Thursday, October 3, 2013

Product Review: Zoom H6 Portable Recorder

IMG_4996This is just going to be a preliminary review, to start, and I’ll add to this review as the analysis and experience continues. For starters, I have to thank Nick Mundth from Full Compass (and the USPS) for nearly instant delivery of my new toy: I ordered it Tuesday morning and received it Wednesday morning with no special shipping requested. Not only have I always had great service from Full Compass, but Nick is an exceptional person and completely committed to providing great, personal service and I recommend that you call him (800-476-9886 ext. 1300) for any pro audio product information and orders. He will treat you right.

IMG_4997So, I popped open the Zoom H6’s packaging and was pleasantly surprised to find that Zoom includes a perfectly serviceable case for the H6 and accessories with the price of the basic unit. “Basic” is a pretty poor word to describe what comes with the H6 package, too. Zoom has learned something valuable from IMG_4998every portable recorder product release and all of the good ideas from every past product sticks to the new stuff. This might sound like an obvious and simple thing to do, but look at Tascam for an example of how impossible obvious and simple can be to a large corporation. The thoughtful folks from Zoom even included enough batteries to get the unit operating right out of the box.

IMG_4999 For starters, the H6 has retained the H4n’s case design: clear display with deep fairly user-friendly menus and the rubber-feeling back and sides that appear to be slip-resistant and fairly tough. The important controls are large, well-labeled, and self-explanatory to an audio professional. I can’t help but think this thing could spell economic trouble for a lot of high-end field recording equipment. The two supplied stereo mic rigs, XY and M/S, snap solidly into place at the head of the recorder and are identified on the H6’s mixer screen as either “XY” or “MS.” It would be cool if the H6’s firmware used that ID in the file naming conventions, but no such luck so far.

Even more, when recording in the “raw” mode I believe the data should be recorded as two separate WAV files rather than a stereo file that has to be separated to decode (unless you use Zoom’s decoder software). I sent a note to Zoom about with that suggestion and they replied, “That's a good idea for separating the mid side tracks. We will keep that in mind as we look to improve this and future Zoom products. ” How can you not love a company with that kind of attitude?

More to come.

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Wirebender Audio Rants

Over the dozen years I taught audio engineering at Musictech College and McNally Smith College of Music, I accumulated a lot of material that might be useful to all sorts of budding audio techs and musicians. This site will include comments and questions about professional audio standards, practices, and equipment. I will add occasional product reviews with as many objective and irrational opinions as possible.