The recent crop of smartphones pull off some amazing tasks, not all of them equally well. Take audio/video recording. A few new models like the iPhone 5 can capture up to 1080p-rez video, but their built-in mikes don’t allow for much in the way of audio quality. (Check out the billions of dreadful-sounding concert videos posted on YouTube to hear just how bad.) To capture concerts and other events where audio quality is paramount, it helps to use a stand- alone recorder like the Zoom Q2HD.
Zoom is known for compact all-in-one audio recorders that pack multiple condenser mikes to capture stereo or surround sound with an up- to-360-degree spread in high-rez 96/24 LPCM format. Its most recent model, the Q2HD, adds 1080i video recording. Video features are basic: The cam has a fixed lens (the 4X zoom option is digital — yuck), and adjustments are limited to Auto, Concert, and Night presets. But its Mid- Side audio recording feature, which combines front-facing unidirectional and side-facing stereo mikes and can be adjusted for a recording angle ranging from 30° to 150°, gives you enough flexibility to capture everything from classroom lectures to outdoor rock concerts.
Live music recordings I made with the Zoom sounded great; the improvement over both my Flip camera and my iPhone was huge. The sound was full, with decent bass, and it had a rich sense of room ambience. Video captured in low light had a grainy look, but you’d have to use a high-quality camcorder to do any better there. For a $199 device that records to SD cards and is slim enough to slip in a shirt pocket, I’m sold on what the Q2HD can do. —Al Griffin
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