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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]
      #383873 - 22/11/06 09:06 AM
Well the BBC don't even record minute animal sounds, next time you see an ant trudging through the snow on a nature documentary, your actually listening to some bloke with rubber gloves on, prodding a bowl of custard powder, the audiophiles out there will not be pleased with this device but are they ever content with anything? , it's called a "Handy recorder" not a "bullshit, record a gnat taking a piss in super stereo, you can hear every drop, overpriced,titanium bollocks, recording apparatus". And Handy it is.


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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]
      #383895 - 22/11/06 10:03 AM
While some people might be over-reacting, my concern is merely whether this or the Edirol is the better buy (or whether I should wait and spend a bit more on the mythical Fostex FR2 LE, should it ever appear).

So I'm not going to go off on rants about how appalling Zoom is. Seems like a great product to me, with a couple of minor flaws. I just want to know whether, on balance, it comes out as better value than the R09.


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Richard Graham



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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Jeraldo]
      #383916 - 22/11/06 10:41 AM
Quote Jeraldo:

I think what is acceptable depends on the nature of the problem-is it a defect or a limitation? ...

What is not acceptable, 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.




I take your point Jeraldo, and the distinction is a good one. Personally I consider the beep to be a 'fly in the ointment', and is obviously a 'defect' by your definition, but at the levels of gain we are talking about, the noise from the pre-amps is bad enough to make the recording very 'rough' in any case: you wouldn't be making 'serious' recordings with these settings, even without the beep.

If pre-amp noise is an acceptable limitation, it's arguable that the beep is simply a different variety of electronic self-noise, albiet one that could have been avoided. It's not a great argument, but added to the fact that there are simple workarounds, and that you wouldn't want to work at those levels anyway, and that the H4 does what it was designed to do very well, and the fact that it is definitely 'budget' and not even semi-pro gear, and the fact that it is great value for money (as long as you want the features it has, and don't need the features it doesn't have) and it's hard for me to see why people are wailing and gnashing their teeth. Unless its just that they thought that the H4 was the answer to their prayers, and then it just turned out to be too good to be true.

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


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John Willett
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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Scramble]
      #383928 - 22/11/06 11:09 AM
Well, there is another inexpensive alternative that is really good.

The Nagra Ares-M - sells for around £500 I think - and it's a NAGRA.



Small, handy and high quality.

--------------------
John - Sound-Link ProAudio
President - Federation Internationale des Chasseurs de Sons


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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]
      #383929 - 22/11/06 11:21 AM
Quote Richard Graham:

..it's hard for me to see why people are wailing and gnashing their teeth. Unless its just that they thought that the H4 was the answer to their prayers, and then it just turned out to be too good to be true.




Quite. There are other much more "pro" and much more expensive options for those who need them. I was happy to buy something at a "pocket money" price that I can take on foreign business trips to record all sorts of things from local languages to samples of unusual instruments and musicians and not have to worry too much about it being stolen or damaged. Finding that it also makes a fair fist of recording my band both live and in rehearsal is a bonus.

I'm very happy with it.

--------------------
"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: John Willett]
      #383933 - 22/11/06 11:33 AM
Quote John Willett:

Well, there is another inexpensive alternative that is really good.

The Nagra Ares-M - sells for around £500 I think - and it's a NAGRA.



Small, handy and high quality.





This does look very good and is probably excellent,you do have to pay much more for small increases in quality but I couldn't justify the extra £300, the H4 does it for me and I'm a happy bunny


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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]
      #383949 - 22/11/06 12:04 PM
Quote rnms:

This does look very good and is probably excellent,you do have to pay much more for small increases in quality but I couldn't justify the extra £300, the H4 does it for me and I'm a happy bunny




It's horses for courses isn't it? No doubt the Nagra has superior sound quality, and especially for quiet sounds, so it should please the people who want to record such. Thanks are due to John Willett for letting them (and us) know about it.

Regardless of the price difference, the Zoom does a whole lot of other stuff that the Nagra doesn't (which doesn't make it *better*, just more useful *if* you need those facilities (which I do!))

I don't have much info on it, but I don't think I could use the Nagra for practicing and recording my bass or electric guitars, or for making my 'dreary singer-songwriter' demos to post on the web, or for recording my electronic drums, or as an audio interface for my laptop (whose on-board sound is like listening to jungle at night time, even at normal levels) or as a guitar tuner blah blah blah.

Which deosn't make it wrong for John to tell us about it. Hopefully the moaners and the gnashers will now do a bit of research, find that the Nagra is what they want, and buy one.

They can then sing its praises on this forum, instead of slagging off a perfectly excellent piece of kit which (presumably) they don't own and have probably never even tried out.

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


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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]
      #383953 - 22/11/06 12:14 PM
The reason for posting the NAGRA link was to add another affordable small and portable flash recorder to the list.

Sound quality (being a Nagra) would be the best of the lot, of course.

It is, however, NOT a direct alternative to the Zoom H4 as it is over double the price - but it is worth considering where a small and portable high quality recorder is wanted.

