Zoom PodTrak P4 Review: At-a-Glance
- The PodTrak P4 is a dedicated podcast recorder created by digital recorder legends, Zoom
- You can plug in up to 4 XLR mics are record in multitrack
- There’s independent headphone control for each participant
- You can connect it to your smartphone, computer, or iPad to record remote calls
- You can use it as a USB audio interface, as well as a portable recorder
- There are sound pads so you can play ‘live’ music and effects during your episodes
- It only costs $200, which is pretty incredible considering all the features on offer
- Read on for the full review, photos, and sound samples
It wasn’t so long ago that podcasters recorded their content through gear that was, first and foremost, designed with music in mind.
But podcasting has grown up these past couple of years. Audio equipment heavyweights now see the medium as something worth fully investing in. The arrival of Rode’s Rodecaster Pro in late 2018 all but confirmed that. Zoom – famous for their omnipresent recorders like the H5 and H6 – have further reinforced it. They recently unveiled the PodTrak P4 – and it’s designed specifically for podcasters.
Our Rating: 4.9/5
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What is the Zoom PodTrak P4?
Zoom market the PodTrak P4 as “the ultimate recorder for podcasting”. This is exciting, given that I thought their H5 and H6 models could already lay decent claim to that tagline.
When the Zoom H6 arrived on the scene it was pretty much the H5 with a few extra inputs. The PodTrak P4, on the other hand, looks like its own thing entirely.
What Can It Do? 5 Key Features of the PodTrak P4
Before you dive in and buy any new gear, it’s important to weigh up whether or not it’s really going to improve your current setup and workflow.
In this Zoom PodTrak P4 review, we’ll take a look at its key capabilities and features. Depending on your existing kit and the type of show you run, this will help you decide whether it’s an essential purchase, or more of a lavish and unnecessary expense.
If you’d like to learn the ins and outs of this handy little device, check out our Zoom PodTrak P4 course inside Podcraft Academy.
1. You Can Plug in and Record 4 XLR Mics (in Multitrack)
So this is the same as the out-the-box Zoom H6. There’s always the odd podcaster who seems to be obsessed with having 652 multitrack inputs on their recording device, but if you’re bringing any more than 4 people into a single conversation, you should really have a good reason for it. The PodTrak P4’s inputs hit that 4-participant sweet spot.
Recording on separate tracks provides flexibility and control over your podcast sound. This guide’s tips and tools can help.Find out more »
Your XLR mics can be of the dynamic or condenser build. If it’s the latter, the P4 has a Phantom Power option. Phantom Power is basically a Superhero who hangs around in audio interfaces and makes things work properly.
Your 4 inputs will be recorded on their own tracks, which can make life easier in the post-production phase. If you’ve recorded everyone at wildly varying volume levels, for example, you can quickly fix this to make it all consistent. If one is a remote guest and the Amazon guy starts banging their door halfway through, you’ll be able to chop that out, too.
2. You Have Independent Headphone Control for All Participants
Each of the participants you’re recording should be wearing headphones. This means they can hear exactly how they sound, as the recording is happening. If they keep popping the mic, they’ll know about it. If they’re too far away from the mic, they’ll know about that too. Or at least, they should. You might still need to step in and advise them on their technique now and then, but it certainly makes your life easier.
It has always been possible to have everyone set up with headphones, no matter what recorder you’re using. Even if it has one single output, you can use a splitter to send the audio out to as many pairs of headphones as you like.
The problem with this approach, however, is that people’s hearing can vary. Remember that elderly relative who’d shout “SPEAK UP!” before you’d even finished asking them if they’d like another Custard Cream? Well if you plan on recording them on a future episode, you can crank their headphone volume up to 11 without bursting the eardrums of anyone else.
The headphone inputs on the Zoom PodTrak P4 are 3.5mm. That’s the same as the earbuds you carry around to listen to podcasts on your phone, and is pretty universal as far as headphones are concerned.
3. You Can Record Remote Calls
Here we come to another of the PodTrak P4’s marquee selling points – the ability to record calls.
Nothing beats having all your participants sitting round the table together. But sometimes the ideal guest you want on your show lives on the other side of the world. Or, sometimes there’s a global pandemic going on.
Recording remote conversations are the most popular way of running podcast interviews these days. There are a lot of great web-based tools for doing this. You can still use one of these tools alongside the PodTrak P4 to record your conversations via your computer’s USB connection. Or, you can link your phone directly to the P4 and record simple phone calls.
