The Hardware Megathread


So, with the new Zoom h4n Pro Black coming out at $229, and myself having wanted to get a decent portable recorder, as well as something I can use at work as a quick test module for microphones or what have you, I’ve been looking at the last model h4n Pro’s.

I admit the new black h4n’s do look quite a bit cooler, but I figure the last models still are fine, and now that a new models out, the last model can be had for quite a nice price! I’m aiming to get one for around $100 used.

Does anyone have any experience with either the new Zoom h4n Pro, or the previous model, or any other good more professional level portable recorders?


I have a dead OP-1 atm. They wanted $100+ to change the battery. It takes like 5 minutes and is $20 or so for the battery (and $25 or so shipping each way, which is not really on them per se). The several hundred dollar price hike of the OP-1 was pretty absurd and I don’t see myself paying $1300 for one at all, aside from the problems I had with mine like replacing the IO board at least once. They were expensive for $900 when I got mine.

Fuck that company :joy:


Got myself a zoom ms 70 and immediately hacked it with the drive and distortion effects from the 50g model!


I had an H4n for several years until I sold it to a friend. I’ve now got a Tascam DR-40 that I picked up for cheap from another friend who was offloading. I won’t make a big deal of the differences because they’re small and nitpicky - I don’t like one any better than the other, they do the same stuff, and I’m just happy to have something pocket sized to carry around and record with. I’ve captured so much great sound with both that have made it into my tracks.

I will say I wouldn’t buy one without XLR inputs. While the built in X/Y mics are solid, it’s just too handy to have the option of hooking up good mics. I think everything in that price range with XLRs have phantom power, so the world’s your oyster at that point.

tl;dr - buy the H4n or something in that ballpark if you see it for a good price. They’re awesome to have around.


And actually, small point of clarification, but I’m snooping out the H4n, tho I’d like to get the H4n Pro, but it seems more expensive. The two units are nearly identical, the button layout on the Pro is a bit different. The screen on the Pro does have a blue light illumination on its screen which seems easier to read than the amber, but I don’t think that’ll really be a big limitation. Also, I guess the preamps are somewhat different. Based on a video I watched, the preamps on the Pro sounds a “bit” better, but I don’t think the difference was too large. Also the video I watched did seem to imply the pre’s on the Pro were quieter, but only by like 3dB or so, plus, I wasn’t terribly certain of the guy’s testing methods, but regardless I think the H4n will be fine.

Actually, I would like to get an H5 if I found one for a good deal, just to have the option to replace the mic, and I kinda like the dials on the front, but otherwise it’s basically an H4n but with a mic you can replace.


I know the pres on the Pro are better, demonstrably so, but honestly in the environments I use these things in, it really doesn’t matter to me. Wind (even with a wind screen), ambient noise, etc is all part of the charm for me. The big benefit would be sound floor, really having to amp up a mic to get something quiet. Whether that’s worth an extra $50…I dunno.

I figure if I really want to ‘get’ a sound, I can pack up my interface, a laptop and a mic and go get it. I’ve also had the opportunity to borrow a Sound Devices 552 and a set of MKH-416s, and that’s like stepping up from a Focusrite Solo to an Antelope. It’s just miles difference in clarity, so I know there’s a plateau you can jump up to. Outside a few “I can’t get that sound any other way” situations, I’ve never found the difference in price to be worth it. Something like the H4n (pro or no) or the DR-40 serves me really well for general “away from my computer” recording.


In the video I was watching where they compared the H4n to the Pro version, they had recordings done with both, and yeah, I didn’t notice too significant a difference in quality, the Pro did sound a little smoother, but not like a drastic step up.

There was a lot of the H4n’s on eBay, and I ended up tracking one that actually came with a nice hard case and some other accessories (stand, screw-in handle, charger, storage card, usb), and I think I got a pretty fair deal on it. Also, it looked near mint in the pictures. It even has the screen protector plastic thing on it. I was cautious not to get into a bidding war though, because really eBay had LOTS of the H4n’s listed all over, so I was mostly trying to get a good deal.

As for the preamps, I’m kinda thinking now maybe I should’ve held off for a Pro or an H5, but yeah, from what I heard, the preamps didn’t sound THAT much better, and at least in the video I saw it was a 3dB difference in the noise floor, and as you said, if I REALLY wanted a good capture, I’d probably bring out a dedicated interface with a nice mic and decent pre’s.

If anything, maybe I can just resell the H4n and get an H5 down the line. Either way, I’ll have a heavy duty case for it when I upgrade. Either way, I’m pretty happy with the purchase:


I’m still using like a DR-05 (Zoom, I think) from like 10 years ago and for my purposes it still gets the job done. I don’t know much about field recorders but is there a lot of quality difference in that price range or is it more a matter of feature set?

Like with ~$200 audio interface I’d say any big name brand will do quality wise, concentrate on what features you need vs your budget.


That’s what it’s kinda seeming like, at least from what I’ve been hearing. In this range, it’s not so much about “quality”, but more about just, what conglomerate of features do you need. I guess I’m gonna try out this one when I get it (which should be Monday, if not sooner). I’ve used the smaller handheld recorders, like the tascam DR-05. I was hoping to kinda upgrade from that sort, cuz that’s essentially the one I had last, but it got soaked in my backpack when my water thermos leaked, and it died after that.

