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H2 with 10 eurocents for scale
H2 in use as a USB audio input device
H2 and H4 with 10 eurocents for scale

The H2 Handy Recorder is a handheld digital audio recorder from Zoom first announced at the NAMM tradeshow in February 2007. It records very high quality digital audio in a hand-held unit, and has been called "the studio on a stick."

Contents

Peripherals and Uses

Included in the retail box are an SD card, desk stand, handle for putting the H2 in a microphone stand, wind screen, 3.5mm TRS to RCA cable, earbud headphones, USB cable and power adapter.

The H2's good microphones and use of standard interfaces such as USB and SD mean that it is very flexible and can be quickly put to use for everything from interviews, band demos, podcasting, personal memos, etc. The H2 has been cited by various oral history associations as an affordable option for use in recording narrator interviews, such as by Oral History Association and Vermont Folklife Center.

The H2's rate of data transfer via the USB port is "USB 2.0 full speed," which has the same 12Mbit/s maximum as USB 1.1.[1]

In addition to the power adapter, two standard AA batteries can be used. To make battery power metering more accurate, there is an option to set whether rechargeable or alkaline batteries are being used. Recording time is about 6 hours using low self-discharge 2000 mAh NiMH batteries, mp3 bitrate set to 128 kbps.

Recording features

The H2 can record in WAV format (at 96, 48, or 44.1 kHz in either 16 or 24 bit depth). Recording to compressed MP3 format at up to 320 kbit/s or VBR is also supported, but only in the 2-channel recording mode. Officially, the H2 supports SD flash memory cards up to 4 GB but some models of up to 32GB SDHC cards have been confirmed by Zoom to work.[2]


The H2 has a three-way gain input switch, with settings for low (useful for loud sounds, such as a live rock band), medium, and high (useful for speech, such as one or two people podcasting in a quiet room.)

Comparison with Zoom H4 recorder

Unlike the larger H4 Handy Recorder which preceded it, the H2 does not include ports to accept XLR or 1/4 inch cables, and so cannot be connected directly to microphones requiring phantom power. However, there are high-quality electret microphones which can be used with the H2, and there are 1/8 inch external mic and line level inputs, which are compatible with any general plug-in-power stereo microphone. Though the H2 includes its own microphones, external microphones might be called for either for less obtrusive recording or to make use of particular microphones.

Unlike the H4, the H2 makes no provision for multi-track recording but its 360 degree polar sound recording can record in 4 channel audio, which can later be translated to 5.1 channel audio using appropriate software.

The H2 shares another feature with the H4: it can be used as an audio interface to a computer. When connected to a host computer via USB, the H2 can act as a microphone, audio input (with mic/line input) and output device with stereo line output or as a USB file storage device.

In the United States, the list prices are reported to be $499.99 and $334.99 for the H4 and H2 respectively.[3]. As of Oct 20, 2009, It sells online for less than $150.

Design Changes and Delays

The H2 began shipping on August 21st, 2007. This was delayed from the original May 2007 shipping date due to an improvement in the microphone design which included the addition of another microphone. Zoom felt that the original three microphone Mid-Side design was lacking in some respects so this was abandoned in favor of the four mic, W-X/Y design. These built-in high-fidelity electret condensor microphone capsules are arranged to allow stereo recording and have user-selectable parameters to allow for either a 90- or 120-degree pickup angle. The H2 can also be used to record a 360-degree soundfield.

Criticism

Some users are unhappy with the following symptoms:

  • slow user interface, even stop or shutdown takes several seconds
  • not possible to pause a recording
  • not possible to change microphone layout during recording
  • mono mix option mixes left and right channel but still records a stereo file
  • connecting to USB always asks for decision: mass storage or audio interface
  • data transfer speed is 1 MB/s, not high-speed USB 2.0
  • difficult to remove SD card
  • seeking while playback is very slow, you need to pause playback first, then seek and resume (fixed in firmware version 1.60)

References

External links

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