--------------------
John - Sound-Link ProAudio
President - Federation Internationale des Chasseurs de Sons


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Richard Graham



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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: John Willett]
      #383984 - 22/11/06 01:26 PM
Agreed. I've heard of Nagra, and their reputation is excellent. For me the major difference isn't so much the price, as a totally different feature set. Despite its name, being a 'hand-held' recorder is only one thing the H4 Handy Recorder is useful for. "Jack of all trades and master of none" it may be, but it is sufficiently good at everything it does, to be an excellent overall, the whole being more than the sum of the parts.

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


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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]
      #383996 - 22/11/06 01:45 PM
Quote rnms:

Hopefully the moaners and the gnashers will now do a bit of research, find that the Nagra is what they want, and buy one.

They can then sing its praises on this forum, instead of slagging off a perfectly excellent piece of kit which (presumably) they don't own and have probably never even tried out.




This is an unnecessarily aggressive and frankly rather silly post. I count myself amongst your Moaners and Gnashers, although I thought I was trying to be fairly lighthearted about it but Hey Ho. Put simply, I was looking forward to buying a Zoom but this thread has started to convince me otherwise and I am disappointed accordingly. But isn't it funny how people will always fight to the death to defend something they've already bought rather than admit that the product may be less than it's cracked up to be? Even when the MANUFACTURER states that it isn't quite there yet and has some failings to be ironed out? Whether these issues are big or small depends on your point of view.

And let's not be silly: nobody expects the H4 to rival a piece of pro kit over double the price, but I don't think it's too much to expect for a product to perform in the manner the MANUFACTURER intended. Do you? Without resorting to battery packs, workarounds, listening back on crap monitors etc etc

Are you honestly saying you would still have bought the H4 if you'd have heard about all these issues beforehand? I have been lucky/unlucky enough to hear about all these big/small issues via this thread. There have been enough concerns raised here to make me think twice about buying one. That I may not become the owner of this 'perfectly excellent' piece of kit immediately is my problem, not yours, so why get so wound up about it?

Cheers.

--------------------
"The man who questions opinions is wise. The man who quarrels with facts is a fool." Frank Garbutt, inventor & industrialist


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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]
      #384031 - 22/11/06 02:58 PM
Quote simonplent:


Quote rnms:

Hopefully the moaners and the gnashers will now do a bit of research, find that the Nagra is what they want, and buy one.

They can then sing its praises on this forum, instead of slagging off a perfectly excellent piece of kit which (presumably) they don't own and have probably never even tried out.




This is an unnecessarily aggressive and frankly rather silly post.




Unlike, I suppose, the post (not yours) about how people who don't use the H4 for ultra-quiet recordings are a bunch of dull singer-songwriters and spotty guitarists? Ot the post (yours) where you say "that's rubbish, isn't it, to put it mildly", or the where you say 'As Homer (the yellow guy, not the Greek) says: it just gets worse and worse'. Or the one where you 'exaggerate to make a point', by saying 'So, to sum up, you can't record MP3s or 44.1 or 48k on batteries because of software and hardware issues!' (none of which is actually anything like close to being the truth, I've done all of those things, without updates, with excellent results).

Quote simonplent:

But isn't it funny how people will always fight to the death to defend something they've already bought rather than admit that the product may be less than it's cracked up to be?




It might depend more on whether you've actually *tried* the piece of gear in question, or just read about its shortcomings on a forum somewhere. If you look at some of the posts I made much earlier in this thread, you'll find that I indentified and publicised much bigger problem (for me) than the beep: the lack of mic headroom when recording a loud band, using the batteries. How does that fit in with your theory of people 'fighting to the death' to deny that there are any problems with the H4?

Quote simonplent:

And let's not be silly: nobody expects the H4 to rival a piece of pro kit over double the price, but I don't think it's too much to expect for a product to perform in the manner the MANUFACTURER intended. Do you? Without resorting to battery packs, workarounds, listening back on crap monitors etc etc




Now who's being silly? Nobody mentioned having to 'listen back on crap monitors' (or if they did, I missed it: did someone *really* say that? Or did you make it up?). The battery pack was in case you absolutely couldn't use mains power and wanted the extra headroom for loud music, though it would also fix the beep 'problem' in case you didn't want to record at 96k. But it is *such* a simple 'workaround' to record at 24 bit 96k, that it hardly qualifies as a workaround at all, involving nothing more than pushing a single button.

Quote simonplent:

Are you honestly saying you would still have bought the H4 if you'd have heard about all these issues beforehand?




Yes yes and yes indeed, that's exactly what I'm saying. 'All these issues' don't amount to a hill of beans as far as I'm concerned. BTW what do you mean 'all these issues'? Do you mean the one I raised about the microphone headroom, or the other one about the beep that you can only hear if you whack everything up full? Or the one that's been fixed by a firmware update (one particular mp3 rate not being available, not something that would have made a happoth of difference to me in any case.)

