Thoughts After All-State Auditions (Part 1): Zoom H2 Recorders

Although I’m off school this week for parental leave following the birth of our new son, I had to be at school last night as we were one of the hosts of the MMEA (Minnesota Music Educators Association, a state chapter of NAfME) All-State audition process.  I was the person that committed our school to be an audition site, and my colleagues were unable to be there–so I spent the night at my school.  The executive director of the MMEA (Mary Schaefle) was at our school for a while last night, and we talked about some issues that I thought were worth bringing forward.  I did mention that I would write about these topics, so I am not breaking any news or confidentiality agreements.

The first item I wanted to discuss was the use of Zoom H2 recorders by the judge who was assessing students for the All-State Jazz Bands.  The MMEA has two (2) Zoom H2 recorders at each jazz audition site, one that records continuously throughout the night, and the other that is stopped and started by the judge for each student.  The redundancy is due to a human error in the recording process in a previous year.

Redundancy is a great idea in terms of recording at any level.  We hosted a Large Group Vocal Contest this year, and I intended to record the performances from each choir.  Unfortunately, our Zoom H4n wouldn’t read a large SD card I had purchased, and I missed two ensembles in the process of getting a replacement card.  Our school has two H4n recorders; I should have had both of them recording.  Even in a performance, I’ll sometimes record with my iPhone on my stand, as well as with the Zoom H4n.  Sometimes the iPhone’s placement, both near the choir and away from the audience, yields a better recording–or a recording less impacted by distractions in the audience (coughs, crying babies, even programs being crinkled throughout a concert).

Zoom H2

The Zoom H2 is a bare-bones audio recorder that sells for $160 new at Amazon ($100 used), and might be a great solution for a redundant recording solution.  There is also a Zoom H2n available.  The Zoom H4n that we prefer has a few more bells and whistles (e.g. you can use a XLR or 1/4 input, phantom power, etc.) and is available for $300 at Amazon.  As always, you might be able to find the recorders for less, or you may choose to purchase them at your local music or electronics store if you want to support them (even if they cost a little more).

So: lesson #1 from All-State Auditions last night: redundant recording.


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