There are a few options for connecting up your phone. You can simply use a 3.5mm – 3.5mm cable. If you do this, you just need to bear in mind that your guest will be hearing you through the phone mic, as opposed to your XLR mic. This should be different if you were using a TRRS (as opposed to TRS) cable. TRS means “tip ring sleeve”, and TRRS have an extra ring on them (look at the 3.5mm plug on your smartphone for an example of this). I didn’t have access to a TRRS adapter during my short time with the PodTrak P4, so I’m unfortunately unable to confirm this just yet.
Alternatively, you could use a camera connection kit adapter to link up your phone to the Zoom PodTrak P4. Another option is to go wireless. This means bringing in an additional device (bough separately) called the Zoom BTA-2 Bluetooth Receiver. This’ll let you link your phone up with the P4 via Bluetooth, and away you go. There’s a handy ‘Mix-Minus’ button in the settings that’ll prevent remote guests from hearing their own voice coming back through the recorder at them, too!
4. There’s Sound Pads for Playing Music & SFX
Sound Pads are basically just a bank of pre-recorded sounds or clips you can play in real-time, during a recording session. Admittedly, few podcasters will find use for these. Most prefer to add in all their music and audio effects in post-production. But there are a couple of reasons why this feature might be appealing to you.
Firstly, if you do live podcasting, this can really enhance the production level of your show. You’ll have effects, music beds, transitions, and sweepers at the touch of a button. There are 11 pre-recorded presets on the PodTrak P4, and you can load in your own, too. This could be anything from an intellectual long-form interview, to a puerile fart noise that you’ll hit each time your co-host attempts to tell a joke.
Secondly, adding all this stuff in during the recording itself can save you time mixing it all together in post. This way of doing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But for some, it’s an essential part of their workflow.
5. You Can Use It as a USB Audio Interface
If you’d like to show off your fancy XLR mic in those 300 Zoom calls you do for your work each day, then the PodTrak P4 hooks up to your computer as a USB audio interface.
This can also come in handy if you’ve been invited on to another podcast as an interview guest. The chances are, the host will be recording the show online. The P4 will help you bring clear and crisp audio quality to the session. After that, the rest is just down to the words that come out of your mouth.
I should add that the PodTrak P4 doesn’t record in multitrack when used as a USB interface (recording into a DAW like Audacity or Adobe Audition). However, you can still record onto the SD card (not included) at the same time.
6. What the PodTrak P4 CAN’T Do
Unlike the Zoom H5 and H6, the PodTrak P4 won’t work as a standalone (dictaphone-style) recorder. You need to plug at least one XLR mic in to record yourself. So although the device is a steal at the $200 mark, just be mindful that it isn’t everything you’ll need to record a podcast. Here’s a roundup of our top podcasting mics on the market right now.
Zoom PodTrak P4 Review: The Tangible Stuff
The PodTrak P4 weighs about 290g. That’s the equivalent to eight Roborovski dwarf hamsters. Or 7.2% of a cat. More practically – a bit more than the weight of your smartphone, a bit less than your favourite coffee mug.
Dimension-wise we’re looking at 112mm (W), 155mm (D), 47mm (H), so ever so slightly longer than the average pen.
Bottom line to all this? It’s very light and portable!
One downside is that it’s not the most durable interface I’ve ever seen. It has a plastic build, and one bad fall looks like it could do a bit of damage. If you are a perennial walking disaster, consider using a Shure SM58 into the PreSonus Audiobox USB 96 instead.
For getting power to your PodTrak P4, you can plug it into the mains, connect it to a USB source, or pop in two AA batteries (included). If you’re running on battery power, Zoom estimate that you’ll get between 4 and 9 hours of recording time. If you can’t record an episode of your Roborovski dwarf hamster podcast in that time, then you’re really struggling.
It’s worth mentioning, too, that the USB connection is USB-C. I believe this is the size of an Android phone charger. There wasn’t one included in the box, so I had to go to Poundland to buy one. Cost me £1, and we don’t even get to keep the recorder. Heartbreaking stuff.
Pricing! Zoom PodTrak P4 Review
At the time of writing this review, you can pick one up brand new on Amazon for $200.
Buy the Zoom PodTrak P4 today
You get two AA batteries in the box, but no USB cable or SD card.
What Does It Sound Like?
Here we come to probably the most important factor in any audio gear review. How does it sound?
I recorded these sound samples with theRode Procaster,Shure SM58, andSamson Q2Umics. No post-processing has been applied, so you’ll be able to hear the audio exactly as it was recorded. I also included a snippet of a phone call recording, where you’ll hear some riveting chat about sound blankets.