Quote simonplent:

I have been lucky/unlucky enough to hear about all these big/small issues via this thread. There have been enough concerns raised here to make me think twice about buying one. That I may not become the owner of this 'perfectly excellent' piece of kit immediately is my problem, not yours, so why get so wound up about it?




Hee hee, *me* get wound up? This from one who flaps like a large lasses shirt if someone mentions a miniscule fault on a piece of kit he was *thinking* of buying?

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

Edited by Richard Graham (22/11/06 03:08 PM)


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mcguirk



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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Huge Longjohns]
      #384048 - 22/11/06 03:27 PM
Quote simonplent:


Are you honestly saying you would still have bought the H4 if you'd have heard about all these issues beforehand?





I can't speak for anyone else, but I certainly would have.

I need my H4 for recording rehearsals, as a portable USB audio interface, as a sketchpad for ideas, and as a field recorder for various non-critical (in the broad scheme of things) material. Suits me fine.

If I was a film or video sound recordist, I doubt the H4 would have even been on my longlist.


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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]
      #384079 - 22/11/06 04:31 PM
Richard, if you took offence at any of my posts I am genuinely sorry. However, I don't particularly like being called a moaner or a gnasher (whatever that is, apart from Dennis's dog) because I choose to disagree with someone's opinion, strongly held as it may be. Hence the 'defending to the death' comment. As for being a girls blouse (XL) well, I've been called a lot worse things, but I'm not sure this otherwise very interesting and useful thread benefits from this kind of personal abuse.

Cheers.

--------------------
"The man who questions opinions is wise. The man who quarrels with facts is a fool." Frank Garbutt, inventor & industrialist


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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]
      #384093 - 22/11/06 05:04 PM
Alright Simon, point taken. I didn't find your posts offensive, I was just suprised at the level of hostility towards Zoom, and the degree of upset a couple of niggly and very minor problems could cause. Of course being called a spotty guitarist or a dull singer songwriter is another issue, but that wan't you!

I'm sorry for calling you a big girls blouse.

PAX

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


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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]
      #384116 - 22/11/06 05:48 PM
My reading of this thread has been very positive for the H4 - much better than the competition and cheaper as well.

The points mentioned seem very small in comparison.

At this price I would go for the H4 unless I had the money for the Fostex FR-2LE or the Nagra Ares-M; I certainly would not look at anything else in this range.

But the Sound Devices or Nagra-D .....

--------------------
John - Sound-Link ProAudio
President - Federation Internationale des Chasseurs de Sons


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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]
      #384246 - 22/11/06 11:48 PM
Quote Richard Graham:

Of course being called a spotty guitarist or a dull singer songwriter is another issue, but that wan't you




I am sorry if your feelings were hurt, Richard. My remarks were not specifically directed at you but rather to point out to the forum in general that uses of the H4 other than one's own should not be sneered at with remarks about butterfly wings, or sidelined with statements like: "a pretty marginal use of the H4".

That statement is a misconception. Just look at the Zoom webpage for the H4: http://www.zoom.co.jp/english/products/h4/index.php

There are ten photos of recording suggestions ("H4 Usage Examples"). One of those ten photos shows the H4 making a nature field recording of a stream. That is, the Zoom company considers that 10% of the H4's potential users could be making field recordings. That is not "a pretty marginal use of the H4".

Quote Richard Graham:

but at the levels of gain we are talking about, the noise from the pre-amps is bad enough to make the recording very 'rough' in any case: you wouldn't be making 'serious' recordings with these settings, even without the beep.




That is another misconception. Click on the "H4 Usage Examples" and look at the text for the field recording photo. It reads: "FIELD RECORDING Stereo Mode, WAV(16bit/48kHz) Built-in Stereo Mic, Hi-Gain".

You can see that Zoom itself considers the Hi-Gain setting suitable for field recordings. Furthermore, they suggest the 16bit/48kHz setting, not the 24/96 which field recordists are now confined to as the workaround for the beeping/tone-pulsing problem. (Note that there is no external battery pack attached to the boom in the Zoom nature recording photo!)

It does no good to become defensive about equipment. Everyone here wants the Zoom H4 to succeed. No one is "slagging off a perfectly excellent piece of kit". Please remember that the Zoom company itself admits that this noise problem is a design flaw. Here is a direct quote from their helpful email reply to me:

"We have figured out that the noise problem is caused by the analog circuit board layout...Noise was available because battery does not apply enough to load change. So noise is disappeared when you use a supplied AC adaptor."

This is an actual defect. Maybe only important for 10% of users, but no less real for that.

I for one am keeping my H4 (so far). But the noise problem is like having a spot on the lens of a camera. It's a real drag.

"Out, out, damned spot!"


