Audio Recording H4n Handy Recorder

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The H4n ZOOM Handy Recorder can be used to obtain high quality sound recordings in a variety of settings.

Buttons and Inputs

1) Face

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2) Side Panels

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3) Back

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1) Internal Microphones:

  • The microphones are built in to the top of the H4n Handy Recorder. They are positioned in an x formation in order to minimize phase cancellation. - fig.1
  • The microphones can be rotated to increase or decrease the range. - fig.2
  • At the 90 degree position you are recording what is in front of you. - fig.3
  • At the 120 degree position you are gathering audio from a larger range. - fig.4

2) External Microphones:


3) Using the H4n as a tethered Microphone:


Navigating the Menu

To navigate the menu you use the Menu button and the dial. Both of these buttons are located on the right side panel. Press the Menu button to bring up the menu page. Scroll through pages on the menu using the Dial, and push down on the dial to select. The Menu button, after you have entered the menu, functions to return you to the previous screen.

1) Folder: Allows the user to access the folders within the H4n. Files are sent by default to FOLDER01.

2) File: Shows the files that you have recorded.

3) Input:

  • LO CUT: Aids in removing noise from wind/other white noise present in the recording (variable frequencies between 80Hz and 237Hz.).
  • COMP/LIMIT: Functions to limit the difference between the high and low points of the recording. In other words it turns down the high points and turns up the low points.
  • MONITOR: Turn on when audio is being run through a monitor.
  • 1/2 LINK
  • LEVEL AUTO: Selecting the Auto function lets the H4n customize the levels for each unique environment you record in, while also accommodating for changes that occur during the recording process.
  • MONO MIX: Converts your file to a MONO track.
  • PHANTOM: Turn on when using external microphones that require external battery power.
  • PLUG IN: Turn on when device is plugged in.

4) REC:

  • REC FORMAT: This is where you go to access the file formats. When using the H4n in conjunction with MacSpeech Scribe make sure that you are recording in .WAV because MacSpeech Scribe can not read .MP3 files.
  • AUTO REC: Automatically begins recording after levels pass a predetermined level. Cannot be used with PRE RECORD or REC LEVEL AUTO or PRE COUNT.
  • PRE RECORD: Records a 2 seconds before you press the play button. Cannot be used when AUTO REC is toggled on.
  • FILE NAME: Leave this set to default. However, as you import your audio files it is encouraged that you find a naming system that allows you to be organized and efficient.

5) Tool:

  • TUNER: Useful when recording music.
  • METRONOME: Allows the H4n to function as a metronome. Useful when recording music.
  • AB REPEAT: Allows you to create a start and end point within an audio file. Useful when editing on the H4n.
  • SPEED: Allows you to adjust the playback speed of the audio file (between 50%-150%).
  • MEMORY REC: Allows you to access the built in memory of the H4n.

6) Play Mode: Functions affect the way playback occurs in the file menu. It is set to PLAY ONE by default.

  • PLAY ALL: Plays every file in order beginning with the one selected.
  • PLAY ONE: Plays selected file.
  • REPEAT ALL: Plays every file in order beginning with the one selected, and then repeats.
  • REPEAT ONE: Repeats selected file.

7) System:

  • DO NOT adjust anything in SYSTEM except for FAC RESET. Make sure to do this before and after you use the H4n, to insure you are starting with a clean slate.

8) SD Card:

  • REMAIN: Shows how much space is left on the SD card. This information is also available along the bottom right of the LCD screen when you are in the recording mode.
  • FORMAT: Erases the files while simultaneously resetting the SD card.

9) USB:

  • STORAGE: Select this when you want to connect the H4n to the computer to import your audio files.
  • AUDIO I/F: This allows the user to use the H4n as a microphone for your computer.

10) Mode:

  • STEREO: Records audio using the two built in microphones located at the top of the recorder.
  • 4CH: Uses the two built in microphones plus two external microphones connected through the base of the recorder
  • MTR: Records audio after it has been fed through a mixer from the microphone connections at the base of the recorder.

Choosing File Type

  • The H4n can record in a variety of file formats and sizes. The only hold back is the amount of audio that can be held on the 1 GB memory card included with the H4n. When you record on the highest quality .WAV (96kHz/24bit) you get roughly one third of the storage capacity to recording in 44.1kHz/16bit.
  • When recording voice it is encouraged to use 48kHz/24bit or 44.1kHz/24bit.
  • If you plan on using the H4n as an external microphone for video you should use 48kHz/24bit.


  • WAV 44.1kHz/16bit
  • WAV 44.1kHz/24bit
  • WAV 48kHz/16bit
  • WAV 48kHz/24bit
  • WAV 96kHz/16bit
  • WAV 96kHz/24bit


  • MP3 48kbps
  • MP3 56kbps
  • MP3 64kbps
  • MP3 80kbps
  • MP3 96kbps
  • MP3 112kbps
  • MP3 128kbps
  • MP3 160kbps
  • MP3 192kbps
  • MP3 224kbps
  • MP3 256kbps
  • MP3 320kbps
  • MP3 VBR


1) Press the record button one time and the H4n enters stand by mode. In stand by mode the H4n determines the levels for LEVEL AUTO.

2) Press the record button for the second time to begin recording.

3) You can place marks on a recording by pressing the record button again. Marks allow you to jump from mark to mark throughout a single recording. You can place anywhere from 0-99 marks in any recording.

4) By pressing the play/pause button you pause the recording. In order to resumer recording press the play/pause button again.

5) To stop the recording press the stop button.


1) Access the recorded files through the Menu (see 4.2 FILE), or by pressing TRACK 2 (see 2.1 Face).

2) Select the file you want to listen to with the Dial.

3) Adjust the playback volume using the VOL controls on the left side panel (see 2.2 side panel).

4) Playback will occur through the speaker located on the back. This is a Mono playback.

5) To hear a stereo recording you must have a pair of headphones plugged in to the the Headphone/Line out output located on the left side panel (see 2.2 side panel).

Importing Audio Files to a Computer

1) Plug the H4n in to a computer using the included Mini USB chorde. Note: You must plug the H4n in to the back of the monitor.

2) Access the USB section of the Menu (see 4.9 USB). This can also be accessed automatically by plugging the H4n in to the computer while the H4n is turned off.

3) Select Storage- this will connect the H4n to the computer.

4) The H4n functions similarly to a flash drive so the easiest way to move files around is to drag and drop them.

5) Create a folder for your files and drag the files in to your folder.

6) Eject the H4n from the computer before you press the menu button to disconnect.


Before you start

Decreasing White Noise

  • Turn Microphones so they are oriented to the 90 degree position. This is especially important when working outside. However when working with large groups it may be best to leave the microphones at 120 degrees. (see 3.1 Internal Microphones)
  • Turn on LO CUT (see 4.3 INPUT')

Setting Levels

  • Turn on LEVEL AUTO (see 4.3 INPUT)
  • Or set the levels manually using the REC LEVEL button on the right side panel. Note this should only be done in a controlled environment where background noise is not an issue. (see 2.2 side panels)

Functions Worth Exploring

  • PRE REC (see 4.4 REC)
  • COMP/LIMIT functions to equalize the audio to make it sound more consistent. H4n is already equipped with a compressor for voice COMP 2 (Vocal) (see 4.3 INPUT)

When Finished (after import)