I’ll be up-front with you, this is a very biased article. I love GarageBand software and I think my Zoom H4N stereo recorder is quite possibly the most awesome piece of recording equipment I’ve ever seen. Now that we have that out of the way let me explain why I think the Zoom H4N and GarageBand are such a perfect match.
1. High quality, stereo location recorder: First and foremost, the H4N is a portable stereo recorder supporting up to 24bit/96kHz audio quality. That’s way better than CD quality. You do remember CD’s don’t you? It excels in difficult recording situations like basement jam sessions and nasty club shows. Since the H4N records in broadcast .WAV format any of your recordings can be imported directly into GarageBand with no trouble at all.
2. Computer audio interface: Another amazing feature of the H4N is that it’s a fully functional computer audio interface that connects to your computer via USB. It supports Core Audio which means it’s essentially plug-and-play on a Mac. All you need to do is select the H4N as your default audio device in the Audio/MIDI setup preference and you’re ready to go.
3. Built-in stereo microphones: This makes #2 above even cooler. While using it as a computer audio interface, the H4N allows you to record using the built-in stereo microphones. These are very nice small diaphragm condenser microphones arranged in a X/Y coincident pattern. The angle of the X/Y setup is adjustable from 90-120 degrees.
4. Stereo pre-amps with phantom power: Maybe you don’t want to use the built-in microphones because you already have a favorite microphone or two for GarageBand. No problem, the Zoom comes with two pre-amps that offer up to 48 volts of phantom power. This means it will work with just about any popular microphone on the market today. Even better, the preamps use combo jacks so they will accept any 1/4″ instrument connection as well as XLR cables.
5. Built-in effects: I admit, GarageBand’s effects are really nice. I use them all the time and am always happy with the results. That being said, the Zoom comes with it’s own complement of popular effects that you can record through when you use the H4N as a computer audio interface.
6. The price: As of the writing of this article, the H4N is selling everywhere for around $299. I still shake my head when I think about that. I would gladly pay $299 for a good USB computer audio interface. I’d be happy to find a high-quality, handheld location recorder for $299. I’ve paid much, much more than $299 for a pair of high-quality condenser microphones. Somehow, the H4N packs all of this, and more, into one product.
Well, I didn’t lie. I warned you that this was a going to be a very biased article. I just couldn’t help myself. I love the combination of using the Zoom H4N with GarageBand and I wanted to share my excitement with you. After reading this I’m sure you’ll agree that the two are truly a match made in heaven.