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Richard Graham



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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Phillip]
      #384386 - 23/11/06 12:06 PM
Quote Phillip:

Quote Richard Graham:

Of course being called a spotty guitarist or a dull singer songwriter is another issue, but that wan't you


I am sorry if your feelings were hurt, Richard. My remarks were not specifically directed at you




Since I've already made light of your dig at us spotty guitarists, your apology is not necessary. I'm not that sensitive: I was just reminding Simon that the aggressive and silly (his words) posting, started way back on this thread.

Regarding Zoom's promo picture of someone recording a stream, I doubt if that would require the gain up on full as well as the mic setting at high. Most of the streams I'm familiar with would take the low-level beep as well as any pre-amp noise in their stride, but in case you are recording a much quiet trickle rather than a babbling brook, why not record at 96k, as you've already suggested? It isn't ideal, but it hardly consigns the H4 to the dustbin, and you don't need a battery pack.

My 'aggressive, silly' post was a reaction to the people who were implying or explicitly saying that the H4 was "rubbish", that in the H4, Zoom had released a duff product, one that didn't work etc. It is still my opinion those posts were histrionic blurts.

The butterfly's wings remark (which wasn't my own) was flippant, which is why I put it in quotes when I used it as a kind of short-hand for 'people who want to record very very *very* quiet sources'. I never knocked or ridiculed those people, only suggested the same workarounds as you did yourself (96k, battery packs) or alternatively, that the H4's pre-amps may not be up to snuff for this kind of work (regardless of the dreaded beep) and that they might need to look for a more specialist recorder. Each to his own I say.

What I do find objectionable is people with no experience of the H4, repeatedly and somewhat hysterically posting that it is no good. Being called a spotty moaning singer-songwriter guitarist, while deeply hurtful , at least has the virtue of being true.

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


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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]
      #384450 - 23/11/06 02:19 PM
Quote Richard Graham:

Regarding Zoom's promo picture of someone recording a stream, I doubt if that would require the gain up on full as well as the mic setting at high.




You are missing the point. What you may think are the proper settings may not be someone else's. (In this case, you are even contradicting the manufacturer.) It is not for you to prescribe for others how to record because you wish to defend your position about how great the H4 is. Others may have more experience than you in the matter of field recording. In fact with digital recorders in particular, one needs a very high gain setting on a quiet source.

Quote Richard Graham:

why not record at 96k, as you've already suggested? It isn't ideal, but it hardly consigns the H4 to the dustbin




Again, your response is over the top. The H4 is not being consigned to the dustbin. But it has a defect which is probably affecting the recordings at 96kHz as well. The effect just isn't as obvious. And when you are recording in the field, you might become short of SD cards and therefore need the extra recording time of 48kHz.

The design flaw of the H4 is a problem to recordists with realistic requirements. Even Zoom itself intended its product to fulfil those requirements, not that its potential customers "need to look for a more specialist recorder".

Quote Richard Graham:

The butterfly's wings remark (which wasn't my own) was flippant




Exactly. And for anyone looking to the forums for help with a very real concern, it was not helpful.

Quote Richard Graham:

Each to his own I say.




Right on. Let us respect each other's needs from this recorder, but look to find solutions together. Richard, you are the moderator of this forum, and you can set the tone.

Edited by Phillip (23/11/06 02:22 PM)


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Richard Graham



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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Phillip]
      #384976 - 24/11/06 05:07 PM
Quote Phillip:

You are missing the point. What you may think are the proper settings may not be someone else's. (In this case, you are even contradicting the manufacturer.) It is not for you to prescribe for others how to record because you wish to defend your position about how great the H4 is. Others may have more experience than you in the matter of field recording. In fact with digital recorders in particular, one needs a very high gain setting on a quiet source.




Of course you need a high gain setting for a quiet source. I don't understand why you think I was prescribing for people how to record, I was just saying that most of the streams I know of are loud enough to drown out the beep and any pre-amp noise, *if* you chose not to record at 96k. I then said it may be a quiet stream, in which case, recording at 96k would make more sense. I never claimed to be an expert in field recording. Maybe that's why I don't understand why digital recorders (in particular) need more gain than analog ones . I always set the gain so that the recorder peaks at about 80% for digital, or nearer 100% for analog. I don't think i contradicted the manufacturer either: I don't see how they would know exactly how loud a stream is without measuring it, any more than I can. All they can do is guess, same as me. Does Zoom's advice *really* say the gain always needs to be right up at 100% when recording streams, regardless of how noisy the stream is?

Quote Phillip:


Quote Richard Graham:

why not record at 96k, as you've already suggested? It isn't ideal, but it hardly consigns the H4 to the dustbin




Again, your response is over the top. The H4 is not being consigned to the dustbin.




Not by you, maybe. But Simon said the H4 was "a bit rubbish", and basically said it doesn't work or words to that effect. Rubbish that doesn't work is usually consigned to the dustbin: so I don't think I've been over the top (I'll ignore the fact that you say I'm being over the top *again*, becuase I don't know exactly which other bit of what I've said, you think is "over the top"). To me what is "over the top" is calling the H4 "rubbish", saying "DOH DOH DOH" and claiming that it doesn't work and that you are taking your custom elsewhere, before you've even heard it. Alternatively, saying this
Quote Phillip:

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.



