If there's one telltale sign that a video wasn't produced by a professional, it's usually the crappy sound accompanying the footage. The microphones on a smartphone or a cheap camcorder are awful at best, which is why companies like Sony and Zoom are finally releasing models with stereo mics that will help your amateur productions sound a lot less amateur.
So that it remains easy to pocket, Zoom's new Q4 features a set of X/Y mics that pop up to capture 24-bit stereo audio alongside your 1080P footage, and then fold away when not in use. It also helps the mics to sit higher, above the camera, so they're able to better capture the sounds of what's going on in front of the lens. And a set of dedicated buttons on the side of the camera let you adjust the gain, activate a lo-cut filter, and even tweak the sound levels.
When shooting in 1080P the $300 Q4 does limit you to 30 frames per second, so if you're capturing a lot of high-speed action, or hope to process the video in slow motion later, you'll need to step down to its 720P 60fps mode.
The Q4 does come in a little larger than Sony's Music Video Recorder, but its flip-out screen should make it a little easier to frame the action while you're recording it. And the LCD is removable, giving you even more flexibility when it comes to positioning the camera where you need it. Of course if image quality is your primary concern you'll probably still want to stick with Sony or Canon's offerings. But in the field of remote sound recording Zoom is certainly a name that stands out, and the Q4 certainly shouldn't leave you wanting when it comes to audio quality. [Zoom via SlashGear]