The New Zoom H2n Rewrites the Book on Portable Recording


Zoom has announced the latest addition to its highly regarded line of portable digital recorders, the new Zoom H2n. It's a big deal because this model is an update to the Zoom H2, which has been one of the most popular portable recorders ever. Along with a slew of other new features and capabilities, the reinvented H2n adds a new Mid-Side microphone functionality that will be useful for anyone who uses this recorder to capture sound in HDSLR filmmaking and video productions (I'll explain why later in the article).

With just a glance you can immediately tell the H2n is a complete redesign from the ground up. It's got a brand-new layout with updated physical controls and a rewritten user interface. Improvements on the graphical side are aided greatly by its bright, backlit 1.8" LCD screen. On the hardware end, users will appreciate the H2n's new input level wheel, and the larger (and more thumb-friendly) Record button. It’s a fine-looking piece of gear.

One of the big selling points of the new H2n is its five internal microphones (you read that right, there are five mics inside this thing). On top of that, Zoom claims that these are the best-sounding mics they've built to date. The array of microphones makes it possible for the device to offer four different recording modes: 90° X/Y, Mid-Side, 2-channel surround (2.1), and 4-channel surround (5.1). Like the original H2, the reinvented H2n shares the capability to create high resolution surround sound recordings in the palm of your hand. Zoom even included LEDs on the front and back of the H2n to inform you which mics are currently active.

A dial on the top of the H2n enables you to select the recording mode of your choice. The most basic recording mode has a very technical-sounding name: 90° X/Y. This option will create a standard stereo recording using two cardioid microphones in a fixed pattern. It’s a great choice for creating killer-sounding recordings of music, ambience and general-purpose audio. When you’re operating the Zoom H2n, you won’t need to know a lot about microphone positioning and audio engineering in order to make great-sounding recordings. You can just set the H2n’s dial on X/Y and press Record.

Another option on the H2n’s recording-mode dial is Mid-Side (MS). This mode employs a figure of eight microphone pickup pattern to the sides (meaning that the H2n will capture sounds laterally) and a cardioid mic pickup pattern facing forwards (meaning that the H2n will pick up sounds in front of it). To the casual user this might seem like a rather strange and mysterious microphone configuration. However, to anyone working in professional broadcast productions, Mid-Side miking is commonly used. It enables you to change the width of the stereo field of the recording. This is useful in video production because you can dial in the amount of ambience you want according to the kind of scene you’re shooting. Mid-Side recording is also beneficial to video productions because it holds up well in the event that the audio gets converted into mono (which is common in broadcasting). The H2n is the first portable recorder to have a Mid-Side recording feature built in. It’s also a useful mode for recording pianos, drums and other music-related scenarios.

The H2n handles Mid-Side recording in a unique new way, by giving you the option to create a “RAW” recording. In RAW mode, you don’t have to commit to the amount of ambience being used in the recording. You pull up the RAW file on the H2n after it’s been recorded, and you adjust the amount of ambience to include in the playback as you listen. Once you find a balance between the Mid and the Side recordings that you like, the H2n will create a WAV or MP3 file for you with your chosen parameters. You can then transfer this file to a computer and use it however you wish. You create and export as many different versions of the RAW file as you like.  

There are lots of other new updates that make this device a favorable little recorder. It’s got an automatic data recovery system, which basically means that if the battery dies (or something else goes wrong) in the middle of a recording, the material that had been recorded up until the problem occurred will be saved to the card. The new H2n boasts really impressive battery life, getting 20 hours of usage from a pair of alkaline AAs. A reference speaker is built in so you can listen to your work immediately, and like the Zoom H2, the new H2n can be used as USB microphone to record directly into a computer. A 2GB SD card is included with the H2n, and it’s compatible with up to 32GB SDHC cards. It connects to computers via high-speed USB 2.0 for quick data transfer. A ¼"-20 tripod mount is included at the base of the recorder, which enables you to attach the H2n to anything from a standard tripod to a DLSR video rig.

Zoom is also coming out with the APH-2n, a useful accessory pack that is available separately. It includes a table tripod stand, a form-fitting travel case (an essential item for a portable recorder), an AC charger, a USB cable (the H2n can operate on bus power from a computer), a wired remote control (with an extension cable), a foam windscreen and an H2MC Mic Clip Adapter which enables you to mount the H2n into a standard microphone clip. This is really useful for bands and musicians because they can then stick the H2n onto a regular mic stand and record their jams and rehearsals.

