Ross Ryan, Spectrum, MFI and a Zoom H4

Zoom H4 ToyNow as some of you are aware I am a toy junkie, and for some months I had been reading about the Zoom H4 and it’s brethren (actually I was lusting after the Sony PCM1 back in 2005). You can read the O’Reilly Review of the Zoom H4 Handy Recorder by Mark Nelson or just Google Zoom H4 if you are interested. I actually tried to buy one for the Evermore/F1 concert but there wasn’t one to be had in Melbourne (or Canberra) and it was too late to fly one in from the states.

Bear with me, I’ll just do a little more scene setting here.

It was a dark and stormy night… actually it wasn’t it was just a cold Friday night but Ross and Spectrum were playing at the Trades Hall Bar in Carlton. They had jointly announced the dual CD launch via their respective email lists (some a few more announcements than others… yes that would be you Ross). I actually wonder how many people are on both lists… but I digress. 10 hours earlier I had picked up my new toy (batteries included) from Manny’s in Fitzroy and having had a busy day “server wrangling” (it was a draw), I had only read the manual.

OK,I lied I took the recorder out on the tram, I’m a toy junkie remember and the batteries were included, and in less than 30secs was making a test recording. It worked. Put it back in bag and then read the manual.

{time passes}

I walk in to the bar, spot some friends (including My Friend Ian who is now back from the UK), order a drink, chat and then realised I had to setup. The actual setup took less than 90 seconds. I took it out of my bag, pressed record to arm it, set the level, (turned on the built in limiter ’cause I’m a wimp), put in the middle of the table and aimed it above the heads of the punters in front and went back to drinks and chat.

When Ross started I had a quick look at the levels figured they were a bit low but experience has taught me that it would be a self correcting problem as the evening moved on. I was right.

“So”, I hear you say ” What does it sound like?”

Stroll over to duggup and check out the MP3 samples I recorded on the concert review there (yes I am too slack to upload them here as well).

I love it, as a recorder the Zoom performed brilliantly. If the table we were at had have been about 6 feet closer to the stage and the mix a fraction better, I suspect the results would have been even more impressive than they already are. MFI (you remember him) is in a band and it has a gig next week so I will go along and see how that works as a theory.

So after getting home after midnight I plugged the unit into my workstation (it was the Windows one) and once again it just worked. It appeared as a USB drive. I just copied the .WAV files across and they were there ready to be played back in Soundforge. No fuss no hassle, it just worked.

Now those of you who read the MFI or What Bland Did Next post may have worked out that this would be a killer toy to get round the recording problems I detailed there. Well yes it would be, but next time he can take me and I’LL push record, you can’t be too careful with technology.

UPDATE: Further adventures can be found at Ross Ryan And A Zoom H4 At Capers/