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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
The H6 handles my AKG 451Es very nicely! I chose this one over all of their other products because of the VU meters. They have not disappointed me!. I pickedup up a Blue tooth transmitter for 25 bucks so that I can record, hear and see the vu meters while playing my piano. The virtually 0 hiss ( -120db)makes this a perfect addition for any one hoping to capture the sound of music and perhaps the sound of ambience. Great for the road!
A Must Have For Filmmakers and Audio Engineers
This unit sounds fantastic, it's built like a tank, and the tactile control sets it apart from any other unit in its price range. Riding the gain results in a smooth response, without hearing decibel jumps like in other units within a similar price range. The color screen display with easy to read DB meters allows for accurate control. I've used this for multiple dual system recording jobs in filmmaking, for recording radio shows when the station I work at was remodeling the studios, and for recording foley and voice over work. The battery life is great, even when running phantom power. The M/S and X/Y modules are quite usable, and while I don't use them a whole lot, they come in handy for on the fly jobs, and for foley. This unit is a workhorse on the field, and a trustworthy backup for in the studio.
Device exceeds any reasonable expectations.
Great little recorder with amazing features
I just received the H6 yesterday afternoon, in time to play around with it before taking it to a concert band rehearsal in the evening. I recorded the entire 90+ minutes of rehearsal and have to say that this unit is incredible! The sound quality of the recording is pristine, and the entire rehearsal fit in one WAV file so there was no need for me to start and stop it to get each piece recorded. I used a small table-top tripod to hold the H6 up off the table for better sound capture and that worked very nicely.
One small down side that I ran into in my experiments in the afternoon -- I wanted to see how easy it would be to record myself playing along with pre-recorded accompaniment files but I couldn't simply copy the file over to the SD card in the H6. No matter how I tried to rename the file the H6 wouldn't play it back for me. The solution was to us a patch cable to record the stereo output from my computer into tracks 3/4 as a stereo pair, then use the overdub capability of the H6 to play tracks 3/4 back while I recorded live into the XY mic module. Just a minor problem, and not one that a lot of people will likely run into.
I love the fact that we can do various mixdowns with different settings of volume/pan for each track and each different mix can be saved.
I'm amazed that much of what used to require a computer for processing can be done on the H6 itself so it is possible to make a complete project on the H6 if required. There are no effects such as reverb on the H6 so if that's required a computer is still necessary, but if a person is working in the field it is still possible to get an excellent final product using just the H6.
The H6 has a tripod mount built into it -- I would love to see an adapter which would let us use a mic stand instead of a tripod. It's easy to come by a spare mic stand at a gig but not always easy to lay our hands on a camera tripod.
I can't imagine them being able to fit anything more into such a small unit! With the potential for up to 6 mic inputs (with the optional 2 XLR module) this is truly a portable studio in our hands.
As always, the service from Sweetwater was fast, efficient and superb.
The new standard to beat for field audio
I've been recording sound on video shoots off and on for about 20 years now, and I'm pretty sure the H6 is the best intersection of convenience, features, and price that I've seen in field audio recorders. The build quality is a huge leap forward from previous zoom models - looks way more professional, screen is crisp and easy to read, and four nice big gain controls on the front are awesome. Four XLR combo inputs on a unit this size is an awesome feat, plus optional phantom power and comp/limit effects on all channels (some too severe to be useful but at least one limiter setting that's great for loud action or loud speech). The modular head with all the different capsule options is an amazing innovation. But it should also be noted that the H6 can be used without a capsule on it, and without a capsule this sucker is LIGHT! Incredible for a sound person who wants to keep the kit small and fast. The headphone output sounds great and has plenty of gain. Lastly, your recording results for clients will be clean, quiet, and reliable. Zoom made a huge leap forward with the H6!
Best in class.