There are other tools built into the H2n that musicians will appreciate, such as its tuner, metronome, variable speed playback, key control, and A-B repeat. More experienced users will appreciate the Zoom H2n’s 3.5mm line-level input, lo-cut filter, and compressor/limiter, as well as being able to fine-tune the gain level with the wheel. For those who prefer not to worry about adjusting the input levels, Zoom has included an Auto Gain function as well.

Our take: The new Zoom H2n is a very well-rounded update and will likely take its place as one of the most popular recorders out there. Thanks for checking out this B&H InDepth review! If you have any questions about the Zoom H2n, we encourage you to post them in the Comments below.

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Hi !

This sunds like ( ... sorry )  REALLY good news !

The obvious question : Does it, or does it not, have


- Or even line input ?

Thanks in advance!
 I'm a bit exited over this one ...   :)
- but OF COURSE the proof of the pudding is in the actual Sound Quality !

All the best !
Regards from Sweden ! :)
// Johan


Yes it does have an external line input.


1 x 3.5mm Mic/Line Stereo Input
1 x 3.5mm Headphone/Line Stereo Output
1 x Remote Jack
1 x High-Speed USB 2.0 Port

Full spec's are listed on our web site;

The Zoom H2n Handy Recorder

Yes ! =D

Thanks Chuck !

Guess I got a bit exited there ...
.. and perhaps I also was a bit tired at a late hour in a beautiful Stockholm evening ;)

And a nod also to "KS" - thanks!

Cheers from Stockholm ! :)

// Johan


Can I record from 1 (or 2) of the internal mics, and from the mic/line in at the same time?

Basically a 4 channel recording with 2 internal, 2 external.

Hi MK -

You can choose to use either an external microphone or the internal mics.  Both cannot be used simultaneously.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:


 If you click over to the product page, in the description it says it has a 3.5mm mic/line input. Sounds like this little thing has got it all.


I have the H2 and love it. The sound quality is excellent. It's easy to use and has been rugged. In fact, I'll be using it to interview some Olympic athletes in NYC tomorrow. I'll be interested in seeing if this new version is worth the price of an upgrade. 

 My question is?

Could it be a good mic to use in video capturing?

Directly plug in to camera and simultaneous as a back up ...

Does anyone got this kind of experience already? 

Or is it a stupid thought ?



Devices such as the Zoom H2n can record audio independently and is not connected to a camera. Videographers often use a separate recorder because it will delivery better results than the camera. You will have to sync the sound to the camera audio and video in post though.

Singular Software's PluralEyes for Final Cut Pro is an indispensable addition to video post-production workflows in which audio was recorded separately from the camera, or when sound from multiple cameras needs to be synced up for editing. This is especially useful if you're shooting DSLR video and want to record professional-quality audio on portable recorders (such as the Zoom H4n or Tascam DR100). Whether you use a slate or timecode--or nothing at all--for reference, once you import the video and audio into Final Cut Pro, the PluralEyes plug-in will compare the external audio to that recorded by the camera and automatically sync the two together. No more fussing and tweaking and squinting at waveforms--not only bringing better organization to your production, but saving hours of precious time.


many thanks for your answer .

Will have a look at this Software.

I use a canon Hdv cam so I use an external mic of corse...

The curiosity was because of the versatility of this Zoom H2n

Again , thank you 



It's awesome as an external mic for video shoots.


 I would like to know if the usb port can also be used as an input?

So the zoom could be used solely as a recorder with for example a sound devices mix pre-d.




I am sorry, the USB is not an input.

Yes you can use the H2n as audio interface on MAC/PC via USB for input & output!

Could I ask how? I just bought one, and my Mac doesn't seem to notice when I connect it... anyone knows what's up with that?

Hi ,

just received my h2n and loving what I have seen. I want to use it for recording interviews between myself and one or two others as a handheld mic. What settings do you think are best for this ? if I use just the front or rear mic its a more rounded bass sound but all mics gives me a better chance to hear both parties ? also there are auto gain settings but doesnt seem to be one for interviews.

I think I can record the mic and another input so will be looking at trying to record skype interviews using that which if i can manage will be great

 any help most welcome !


I would definitely suggest not using all the mic's in surround mode as vocal clarity may be sacrificed somewhat. Using the  M+S settings (midside) is desirable if you were recording say a musician with their guitar and would want some ambient sound mixed with voices. 3. For 2 people working an interview – the simple X/Y setting:  stereo left and right will probably deliver the most natural depth and accurate sound imaging. Have the right side mic face the interviewer and the left face the interviewee for example.

