A friend loaned me a Sony PCM-D50, a unit that many people seem to feel is at or near the top of the heap in hand-held recorders. Since I just got my Zoom H2n I thought it might be interesting to compare them with some level matched, same source clips. And as long as I’m putting up recorders I threw in the old faithful Zoom H2. For a reference I included a Rode NT4 stereo mic connected to the Echo Audiofire Pre8 here at Digital Duck studios (my upstairs man-cave).
As usual when I do these comparisons I take a little trouble to get the clip levels matched. The more I’ve investigated audio the more I realize the importance of matching volumes. So for this comparison I used REAPER to generate a 1000 hz test tone and recorded it into all the systems. Then I used that recorded tone to adjust the volumes of the recorded tracks. This is more reliable than trying to match peak or average levels in the constantly changing energy of the music track.
Here’s a video that takes you through the process of generating these clips.
And here are the trimmed and volume matched clips for you to download and compare:
So how do those clips sound to you? When you go to the fadeout and turn up the volume, you should be able to hear a car go by out on the street, even though the window was closed. Listen to that section for the differences in the background noise.
The build quality, at least the “feel” of quality, certainly goes to the Sony in this comparison. It’s constructed of finely detailed metal, with firm precise switches and a solid hefty feel in the hand. Many of its features are are controlled by dedicated switches instead of relying on a menu.
The Zoom H2n instead feels light, even a bit cheap. Definitely constructed of plastic and with a minimum of dedicated external controls. The Zoom offers variable stereo patterns, but so does the Sony, using different technology. The Zoom has the advantage of a surround sound mode, and I also much prefer the “electric shaver” form factor of the H2 because it doesn’t require a stand and the metering is visible when the unit is in recording position. And of course there’s a substantial price difference between the units.
They both offer external mic and line in recording features, which I’ll look at in a future post.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 7th, 2011 at 6:25 pm and is filed under Comparisons, Recording. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.