Zoom H6 Handy Recorder

24-bit/96kHz, 6-in/2-out Modular Field Recording System and USB Audio Interface with 4 x XLR/TRS Combination Inputs, 4 x Microphone Preamps, and Included XY and Mid-Side Microphone Attachments
Zoom H6 Handy Recorder image 1
Zoom H6 Handy Recorder image 1
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Zoom H6 Handy Recorder
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Magnificently Modular!

Zoom's H6 Handy Recorder portable recording system gives you everything you need to capture quality audio anywhere. Four XLR/TRS combo inputs complete with onboard microphone preamps provide a solid basis for hooking up studio mics or taking feeds from line-level equipment. On top of that, the H6 recorder features both an XY and a Mid-side mic module, which you can swap out with additional aftermarket input modules. Add to that its impressive battery life and professional 24-bit/96kHz recording quality, and it's no wonder the Zoom H6 Handy Recorder is making waves!

Super-flexible I/O

All of the input and output options you need

One of the things that make the Zoom H6 Handy Recorder such a field-recording workhorse is its extensive I/O, which puts its functionality comfortably on par with the high-end dedicated recorders used by film and television professionals. On the body of the H6 alone, you'll find four combo jacks, each with its own volume dial and switchable -20dB pad. These inputs let you connect anything from phantom-powered condenser microphones to extremely hot line-level sources. Cooler still is the H6's modular expansion port, which lets you connect microphones such as the included XY or Mid-side capsules. Read all about them in our Zoom Capsule Buying Guide. As for monitoring, you get both a line and a headphone out on the H6, plus a built-in speaker for mono playback.

ZoomH6 I/O at a Glance:

  • Four onboard combo jacks provide microphone- and line-level input on XLR or 1/4" connections
  • Independent volume controls and switchable -20dB pads provide hands-on control over your levels
  • Up to two additional inputs available via swappable capsules (check out our Zoom Capsule Buying Guide)
  • Headphone and line-level outputs provide stereo sound for monitoring and playback
  • Review your recordings without external gear via the onboard monophonic speaker

Always Ready to Record

With Pre-record, Backup-record, and Auto-record functions

There's something inherently unpredictable about field recording, which makes it unnervingly easy to miss critical takes. Zoom equipped their H6 Handy Recorder with three powerful recording modes to spare you the stress of a lost or ruined recording opportunity: Pre-record, Backup-record, and Auto-record. With Pre-record, the H6 is continuously buffering the last two seconds of audio, which it includes with every recording. So, even if you hit record late, you're still likely to capture the sound you thought you missed. Along a similar line of thinking is the H6's Backup-record function, which records a separate stereo mix at 12dB down from your current settings. That way, if a sudden audio spike causes your input to clip, you still have a clean backup to work with. Finally, there's Auto-record, which starts recording when the volume passes a certain threshold.

Zoom H6 Recording Options at a Glance:

  • Pre-record function provides a buffer that keeps you from missing once-in-a-lifetime recordings
  • Continuous 2-second buffer lets you capture precious moments before you hit record
  • Backup-record prevents unexpected audio spikes from clipping your inputs and trashing your takes
  • Simultaneously records a second -12dB stereo track to provide a backup in case your original track distorts
  • Auto-record function starts recording as soon as the input crosses a certain volume threshold

Professional Processing

Polish your tracks before you ever hit the studio

The dynamics processing onboard the Zoom H6 Handy Recorder serves two important purposes: first, it smooths out your audio for a more polished sound, and second, it keeps your input levels from clipping. In addition to the general compression and limiting settings that work well in most situations, the H6 offers you advanced settings for specific applications. Additional compression settings let you smooth out vocals or punch up drums, and task-oriented limiting modes deal with the consistently high sound-pressure level of live concerts and the sudden spikes of small-room audio production perfectly. What's more, the H6 includes a switchable highpass filter that lets you cut out wind and handling noise and tame plosives. Additionally, you'll find handy tools such as a metronome and multimode tuner onboard the H6, plus pitch shifting and looping capabilities.