I mean, I think if it’s even halfway decent, that should be alright enough, plus, I can try out different mics with the XLR inputs.


I bought an Edirol R-09 when they were first released and thought it was great, about 2 years ago i upgraded to a H4N Pro which i’m extremely happy with, i take it with me on every field trip.
Ive been after a LOM Usi Pro Mic to go with it so i can record Ant foot steps etc.


I was Baby sitting friday night, as soon as she turns up on the door step its “i want to go in granddads studio” :joy:


I just may have accidently found what I was looking for thanks may buy this in the future that is if I’m still into music making a few years from now…

If the korg Triton 49 taktile midi controller keyboard thing comes with a free midi modulation wheel I’m so getting it.

Edit: I hope that pad in the center is touch pad that I can assign as a modulator.


This is fantastic!!!


without looking I bet it is a x-y pad, yeah. that is pretty standard for korg gear. if I didn’t already have a good controller I would definitely look at this one too.


This thing is a beauty.

Yet I can’t help wondering - unless you’re rich why would anyone spend $2,500 when there are so many amazing VSTs to choose from for 1/10th of the price?



I mean, you can make that argument for pretty much everything in this thread - just get a Dell, dude! There’s some outlying things like compressors or boutique pedals that you really can’t emulate in software because of the analog complexity, and then there’s stuff like Symbolic Sounds gear that’s pretty out there as far as functionality in a box goes, but most every piece of commodity hardware has an easier, cheaper analog that’s close enough that you can make music on.

I mean, the only people that actually like fiddling with knobs and buttons to navigate menus to do sound design are masochists, so that can’t be the attraction. I think people like hardware because it’s a contained thing without the distractions of Fortnite and Netflix, it’s a tactile response that motivates some artists, it (mostly) doesn’t crash, and you can haul it around and play live with it. I’m not sure what itch on that list the Iridium scratches, since it seems more like a sound design system and less of a “I turn the knob and make it go whoop” box. And I’m certainly not paying $2500 for makin’ da whoop, no matter how good it sounds.

I will say I’ve got an unreasonable hardon for Waldorf gear. Best filters in the business. The Blofeld is a seriously good piece of kit and I greatly miss mine, though I’ve found their Largo VST to be a pretty suitable replacement. I’ve been quietly drooling over the Iridium since it was announced and have thought about getting one, but I think it’s just GAS and I’d end up selling it. I’m sure I’d love it and use it for awhile, but I don’t see something like that fitting into my workflow long term, as I’m really more of an ITB-with-some-outboard-crap guy these days, and Quantum/Iridium looks to be an ecosystem unto itself.


Thanks for the perspective :slight_smile:

I was mostly wondering out loud whether manufacturers sell a lot of these at this price point in 2020.

As Much as I’d love to have this, it doesn’t look like there’s anything revolutionary or unique in this box… so a $1,000 price tag would seem more appropriate. 2.5x that is overkill for many people, including me, unfortunately.


I think it’s more of a sound design workstation than your average synth, and that seems to be what’s driving the price. It’s got a bit of everything - wavetable, FM, granular (as far as I’m aware that’s mostly relegated to VSTs, modular and pedals these days), sampling, mod matrix, touchscreen for drawing envelopes, and their new kernal tech (sub oscillators driving each other). It’s like Serum in a box, and a pretty nice box at that. If the demos of the Quantum I’ve heard are any indication, it’ll sound great.

I’m honestly way out of touch with the latest advances in hardware, but it sounds like it does a lot of stuff in one place, more so than the usual $1000 offerings. I may be way wrong on that, though. Regardless, I can’t imagine trying to manage all that on a tiny screen with a bunch of knobs. I’m sure someone will get sounds out of it, but I doubt it’ll be me.


I was pretty into the idea when it was first announced, just because I haven’t had a hardware sampler that I like yet and this thing looked like it would encourage me to experiment with that and a lot of other non-subtractive synthesis. Kinda like an overgrown Microfreak (which I like to noodle on). But I have an Osmose on order from like last year, and that has a pretty well developed digital synth engine (with lots of pretty crazy stuff of its own) inside of it so I’m going to wait until that gets delivered and see if I feel like I might still be interested in this. Hopefully not.


As someone who has purchased a couple synths and items in the $500-1000 range, and almost considered buying a Behringer X32 for $1800, sometimes you have some money, and you just want to buy the most awesome piece of gear that you’ve always wanted. I guess that could be considered being “rich”, but I definitely am not THAT well off.

For me, it’s just the ability to have access to a device that sounds great and has the features that I need in a physical device that you have physical knobs, buttons, switches, faders, and sliders on to control everything. A lot of synths in the <$500 can be somewhat gimmicky or cheap, in their buttons and build, to the sound. But some of the nicer devices are built better and feel better and are just more fun to mess with.

When I’m on my computer I’m not really doing live performance type stuff, unless I’m recording. I like being able to have something I can take somewhere and play without bringing my computer out. Using a dedicated device is a lot quicker and less complicated than a computer to set up, and also less prone to crashing. Plus, dedicated devices are designed to operate well on their own and take full advantage of their specific hardware, whereas computers by definition are general computing devices, meant to handle a broad array of different tasks well, but not especially designed for specialty tasks (i.e. bit coin mining can’t be done very quickly on a CPU but a GPU is able to handle the type of calculations much more efficiently).