Contributed by Nathan Statezni
The H4n has been recommended for survey over the Marantz PMD 661 on the basis of price and bang-for-buck. Although the H4n has very good sound quality and is certainly better than the Zoom H2, it is not the best.
Note that although online reviews will often talk a lot about onboard features and connections, they often do not describe the pre-amp well, if at all. This is the part of the recorder that boosts the microphone signal to something usable. Most cheap recorders have poor, cheap pre-amps. Either you can't boost the microphone up well, or if you do, there's tons of background noise and the subject sounds like they're sitting in a well. The pre-amps on the H4n are in a class above the H2, just as the pre-amps on the 661 are in a class above the H4n. Often that's where the extra money goes.
See also Nathan's Zoom H4n RTT Guide
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