Zoom H6 Onboard Processing at a Glance:

  • Standard compression and limiting provide studio polish and prevent overloading
  • Advanced compression modes smooth out vocals and punch up drums
  • Additional limiter settings are ideal for live concert or small-room recording
  • Highpass (low-cut) filter lets you tame wind and handling noise at the source
  • Handy metronome and chromatic tuner with guitar and bass settings onboard

Marathon Recording Machine

Awesome battery life meets massive onboard storage

Running out of space or juice in the middle of a recording is a real drag, which is why many of us here at Sweetwater have come to appreciate the extra steps Zoom made to protect the H6 Handy Recorder from these everyday disasters. For starters, you can record for the better part of a day with your H6 running on just four AA batteries. And these are just your run-of-the-mill AAs, so keeping a spare pack on hand is no big deal. What is a big deal is that you can record directly onto SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards for up to 128GB of recording space. Even if you're recording six tracks at 24-bit/96kHz, you can still track over 20 hours of audio on a 128GB card. Onboard overdubbing capabilities also help you make the most of your recording capacity. And if you're concerned about conserving disk space, then you can always record in stereo MP3 at up to 320kbps.

Zoom H6 Recording Capacity at a Glance:

  • Records for up to 20 hours on just four alkaline or rechargeable NiMH AA batteries
  • USB bus power provides excellent alternative power options with or without a computer
  • Captures audio directly to SD card media up to 128GB for extended tracking sessions
  • Track professional Broadcast Wave Format (BWF) multitrack audio at up to 24-bit/96kHz
  • Record high-quality MP3s at up to 320kbps for extremely long recording applications

Versatile USB Audio Interface

From field recorder to 6 x 2 audio interface in a single cable

Not only is the Zoom H6 Handy Recorder an amazing field recorder, but it's also a super-portable USB audio interface too. How cool is that?! We'll tell you. For starters, because it's class compliant, you can plug your H6 into just about any Mac or Windows PC, or even your iPad (via the Apple Camera Connection Kit), and get up to six inputs and two outputs right to your favorite DAW software or recording app. And if you don't already have a DAW of choice, Zoom includes a copy of Steinberg's Cubase LE to get you going. What's more, all of the H6's onboard processing is available even when you use it as an interface, so you can track with compression, limiting, and filtering. There's zero-latency input monitoring to make recording easier, plus a cool Loop Back mode that lets you mix and record a stereo feed over USB along with the H6's inputs.

Zoom H6 USB Interface at a Glance:

  • Offers full 6-in/2-out USB recording to your Mac, Windows PC, or iPad
  • Onboard compression, limiting, and filtering available when connected
  • Direct monitoring provides zero-latency recording capabilities
  • Loop Back mode lets you record USB and external inputs together
  • Includes a copy of Steinberg's Cubase LE DAW software

Zoom H6 Handy Recorder Features:

  • A versatile 6-in/2-out mobile recording system
  • 4 XLR/TRS combination inputs with microphone preamps and phantom power (+12/+24/+48V) accommodate most analog connections
  • Modular input connection lets you attach onboard microphones and additional input jacks
  • Gain knobs for each input make setting levels fast and easy
  • Shockmounted XYH-6 XY stereo microphone module included
  • Captures audio at up to 24-bit/96kHz professional-grade resolution
  • Doubles as a handy USB recording interface with your Mac, Windows PC, or iPad (via Apple Camera Connection Kit)
  • Large LCD display makes navigation and setup extremely easy
  • Built-in processing includes highpass filtering, compression, limiting, and M-S stereo width decoding
  • Loop playback, variable playback speed (from 50% to 150%), and variable pitch per track make this an excellent practice tool
  • Chromatic tuner and metronome built in for added convenience
  • Records onto SD and SDHC storage media with up to 128GB capacity
  • Record for up to 20 hours on just 4 AA batteries
  • Includes operation manual, 2GB SD card, 4 AA batteries, USB cable, foam windscreen, Cubase LE software, and carrying case
  • Optional shotgun mic, input expansion module, and hot shoe mount accessory also available

Additional Media

H6 Handy Recorder User Manual
Portable Recorder Buying Guide
Zoom Modular Capsule Usage Guide
Summer 13 NAMM Show Report
Zoom H6 Handy Recorder Overview at GearFest 2013

Tech Specs

Audio Interface Yes (via USB)
A/D Resolution 24-bit/96kHz
Simultaneous Rec Tracks 6
Simultaneous Play Tracks 6
Built-in Mic(s) Modular (includes X/Y and Mid-Side mics)
Analog Inputs 4 x XLR-1/4" combo
Analog Outputs 1 x 1/8" Stereo Headphone, 1 x 1/8" Stereo Line Out
Headphone Outputs 1 x 1/8"
Built-in Speaker Yes
Memory (removable) SD/SDHC/SDXC up to 128GB
Built-in Effects Highpass filter, compressor, limiter
Power Supply 4 x AA (alkaline or NiMH)
Max Battery Life 20 hours
Stand Mountable Yes (via optional adapter)
Height 6.01"
Width 3.06"
Depth 1.88"
Weight 0.62 lbs.
Manufacturer Part Number H6

Customer Reviews

Based on 51 reviews
Write your review

Good Recording

Excellent recorder! It works very well when recording all the simultaneous channels and the microphones that include are professional, you can realize recordings in the exteriors with a musical group and also record phrases with only a microphone. The attention of sweetwater is excellent, my product arrived fast!

