Zoom H4 recorder becoming reality?

I’ve got to say, I’ve almost wondered if the Zoom H4 was true vaporware the last few days. it’s supposed to be received by various vendors (around October 1st-3rd) and I still haven’t seen ONE first hand review. I’ve seen one music site that has 7 people that have rated it on a scale of 1-10, but no written review – for all I know they could have said “Man that looks cool I bet it will be a 9…” There are several posts from a podcasting expo Friday that mention it though this says it’s the “ONLY field recorder worth getting”. The other is basically a “fluff” article with no real substance other than that the device was demo’ed.

I’ve talked about this device before, it’s a field recorder, 4 track digital recorder, audio input device/etc. All digital onto SD media and has two combination XLR 1/4″ inputs. For convenience it carries two onboard condenser microphones in a stereo XY pattern. On paper it looks nice, but on paper I haven’t seen any signal to noise specs either. All I’ve seen are features. (Slightly different from specs.)

Hopefully there’ll be some real reviews out there this week as they should be making their ways into the hands of real users. It’s disappointing that the only promotional video I saw didn’t do much more than wave it around and talk about it’s features – no actual sound sample “device in action” moment. If anyone has any FIRST hand information, I’d be curious to hear.

Of course, my concerns of vaporware are just because I saw some sites promising Mid-September arrivals… when other sites seemed to say October 1st or 3rd… and now I’m seeing some sites claim mid-October (or the beginning of November…..) However this Toms Hardware article about it says that it is released and shipping this week….

–Update 10/09/06–

I’ve finally run across some real reviews of this by some people that have got their hands on an actual working model. First up this forum is a subforum of a larger setup geared at zoom products. There is a review and quick and dirty demo made using the zoom h4. I’ve also been watching this forum fairly closely I’m expecting there may be reviews from a couple of users there within a few days. I did find that there is already a planned firmware update due to a problem with mp3 recording at certain bitrates….

We have spoken with Zoom engineers, and there is apparently a bug in the mp3
encoding software currently used for the DSP unit in the H4. The following
bitrates appear to be affected: 256, 64, 56 and 48. The following bitrates
are error free to the best our knowledge: VBR, 320, 224, 192, 160, 144, 128,
112, 96 and 80.

This dvinfo.net forum thread is also eagerly awaiting more real world reviews.

I’m also watching for episode 126 of podsqod.com which I expect will be a review of the zoom h4. (Episode 125 announced they had one and would be featuring it in an upcoming episode – episode 124 was then released out of order with the tease that the zoom h4 feature was on the way…)

So, at the moment those are the places I’ve been watching for “real world” reviews (in addition to the product reviews on sites that have it for sale.) From what I’ve read thus far it sounds VERY nice still, I’ve heard good comments about the built in mic’s…. also the menu toggle wheel may be a bit aggravating, but the “workflow” for stereo field recording sounds fairly easy. Self-noise was measured by one reviewer (using it as an audio interface) at -80dB…. which is pretty good. If I recall 16 bit resolution should give you a theoretical 96dB of dynamic range…. It would still be an improvement on the -60dB noise floor of the portastudio….

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