*might* be seen as an "over the top" reaction to somebody lightheartedly caracaturing you as "wanting to record the flapping of butterfly wings at 100 paces".

Quote Phillip:


But it has a defect which is probably affecting the recordings at 96kHz as well. The effect just isn't as obvious. And when you are recording in the field, you might become short of SD cards and therefore need the extra recording time of 48kHz.




You might indeed run out of memory, so you could buy another 2GB memory card (or even two), for around £20. Again, not ideal, but cheaper than buying a Nagra.

Quote Phillip:


The design flaw of the H4 is a problem to recordists with realistic requirements. Even Zoom itself intended its product to fulfil those requirements, not that its potential customers "need to look for a more specialist recorder".




I'm not saying that it isn't a design flaw, just that there are workable workarounds, and that such a cheap and versatile piece of kit would not have been my first choice for pristine field recordings of very quiet sources. Advertising bumf is advertising bumf, after all, and to be fair, you *can* still do what they say you can do with it (at 96k). But apart from the low-level beep, there is a level of pre-amp noise which I would find unacceptable if I was recording very quiet sources (as I would expect there to be from a piece of budget kit).

Put it another way: if I required top-notch guitar amp modelling a la Guitar Rig 2, that would be a 'realistic requirement' too, but would I be justified in complaining that the amp models in the H4 are not nearly as good as those in Guitar Rig, even though the Zoom is *also* a standalone 4-track / stereo recorder / audio interface with microphones, and not a specialist piece of software that does just the one thing and costs nearly twice as much? Do you think it would even be *realistic* to expect a 'Guitar Rig' level of performance from the Zoom? What if I could get a 'Guitar Rig' type sound by recording at 96k instead of 44.1? Would i say "that's not good enough, it should sound exactly like a real Marshall stack when I record at 44.1 as well", or would I just go and buy another memory card and be bloody glad that such a facility exists?

Quote Phillip:


Quote Richard Graham:

The butterfly's wings remark (which wasn't my own) was flippant




Exactly. And for anyone looking to the forums for help with a very real concern, it was not helpful.




Why pick on this one "unhelpful" remark, when the thread is full of helpful stuff (some of it contributed by yourself, some from others)? It RNMS who originally made the remark about butterflies:
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.



Pretty inoffensive stuff isn't it? Especially compared to your reaction, the one about "spotty wankers with guitars" which I've quoted already in this post. Please read through it again, though, before moving on to your last point about 'tone'.

Quote Phillip:


Let us respect each other's needs from this recorder, but look to find solutions together. Richard, you are the moderator of this forum, and you can set the tone.




Though I originated this thread, I am not a moderator. Having said that, I don't think my tone has been inappropriate. I think it has been (mostly) very moderate, making light of insults, and mildly chiding people who have jumped off the deep end. I'll admit that I started to get a bit impatient with Simon's flapping. So I think I *did* set the tone already. Of course it's other people's prerogative to change that tone.

I don't think we are getting anywhere fast with all this, to be honest. What started off as an (I hope) informative thread about a piece of kit which I am (still) enthused with, has degenerated into "it's crap/no its not" and "you're slagging me off/you're over-reacting". Shame.

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


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Phillip



Joined: 20/11/06
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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Richard Graham]
      #385345 - 25/11/06 02:38 PM
Quote Richard Graham:

Does Zoom's advice *really* say the gain always needs to be right up at 100% when recording streams, regardless of how noisy the stream is?




No, Zoom claims that it is possible to use the high gain setting of the H4 at 16 bit/48 kHz in a field recording application. (I think we're all capable of going beyond thinking that Zoom intended all field recordings to be recordings of streams just because there is a picture of a stream!)

However, because of the design flaw, we now know it is not possible to do this, i.e., high gain at 16/48, without there being the beeping/pulsing-tone on the recording.

Quote Richard Graham:

Put it another way: if I required top-notch guitar amp modelling a la Guitar Rig 2, that would be a 'realistic requirement' too, but would I be justified in complaining that the amp models in the H4 are not nearly as good as those in Guitar Rig




You would be justified in complaining if Zoom had claimed as much. That is what is meant by "realistic": i.e., we are requiring of the Zoom H4 only what the Zoom H4 is advertised as being capable of. But there is a design flaw, admitted by the manufacturer, so the H4 is not capable of performing to its own advertised features and specs.

This is not a complaint about a feature that the H4 does not have. This is a problem that Zoom did NOT intend to be present in their product.

And this is my last post on the subject. I don't think I can be any clearer about what the problem is. But I don't think you'll admit to it.

I look forward to Zoom fixing the defect in their next version of the H4.

Quote Richard Graham:

I don't think we are getting anywhere fast with all this, to be honest. What started off as an (I hope) informative thread about a piece of kit which I am (still) enthused with, has degenerated into "it's crap/no its not" and "you're slagging me off/you're over-reacting". Shame.