Incredible amount of value

First off - this was another great buying experience with Sweetwater. Fast shipping and top notch service and advice from my consultant. If you haven't done business with Sweetwater before, start now. Their service team are product experts and consummate professionals.As for the H6. I couldn't be happier.Because this thing is so versatile, it can be difficult to picture all the different use cases for it. So I'll break it down like this - here's what comes in this package:- A complete standalone 6 track recording system with overdubbing and basic monitoring capabilities.- Plug it in via USB and it becomes an DAW recording interface for Cubase and the software is included too. So it's a 6 track MBox with tons more versatility.- 4 really nice preamps. They are clean and quiet. There are certainly better out there, but you'll spend a ton more money to get them. I'd say they are comparable to $100-$250 per channel stand-alone pre amps.- Two stereo mic attachments (4 total mics) that perform on par with $300-$600 worth of mics.- Several expansion alternatives to the stereo attachments, including two more preamps.- The whole thing runs for days on 4 AA batteries.I do a little bit of DSLR video production, and record music as well. With the right mic setup I would feel very comfortable capturing live bands with this. It's amazing for video/field work. I'm even planning to use it and cubase to pull together a few demos for bands I'm working with. Put this thing in the right room, with the right Mics, and you'll get sound that's 95% as good as what you can get with thousands of dollars worth of gear. It's not the best at any one thing, but it's in a ton of top 10 lists making it an MVP if you work a number of different scenarios. If you are a hobbyist or songwriter/musician looking to do some basic recording I would start here for sure.If you are a pro who needs something that can transition to different recording environments and deliver results that your clients will love - this is a great choice.It's WAY more than I expected for $400. Just to be clear though, it's not going to compete evenly with a rack of super pricey gear. If your work demands the best possible result - this isn't for you. But you probably aren't looking at $400 solutions if that is your niche. The H6 will get you to a 90/100 quickly and cheaply - but it can't take you much beyond that. For the majority of applications that is all you really need.
Music background: Engineer Generalist - live, studio, and field work.

zoom h6

Very pleased...huge improvement over previous model. I use for capture audio with dslr.
Music background: Musician in college

OK, I'm not an audio guy...

but I work with plenty of audio people. Mostly I shoot stills and video, and this thing has almost everything right for work in the field. I love the manual controls. When I first opened the package, I was surprised at how large it was, but now, during production, I appreciate the size and ease of use. It's a great tool for your arsenal. It's so nicely designed, I'll pull it out and start recording within seconds. This kind of machine is only possible after many generations of making recorders. Only downside for me, no timecode reader/generator. This is certainly a solid, well designed package for the money.
Music background: no music...

Great recorder

Love this unit. The MS mic capsule sounds fantastic with headphones. Good feature set lets me make great recordings of the service at my church, utilizing the MS capsule and a stereo feed from the board.
Music background: Bassist/Vocalist

Sweetwater Advice

Brad Irvan

As a sound designer on film sets, I've worked with a lot of recorders over the years, so it's refreshing when one comes along that actually includes new features that help out production-sound pros. I used the Zoom H6 to record a number of sound effects, and the backup record and auto-record features bailed me out more than once, when I tried to gather elusive, hard-to-capture sounds like thunder and emergency vehicles.

Brian Lowrance

The Zoom H6 has been a tremendous asset to my freelance audio/video production company. Whether I need to multitrack a small band or use it on a video shoot to hook my wireless mics up to, it never fails to get the job done. A lot of times I'm on these gigs by myself, and the easy-to-navigate functions are a huge help. The H6 keeps up with my rigorous production schedule by allowing me to capture high-quality audio without having to lug around a ton of gear.

Jonathan Williams

As a contracting audio engineer and singer/songwriter, I love the way the Zoom H6 lets me work, without flexing my budget. It's great to have 6 XLR/TRS connections in one device which allows me to record in surround. The easy-to-use attachments also let me record all manner of sounds for composing film scores. It's an incredibly versatile portable recorder!
See also: Portable Recorders, Zoom, Zoom Portable Recorders