenty at extreme gain settings)? If Zoom could have invented a £220 piece of kit with such low self-noise that you could 'record butterfly wings flapping at 100 paces', they would have deserved congratulations even if it didn't also work as a multitrack recorder with effects and a PC audio interface.

I'm sure there are recording solutions out there that will let you record very quiet material with low noise, so if that's what you want to do, fill your boots! It’s never really been on my list of priorities, though of course it would be a ‘nice to have’, in case I ever get the urge. As it is, I've made a bunch of stereo recordings both in and out of doors, and self-noise has never been a problem.

For those who are recording very quiet sources, there is the 96kHz mode, or 9V power from either a wall-wart or a battery pack, so it’s not as if workarounds are not available. I suspect there will still be a fair amount of self-noise, but I guess more power might also fix that (as well as the distorted recording at high volume problem, which for me is far more significant).

I don’t really understand why a defect that only affects a pretty marginal use of the H4 (and with such easy workarounds) should make an otherwise great product ‘rubbish’ (as Simon puts it, mildly)! I’m tempted to say I couldn’t care less about the ‘tone’ problem, but that wouldn’t be true either. I’d be really happy if Zoom could fix it via a firmware update, but I would buy an H4 again tomorrow, even if there was no prospect of a fix. Because it isn’t that much of a problem.

--------------------
"if you don't have much soul left and you know it, you still got soul" - Bukowski


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Richard Graham



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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: James Perrett]
      #383397 - 21/11/06 11:27 AM
Quote James Perrett:


The external battery pack is probably the way to go. James.




Thanks James, I've seen a 'battery holder' on Maplins website, for a 9V PP3, with a pair of flying connections that could presumably be soldered to a suitable connector for the PSU input on the H4.

I'd have thought a 9V PP3 would be just the ticket (rechargeable or not) but the ratings in mA hours (550mAh for a Duracell, and only 150mAh(!) for a rechargeable) look pitiful compared to my rechargeable AAs (2700mAh).

So I guess my best bet would be seven or eight AAs, connected in series in some sort of box with a flying lead.

I imagine that as well as better recordings, I'd also get much longer out of eight cells than two, even if they are supplying more current.

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"if you don't have much soul left and you know it, you still got soul" - Bukowski


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Shivanand
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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Richard Graham]
      #383439 - 21/11/06 12:34 PM
OK it's bigger and heavier but a PP9 battery in a belt pack or pocket could be ideal for extended use in the field.

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"Qui habet aures audiendi audiat"


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crofter
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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Richard Graham]
      #383450 - 21/11/06 12:51 PM
The firmware update is supposedly to address an mp3 problem, wether or not this is related to the general pulsing noise ( I can't call it a beep because it isn't ), I don't know, this remains to be seen.
over the years I've used many portable recording devices, cassette, lately minidisk,both needed external mics and transfer to computer had to be done in real time, this H4 is the best such device I've used, just point and go and copy files over, magic.


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Richard Graham



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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Richard Graham]
      #383471 - 21/11/06 01:32 PM
Just read the H4 review in the latest Sound on Sound, where the H4 is described (not once but twice) as 'a Swiss Army knife'- type device!!

A case of 'great minds think alike' ?

I could write for Sound on Sound you know! Any jobs going?

--------------------
"if you don't have much soul left and you know it, you still got soul" - Bukowski

Edited by Richard Graham (21/11/06 01:45 PM)


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James PerrettModerator



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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Richard Graham]
      #383487 - 21/11/06 01:56 PM
Quote Richard Graham:


So I guess my best bet would be seven or eight AAs, connected in series in some sort of box with a flying lead.





You'll need 6 brand new AA's to give you 9V. Maplin should sell suitable battery holders and connectors. For longer battery life you could consider C or D cells although a great deal of development has been done on AA's to improve their life for applications like cameras and portable music players so the difference in capacity isn't as much as it once was.

Cheers

James.

--------------------
JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration.
http://www.jrpmusic.net


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Richard Graham



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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: James Perrett]
      #383501 - 21/11/06 02:07 PM
Quote James Perrett:


You'll need 6 brand new AA's to give you 9V.




My AAs are only 1.25 V, so I calculated I'd need 7.2 of them to give me 9V.

