H4 Handy Recorder
The H4 Handy Recorder is Zoom's handheld digital audio recorder, featuring built-in condensor microphones in an X-Y stereo pattern. Recordings are stored on an SD card (128MB supplied), or via a USB cable to a computer running digital audio workstation software (Cubase LE supplied).
Basic 4-track recordings are possible in the field, easily accomplished with the built-in mikes. Each of two additional input ports accepts XLR or 1/4 inch cables for external mikes or instruments.
The H4 records in either of two modes, stereo or 4-track. In stereo mode, the user has the option of WAV or compressed (MP3) format. With a 2GB card, up to 95 hours of speech-quality recording is possible, or 3 hours of CD-quality music.
In stereo mode, the user has a wide choice of sound quality, with lower quality also taking much less room on the storage card. Only 44.1 kHz 16-bit recordings can be imported into 4-track mode. All stereo recordings share a single folder, and on playback are sequenced as one continuous output stream (no hesitation or pops between files).
Stereo recording is done through the on-board mics or by external inputs. Each input port accepts 1/4 inch or XLR plugs. A single musician can record himself playing guitar or electronic piano, while singing.
Four-track recordings can be made one or two tracks at a time. When recording in stereo, only tracks 1 & 2 or tracks 3 & 4 can be chosen. WAV recordings made in stereo mode can be imported into a project folder.
When recording, on one or two tracks, the other tracks may be played back simultaneously (see multi-track recording).
Each track can be individually panned, to create a stereo image.
Any or all tracks can be mixed down to a stereo bounce file. This can be the last step in mixing, or an intermediate step down to free up other tracks.
Bruce Bartlett wrote:
- The Zoom H4 is more flexible than competing units, but as a consequence, it requires more button pressing to operate.... In general, the H4 is harder to operate than dedicated stereo recorders but offers more features.
- "In crossed X-Y miking, two cardioid mikes are placed one across the other ... with their elements as close together as possible.... The advantage of crossed X-Y miking is a more pronounced stereo separation than available from a stereo mike." 
- Videomaker Review by Brian Peterson, March 2007