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Samson - H2 - Handy Recorder (a review)
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Stan Courtney
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 Posted: December 6th, 2008 10:27 AM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Nature recording is a very difficult pursuit. Weather conditions are always a consideration. Then the ever present noise from trains-planes-automobiles always tends to happen just when something interesting is going on. And to that list add wind and water sounds. Our brains filter out those extra sounds when we are in the environment but on a recording they are very noticeable.

I am frequently asked what equipment I would recommend. I am certainly no expert but I have used a variety of recorders and can share my thoughts.

Available for around $150 is the H 2 Handy Recorder



The manufacturers websites:

H2 Handy Recorder

Samson Zoom H2

This website also has 3 videos describing its operation.

The user's manual can be found at:

Users Manual

Excellent reviews can be read at:

Ron's Tech Blog

O'Reilly digitalmedia

Brad Linder's blog

Forums discussing this recorder are:

Zoom Gear & Home Recording

The Taperssection Forums

There are several videos posted on YouTUbe:

Zoom H2 Digital recorder

Zoom H2 Tutorial

Quick guide to Zoom H2 MP3 recorder

Use Instructions for Zoom H2 Recorder

Recording media: SD card

I've been using a Transcend 16GB class 6 card (TS16GSDHC6) for some time now with my H2 and it works flawlessly.

Maximum recordable time - In any card not all of the stated capacity is available for data. Using this 16 gb card the record time in .wav at 44.1kHz 16bit CD quality mode is 23.5 hours.

Batteries

Using two Energizer L91BP-4 AA Lithium Batteries I was able to record for 14 hours 5 minutes.

Recordings:

I recorded this recently in the woods near my home in Central Illinois.

Sound Clip 1

Conclusion - I think this is a very good recorder and gets researchers into a nice, reasonably priced unit and away from the voice-only models so many purchase when they are just starting out.

Pros:
- reasonable price
- great sound
- easy to use
- built-in microphones

Cons:
- light weight plastic
(Edited by Stan Courtney)
(Edited by Stan Courtney)
(Edited by Stan Courtney)
(Edited by Stan Courtney)
Stan Courtney
BFRO_Illinois
 
 
robday
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 Posted: December 6th, 2008 01:58 PM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Thanks Stan.
This looks like the unit I might end up with.
Does it have an external mic input? And if so, do you have a recommendation?
Thanks,
Rob
 
 
Stan Courtney
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 Posted: December 6th, 2008 04:14 PM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Rob,

It does have ext mic input. But my recommendation is to use the internal mics. Everything adds cost and the purpose of my review is for something that is less than $200. Many field researchers are quite pleased with this unit.

I am not advocating this as a top notch field recorder. But it is a very good entry model that sure beats the small voice models that people tend to buy when just starting out.

And I definitely need three or four recorders running in different locations. I would be very interested in hearing any great vocalizations that people obtain with this unit.
Stan Courtney
BFRO_Illinois
 
 
Scott Smith
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 Posted: December 17th, 2008 10:05 PM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Stan did you ever come up with an external battery pack for this unit? If I remember right it would only record 4-6 hours on a set of batteries?
Arkansas SBI and TBIG Investigator

 
 
Stan Courtney
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 Posted: December 25th, 2008 09:35 AM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top


Batteries

Using two Energizer L91BP-4 AA Lithium Batteries I was able to record for 14 hours 5 minutes.

Stan Courtney
BFRO_Illinois
 
 
RNOFFKE
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 Posted: December 26th, 2008 10:11 AM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Hello Stan,

A few more questions on the H2.....

I understand that the better recording modes use up more space, but which recording mode and which Mic setting have you had the best luck with? Does the 4 channel setting help the quality of the recording enough to justify the extra space it uses?

I'm also wondering what Mic gain setting works best and if you've had any luck with the auto gain option?