Zoom PodTrak P4 Review: Summary
So is the Zoom PodTrak P4 the recorder for you? There are a few things to consider, either way.
If you already own a digital recorder like the Zoom H5 or H6, and have a workflow in-place, then it’s hard to make the case to fork out more money for the PodTrak P4.
But if you’re actively in the market for a podcast recorder, then this bit of kit is worth serious consideration. It’s a very reasonable price point (a lot cheaper than the Rodecaster) and the call recording feature alone will make it appealing to many podcasters. Just remember though that you’ll still need at least one XLR microphone to get use of it, and you might potentially have to spend £1 on a USB cable too!
If you’d like to learn the ins and outs of this handy little device, check out our Zoom PodTrak P4 course inside Podcraft Academy.
Zoom have a fantastic reputation in the audio world. The release of the P4 will only go to further cement their place as one of the podcasters’ favourites. It’s great to see podcast-specific gear like this being released. After all, this trend means it’s going to become easier and easier to record studio-quality audio content. It’s another big step towards accessibility for all.
Hopefully you’ve found this PodTrak P4 review helpful, and it has been useful in your quest to find the ideal equipment and setup for you. If the thought of having a simple all-in-one podcast recorder seems appealing, then you might also be interested in an all-in-one ‘podcast maker’ app to pair it with.
Alitu is one such app. You can use it to automate all the mixing together, cleaning up, and levelling of your audio files. It makes editing ridiculously easy, even if you’ve never edited audio in your life before. Once your episode is ready, you can publish it from directly within the Alitu interface, too. Try it out free for 7 days and see what you think.
Description. Zoom PodTrak P4 Portable Podcast Recorder, Battery Powered, 4 Mic Inputs, Phone Input For Call-In Guests, Remote interviews, 4 Headphone Outputs, Sound Pads, Multi-Track Recording, Audio Interface for recording and streaming.How do you record on Zoom PodTrak P4? ›
Use a USB-C cable to connect the P4 to your device. Press the Menu button, navigate to Settings, then press the Record button (Enter). Select USB Mix Minus, press the Record button, then select On. Launch the software you'll be using (i.e., Skype, Zoom) and press Record.What is the battery life of Zoom PodTrak P4? ›
A USB output enables convenient recording straight into a DAW for editing and processing. The PodTrak P4 has a battery life of 3.5 hours.What is the difference between Tascam and Zoom audio recorders? ›
The main differences between the Tascam DR 05 vs the Zoom H1 are: The Tascam DR 05 has a 17-hour battery life, whereas the Zoom H1 has 10 hours of battery life. The Tascam DR 05 is compatible with a USB, whereas the Zoom H1 is compatible with a Mini USB. The Tascam DR 05 weighs 4.01oz, whereas the Zoom H1 weighs 2.08oz.What is the difference between Zoom H4n and pro? ›
The H4n Pro is an update to the very popular H4n which was a very popular recorder. The primary update to the H4n Pro is the improved preamps resulting the overall recording quality. Additionally, the H4n Pro has a better screen, and the XLR microphone inputs are locking.What is the best way to record audio on Zoom? ›
- Open the Zoom client and click Settings.
- Click the Recording tab.
- Enable Record a separate audio file for each participant.
- Record and save the meeting to your computer.
- Once the meeting is over and the recording has processed, open the recording folder.
- Within the folder, open Audio Record.
When you record a meeting and choose Record to the Cloud, the video, audio, and chat text are recorded in the Zoom cloud.Where does the recording go when you record on Zoom? ›
If you need to stop or pause the recording, tap More one more time and tap either the Pause button or Stop button. Once the recording is stopped, it will be processed and appear under Recordings on the Zoom web portal.
Designed for truly convenient portability, the PodTrack P4 can record directly to an SDHC card (up to 32GB capacity) or an SDXC card (up to 512GB capacity).Can you use a USB mic on the PodTrak P4? ›
Since USB mics connect with a USB cable, you would clearly not be able to plug them into the PodTrak P4. So if you currently use a USB mic, you'll need to change over to a standard microphone to use the P4.