Setting Auto Gain in “Meeting” mode would be another option for interviews. If the interview is between just two people and vocal clarity is important, the following would be a good add on. This will mic each person and will decrease background noise significantly.

The Microphone Madness MM-BSM-7 is a miniature omnidirectional lavalier microphone that features dual elements for stereo capturing. The capsules measure approximately 1/4" in diameter and 1/2" in length for unobtrusive operation.

What is the line-in voltage max?  If I want to record from CD player do I need to make up a resistive pad to prevent overloading the line input.?  If so what does that do to the signal to noise ratio?


H2n manual .pdf

Input jack (H2n) :  Line/mic stereo mini jack can supply plug-in power

                               2 kΩ impedance at input levels of 0 to –39 dBm

Line outputs from most CD player, etc. are a standardized impedance.  It is doubtful that a “pad” will be needed when connecting to the H2n.  Generally speaking, adding a device can introduce unwanted or spurious sounds or niose.

I'm curious if they addressed the ridiculous design flaw present on the H4n.  The d/a converter stage preceeded the input gain control, resulting in the need for an external attenuator to avoid clipping, completely independent of the meter level. You could actually have clipping LEDs lighting up with peaks of less than -24dB on the meter!  In other words, once the clipping LEDs come on, turning down the recording level will not make them go off.  The input audio at the 1/4" inputs has to be reduced so low that max gain can no longer produce a full meter deflection.  Using an external adjustable attenuator, I've found the magic spot to give max volume without lighting the clipping LEDs, but the audio level is so low that max recording level can't max the meter. I'm giving out recordings that peak at -12dB on the meter.

Could you check the recording of line level signals thru 1/4 or XLR inputs and report back?

Hi Kelly,

I own a Zoom H4n that I use for personal projects, and I haven’t encountered the issue you’re having with its meters and low volume recordings. However, it sounds like I use my H4n differently than you use yours. I use my H4n as a back-up recorder for video shoots. I connect the XLR outputs of my Sound Devices 302 mixer to the XLR inputs on my H4n. The inputs on the H4n are mic-level only, so I attenuate the level coming out of my 302 mixer down to mic-level. When I do this, I am able to get a healthy recording level on the H4n, and its meters give me an accurate representation of the signal level, and everything works out fine. Since this method works for me, I would suggest that you try sending a mic-level signal into the H4n’s XLR inputs (don’t use its 1/4" inputs).

I use a different portable digital recorder to record line-level signals.


Sam Mallery

Hi Kelly (and Alan, Chuck, Sam),

your question is very important as the same design flaw is present also on the old H2! 

Too hot input signals get distorted even if you lower the rec level, since the DAC precedes the input gain control. (I guess the input gain is just made in software.) And just as you say, the meter doesn't indicate this. It's a really bad design detail - probably justified by lower noise and less components when the signal level *is* right, but in reality it adds a huge risk of ruining your recordings... in a confusing way, also.

I've found that setting the rec level to 100 (not 127, which is the maximum setting!) gives clipping at the top of the meter - just as anyone would expect - whereas any rec level below 100 gives clipping before the meter reaches its top. Therefore I never ever lower my rec level below 100. I flick the L/M/H mic gain switch instead. ...Which makes handling noises in the recording.

The even worse thing with this stupid design flaw is that the input clips really really early. I often need to record radio programs from my ordinary hi-fi stereo system, and the usual low-level consumer line level signal is too hot for the H2! Since neither the radio unit nor the amplifier unit has volume controls on their line outs (this levelling is normal to have at the input of the cassette deck etc), and since the H2 has no level adjustment before its DAC, I just CAN'T RECORD FROM A NORMAL HOME STEREO TO THE H2 LINE INPUT without having to build an external resistive pad in an extra piece of cables & plugs. (!!!) And with professional even hotter signal levels, it's of course out of the question.

I'm *really* surprised to hear that the H4n has the same design flaw, I would never expect that even from the cheap plastic H2 (which I like a lot in almost all other respects). But since the new H2n only has a mic gain knob, instead of the old H2's rec level buttons *and* mic gain switch of approx 30dB, I suspect that the H2n mic gain knob really controls the input gain *before* the DAC so that clipping level is controlled?

I gave up on the Zoom line of recorders in my depo work, and jumped over to Tascam. I wanted that extra 12dB of volume back, so I sold my H4n on eBay and picked a Tascam DR-05. (Never did use the XLR/phantom, so saved about $300 by not getting those features this time around.) The DR-05 does not suffer the clipping inputs like the H4n.

