Zoom H4N Linux
January 7, 2012 2:51 AM   Subscribe

How does the Zoom H4N play with (Arch)Linux?

I have seen this previous question and am giving some thought on getting a Zoon H4N. Do any of you use it with any flavour of Linux, especially Arch? If so, please do tell me how you work with it.
posted by beshtya to Media & Arts (9 answers total)
I used the Zoom H4N (once) with Peppermint, which is not too different from Arch. I had no problems. Just put the SD card into my netbook's SD slot and drag/dropped the files off it. I don't own a Zoom; it was my department's one that I had borrowed. I edited the files in Audacity.
posted by lollusc at 3:06 AM on January 7, 2012

lollusc does the usb audio interface mentioned in this page work in linux?
posted by beshtya at 5:48 AM on January 7, 2012

My h2 works as an audio interface. One caveat is that the mics are always on, and due to it using USB1 the latency is significant.

Does the H4N work as a USB1 audio device? As far as I know, nobody implements USB2 properly to the published standards. USB2 audio interfaces are generally unusable on a Linux system, last I checked.
posted by idiopath at 10:46 AM on January 7, 2012

Sorry, I didn't try the USB interface. As I said, I only used it once and just swapped out the SD card.
posted by lollusc at 6:34 PM on January 7, 2012

I'll take my H4n to work tomorrow and see what my work system thinks of it, if no one has a definitive answer by then. (I'm in the weird position, for me, of not having any recent linux installs at home.)
posted by hades at 5:14 PM on January 8, 2012

I plugged my H4n into my Ubuntu system at work, and it was automatically recognized as a new audio interface:
$ lsusb | grep H4
Bus 001 Device 105: ID 1686:0045 ZOOM Corporation H4 Digital Recorder

$ cat /proc/asound/H4/stream0 
ZOOM Corporation H4 at usb-0000:00:1a.7-4.2, full speed : USB Audio

  Status: Stop
  Interface 1
    Altset 1
    Format: S16_LE
    Channels: 2
    Endpoint: 5 OUT (ADAPTIVE)
    Rates: 44100, 48000

  Status: Stop
  Interface 2
    Altset 1
    Format: S16_LE
    Channels: 2
    Endpoint: 5 IN (ASYNC)
    Rates: 44100, 48000
I gave it a quick test with Audacity, and it seems to work fine, at least with the built-in mics. If you've got anything you'd particularly like me to test, let me know.
posted by hades at 10:58 AM on January 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

hades whats your experience been with the h4n? how is it to use? do you make any recordings in the wild? what about battery life? do you suppose it is worth the cost? any niggling details that annoy you?
posted by beshtya at 4:26 AM on January 10, 2012

For my purposes (recording noodling at home, some open-air and theater concert recordings) it has been great so far. Battery life is quite good, especially if you use the "stamina" mode which turns off most of the effects and filters and such. I've only used the built-in mics so far, and I understand that if you're using it for soundboard recordings you probably want a good set of attenuator pads to bring the levels down.

I like its interface, and I think the recordings it makes sound great -- certainly better than I expected from a sub-$300 device. As much as I loved my minidisc recorder, this is a lot better. I haven't used a lot of its features, like 4-track recording and amp simulators, but it's nice that they're there if I ever want them. And it works fine as a usb mass storage device, so getting recordings off it and into Audacity doesn't require moving the sd card around.

Niggling details:
  • The battery door on mine is a little loose, so I stuck a piece of electrical tape in under it to keep it from rattling during recordings.
  • There's a 2GB file size limitation, so if you're recording something long and/or in 24/96 wav format, you'll want to watch out. I'm not sure if it automatically creates a new file or not; the only time I've been in a situation where it would have come up, I didn't want to risk finding out that I'd lost the last half.
  • The wind baffle that comes with it isn't very good, but you can make one yourself cheaply or get a Rode Dead Kitten or similar for $25-ish.
  • Handling noise isn't terrible, but it's definitely there if you're hand-holding it in the field. The mic stand attachment which comes with it does nothing to reduce handling noise. I picked up a Rycote suspension that works really well, but just putting it on a mini-tripod on a sandbag is also good if you aren't moving it around. (I also made a suspension mount out of some rubber bands and a u-bolt, and while it worked it was really ungainly.)
I have no regrets about my purchase, except that it looks like it's going for $20 less than I paid for mine now.
posted by hades at 11:50 AM on January 10, 2012

Thanks hades! And lollusc and idiopath! I think I'll get one of em.
posted by beshtya at 11:01 PM on January 11, 2012

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