Am I going wrong somewhere?

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Shivanand
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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Richard Graham]
      #383520 - 21/11/06 02:41 PM
Quote Richard Graham:

Quote James Perrett:


You'll need 6 brand new AA's to give you 9V.




My AAs are only 1.25 V, so I calculated I'd need 7.2 of them to give me 9V.

Am I going wrong somewhere?




Sounds like yours are recharge-able batteries. None recharge-ables will give the full 1.5V

I would expect the H4 will be happy with 6 x 1.2V though.

I still favour the PP9 solution.

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"Qui habet aures audiendi audiat"


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Richard Graham



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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Shivanand]
      #383525 - 21/11/06 02:53 PM
Maybe I will try recording my band with a pair of non-rechargeables... the extra half a volt might help headroom a bit.

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Shivanand
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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Richard Graham]
      #383532 - 21/11/06 03:01 PM
Quote Richard Graham:

Maybe I will try recording my band with a pair of non-rechargeables... the extra half a volt might help headroom a bit.




I know it's not very "green" of me but I always prefer to use brand new non-recharge-ables for critical applications.

I'm going to use the PSU with the H4 for this week's rehearsal.

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Richard Graham



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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Shivanand]
      #383541 - 21/11/06 03:21 PM
Fair enough. I've had good use of the rechargeables though I must say, they seem to do a very long time before running out! But I never realised they were shy of a quarter of a volt.

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crofter
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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Richard Graham]
      #383550 - 21/11/06 03:35 PM
A bloke on another forum has reported using a battery pack consisting of 8 AA NiMH rechargeables as working fine, so this is the way to go if you can be bothered, Also Zoom have apparently suggested that SD card brand may make a difference, the Viking 2 gig. card I have is the cheapest I could find, perhaps a better card may solve this or lessen it at least, there is a list of confirmed media on the Zoom website. http://www.zoom.co.jp/english/products/h4/index.php


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Richard Graham



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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: crofter]
      #383552 - 21/11/06 03:39 PM
Quote rnms:

A bloke on another forum has reported using a battery pack consisting of 8 AA NiMH rechargeables as working fine, so this is the way to go if you can be bothered, Also Zoom have apparently suggested that SD card brand may make a difference, the Viking 2 gig. card I have is the cheapest I could find, perhaps a better card may solve this or lessen it at least, there is a list of confirmed media on the Zoom website. http://www.zoom.co.jp/english/products/h4/index.php






I got the best SD card available from the shop (Bonsers of the Bigg Market, Newcastle). A Sandisk Ultra II 2GB. £55 quid.

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crofter
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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Richard Graham]
      #383566 - 21/11/06 03:59 PM
Well, I've just checked again with the 128meg. SD card that came with my H4 (Mediafo), and there is no pulsing sound what so ever recording at 44/16, however If I put the 2 gig. card in the sound is there but as I say I can only hear it in a quiet room and with sensitive in-ear phones


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John Willett
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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Richard Graham]
      #383567 - 21/11/06 04:00 PM
Quote Richard Graham:

I got the best SD card available from the shop (Bonsers of the Bigg Market, Newcastle). A Sandisk Ultra II 2GB. £55 quid.




I have heard (from Cunnings Recordings at the SBES show) that the SanDisk Ultra II are about the best cards around for Digital Audio.

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Jeraldo



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Batteries new [Re: Richard Graham]
      #383598 - 21/11/06 04:50 PM
Quote Richard Graham:

Fair enough. I've had good use of the rechargeables though I must say, they seem to do a very long time before running out! But I never realised they were shy of a quarter of a volt.




NiMH batteries-the AA, AAA, etc., are nominally 1.25, or, more commonly 1.2 volts. However-the more recent types will *usually* dramatically outlast their conventional counterparts, because they store much more energy. Also, they suffer very little voltage drop until they're out of charge. And, the batteries can deliver far more current on demand-say, charging a flash. More conventional batteries will drop through the 1.2 volt value long before the NiMH start to drop voltage.