I've been using the Zoom H6 since around the date of it's release. It's included capsules provide crisp and clear stereo recordings, and the four combo jacks sound great, though the noise floor is on par with most field recorders in quiet situations. Menus are easy to navigate and the slightly tilted display makes it a bit easier to see when on a camera's hot shoe mount. The battery life is NOT near as good as they preach, but it's never failed on me. I'd say realistically it will provide about 10 hours, and yes I use good batteries. Handles loud situations just fine. It would have been nice to include the Shotgun attachment instead of the Mid-Side capsule. Two stereo options is nice, but for practical use I'd prefer to have the XY (which happens to be capable of switching between 90 and 120 degrees) and a shotgun as opposed to XY and Mid-Side. Included case is nice as well. The included pop-filter is great and fits both capsules easily. I've had issues with the line out, but it has Headphone and Line out so unless you need to monitor via headphone and record to another device that has no headphone out at the same time it isn't an issue, and its likely just user error. Honestly there are a lot of features I haven't had the chance to dig into. One feature many over look is the fact that this is a 6 channel DAW interface with built in compression etc...I don't know if any other 6 channel interfaces with outboard effects are even available in this price range aside from this, and it isn't even it's main purpose. If you can't afford this go for the H5, but this thing lives up to the hype and it is a pleasure to use.
Zoom H6 Recorder
I purchased the Zoom H4n when it came out and I have been happy with its result. Now just imagine how I feel after purchasing the update version, which is the Zoom H6. Let's put bragging aside for a moment and be honest about the H6. It's fantastic and shows that the ZOOM company/engineering are working really smart and hard to meet the demand of professional and quality sound enthusiasts. I usually make careful decision before buying my equipment and this is one that I won't regret. I will tell my friends to buy one too. I just wish it came in a better case than the one they sell it with.
Impressive little machine
I perform mostly these days with improvising musicians. What is paramount therefore is the spirit of the moment, plus that everything happens live, and you might have like 5 minutes setuop time (besides tuning your own bass, etc) in between sets. So I bought this at the recommendation of Bob Mondok, and sold my trusty old Zoom R16. Case in point: a session I did not play in, just recorded: a singer, a drummer and a banjoist/guitarist to join them for the second set. I bring the Zoom and 3 extra mikes. All set up - until the drummer (one of the towns' virtuoso's) walks in just before the show and what does he bring? a bass trombone. Happens to be his first instrument and that is what he 'grabbed on hois way oiut of the door'. Also, he'd like a room mike over the pa so he can play with the acoustics of the room by playing the trombone both amplified and unampliflied. Uh OK ...great!. Last minute rearrangement where the drum mikes go over the grand piano, and trombone comes through the room mikes. Final mike set up in front of guitar amp. They play 2 fantastic sets where the singer also plays the grand piano, the surprise trombonist also plays piano off an on and the guitar and banjo are played interchangeably. And yes: I do get clean signals throughout of the most unpredictable music imaginable.
I describe this rather unusual and challenging recording scenario because i thought the Zoom H6 really shined, especially because:
* ease of use and setup. No matter what these great musicians decided to do on the spur of the moment, it was real easy to go with the flow and switch things around
* recording quality. The improvement over my beloved R16 is tremendous. Whether it is higher recording frequency/bit rate or preamp quality (probably a bit of both, but I think more the latter), with the same mikes I have been using for years the difference was immense - noticeably better definition, more clarity and transparency. No contest, really.
* quality of the mikes it comes with is quite impressive too-they easily stand up to my recording mikes (home studio/mid level Stedman, AudioTechnica, AKG, etc)
* Forgiving with recording peaks - very important with dynamically rich music of this nature, that literally goes from a whisper to a scream and back constantly, and unexpectedly.
All in all I am very impressed. The one thing to watch out for (as always) is battery life. I got like 2 and half hours out of 96Khz at 16bit with 24V phantom power on 2 mikes (nothing to sneeze at). I suspect that with 48V phantom power on all channels at 96Khz, you might have up to an hour at best.
This recorder is great for anybody from an enthusiast to a professional. The capsules that come with it are good microphones, and even if you don't necessarily get it set up the best distance from the source you're recording, it still gets a great sound that can be easily mixed.
Great tool, great design, great results
I grew up with 4-track cassette recorders. Holy S**t have we come a long way! I am in a jazz/pop group and I do sound design work. This thing makes my job a lot easier. Easy to use and to learn. Backup recording is a life saver. The included x/y and m/s mics sound full, crisp, clear, and present. The concert limiter setting is functional and keeps those red-line peaks in check when recording a live band. All the praise you've been reading about this beast are accurate. It really is all that and more.
