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Zoom H4n Pro vs Tascam DR-05X


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I teach a weekly class, and have been doing it on You Tube the past couple of months, video is a couple of still pictures and audio only. Have been using my MacBook Pro for recording. The built-in mics didn't work so well because of audio level variations, so I've been using my Focusrite 18i8 and a condenser mic for audio.

We will be setting up the in-person class in the relatively near future. I'd like to keep up the You Tube videos, since there are people scattered all over that are beginning to listen. I don't want to haul the Mac, Focusrite, mic stand, mic, and all the power supplies and cabling and set all that stuff up to record the class live. Additional info: No money involved with the class. would take longer to setup and tear down than the class lasts. My thought is to record the audio at the site, bring it home, and do the editing and video making at home..

 

So, I'm considering buying one of the portable digital field recorders, and just carrying that with me. The Zoom model is about twice as expensive as the Tascam; and I'm wondering which one to buy. I've learned over the years that buying cheap up front can be more expensive later. I'm also thinking that either of these can be used with my Mac through USB and maybe even with the iPads to improve the audio capabilities in recording. My church is using an iPhone 11 with a Shure MV88+ and getting pretty good results even with the music of our service.

 

But I'm thinking that I've already got a pair of large condenser mics and numerous dynamic mics along with mixers and so forth, and wondering if the Zoom, with it's capability of XLR/1/4 stereo input, 4 channel input, and other features might just be worth the extra money in terms of broader future use.

 

Thoughts? Especially from those who have used these devices. Thanks.

Howard Grand|Hamm SK1-73|Kurz PC2|PC2X|PC3|PC3X|PC361; QSC K10's

HP DAW|Epi Les Paul & LP 5-str bass|iPad mini2

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Jim

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That Tascam unit seems more competitive to Zoom's H1 recorder, and not the H4.

 

For what it's worth, I've owned an H2 and R16 for years and bought the H4n Pro a few months back. All of my musician colleagues own Zooms of one sort or another. I've used the H2 and H4 for recording and as an audio interface to record lectures and do video calls.

 

Sound quality is good and nobody's ever had a problem with them. Worth the money as far as I'm concerned.

.

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I haven't used the Zoom stuff so I cannot comment.

 

I've had the original Tascam DR-40 for several years. I love it, an awesome piece of gear.

Will take XLR and Line inputs. One of the best features is simple but I've found it useful many times. You can easily and quickly move the mics from XY to AB. May not seem like much but it can make a big difference depending on what you are doing.

 

It is also 4 track.

 

I don't know about current models but I checked reviews when I got mine and the consensus was that the Tascam had better sounding preamps with more headroom. That might have changed.

One of my personal thoughts was that I used Tascam gear in the 80's and it worked great. They were a well established company before Zoom was anything.

 

May not mean anything, just telling you what I've experienced. I will say you can get a whole lot of mini-recording goodie for well under $200 and I think that is awesome regardless of the name on the device.

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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I haven't used either of these models and wouldn't want to derail your specific questions about those devices, but I'd also recommend taking a look at the Tascam DP-006 and DP-008ex. I was looking for an inexpensive, portable hardware alternative to software multitracking with an audio interface and DAW - stumbled on these and grabbed the DP-006 (for a craigslist steal of $50!) Since you've got good mics already, you might consider the DP-008ex because it has two XLR inputs for mics along with the two 1/4 jacks and RCA outs. I'm not sure what broader uses are most important to you, but the big one here compared to the two models you shared is you can multitrack, mix and "master" up to eight tracks with a good range of mixer knobs. Another use would be trying it as a field recorder - it has two condenser mics built in and the whole package is about the size of a video tape. Granted, I haven't tried that particular model, but I've been digging the DP-006 so I figured I'd mention.

 

Tascam DP-008ex

Numa X Piano 73 | Yamaha CP4 | Mojo 61 | Motion Sound KP-612s | Hammond M3

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I"ve used the H1, H2 and it"s revision, H4 and H4n. There is a bump in quality on each model - the H4n being best of the 3 without question. And it"s considerably better than the mic on a phone, laptop or camera.

Yamaha CP88, Roland VR-700, Crumar Mojo, rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k, Casio PX-560

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I had a H4, lost it, and replaced it with a H1. Compared to the H4, I have more trouble getting the gain right on the H1--I've gotten home to find a couple recordings were no good because I had it wrong.

 

The H1 boots in a few seconds, where the H4 was more like half a minute to a minute.

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I have the Zoom H6 and rarely use it. For my use it's overkill and it's a hassle compared to the alternative.

 

I've been using LG smartphones for awhile now, everyone is gobsmacked with how good it sounds. My original was the V20, my current is the V40. LG has specialized in high quality audio, and the stereo mics make it sound like you were there. They also use quad DACs for playback, audio purists with high end headphones will enjoy, and they record to FLAC, a lossless compression. I use a little 4' high tripod that folds up to nothing, and I have instant recording capability.