The 2300-2500 mAh are much more difficult to charge. Even with "smart" chargers, they often are not completely charged, and therefore often seem to offer no real advantages. (And some smart chargers only measure battery temperatures.) With more modern batteries, often the best way to charge is the oldest way-a time based charger, delivering less energy, over a much longer charge cycle-say 8.5 hours. And as everyone who has used them notices, it takes 4 to 5 charge cycles before they start performing to their specs. They loose about 1% of charge per day when not used.

There are a few types, by Ray-O-Vac and others, that include some electronics in the batteries, with the idea of providing even faster charge times. There have been reports from users saying that the electronics in those batteries either fail, or "confuse" the device being used, and thus end up damaging the device.


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Len
member


Joined: 22/02/01
Posts: 276
Loc: London, UK
Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: crofter]
      #383716 - 21/11/06 08:50 PM
Quote rnms:

Well, I've just checked again with the 128meg. SD card that came with my H4 (Mediafo), and there is no pulsing sound what so ever recording at 44/16, however If I put the 2 gig. card in the sound is there but as I say I can only hear it in a quiet room and with sensitive in-ear phones




This is very interesting - anyone else find that if you use the stock 128meg card there is no defect?

--------------------
www.youtube.com/leonardngmusic


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Phillip



Joined: 20/11/06
Posts: 15
Loc: Washago, Ontario
Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Len]
      #383774 - 21/11/06 11:17 PM
Quote Len:

This is very interesting - anyone else find that if you use the stock 128meg card there is no defect?




I have found the same pulsing tone problem with the supplied 128 MB card.

By the way, I believe it is just as valid a use of the H4 to "record butterfly wings flapping at 100 paces" as it is to record a spotty wanker flapping an electric guitar at 6 inches, or to save for posterity yet another singer-songwriter making yet another dreary 4-track demo to post on the web.

Especially since butterfly wings may soon be in short supply, but there appears to be no end to the other species.


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Jeraldo



Joined: 10/09/05
Posts: 2338
Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Phillip]
      #383827 - 22/11/06 02:04 AM
Quote Phillip:



I have found the same pulsing tone problem with the supplied 128 MB card.

By the way, I believe it is just as valid a use of the H4 to "record butterfly wings flapping at 100 paces" as it is to record a spotty wanker flapping an electric guitar at 6 inches, or to save for posterity yet another singer-songwriter making yet another dreary 4-track demo to post on the web.





I agree, and I think what is acceptable depends on the nature of the problem-is it a defect or a limitation? For example, the H4 is a very inexpensive device. What might be "normal" for such an inexpensive device would include noisy analogue and mic preamp circuitry (though the H4 seems much better than it should be), or limited features (again, though, the H4 is surprisingly versatile), or that the sound be subjectively "small," as the SOS reviewer mentions, or that the interface not be the same as that on a device that costs three times as much, or that it wouldn't support 8 Gig SD cards, or that the case is plastic and not titanium or aluminum, or that the XLR combi terminals are plastic and not metal, etc.

What is not acceptable, though, involves things like "beeps, whistles, tones," and that sort of specific thing.

There is a big difference between a product that has *limitations* due to the economics of components, and a product that is *defective* from bad or mistaken hardware and software design.

It's a breakthrough product that has been limited by bad design and/or mistakes rather than inexpensive components. Don't they field test these things? (A rhetorical question-nothing seems field tested these days!)


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Richard Graham



Joined: 10/04/06
Posts: 3021
Loc: Gateshead, UK
Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Phillip]
      #383861 - 22/11/06 08:41 AM
Quote Phillip:



By the way, I believe it is just as valid a use of the H4 to "record butterfly wings flapping at 100 paces" as it is to record a spotty wanker flapping an electric guitar at 6 inches, or to save for posterity yet another singer-songwriter making yet another dreary 4-track demo to post on the web.




Whoa there! Slightly testy response! I never said that nobody should make recordings of butterfly wings, just that maybe if you need want a device that is suitable for doing so, maybe you shouldn't be buying a unit with 4- track capabilities, amp-sim and reverb FX, and USB audio interfacing built in, and instead buy (maybe) a good high-end specialist recorder.

A Swiss Army knife is a knife after all, but I doubt if Gordon Ramsey would complain that it was no good for filleting a steak.

P.S. I don't have spots, but the rest of your broadside is scarily accurate! Ouch!

--------------------
"if you don't have much soul left and you know it, you still got soul" - Bukowski


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