Sound recorders are essential for video creators and audio producers. Without proper sound recording equipment, a whole media project can fail. That is why you should not overlook this matter. Professional media artists know about it and that’s why they spend thousands of dollars to get the best sound recording equipment. The better your sound recording equipment is, the better your videos, music, and podcasts will sound and good sound is what brings life to your art and music. But we are not talking about equipment that will cause thousands of dollars. No, we are talking about a budget here for all newbies. But we also cannot ditch essential components of sound recorders. When we think about these two things of a small budget and essential sound recording components, two names come into our minds. Tascam DR40 and Zoom H4N. These two will cost you around $100 and they have the minimalist functions that are required to record a professional video. For example XLR input. Now, which one should you choose among them? Well, we are here to find that out. We will show a comparison between Tascam DR40 vs. Zoom H4N – these two sound recorders in terms of design, quality, and features. Then we will make a decision.
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Design-wise speaking, the Zoom H4N looks better and user friendly than the Tascam DR40. But in basic parts and positioning, they both are pretty similar. Both have two XLR inputs at the top, a display showing all basic information, buttons below the display. On the bottom, we have the output for the left and the right modules.
Now, why is the Zoom H4N better than the Tascam DR40 in terms of design? There are many factors. First, the appearance! The Zoom H4N looks way better and stylish. It has a black body and a silver button plate. The buttons are illuminated which is very useful in recording at night. The finishing of the buttons and the body is smooth and polished, giving you a premium feel.
Moreover, the Zoom H4N is protected with a thin rubber layer. Honestly, this thin rubber layer cannot protect the recorder from impacts and falling. However, it can save it from falling by giving you a better grip. It can come in very handy for extreme situations like recording audio in a running car.
On the other hand, the Tascam DR40 is just black. The plastic used in it appears to be raw and unprocessed. You won’t get that polished and rubber grip feel of the Zoom H4N in the Tascam DR40. It feels more like a hollow plastic box before inserting the batteries. But that is understandable since the Tascam D40 is only $100, relatively cheaper than the Zoom H4N.
Their design also reflects the difference in operating these recorders. The Zoom H4N has buttons on its front side, but it also has side-mounted buttons and these side-mounted buttons are what you use to control all recording features like a record, pause, stop, play and pause, push button wheel, etc.
They come in very handy for one-hand operations. On the other hand, the Tascam DR40 has no side-mounted buttons.
Another thing that matters the most in terms of design is the size. In that case, both appear to be the same size. Close inspection suggests that the Zoom H4N is slightly bigger. This is because it has more functions in it than Tascam DR40.
So if you want our honest opinion of which one to pick in terms of design, we would suggest picking the Zoom H4N because it’s more stylish and tactical.
Speaking of quality, both these sound recorders have the same level of output. As they are priced closely to each other, there is no surprise that the main recording components used in these are quite similar.
Both of these recorders have XLR inputs with the same audio quality and both can deliver phantom power. With its built-in stereo mics, both of these can record sounds up to 96 kHz.
So if we talk about sound and equipment quality, both of them are nearly the same. The only notable difference is the body design and quality of the materials used in it. So the winner in terms of quality is the Zoom H4N.
Now the question here is what are you referring to here as performance in the case of sound recorders? Sound recording quality? Standby time? Or something else?
We have already talked about sound recording quality. Both of these sound recorders have the same type of recording equipment used in them and that is why they are priced closely to each other. Let’s talk about standby time. Both of these recorders use AA batteries to run. The Zoom H4N requires 2 and the Tascam DR40 needs three. So theoretically, the Tascam DR40 has more standby time.
The Tascam DR40 also has another better feature than the Zoom H4N. That is to switch and lock the XLR inputs to accept line-level signals. But on the other hand, the Zoom H4N has three different modes of recording. So who won this round? We cannot tell precisely because of the price of these two. If the available features are subjective to their prices, then we can guess both are equal.
- Accepts line-level signals
- Simplistic user interface
- Batteries included in the package
- Can record in 2CH, 4CH, and MTR mode
- 1/8th mic input
- The package includes an AC adapter
- Very affordable
- XLR input positions can be changed and locked
- Needs only two AA batteries
- Tactical button design
- Better grip
- Cheap body
- No grip
- Less functionality
- A little pricey
- Needs three AA batteries
- Big in size
Now it’s time for choosing one of these recorders. Which one do you think is better? We have to say that the Zoom H4N did better in almost every department than the Tascam DR40. But when it comes to price the Tascam DR40 comes at the top. It only costs $100.
So now our verdict is that if you are on a tight budget of $100, then the Tascam DR40 is the perfect choice for you. But if you can manage to go a few bucks above $100, then go for the Zoom H4N.