The other good thing about the Tascam is that toggling between RECORD and REC PAUSE is done with the RECORD button, which seems more natural to me. It's done with the PLAY button on the H4n, which made me occasionally miss restarting recordings when I hit the REC button to unpause by mistake, rather than the PLAY button.

If I recall correctly, the line outs from my Panasonic DMR series decks required me to drop the recording level on the DR-05 to something very low, like around 3 or 5 out of 100. So it was nice to have the external attenuators leftover, to knock the audio down and get recording levels of around 40 out of 100 for better adjustability. My external dB meter showed my line outs from the mixer to be very close to the same level, so I would expect any pro grade mixer to have about the same output voltage.

So if anyone is building an inline attenuator for the H4n to use with line outs from a pro grade mixer (to get around the design flaw mentioned above), and you want to know what values to use for your voltage divider(s), I can save you the experimentation to find the right values.  I went with a 10K multi-turn pot to let me experiment and find the exact magic value. When I got it low enough that the clipping LEDs didn't light up on peaks, the wiper was at about 103 ohms.  Note that the 103 was on the bottom of the divider, so that's essentially a 103 out of 10000 of volume.  I'd recommend using a pot like I did for maximum versatility, but if you can't find one, a 100 ohm resistor and a 10K should do the trick.  Just connect the grounds of the two connectors, connect the 10k resistor between the two center audio pins, and take the 100 ohm from the output pin to ground.  I'm happy to provide a  diagram if anyone needs it.

Just ordered this bad boy! Can't wait to get it. I'll be using it to do voiceovers for my video tutorials. I was previously using the Zoom H1 and a Blue Snowball mic. The Snowball didn't sound as good and I used the H1 mostly due to the XY stereo recording function. Now that the H1n has the ability to record direct to the computer I had to pick it up.

Hi I just read the very informative article by Sam Mallery. I have a basic question regarding the Zoom H2n; To begin, I've ejoyed using the H2 for the last year and when the H2n was issued I saved up my pennies until Iwas finally able to 'upgrade' to the H2n--my new H2n arrived via Fedex about two weeks ago. Whenever I buy a new coponent I tend to ease myself into the learning curve by reading user manuals and culling advice from online sources-in fact that's what  brought me to Sam's article.

Although I know that the main selling point of these little recorders is the high functionality of their on- board mic systems; most of the recording that I have been  doing with my H2 has been with the line in jack connected to varios extenal components such as cd players, my Macbook to record audio from Youtube videos and even stuff I recorded on an old Fostex cassette 4track. Zoom supplies a y cable with left anjd right RCA plugs to a mini stereo plug for just this kind of task. The H2 has a line in (and mic line in) with the line in overriding the mics-insuring a clean recording  from the sources I just listed.

Well, as luck would have it, I was in the middle of recoding a project when I dropped my H2 and it is now it's way to the services center and will probhably be a month before it is repaired and returned to me. So, I'm not too upset because this is a perfect opportunity to try out my brand new H2n!

To my dismay I see the is no line in "for external components" as there was on the H2. And the instructions for the H2n doesn't even bring up subject of these kinds of recordings. I assumed the the external mic in jack simple covered both functions (external mic and external components). I did a basic test recoding from my cassette 4 track, using the rca plugs to the stero mini and I can't hear anything be recorded from the 4track and all I do her is ambient sounds from the room being picked up from the on the mics. Please tell me that there is a way to turn down the on board mics and continue to record fro the other sources? The 4track has a heanphone out jack and of course that's what I used on the Mac macboo 

Hello -

The Zoom H2n has a 3.5mm Mic/Line input jack. If you are recording from a CD player or other device (cassette deck) connected to the LINE IN jack, raise the output level of the connected device.  Be sure to select "INPUT" from the Meu and scroll to "Auto Gain" with the scroll wheel.  If you have further questions, feel free to e-mail me at:

Hi there,

I'm looking at the Zoom H2n to record lengthy interviews.

1. What would I have to do set up two lavalier mics?

2. I'm also presuming that I can easily plug in headphones to monitor sound quality - but could i do this with standard mac earphones that have the speaker attached along the wire and use that microphone for recording myself and plug in an external mic for my interviewee?