 

The beauty of this system is that it's instantaneous to listen back, cause you've got your phone with you everywhere you go. Using the 6" screen, you've got a list of your recordings, waveforms are displayed, and simple editing that can be done quickly on the screen in no time. Because of the convenience factor, I've ended up using it AND listening back all the time, with the Zoom recorder I rarely did. The biggest limitation is that it seems to optimally pick up for sounds within 6'.

 

And of course you can also get do video recordings with it, and the video uses the same high quality recording system.

 

Not suggesting this as a solution. But if you already have a capable LG phone, it gives you the option, maybe a second take that's more immediate to quickly edit and distribute.

 

If you want to do a multi-mic recording, all to discreet channels, the H4n would probably serve well.

Kawai ES110 & ES920 /// Casio CT-X5000

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I had the original H4, then stepped up to the H4N. I then went with their small form factor video cameras, beta resting the Q3, then the supposedly improved Q3N, because they used the same audio capsules the N series used. My latest is their Q2N, but I"m looking at the 4K version. If you use their auto volume you"ll get a soft recording, but if you manually control and keep an eye on the meter you will get way better than expected audio.

 

Jake

1967 B-3 w/(2) 122's, Nord C1w/Leslie 2101 top, Nord PedalKeys 27, Nord Electro 4D, IK B3X, QSC K12.2, Yamaha reface YC+CS+CP

 

"It needs a Hammond"

 

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I"ve got a H6, and have had it for probably close to 10 years. I"ve used it for recording band rehearsals and live performances, often times with a mix of onboard mic and inputs from mixer boards. It"s easy to use, very good audio quality, and a very well built unit.

 

I know they are/were very popular with the digital video crowd.

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Thanks for all the comments. My existing condenser mics are AKG Perception 120 models, and I don't (yet) have the shock mounts. Too much gear to carry for the purpose, although I'm using one now for making YT videos. Definitely would have to get shock mount to keep down noise of walking on floor. I just like the idea that I COULD plug in either the AKGs or my Shure SM57's if needed.

The Tascam DR-40 does seem to be considerably closer to the Zoom in overall capability and is still lower priced, the DR-40X is even closer in both price and performance; so my consideration is now between those. Also like that the 3 AA in the Tascam record for considerably longer than the 4AA in the Zoom (although I will get and use rechargeable batteries).

Any of the three, including the DR-05 would likely handle the specific situation presently in mind. I'm willing to spend a bit more for something that could handle other uses better.

What I currently carry with me: my regular iPhone 8+, iPad 5 used for text and reference material (I don't carry paper documents), iPad3 used for music charts, and either iPad mini2 or iPhone6 as a sound generator addition to my Kurzweil keyboard. Both phones fit on my belt, the two iPads are easy to handle (I do have to plug in and setup all this stuff also, and tear down afterward); but carrying the Macbook Pro, the Focusrite Interface, cables, stand, AKG mic and shock mount is stretching things way beyond where I want to be.

Howard Grand|Hamm SK1-73|Kurz PC2|PC2X|PC3|PC3X|PC361; QSC K10's

HP DAW|Epi Les Paul & LP 5-str bass|iPad mini2

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Jim

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Just to finish the thread: After lots of looking and thinking on recommendations, I started today looking for Memorial Day Holiday short term sale prices. I also had a little talk with myself on NEED versus want. I've got a pretty good larger interface in the Focusrite. I do need a couple of shock mounts for the condenser microphones (but haven't yet ordered those) so they don't pickup so much floor noise.

In the ones I was checking out, the Zoom H4n Pro won out to me, but I don't NEED that much. I started checking out the Zoom H1n, which most vendors had for about $110-120 (without accessories). I then ran into a sale situation where B&H had the black or blue ones for the usual price, but a very short term sale of the red one for $90. Ding! (not my favorite color, I liked the white on best, but apparently many other do also, none available anywhere I checked).

Two channels will accomplish what I need to do. They will also allow me to set up the Zoom from an audience location, to see how well mixed the band is "out front," and even to record the set list from U tube recordings and play back if I need any last minute refreshing. And, for the price paid, if and when I do get a higher end model (maybe even the H5 with the "knobs" and removable mics), I can probably get most of my $$ back on a sale. Also like the "cage" around the mics, in the event that I drop the recorder. Saw several reviews that stated the H4n could not be repaired if dropped on the mics.

Thanks to all.

Howard Grand|Hamm SK1-73|Kurz PC2|PC2X|PC3|PC3X|PC361; QSC K10's

HP DAW|Epi Les Paul & LP 5-str bass|iPad mini2

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Jim

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