This Recorder IS Handy: Zoom H2

Handy Recorder might be a silly name, but the Zoom H2 digital audio recorder is anything but silly.

I was looking for a way to record audio on the go, mostly with video in mind. The most common options are wireless microphones. But a really good one is expensive. And since we would be using it around machinery (ie; spark plugs) I worried about interference with the radio signal.

Then one afternoon I picked up a copy of Event DV magazine and saw an article about the Zoom H2. The specs rolled off like a wish list: built-in mic, external line or mic input, USB interface, no tape, no moving parts, weighs like… nothing. It even has a guitar tuner! What’s not to like?

We ordered one up. When it arrived I put a new battery in my trusty clip-on mic from Radio Shack and we were ready to go.
To record audio on the Zoom while recording video on our camcorder requires us to synchronize the two for our final product. This is really pretty easy to do with computer video editing software. It’s a similar process to synching a two-camera shoot.

To simplify this feat we use a $2 clicker from the local pet store (you’ve seen them before- like they use to train Border Collies). The click makes a huge spike that’s easily visible on the two audio tracks. Move them so the spikes match up and your sound is synchronized. Once we’re rich and famous maybe we’ll get one of those cool clapboards like the Big Boys use!
The sound is great, it can store days of audio and uses AA batteries. For under two hundred bucks we’ve got a fully portable audio system that can be used standalone or with a clip-on lapel mic. So far it’s worked out great for our nascent video productions, and we’re coming up with new uses almost every day.

I’m planning to use one at work to record conferences. Last week a buddy told me he attended a concert at the Cain’s Ballroom. A guy down in front was holding a Zoom recorder over his head to catch all the action.

This darn thing really is pretty handy.

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