Much appreciated,

Rick

SQUATCHER from Central Wisconsin
 
 
Stan Courtney
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 Posted: December 26th, 2008 10:51 AM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Hopefully to answer your questions

Recording mode - I prefer to record in .wav which with this card 16 GB card gives me almost 24 hrs. If I needed to record for longer (as on a four day expedition) I might switch to the highest mp3 setting so I could record the whole trip on one card.

Mic setting - because I typically leave my gear in the bush unattended it is usually picking up very weak signals, therefore I set the gain to the highest setting. I have not tried the auto gain.

4 Channel - I have not not tried the 4 channel settings, it seems that 2 channel (since we are not dealing with a studio setting) should be adequate.
Stan Courtney
BFRO_Illinois
 
 
RNOFFKE
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 Posted: December 26th, 2008 11:28 AM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Hi Stan,

Thanks for the quick reply!

Do you know anything about the difference between the 2 channel and 4 channel modes? As you might guess I'm trying to get as much recording time on a card without sacrificing anything that may make that one perfect recording. I'd hate to have that one lucky day when you capture the perfect vocalization and then kick myself for making a poor quality recording!

Will I loose any recording quality using the 44.1 vs 48 kHz mode? And likewise will the 24 bit vs 16 bit mode change the quality of the recording?

I really appreciate all your comments. You've been a helpful resource for all of us trying to put together some basic audio gear!

Thanks much,

Rick
SQUATCHER from Central Wisconsin
 
 
Stan Courtney
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 Posted: December 26th, 2008 05:35 PM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

2 channel vs 4 channel - I can not imagine that in a nature setting that you can even tell the difference between the setting. Perhaps in a studio it would be more important.

44.1 & 16 bit are standard for cd quality recording. It is my opinion that using the higher settings would just be wasting valuable space.

Without sacrificing quality the most important part of nature recording is to get maximum amount of recording time.

Researchers (including myself) have lost wonderful recordings not because of the difference in file type but because they did not have their recorders running.

I have heard both tahoe screams and roars up close but failed to have a recorder running.
Stan Courtney
BFRO_Illinois
 
 
herbmaven
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 Posted: December 28th, 2008 12:52 AM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Stan, does it make a click sound when it is turned on? And does it run silently?
Thanks!
 
 
Stan Courtney
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 Posted: December 28th, 2008 09:41 AM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

It runs silently, I've never noticed a click.
Stan Courtney
BFRO_Illinois
 
 
RNOFFKE
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 Posted: December 28th, 2008 02:37 PM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Hello Stan,

Thanks much for all your comments.

Much appreciated!

Rick


SQUATCHER from Central Wisconsin
 
 
Jeff C
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 Posted: January 2nd, 2009 03:59 AM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Is one able to moniter the sounds without spending untold hours listening to the recordings?

Jeff C
BF...a creature of the forest.
 
 
Stan Courtney
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 Posted: January 2nd, 2009 07:18 PM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Yes, if you load the sound wav into a sound editor then you can see the peaks, I can go through a 8 hr tape in about 20 minutes.
Stan Courtney
BFRO_Illinois
 
 
robday
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 Posted: January 8th, 2009 12:29 AM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Hi Stan-
The H2 provides "mic power" of 2.5volts...
I'm used to 48v phantom power. What does 2.5volts do?
And will I need a specialized external mic (if I use one)?
I just ordered the H2, and am poking around for a mic in our "old stuff" bin here at work. The only reason I'm considering the external mic is to keep the recorder inside the trailer, protected from the elements.
Thanks,
Rob Day
 
 
Stan Courtney
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 Posted: January 10th, 2009 01:10 PM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

I already answered your question in a pm. but for those reading this you can use an external mic. I don't use an external mic on this recorder because the internals are great.


Stan Courtney
BFRO_Illinois
 
 
Jeff C
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 Posted: January 11th, 2009 03:47 AM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

I see there is quite a selection of sound editing software to choose from. Are there any shareware programs you would recommend?

By the way, I missed a recording opportunity in Tahoe also. If I would have had the H2 I would have captured an interesting exchange between two of the creatures. I believe this recorder has the features I need, and for a reasonable price.

