Good new digital recorders?

I record rehearsals for the Oakland Symphony Chorus in Oakland, CA and podcast them for use by singers who missed rehearsals and want to review. We use a Zoom H4 digital recorder with an 8GB SanDisk memory card. We record .WAV files in stereo and use Audacity, and Chris’ Dynamic Compressor, to convert them to MP3. One rehearsal is about 1.3GB of WAV and about 100MB of MP3s. I’ve been using Audacity on Windows 7, but this year have upgraded to Windows 10. This, however, isn’t about my operating system.

The Zoom H4, you may remember, is over 10 years old, and never has allowed us to record a 2 1/2 hour rehearsal on battery. We have a new singer who brought his own, very new recorder (I foolishly didn’t write down the details), which can record on battery. I wondered if the group has any recommendations for a replacement for our working but old equipment? I’m looking for something in the class of the H4, with good condenser mikes.

never has allowed us to record a 2 1/2 hour rehearsal on battery

So plug it into the wall.

That’s the H4n Pro. Consult your instructions.

My even older H4 has a place to plug in wall power. Record until the memory runs out.


If you find something that works, hold onto it with white knuckles.

It doesn’t say anything about the USB port, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the H4n can pull power from that, too. That means you can power it from a USB device with very much larger batteries—like a laptop.

I’ll check.

I would be getting out my electronics tools. That supply is 5 volts and I bet I can build an adapter to power the H4n from a 6v volt lantern battery—all season.
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My adorable little H1n will run from wall power via an adapter to the USB port.

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Consult your instructions. You can get downloads if you can’t find your instrucitons.


I misread the post. You have an old H4, too.

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They insist I have a power supply here, somewhere, but this recorder doesn’t belong to me, so who knows?

Here’s one not from Zoom.

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I found my Zoom power supply in the bottom of the box, so you must have one if you got your recorder new.

Let us know.


Thanks for the answers, but yes, I have an A/C power adapter, and yes, I know the H4 won’t do 2/12 hours on battery. Thank you, kozikowski, for the information that the H4n Pro also requires wall power; I was considering it. For the record, my original A/C adapter had to be replaced; it kept dying in the middle of a recording, which meant I lost half of the rehearsal. No problem with the aftermarket replacement, now going on for 7-8 years.

I really must talk to the new singer about his recorder, because I’ve seen him record a rehearsal on battery; I just can’t recall what the device is. I remember it starts with “Ta” something.

By the way, I should have been more precise - we record a rehearsal that officially lasts 2/12 hours but we don’t record the 15-20 minute break between the first and second halves. It still has to record for more than 2 hours.

It still has to record for more than 2 hours.

I’m completely missing the point of the question. You said it wouldn’t record the whole rehearsal on batteries. Now you say you’re not on batteries but using the replacement wall power supply.

Is your real question the memory won’t last long enough? Do you know there is a system patch which will allow you to use 16GB memory chips? I know I routinely ran out of memory on the original H4 system and found the Zoom upgrade.

That’s what [calculating] 25 hours on one pass? You should do a rehearsal in two separate files. WAV files have a size limit. Just stopping and starting the recorder should do it.



It’s getting late and I’m thinking slowly. I record on wall power because I tried recording on battery and had to change batteries mid-rehearsal - not at the break, either. I decided I’d rather carry around extension cords than spare batteries.

We’ve never run out of memory. The 8GB SanDisk is fine and can even do 2 rehearsals, although we usually erase the last one once it’s been posted.

The 8GB SanDisk is fine

My default memory chip was 1GB. That runs out very quickly.

So if battery life is the only complaint, then yes, you’re looking at a different recorder. A universal complaint about the H1 was terrible battery life. The new H1n is much better.


Was it a TASCAM? I have a DR-40 which is rated to run for 14 hours with eneloop (Ni-MH) batteries when recording 24-bit WAV at 96 kHz. It also runs happily with a USB power bank. A 10,000 mAh power bank could keep it running for nearly 3 days straight!

It could be a Tascam. I’ll look into that, thanks.