I've had a Zoom H4 since January, and I thought enough time had gone by for me to be able to put together a decent review, as well as helping others figure out little tips and tricks on how to use them. I'll start with a basic description. The Zoom H4 is a portable recording device. It features 2 built in microphones arranged in an XY Pattern, as well as 2 input jacks to be used with either XLR or 1/4" jacks. It features phantom power if you need it in variable voltage depending on your needs and has 2 different modes. Stereo, and 4 track. I'll start by reviewing the Stereo mode. What strikes me as cool is that you can control the quality of the recording. You can either record directly to mp3 (bit rate is selectable, from 128 - 320 I believe) or to wave. The wave recordings settings are 44.1k, 48k, and 96k. I've never had any use to record in 48 or 96, but the option is there if you need it! The Good Features of Stereo mode: Ease of Use. Once you have everything set, you hit the record button once, then you hit it again. The compressor and limiter are also very useful effects I use often. I won't go into many details, but you get the idea. The stereo mode also features microphone simulators, from the SM57 to a Neuman U47, but I never use them. They sound ok, but I can't imagine them sounding much like the real thing. Also has a metronome built in. The Bad Features of Stereo mode: I was optimistic when I saw the auto-gain feature. In fact, I use it when I'm setting levels. However, you're going to want to turn it off when you start recording because it has a tendency to create a strange pulsating sound throughout the recording that sound rather awful. I was told that this is because it scans continuously, either way, I don't like it. Here is a demo of the H4 used in stereo mode to record a band. The H4 was just placed on the guitar case on the floor, levels set, buttons mashed and off it went. I hope we won't get judged based on this one crappy clip! http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_songInfo.cfm?bandID=758446&songID=6190550 I'll talk a bit about 4 track mode, this is the one I use the most. The Good features: When recording a band, you can use a little trick I just picked up on not long ago. you can stereo link 2 channels (1&2 or 3&4). This allows either each mic to record to a channel, or each input to record to a channel. This is fun for recording drums in stereo and then adding all the mono instruments on top of that, or to record a basic track in stereo and overdub vocals. Each of the 4 tracks features 4 "virtual tracks" so you can record 4 takes of each track and select which one you enjoy the most. Personally I use that feature for something else, but I'll talk about that a bit later. 4 track mode also features plenty of preset effects and preamps which sound decent, I use them to record quick demos and the sound is decent. In fact, I have a clip here where I used nothing but the built in preamps. For a built in module, I think it sounds decent, you can at least get a good idea of the sound you'd be going for once you record for real. I still often use the built in preamps for recording bass. http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_songInfo.cfm?bandID=758446&songID=6135198 Now, here's the same song, recorded with the mics in 4 track mode, with all mixing done on the H4 itself. I find the first track gave a good idea of how the mics would sound. Of course, there's only so much you can do when you can't set an amp properly... http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_songInfo.cfm?bandID=758446&songID=6253893 The 4 track mode also features a tuner and a metronome. 4 track bad features : The tuner is not very accurate at all. it will get you in the ballpark, but I wouldn't rely on it. The mixer that is built in can only handle 4 tracks (duh) and takes forever to use, it's a consequence of the H4's control layout. Overall Impression of the Zoom H4: For the price, I don't think you'll find a much better device for recording! Someone creative can really do a lot to expand from this simple design, either a mini mixer going into both inputs to record more mics at once, or anything like that. Very portable, with a long battery life. I'd suggest at least a 2gig card. The only real negative thing I can think of is navigating it. It's a bit strange at first to use a small thumbwheel and a clicker with 4 different places to click and all that, but it doesn't take a genius to figure it out. I found that I get the best results when I'm patient, and I am often not patient... Keep a cool head and you'll do fine, take your time to make your time be the best it can be! Overall, I give it a THUMBS UP for anyone who either wants to record quick demo's or even complete takes of songs. Now for the little tutorial part. This is mostly for people who wish to record in 4 track mode, but record more than 4 tracks. First of all, you'll be better of using a metronome, but it's fine if you don't want to, I don't sometimes, it doesn't hurt. Ok, so hopefully you have some idea of the song in your head already so we'll start right away assuming you've got the levels set to your liking as well as amp settings. The first track you're going to want to record is something all the other takes can EASILY follow. This is usually the drums, or guitar, or bass, it's up to you. One trick I use sometimes is to record myself and an acoustic guitar just strumming the chords and singing a scratch take which I can use to guide other takes until I throw out the scratch take and am left with the good stuff! I'll take this song as an example. I recorded a cover of the Beatles "Yes It Is". The song features 1 acoustic guitar, a bass, and a 3 part vocal harmony... well... doesn't take much math to figure that out to be 5 tracks. Here's the first technique I use, this one is the scratch track technique, as I call it. I started off strumming the chords and humming the words on a take which I would use as a guide for the other takes. Afterwards, I got my headphones out (a good pair helps eliminate beedthrough and stuff!) and recorded just the acoustic guitar onto track 2. This was then followed by vocals on track 3 and 4. At this point is when I got rid of my scratch take and recorded the third vocal. At this point, I had 4 tracks, but I still wanted to record the bass... what is a boy to do? well... using the "virtual tracks" I cleared one of the tracks (I did NOT delete the file mind you, I just took it off of the mixer to free up a track. I then recorded the bass. Now, You can't mix this directly on the H4, it can't handle 5 tracks. Which is why I export them to my computer (I have all this stuff organized on my hard drive) and mix using Cubase LE (which conveniently... Comes with the H4!). The result after mixing, well mixing is entirely up to you, but I managed to turn it into this using Cubase. http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_songInfo.cfm?bandID=758446&songID=6517029 The method without the scratch track is exactly the same, only you record something that can easily be followed, and add to that in the same manner. The trick is to not replace a track you need to follow when you record! The following was done using the method without the scratch take. first thing recorded was the rhythm guitar. you'll notice the vocals clipping at some point, that's the result of being IMPATIENT! TAKE YOUR TIME!!!! http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_songInfo.cfm?bandID=758446&songID=6242840 I hope that was at least a bit helpful, If anyone has any questions, concerns, death threats... feel free!