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Strother Bullins on Zoom Q4n HD Recorder

There’s no other product on the market more specifically designed to be an audio-friendly “pocket” video camera than Zoom’s mighty little Zoom Q4n. A very small (4.6 x 2 x 2.4-inch) HD camera and high-res audio recorder capable of 3M HD video quality and 24-bit/96 kHz audio, the Q4n actually provides a wide range of video and audio format options, serving purposes ranging from low-res podcasting to “audio prioritized” high-res/HD-ready A/V content. It’s ideal for capturing promotional highlights for houses of worship, school theaters, or performance venues, and your clients will appreciate being introduced to this handy and well-thought-out tool.

From its physical controls to its intuitive, digitally adjusted parameters via touchscreen GUI/video monitor, the Q4n is entirely operable upon first use, no manual necessary (though a subsequent read will better illustrate its audio-centric nature).

Even the Q4n’s menu-based options and terminology hint that this is an A/V capture tool for audio-leaning content creators. For example, video scene settings include presets such as “ConcertLow Lighting,” “Jazz Club,” and “Dance Club;” stereo audio capture is customizable thanks to adjustable stereo microphones, allowing dual capture techniques, X/Y (natural stereo depth/width via crossed directional diaphragms) or A/B (gleaning wider stereo and greater reverb levels via spread directional diaphragms). In use, it’s clear these options were carefully chosen based on environments where audio is the focus yet video capture is a promotional or archival necessity; most any content-savvy musician, church, or performance venue could benefit by a Q4n in their bag of tricks.

Features abound in the Q4n—see the adjacent specifications list— but highlights include SD-based recording media usage for wide-ranging compatibilities; HDMI output for HDTV monitoring/playback; external stereo mic input via mini-jack for more flexible transducer placement; and many mounting options via unique purchasable attachments (a guitar headstock mount, for example).

Most importantly, the Q4n captures beautiful video and impressively accurate, high quality audio, ready for low-budget content production with a lot of promise. That is, used correctly and thoughtfully, no one would know that, for example, a municipal theater’s “an evening with” A/V content captured at front-of-house is courtesy of a $299 tool not much bigger than an average smartphone.

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