Don't worry if you don't have speakers connected to your audio interface - you can still use headphones alone to hear sound from your computer.Does Zoom drain computer battery? ›
We have identified that running some video conferencing applications may have a significant impact on battery life. The system run time can be impacted by up to 65% vs. during normal usage. Video conferencing apps have a similar effect on other mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.What is the difference between Zoom PodTrak P4 and H8? ›
Both the H6 and H8 can record up to 24-bit/96kHz. However, if you're only interested in recording podcasts, the PodTrak P4 is the obvious choice. Features such as its remote recording capabilities and the volume controls for each headphone output are great for podcast recording, and aren't available on the H6 or H8.Does Zoom drain a lot of battery? ›
Yes, they do. As live wallpapers depend on your phone's CPU and GPU for rendering purpose they will consume battery.What is the best zoom recorder without permission? ›
The best way to save a Zoom meeting without permission is by recording it through a third-party screen recorder. Movavi Screen Recorder is our special pick, as it's a beginner-friendly yet robust software for screen recording.Which audio recorder is the best? ›
- Best overall: Sony ICD-PX470 Digital Voice Recorder.
- Best digital: Zoom H1n Portable Recorder.
- Best voice-activated: SciTech Mini Digital Voice Activated Recorder.
- Best for iPhone: Shure MOTIV MV88 Condenser Microphone.
- Best for street interviews: Blast Mic.
- Best long-distance recording: Dictopro X100 Voice Recorder.
Video will still be sent at a maximum resolution of 1280 x 720p. However, the video will be resized to fill the entire recording frame.How long can a Zoom h4n record for? ›
Recording time 4GB (SDHC): Approx. 380 minutes (WAV 44.1 kHz/16 bit stereo track) Approx. 68 hours (MP3 44.1 kHz/128kbps stereo track)* Recording times are approximations.What is the highest quality for Zoom? ›
You can enable HD video, to utilize 720p or 1080p for high-quality video when in a meeting or a webinar. To enable HD video in your Zoom client: In the Zoom desktop client, click your profile picture, then click Settings . Click the Video tab.Can you record a zoom meeting without anyone knowing? ›
The only way to record a Zoom meeting without the host knowing about it is to do it with a third-party tool, like a screen recording software such as Loom. If you try to record the meeting using Zoom's recording functionality, the host will be alerted, so you need to use a screen recorder instead.
You can record Zoom meetings by clicking the "Record" button at the bottom. It's free to record Zoom meetings on desktop, but you need a paid subscription to record on mobile. Zoom meetings can only be recorded if the host allows, but it's easy for hosts to grant permission.Does Zoom record your whole screen or just the meeting? ›
Only one screen is recorded the entire time. If the host is the only sharing video, the recorded format will default to Speaker view with shared screen. Participants who do not have camera turned on will not be recorded.Does Zoom record muted audio? ›
Whenever someone mutes, their track temporarily stops recording and the sync goes off. For example, If somebody mutes for 1 minute of a 30-minute call, their resulting audio track will be 29 minutes.Why is there no sound on my Zoom recording? ›
If the sound still does not play, it is possible that the mic was muted in the zoom app, the headset was muted, or the Zoom app had the wrong microphone selected. Perform an audio test before you start the next recording to ensure everything is working as intended.Can you watch a zoom meeting after it's over? ›
Under Previous, you can view any past meetings. It will list meetings from the past 30 days. It will list the date, time, topic, and Meeting ID. You can select start to begin the meeting or edit to change the settings.How long does it take for Zoom to process a recording? ›
Your Zoom recording will usually finish processing at twice the meeting length after the end of the meeting, though it can take longer - up to 72 hours, depending on Zoom's current recording load. If your meeting lasted 30 minutes, it will likely take 60 minutes to process after the meeting has ended.What is the best recording format for Zoom H4n pro? ›
The H4n's highest recording quality is 24 bit / 96 Khz WAV, which is higher quality than CDs, but may be unreadable by many applications due to its large file size.Is USB mic good for recording? ›
Yes. A USB mic becomes the recording interface to your computer. It replaces any other inbuilt microphone or recording system and gives you a good, clean recorded sound. While many are designed for speech there are plenty, as listed here, that will operate brilliantly over the dynamic range of the singing voice.Can you plug a USB mic into a Zoom recorder? ›
To use the H1 as a USB microphone connected to a computer:
Connect the USB cable to both the computer and the Zoom H1, with the Zoom off. When “USB Audio” comes up on the Zoom screen, select it by pressing the big red “REC” button. In your computer sound preferences, select the Zoom H1 as the audio input.
You can't connect a USB mic to an audio interface or mixer, as there are currently none on the market with USB audio inputs. Also, USB mics strictly use digital inputs and outputs. There are XLR/USB mics out there, which, when using the XLR jack, can be connected to a mixer that's connected to the computer.
A dedicated mixer can be optional if you only tend to record from one to two sound sources. However, the audio interface is another story. If you want high-quality audio, this device is absolutely essential.Do you really need an audio interface? ›
If you use only one microphone and a USB mic works for you (see our blog post about microphones), then you may not need an audio interface. If you monitor on speakers or wish to use XLR microphones, then it might be time to explore purchasing a dedicated audio interface.What is the negative impact of Zoom? ›
Reduction of Mobility
Zoom calls unnaturally reduce peoples' mobility by forcing them to stay within a field of view. Whereas people would be able to freely walk around and move during in-person and audio-only conversations.
Zoom enables high-quality meetings because it's not strictly browser-based. It uses your computer's resources to handle a lot of the audio and video processing. The downside is that this can cause high CPU and memory usage, particularly with entry-level computers and those that don't have a dedicated graphics card.How long does PodTrak P4 record? ›
Powered via AA Batteries, AC Adapter, or USB
Alkaline batteries can keep the P4 running for up to four hours of continuous recording.
The Ultimate Recorder for Podcasting
Compact, affordable, and loaded with features, the PodTrak™ P4 makes it easy to capture professional audio wherever you're recording your podcasts.
Meeting ends after 40 minutes
This includes: 1 host, 1 or more participants. 0 host, 1 or more participants.
If you are a basic (free) user on a free account, 40 minutes is the maximum duration your meetings can last. You can either end the meeting and restart it for an additional 40 minutes, or you upgrade to Pro for unlimited meeting durations.Does Zoom use a lot of WIFI? ›
Zoom uses about 900 MB of data per hour, depending on the task you're doing. One-on-one video calls consume an average of about 540 MB to 1.62 GB per hour (with more data used in HD). Group calls with everyone's video turned on takes up 810 MB to 2.475 GB an hour.What is Zoom H4n Pro used for? ›
The H4n Pro can capture audio in both MP3 and WAV file formats. WAV files recorded with the H4n Pro comply with BWF (Broadcast Wave Format) and include marks and creation dates. It allows for easy syncing and file organization for both musicians and filmmakers.
recording patterns from 90 to 120 degrees.
The H4n allows the user to adjust the angle of the onboard microphones to ad- dress a wider range of recording scenarios. If you want a wider area of sound, you can set the microphones to 120 degrees. Or set them to 90 degrees for a more focused sound source.
Usually available on higher-end devices, a zoom microphone increases audio quality by focusing sound collection on the recorded subject, directing its aim as you zoom in with the camera lens.Does the Zoom H4n Pro have effects? ›
The Zoom H4n Pro features built-in effects for making music, everything from guitar effects, reverbs, delays, flangers, chorus, reverse effects and more. You can put the H4n Pro into “MTR” mode, which lets you use it as a 4-track recorder and overdub tracks with effects.How long can a Zoom H4n record for? ›
Recording time 4GB (SDHC): Approx. 380 minutes (WAV 44.1 kHz/16 bit stereo track) Approx. 68 hours (MP3 44.1 kHz/128kbps stereo track)* Recording times are approximations.How long does Zoom H4n battery last? ›
Zoom estimates that if you record in stereo at 16-bit/44.1kHz, you will get 6 hours of recording time in normal mode and 11 hours of recording time in stamina mode.
The H4n requires just 2 AA batteries—either alkaline or rechargeable NiMH. Battery life when using alkaline batteries is up to 6 hours in normal operation, or up to 11 hours when operating in STAMINA mode.Can you use Zoom H4n with iPhone? ›
Introduction. If you're looking for a way to record professional-quality audio, you may be wondering if it's possible to use Zoom H4N with iPhone. The answer is yes – it is possible!Can you use a 64gb SD card in Zoom H4n? ›
The Zoom H4n only accepts up to 32GB SD cards. When inserting an unformatted (new) SD card, you will be asked to format it on the display window.Can you use Zoom without a camera or microphone? ›
While you are not required to have a webcam to join a Zoom Meeting or Webinar, you will not be able to transmit video of yourself.What SD card should I use for Zoom H4n pro? ›
However, I'd recommend using a 4, 8, or 16Gb card, if you can find one that is of such a small size. Those will give you plenty of recording time, and smaller SD cards allow the Zoom H4n to load more quickly after power-up.
120 degrees would be good for capturing a field recording or live performance, as it captures a wider sound range. 90 degrees would be better suited for a one on one interview. NOTE: When recording an interview, you want to make sure your mics are set to record in MONO.What is the best microphone for Zoom H4n pro? ›
Using the Sennheiser e835 dynamic microphone plugged into a Zoom H4n makes for an excellent home recording. The dynamic microphone will make voices sound clearer as it doesn't pick up as much background noise as the microphones on the Zoom recorder do.