Thanks for your review and for the questions answered.

Jeff C

BF...a creature of the forest.
 
 
Stan Courtney
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 Posted: January 11th, 2009 11:33 AM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Many researchers use a free program called audactiy. You can go to there website at http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

I do not have any experience with audacity, I prefer Adobe Audition, although it is costly.

http://www.adobe.com/products/audition/
Stan Courtney
BFRO_Illinois
 
 
SuperGeek
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 Posted: January 15th, 2009 10:58 PM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

I just ordered the H2 yesterday (Thanks Stan) for myself. I saw your note above about recording in lower quality file types for longer Expeditions. One thing to note is that SD cards are fairly cheap and you should be able to record in .wav format daily and put in a new card each day, right? 4 days = 4 cards. That is, if you don't have a laptop handy to download each days worth of data and start fresh.
Mitch S. NE-BFRO
 
 
robday
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 Posted: January 15th, 2009 11:32 PM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Quote:
SuperGeek wrote:
I just ordered the H2 yesterday (Thanks Stan) for myself. I saw your note above about recording in lower quality file types for longer Expeditions. One thing to note is that SD cards are fairly cheap and you should be able to record in .wav format daily and put in a new card each day, right? 4 days = 4 cards. That is, if you don't have a laptop handy to download each days worth of data and start fresh.

I also just bought the H2, and I found two 16gb SDHC cards on Ebay for $32 each, free shipping.
 
 
Stan Courtney
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 Posted: January 16th, 2009 12:14 AM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

SuperGeek,

Very exciting news about your purchase. We need more recordings for comparison.

Robday,

What brand did you get for the cards? Excellent price.

I expect to be listenings to some new recording this Spring from both of you guys.
Stan Courtney
BFRO_Illinois
 
 
robday
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 Posted: January 16th, 2009 12:21 AM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Quote:

Robday,

What brand did you get for the cards? Excellent price.


Hi Stan-
They are "Transcend" cards, advertised as "150x" speed class 6, and faster than the equivalent SanDisk cards. I brought them to work with me and scanned them for viruses, they are both clean and show full capacity.
It's not often you find a deal like that, which is why I bought two.
I bought a SanDisk last year (16gb) and paid over $150 for it!
I use them in my Aiptek camcorder as well, each gives me about 6 hours of 720p/60f recording time.
 
 
Stan Courtney
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 Posted: January 16th, 2009 10:28 AM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Quote:
robday wrote:

Hi Stan-
They are "Transcend" cards, advertised as "150x" speed class 6, and faster than the equivalent SanDisk cards. I brought them to work with me and scanned them for viruses, they are both clean and show full capacity.
It's not often you find a deal like that, which is why I bought two.
I bought a SanDisk last year (16gb) and paid over $150 for it!
I use them in my Aiptek camcorder as well, each gives me about 6 hours of 720p/60f recording time.


Great find, that is exactly the same card I am using. Recording .wav I was able to record 23.5 hrs. As far as prices, they always come down. In 2004 I paid $400 for 1 gig flash card and I am told that years ago guys paid $1000 for 1 k of memory in the earliest computers. Wow!
Stan Courtney
BFRO_Illinois
 
 
SuperGeek
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 Posted: January 16th, 2009 01:42 PM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Yes, memory is very cheap and getting cheaper. We use www.newegg.com at the shop for almost all of our wholesale supplies. They are excellent to deal with and have the lowest prices. Here is a link to that SD card on their website. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...N82E16820208410

I can't make any promises on the recordings, but I will be better prepared this year than last!
Mitch S. NE-BFRO
 
 
SuperGeek
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 Posted: January 16th, 2009 02:15 PM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

I just found a very nice forum on the H2 and they have some home-made software that will take the 4 channel recording and convert it into Dolby 5.1.
http://www.2090.org/zoom/bbs/viewto...ae6c00df9b29a31

Here is the root of the H2 forum.
http://www.2090.org/zoom/bbs/viewforum.php?f=15

Mitch S. NE-BFRO
 
 




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