Hello Leonie -

Since the Zoom H2n has a 3.5mm stereo 1/8" - two simple wired lavaliers could be added by using the Azden CAM-3 3-Channel Mic Mixer allowing you to add and mix sound from up to three wireless or hard wired microphone sources simultaneously. 

The Pearstone OLM-10 Lavalier Microphone features an omnidirectional pick up pattern. The pattern offers a generous pick up and even frequency response at the direct and off-axis sections of the capsule.The cable is terminated with a 1/8" (3.5mm) connector. This stereo mini connector splits the mic signal for dual mono operation. When plugged into the external mic input, the signal is recorded on both the left and right sides of a recorder, camcorder or DSLR.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:

We have been using a new zoom H2N to record a Steinway piano in a cathedral. (backed up by a zoom H1).
It is providing marketable results with terrific accuracy. I found that using the 4 channel surround feature, which provides two sets of WAV stereo tracks, gave us the ambient sound true to the cathedral and after minor engineering a beautiful clear sound.
the unit was positioned about 8 feet away at a 45 degree angle at about 4-1/2 feet off the floor, facing into the piano lid. the sound is really true and the cathedral was empty. I recorded many of the ancient steam heat sounds, and was able to subtract most of them. Excellent quality sound.

So, if I record in 2-channel surround mode and then play back through a surround decoder (e.g. Pro-Logic) will it decode to surround? Which side of the mic is the "front" in that case?

When you record in 2 channel surround mode, you are recording a mix of both the XY and MS Stereo mics to a WAV file. Unfortunately, this file is not designed to be decoded with Pro-Logic. You can record in 4 Channel Surround mode, which will record 2 stereo WAV files. One will be a stereo file of the XY mics the other would be the MS stereo mics.

As for mic position. When using the recorder in 2 channel surround mode, you would position the recorder with the back mics facing the subject. Or in other words, the LCD screen away from the subject.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:

Does Zoom make a device that functions as a video camera and audio recorder?

Hi Lori -

The portable and compact Zoom Q2HD Handy Video Recorder is feature-packed and versatile. You can use it to record both Full HD 1080p video and/or linear PCM audio. For video, it's equipped with a 1/3.2" five-megapixel CMOS image sensor and an F3.2 fixed focus lens with a four-foot to infinity focus range. It can capture MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 Full HD 1920 x 1080p video at 30 fps, 1280 x 720p video at 60 or 30 fps and WVGA 800 x 480 video at 60 or 30 fps. It features a 4x digital zoom, lighting selection function, USTREAM compatibility and mini HDMI output. You can even edit videos right on the two-inch LCD display.

For recording audio, the Q2HD features a Mid-Side stereo microphone setup. The Mid-Side mic can also double as a USB microphone for using with your computer, iPad 2 or iPad 3. The device records up to 24-bit / 96 kHz linear PCM audio. Plus, you can record in AAC format as well. There's an analog mic gain control for getting levels just right, as well as a low-cut filter function. Plus, there's a built-in reference speaker for instant playback of recordings or video.

The device runs on two AA batteries and stores your files using an SD/SDHC/SDXC card up to 64GB. It features a user-friendly interface that allows quick navigation between functions and features. Plus, for added convenience, the Q2HD comes bundled with HandyShare software. You can use the software to upload footage to the Web or to edit videos and improve audio quality.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:

Hi Metaprinter -

If the participants are at one conference-type table in a quiet environment where there are little or no distracting background noises to contend with - this recorder should work admirably for you. I would like to see the farthest subject-to-recorder distance be less than about 12 -14 feet if possible.  Using several recorders positioned 2-3 feet from each subject(s) would be ideal.  GarageBand could work for you.  Other easy to use DAWs that offer more capability:

Studio One 2.5 Artist from Presonus

Live 9 Intro from Ableton

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:

Hi there.  I have had this recorder for a few months.  My question is -- how can I see the files I have recorded on my PC?  I can see the SD card, but the files are not there...  I have not named them anything special -- so -- on the device, I have ZOOM13.wav, for example... and this does not show up as a file when I look at the SD card.  Why?  As you can tell, I am a beginner at this.  The manual and online videos are not answering this (basic) q.


Hi Lisa -

1.  After turning the power on, connect the H2n to a computer by a USB cable.

2.  Press "MENU"

3.  Use the PLAY control wheel on the side of the recorder to select USB and then PRESS the PLAY control wheel to select.

4.  Use the "Play" (control wheel - CW) to select SD CARD READER, and then press it  to select.  The SD card will appear on the computer as a connected drive where you can check the files on it.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions: