I just received a private message from someone asking about the recommended settings for recording with the Zoom H2. Seeing that other people might find this useful too, I'm putting it here for posterity
I used the Zoom H2 for a little over two years and made a lot of recordings with it, both of performances and of group teaching sessions. I settled on the settings below after quite some experimentation. You might want to try these—they've worked well for me.Microphones
For stage performances, I try to place the recorder about 5m from the drummers, using the 120° microphones for better stereo imaging. Note that this also will pick up more ambient noise. If that is an issue, use the 90° microphones instead. For workshops and lessons, I use the 90° microphones pointed at the teacher, to remove more of the sound created by the students.
I've never bother using the surround sound setting with all four microphones active. It just eats more memory and often sounds worse, especially in indoor settings, because you pick up a lot more reflected sound (with its concomitant time delay).Microphone Gain
Set the MIC GAIN switch to LOW. The sound pressure with drums is so high that the higher sensitivity settings cause clipping.Record Mode
My preferred recording mode is MP3 VBR (Variable Bit Rate). It provides high quality while keeping memory consumption low. The quality with this setting is such that you will not be able to distinguish the recording from CD quality unless you are under 30, have well-trained ears, and a stereo system that is far out of the price range of what most people can afford. (I'm talking multiple tens of thousands of dollars here…)
I never bother recording in WAV format because, as a rule, the recording situation is such that the marginally higher recording quality is negated by the poor recording conditions. If you have plenty of memory, I'd recommend WAV 44.1kHz/16bit, which is CD quality. The higher sample rate and resolution WAV modes are almost certainly a waste of memory; recording quality improves only very marginally in these modes, and they use up a lot more memory (by a factor of 3.26 if you compare 44.1kHz/16bit with 96kHz/24bit).AGC/Compressor/Limiter
I switch these off because they all tamper with the dynamics of the sound. It's better to not use them and instead pay attention to the record level setting, making sure that there is no clipping. That way, you get the true dynamics of the music instead of something that's been tampered with by the effects processor. If in doubt, set the record level a little low to be on the safe side and avoid clipping.
Never use the AGC (Automatic Gain Control)—it causes horrible pumping. The compressor settings are useless to for drums, really mucking up the dynamics.
If you really can't control the record level setting, or you are in a situation where you can't predict the maximum sound level, use the LIMIT2 setting, which gives you a few more decibels of head room if things get really loud.Low-cut Filter
Turn this off. If you are outside, and there is wind, use the wind screen instead. It is more effective than the filter, even if there is quite a bit of wind.Auto Record
I never use this. If found it to be too unreliable to be useful, and it has a habit of cutting off the the start of a sound when it starts recording.Pre-record
I always turn this on. It buffers the preceding two seconds worth of sound in stand-by so I can be up to two seconds late when pressing the record button and still get a clean recording.Monitor
Turn this off—it wastes battery power.Plug-in Power
Turn this off unless you are actually using an external microphone that requires plug-in power.Battery Type
Remember to set this according to what kind of batteries it uses. That way, you get a more accurate indication of the remaining battery power.General recording tips
Pay attention to the little LED just below the microphones (labelled MIC ACTIVE). During recording, that LED is supposed to be steady. If you see it flashing rapidly, this means that the recording level is set too high and you'll end up with truly horrible distortion.
Ideally, you want the recording level set as high as possible, that is, to the point just before you see the LED flash. But, pragmatically, it's safer and more convenient to set the recording level somewhat lower, say 5dB or so. That sacrifices a little of the dynamic range but avoids clipping. And, for drums, the dynamic range is usually not all that high so, even with a lower recording level, you still get a good-quality recording.
Look at the level meter during recording. For drums, to be on the safe side, set the recording level such that the peak level does not go beyond the 6dB mark. This gives you a good-quality recording with enough head room to absorb an unexpected louder passage without clipping.
I find that, with the microphone gain switch set to low, a recording level setting of around 90 works well in most situations.Normalize Function
You may find that you made a recording where the record level was set too low, so the whole thing is very quiet on playback. If so, you can use the normalize function of the Zoom H2 to raise the sound level. Go to the FILE menu and select the recording you want to fix. Then select FILE NORMALIZE. This readjusts the recording such that the loudest passage of the recording is at 0dB, meaning that the recording is as loud as it can be without causing distortion.