Low-budget field recorder with good pre-amp


I'm working on a couple of mod projects and I sorely need some kind of a field recorder to get a lot of the sounds I need. I've read a lot about the Zoom H2 and H4, and I'm leaning towards the H2 due to limited budget but can anyone vouch for its preamps? In terms of budget I'm looking towards the $200-250 range. I need something that'll be able to capture a wide dynamic range without me having to turn up the input gain a lot.



Posted 2010-06-08T22:51:51.423

Reputation: 81



For the $$ the Zoom H2 is really great. You get a ton of flexibility, portability and high resolution (96k 24bit) for a fraction of the cost of the other units out there. Also, battery life is long and you can beat it up pretty good before it dies. As for the preamps, suffice to say that you get what you pay for; it's no 722, but for a general purpose recorder you can stuff in your pants pocket, it's the way to go.

Here's one (and another) thread that addresses this topic.

Jay Jennings

Posted 2010-06-08T22:51:51.423

Reputation: 15 432

@birdhousesound Do you know how much better I'd be getting the H4 versus the H2 in terms of preamps? H2 sounds like it's good for capturing audio on the fly sounds but I'm worried about it not being able to pick up smaller sounds without a ton of background noise. Thanks! – csilver – 2010-06-09T18:34:48.683


We use the Edirol R-44. Its worth checking out!!! You can buy a modded one with superior quality pre-amps for only a little more than the factory model .

small budget guru

Posted 2010-06-08T22:51:51.423

Reputation: 186

Can you tell me a bit more about the mod as I use the R-44 as well? – None – 2010-06-10T16:11:07.747

Sure. there are several companies doing this and I can only remember one (www.oade.com) I know there are others. Anyways basically they swap the preamps and other components to lower the inherent noise in your recordings and offer more gain.

Here is a quote from the website: "rebuilds the mic preamps using high speed, very low noise and low distortion op amps that improve intelligibility and low level detail. I have not done this since I only have one R-44. Once I upgrade and have something to record with as a back up I will consider sending mine away to have the components upgraded. – small budget guru – 2010-06-25T20:35:37.103


You can compare the Zoom H2 and H4n preamps side by side here, along with over a dozen others. From what I've heard, the H4n has quieter preamps than the H4.


I was going to get an H4n until I saw that page. I ended up spending the extra money and going with the Marantz PMD661, and haven't regretted it.


Posted 2010-06-08T22:51:51.423

Reputation: 696

what a great resource. That marantz stands up very well against the others, as does the pcm d50. – Rene – 2010-06-10T17:22:32.737