thoughts and decisions for a creative edge

Samson Zooms forward with the H2

Compressor / Limiter in the H2

Its been a while, since I last wrote a review blog. But since Zoom made something that I fancied, I thought I’d spend some time on this. The last hardware gear I remember having from them was my very first affordble guitar FX. It was grey and clunky and very plastic. And even sounded like the description down to the audio core. But I loved it. It costed almost nothing and it worked for my teen spirit. In fact I still have it til today. Some issues with the 9V battery cable but those things are notorious to have corrosion issues. This my friends was the late 90s with the Zoom 505. Check it out, and you’ll see where I’m coming from.

Once again today 2007 Zoom has hit my limelight. Much have been mentioned about their H4 handheld field recorder. Its been compared against Marantz PMD660, Boss MicroBR, M-Audio MicroTrack and Edirol R-09. And now enters his little brother the Zoom H2.

There’s way too many incredible reviews on this new little devil and the late release in Netherlands gives me no reason to make any further repeated reports on how incredible the Zoom H2 is in real life. But before I go further into my insight of this new gear, I’d like to get you leveled – to have you understand that you’re paying US$199 / EU199 for a gear that can do so much more than ones that you probably would pay multiple times more. So here’s my verdict on this lil’ baggah…

David Stewart of Sweetwater has this basic review on handheld recorders. Compare them with Zoom H2. And then the price tag.

DATA TRANSFERS from the Zoom H2 is slow with its USB interface. Its not built with Hi Speed USB2.0. But easy solution is just to stick your 8GB SD card (yes it takes SDHC cards!!) into an external card reader. USB2.0 transfer speed is 12Mbps while USB2.0 HiSpeed goes at blistering 480Mbps. Go do the maths. I’m not going to the drawing boards to calculate how the H2 would perform as a USB mic. And seeing that its a stereo mic having to rush a 2 channel data onto its A/D converter is more of a mystery right now. Maybe I’ll do further research on it. But that’s a good quick reason to why we’re limited to record at 44.1/48 KHz and not higher.

But there’s a good thing to this. Almost all the reviews on the H2 didn’t highlight the fact that you don’t need either batteries or A/C Power to use it as a USB Mic or a Card Reader! A $200 card reader that is. As I’m writing this I’ve booted up Garage Band to try out the mic. Well, just to check if I am right about the point I just mentioned earlier… And indeed it does.

It does record 2 channels of audio. You can set it to 2 Mono tracks and record separately when using the H2 as an Audio Interface. But here’s the other sweet thing that you can do now. Since it allows 2 channels at once, you can still switch options on using it as Stereo Pan 90˚, Stereo Wide 120˚ and (voila!) as 2 separate mics on each front. Thus in theory, if you record with the 2CH SURROUND mode, you can pan the source anyway you want. If only it was true 180˚Figure 8 polar pattern condenser, I would love to try doing a MidSide recording with it. But we know its not. So I won’t bother pulling out a cardioid.

Audio Interface? Sure. 2 ins 0 outs. It works great as a stereo mic. In other words with the USB plugged in to your DAW of choise. Its functions as a 2 channel mic. AWESOME.

But there’s MORE… Which USB mic (stereo mind ya) do you know in market that comes built in with Lo-Cut filter, Compressor/Limiter and hey, Tuner! for your instruments. This is all possible with the H2 when its USB-powered. No need for internal batteries. No need for phantom power! Record Level or Gain is adjustable with the REW/FFW buttons as per normal use.

I’m already looking to modify a broken shock mount to adapt the H2 in its web. I think as of today we will hear and see enough blogs and reviews about this little gadget. The fact that you can throw in Markers while recording the .WAV (BWF) is an advancement for Zoom for more professionals considering the H2 for broadcast use. This means as you import your audio into DAWs like ProTools or Logic Studio, you will see the markers on the timeline which makes work handy if any quick edit points is necessary. Albeit the fact that maybe there should have been a remote device to trigger REC, MARK, STOP on the H2 would be da bomb. Is this not implementable with the available USB connection? Any Tech-Hackers reading this?

In summary, here’s what I think about the Zoom H2 :

• Its my iPod with Surround Sound capture capabiity! You can throw in mp3 and wav files into the pre-designated folders when you insert SD cards up to 8GB thus use it as a Flash Audio player. And at the same time be able to record is PRICELESS.

• At the price point that Zoom allows it to be in the market, its literally a steal! This will only lead to more good stuffs I’m sure. Competitors will be forced (maybe) to lower down pricing for their goods in future to meet pricing criteria.

• As for Samson, they gotta work on a USB 2.0 Hi-Speed connection.

• A matched custom shock mount that would fit standard mic threads would also be great to go in Xmas socks. Not Camera tripod threads please. You built an awesome audio gear sir, you stay in the standards.

• If there’s a quieter pre-amp coming in forthcoming production of a Zoom H1 1-bit recorder (maybe?), I hope we won’t see a shocking price bump on that one!

• USB remote adapter to Trigger REC, MARK, STOP and probably control the Mic Gain would be da bomb. I can really see the 5 way remote button function being used in the field. This will eliminate handling noise of course.

• DC Battery pack adapter if we looking at full 8GB or more with SDHC recordings. Despite the 2GB limit today. 4.5 hours is good. MORE is always better.

• I’m in love with this thing. For $200 bucks!? What! Yes way…

• I’ll say that again. You will have fun with it.

Zoom H2
H2 fits handsomely both in the studio and in the (football) field

So before you flash your card for the Marantz671 or a KORG MR-1, maybe you’d like to give this little kid on the block a try. I sure hope it will fit your purpose and your pocket too. And then have your wife and kids some better toy too with what you’ve just saved! LOL.

_uacct = “UA-872866-2”;

To the design engineers in Samson Technologies, Thank You! Nevermind the bollocks coz its been a while that I smiled and laughed like a kid with my new toy. You’ve definitely brought mobile (surround) recording to another level. And that’s sure a big leap since the 505!!

For more information on the Zoom H2. Just google on it. Eitherwise you can Zoom here.


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