Exactly.


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Jeraldo



Joined: 10/09/05
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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Richard Graham]
      #385520 - 26/11/06 01:57 AM
Quote Richard Graham:

I just read the wiki article, where it says that electrets (can) rival condensers in all respects except for low noise. I didn't read where it said they were necessarily poor at recording high SPLs. In fact, the article even says they 'can even have the long-term stability and ultra-flat response needed for a measuring microphone'.




I didn't slog through the whole article. Electrets are capable of very low noise. And in fact, they are capable of extremely high SPLs. They *can* have a charge much higher than a conventionally designed phantom power capsule polarization. Modern charged diaphragms will not loose charge. Many modern measuring mics employ electret technology.

It's another case of getting what you pay for.


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Jeraldo



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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: John Willett]
      #385521 - 26/11/06 02:35 AM
Quote John Willett:

My reading of this thread has been very positive for the H4 - much better than the competition and cheaper as well.

The points mentioned seem very small in comparison.

At this price I would go for the H4 unless I had the money for the Fostex FR-2LE or the Nagra Ares-M; I certainly would not look at anything else in this range.

But the Sound Devices or Nagra-D .....




The Nagra wouldn't suit anyone looking at the H4. It has one external mic, which is mono. It has *one* (!??) XLR in, and the product literature suggests it be used with a high quality dynamic(!). The stereo mic in is on a mini jack. They include a "stereo clip on mic," but it must not be great because they offer a "higher quality" clip on mic.
Specs: No appreciable difference in noise and S/N ratio.
Stereo line XLR ins. H4:yes Nagra:no
Stereo mic XLR ins. H4 yes Nagra: no(has one for suggested mono dynamic)
External mic H4: stereo. Nagra: mono
Four track and bouncing ability/download source tracks. H4: yes Nagra: no
"USB mode": (Device appearing as an external drive) H4:yes Nagra: unknown
Memory Card: H4 uses SD. Nagra: I couldn't determine if there is *only* internal memory of 1 gig, or if using cards is possible. I didn't see any mention of use of removable memory.)
Speaker: H4:no Nagra: yes
Price H4 $300 Nagra: $1000

The list goes on.

As for the FR-2LE. This is not an option, because the product is not available. Fostex release date has been extended several times. In the US, its price is not yet determined (by Fostex), so no orders may be taken. No one I know has had a prototype unit long enough to evaluate. It, too, may beep, squawk, whistle, sing, and more. Remember that its predecessor, the FR-2 had several operational issues before Fostex offered a software update.

I would throw another product in to the mix. It's the Tascam flash recorder. It's out, and there are no operational complaints. But it is three times the cost of the H4, has only one external mono mic, and is about three times as large. And it's "limited" to uncompressed formats. It does have FireWire connectivity.

The H4 is a killer product. I'm sure there will be some *practical* DIY workarounds for its problems. And Zoom may come up with some fixes-even software fixes for hardware problems (Apple users will be accustomed to this!).

In it's current state, it seems to be working better than both of the Marantz recorders.

I'm planning on getting one just for personal use: Beside all the intended "musical" uses, it has a legion of other uses as well. Right now, it won't serve my professional recording needs, but it will be a very handy creative and convenience tool.

Now if they would only add a video screen..................
Oh yeah, and maybe a camera or video input..........

Having trouble recording butterfly wings? Get closer! Or put the thing in front of a parabolic reflector.


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Jeraldo



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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Phillip]
      #385528 - 26/11/06 03:48 AM
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.

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.





Phillip: Thanks for the posting of those clips. In the US, Zoom is distrubted by Samson, and they are anything but open about this problem-quite the opposite. Just curious who you wrote or talked to.

Thanks for posting the clips.


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Phillip



Joined: 20/11/06
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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Jeraldo]
      #385628 - 26/11/06 02:02 PM
Quote Jeraldo:

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.

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.





Phillip: Thanks for the posting of those clips. In the US, Zoom is distrubted by Samson, and they are anything but open about this problem-quite the opposite. Just curious who you wrote or talked to.

Thanks for posting the clips.




Hi Jeraldo,

I emailed to the Zoom Company from their website:

http://www.zoom.co.jp/english/contact/02.php

and they were kind enough to respond.

Yes, Samson has been quite unhelpful about this problem.

Quote Jeraldo:

Having trouble recording butterfly wings? Get closer! Or put the thing in front of a parabolic reflector.




The "trouble" is that butterfly wings don't really make a beeping/pulsing tone when they flap.

Edited by Phillip (26/11/06 02:04 PM)


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Jeraldo



Joined: 10/09/05
Posts: 2367
Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Phillip]
      #385715 - 26/11/06 06:06 PM
Quote Phillip:



The "trouble" is that butterfly wings don't really make a beeping/pulsing tone when they flap.




Yes, but they make this horrific flapping noise!


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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]
      #385799 - 26/11/06 10:16 PM
Lots of discussions about this and other issues at:

http://www.2090.org/zoom/bbs/viewforum.php?f=15

Read em and weep/laugh

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


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Richard Graham



Joined: 10/04/06
Posts: 3153
Loc: Gateshead, UK
Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Phillip]
      #386672 - 28/11/06 05:34 PM
Quote Phillip:

And this is my last post on the subject. I don't think I can be any clearer about what the problem is. But I don't think you'll admit to it.




Argh! I already *did* admit there was a problem, right back where I tested the thing and said I could hear the very quiet beep at maximum gain settings, using headphones full up, among a load of other electronic self-noise. That's exactly the problem you are talking about, isn't it?

It is perfectly clear to me that your expectations of the H4 proved to be greater than the reality of it, whereas I expected a lot from it, and as it turned out, got even more, because I use it to record MUSIC, not SPARROWFARTS.

Obviously the fact you are disappointed isn't your fault, so it must those danged Zoom marketing people with their pictures of streams and so on.

So forget about the workarounds and invest your energies in complaining about the spotty wankers with guitars, dreary singer-songwriters, and the like. I'm sure you'll be much happier.

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


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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: Richard Graham]
      #387383 - 30/11/06 12:06 AM
Quote Richard Graham:

Argh! I already *did* admit there was a problem, right back where I tested the thing and said I could hear the very quiet beep at maximum gain settings, using headphones full up, among a load of other electronic self-noise. That's exactly the problem you are talking about, isn't it?




No. no. no. The problem is that the H4 has a design flaw.

Quote Richard Graham:

It is perfectly clear to me that your expectations of the H4 proved to be greater than the reality of it, whereas I expected a lot from it, and as it turned out, got even more, because I use it to record MUSIC, not SPARROWFARTS.




I just expected the H4 to operate as advertised.

Gosh, some MUSIC sounds like SPARROWFARTS. We may be using the H4 for the same purpose, really.

Quote Richard Graham:

Obviously the fact you are disappointed isn't your fault, so it must those danged Zoom marketing people with their pictures of streams and so on.

So forget about the workarounds and invest your energies in complaining about the spotty wankers with guitars, dreary singer-songwriters, and the like. I'm sure you'll be much happier.




Gee whiz, what happened to all that POSITIVE ENERGY ACTIVATES CONSTANT ELEVATION ?

Seriously, Richard, I love the H4. I'm using it at 24/96 and going through SD cards like they were potato chips (crisps).

I'm sorry if I seemed to be too down on the H4. I hope you are having as much fun as I am.

This is where I could say "But I only wish that..." but I won't. This is getting

Edited by Phillip (30/11/06 12:07 AM)


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arn



Joined: 16/02/05
Posts: 132
Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Richard Graham]
      #388532 - 02/12/06 01:42 PM
http://www.2090.org/zoom/bbs/viewtopic.php?t=7173&sid=f7530f82b6231a592744 0a9461b32338


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mcguirk



Joined: 08/09/04
Posts: 619
Loc: Wendover, Bucks
Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: arn]
      #388815 - 03/12/06 04:23 PM
Quote arn:

http://www.2090.org/zoom/bbs/viewtopic.php?t=7173&sid=f7530f82b6231a592744 0a9461b32338




In case anyone misses what this is referring to, it's the new 1.10 firmware in English for the H4 :

http://www.2090.org/zoom/bbs/viewtopic.php?t=7173&sid=f7530f82b6231a592744 0a9461b32338

Personally I won't touch it, as I don't have any problems with the machine at the moment. Someone on that zoom board says he thinks there are timing problems since he updated - no idea if he's right, but I don't want to mess with it if it's not broken.


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Jeraldo



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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: mcguirk]
      #389002 - 04/12/06 06:26 AM
Does anyone know what's going on with the issue involving the beep and the activity light? And exactly which bit depths, sampling rates, and formats are affected?

At any rate, the workaround for that is a mains power supply or a battery pack?


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JosephR



Joined: 23/01/06
Posts: 204
Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Jeraldo]
      #389284 - 04/12/06 05:23 PM
Can anyone finally quantify this "beeping" in terms of real numbers?

(Even rough values would do but at the moment because i'm still a bit perplexed to how much of a problem it really is).

At what settings does it occur, how high's the gain got to be and how loud's the beeping?

Is the beeping permanently there, and only masked when a louder sound occurs, or is it only at certain gain levels?

I am still seriously considering buying one as there's nothing even vaguely comparable in the price range, although i have been slightly put off by this thread.

I realise the "beeping" problem only occurs when it's running on batteries but i would want to use it to go harvesting samples and so i would want to use it on batteries from time to time, (although i doubt i'd ever be recording a butterflies wings flapping with it...but maybe the odd spotty guitarist )

So can someone, or a few people, finally summarise the problem into a meaningfull appraisal because, (with all due respect to all concerned), this thread has descended into hysteria at points and the reality seems to have got lost somewhere in the middle.

Thanks in advance, (and no offence to anyone intended!),
J


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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]
      #389303 - 04/12/06 05:45 PM
As far as I'm concerned, this is not a beep as such, when you have excessive gain on the mics, and in very quiet surroundings, when recording there is an interuption in the background hiss causing a pulsing when the disk access light switches off and on, this would only be a problem when recording very quiet sounds and is inaudible when recording anything of any volume, the noise is not present when recording with the power adapter or with batteries at 96k.


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Rob C



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Posts: 8434
Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: crofter]
      #389334 - 04/12/06 07:54 PM
I'd describe it as a very high faint whine, audible with all but the lowest gain and in sync with the access light.

I understand the card size is also implicated.

I don't think the 1.10 VBR fix is related to the so-called 'beep' issue because it's not just on MP3s.

I haven't conducted a full set of tests with different cards, resolutions and power sources because I can't be arsed. The way I see it is this: if I want a clean sound with a big card and battery power I can use 24/96. If they fix the whine all well and good - I'd really like to make MP3s to go straight online.

--------------------
www.bemuso.com


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JosephR



Joined: 23/01/06
Posts: 204
Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Rob C]
      #389358 - 04/12/06 09:17 PM
Quote:

The way I see it is this: if I want a clean sound with a big card and battery power I can use 24/96. If they fix the whine all well and good - I'd really like to make MP3s to go straight online.



Thanks for that, i think you've just sold it to me, although i'm not a fan of 24/96, (because i can't hear the difference on my monitoring chain but my HD notices it!).

The recordings posted earlier were surprisingly good quality, for a "crappy", cheap (in my budget), portable recorder...especially considering they were using the "in-built" mics too!

Compared to some recordings i got using the internal mics in one of these bricks, it was like Neuman to Behringer, (ok a mild exageration, but you get the point)! I wasn't over awed by the Marantz in anyway, it was ok, but not worth the price. It kind of reminded me of a nasty old cassette deck really, although i have to confess i wasn't worried walking the streets with it on display because any potential mugger wouldn't even expect to get a bag of smack for it

I'm not sure if the .mp3 problem's been solved by the new firmware update or not, but i think i'd rather encode them myself after editing anyway so it's not something that'd worry me but the beeping/whining noise is/was.

Thanks for you replies


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Ay Carumba!
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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Richard Graham]
      #389364 - 04/12/06 09:24 PM
My apologies everyone, it was all my fault! I raised the question of how the H4 performed with low signal levels (high gain) and take full responsibility. Honestly...I leave you guys for five minutes...

Joseph - It's worth listening to Philip's audio examples back on page 2 (if you haven't done so already) for a good indication of the noise issue. For me, playing back at full blast through headphones, the beep doesn't appear to be too much of a problem though it may well depend on your source material and where you intend to use it. I just felt that the pre-amp hiss was more intrusive and would render a file unusable (just) before the beep becomes apparent - I think Richard may have made the same point.

Shame they can't just write a fix to turn the access light off, or at least stop it blinking while in record mode?

Following Jeraldo's rather pertinent comments about the Nagra (which I still haven't checked out yet), I'm still rather interested in this little device.

Thanks for your input everybody.

Colin

(PS for Joseph - Ahh you've heard them then!).

Edited by cwillsher (04/12/06 09:25 PM)


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Rob C



Joined: 10/02/03
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Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: JosephR]
      #389776 - 05/12/06 03:58 PM
Quote JosephR:

I'm not sure if the .mp3 problem's been solved by the new firmware update or not, but i think i'd rather encode them myself after editing anyway so it's not something that'd worry me but the beeping/whining noise is/was.




Here's the 1.10 update notice

I don't think this is firmware as such, just a system update.

The beep/whine is the same after the udate.

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Tor



Joined: 12/12/06
Posts: 15
Loc: NO
Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Phillip]
      #392492 - 12/12/06 01:38 PM
Quote:


"We have figured out that the noise problem is caused by the analog circuit board layout...Noise was available because battery does not apply enough to load change. So noise is disappeared when you use a supplied AC adaptor."




To me this sounds like what happens is that the current drain is uneven and the peak drain is enough to cause the voltage to momentarily drop.
If so, the effect should get worse with older batteries. It could also be that the problem can be remedied, or at least reduced, by changing to batteries with lower internal resistance, that is, batteries that can provide more current before the voltage drops. It would be very interesting if somebody who owns the device tried Lithium AA batteries, which are supposed to be able to sustain higher drain.


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Rob C



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Posts: 8434
Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Tor]
      #392496 - 12/12/06 01:43 PM
Good tip Tor... thanks, I'll try some variations... nothing to lose.

Welcome to the forum!

--------------------
www.bemuso.com


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Tor



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Posts: 15
Loc: NO
Re: The Zoom H4 is the Swiss Army knife of recording equipment new [Re: Rob C]
      #392516 - 12/12/06 02:27 PM
Thanks for the welcome Rob, I found the forum while looking for user experiences with just the H4.. the forum looks nice, so I'll probably keep frequenting it.


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