I needed a "field recorder" to get some good quality interviews from guests for an Internet Radio network, and I certainly wanted to go beyond using an iPhone and external microphone to do it.
After researching the various companies making recorders, Zoom offered more than I needed with the room for growth in applications. Sweetwater had a package deal with the H6, Gator case, and larger SD card, and so this is what I went with.
Within days, I attended a meeting where a Gospel Choir was performing, and so I decided to try out the H6 using the XY microphones. I set the recorder to record in WAV 44.1khz/24bit using the onboard general compressor.
I was amazed at the stereo quality audio that this little machine picked up. Standing in the back of the room, it captured the entire performance in ultra high quality. No kidding, I placed the file into LOGIC studio and created CD quality downloads from the live performance.
I had "studio" friends amazed at how I could record an entire choir and band with such great quality. Many thought I had set up an entire mobile studio!
The H6 is simply awesome.
H6 - Worth every Penny
If you're doing field recordings or post production or recording sounds for a new track or even recording instruments to singers, you must buy this! it's light portable! and crisp recordings! recording six tracks at 24-bit/96kHz?! insane.
Absolutely fantastic & worth the money.
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.
The mics and preamps on the H6 are studio quality. I can finally record an instrumental album at home and it sounds like what I've recorded in a state- of -the- art studio. It is also very easy to learn the controls and settings.
Zoom has out done themselves! So much Bang for the buck. The quality of the recordings are amazing! So many features and options for everyone who is involved in music,recording engineer film maker or broadcaster.
My new favorite piece of gear, the Zoom H6.
I love this thing, truly. I've had great luck with zoom products over the years, but the H6 has changed the way I am able to capture the world of sounds. Both the xy and m/s mics are great for capturing the room while I use the 4 additional inputs for 2 contact mics and a pair of sm57's. The quality of the recording is pretty amazing. Super low noise.
It is a very easy to use piece of gear. I was recording about 2 minutes after opening the box. Even came with AA batteries. Nice heavy construction, bright clear screen. I can't think of anything about the H6 I would change. It doesn't mind when I hot swap the micro SD card. Even has some built in compressors and limiters. This thing is going everywhere with me now!
I was finally able to use this on a film shoot this weekend after sitting on it for a month. I must say I am simply blown away by the recording quality, and versatility of the gain dials. I used a Rode NTG-2 in one of the xlr ports, and left the x/y off, which is my biggest beef with any other field recorder, and most of all the h4n's lack of protection on the x/y mic. The color display makes it very easy to see when you are peaking levels as well. Whenever I recorded with the h4n I would always have a decent noise floor, and though turning down the gain helps while recording, if you happen to need to turn on the volume, you increase your noise in return. So far I have noticed little to no noise, except for elements that are out of the recorders control, such as a/c and slight wind. I highly recommend this recorder to ANYONE that does any sort of recording.
Amazing capability for size and price
First, I appreciate all the earlier H6 reviews. I read many reviews of the H6 before putting it on my Birthday list. I think the reviews here at Sweetwater were all accurate. I am not a musician, but a long time ago I used to do sound reinforcement and on-location recording of live events. Most of my experience was back when Revox 2 and 4 track 10" reel-to-reel tape was the "portable" recording format of choice, or maybe a Nakamichi cassette decks if you were just taping off the house console. Lately I am doing video and I have been disappointed with the audio quality even from $2000 Sony HD camera. Its not the camera electronics, but the quality or proximity of the built-in mics. I wanted to be able to record audio and synch the sound with the video. I have been thrilled with the results of the H6 in this regard, and I could see using it just for recording music if no video was needed.
I won't repeat everything positive that everyone here has stated. I like the controls, I like the display, and the 2 included mics are better than I expected. The unit feels solid, and worth what you pay. I have never owned an H4 or other hand-held digital recorder, but it is obvious that this is a 2nd or 3rd generation device because it has many ergonomic niceties that look like things someone put there based on feedback about previous designs. The level controls, for example, have nice little shields that cover 30% of the dial so you won't accidentally change the setting while pushing a connector into or out of the side of the recorder. It looks like these can be removed if you prefer to be able to touch the whole knob. The H6 comes with a simple carry case that holds the 2 included mics, the foam windscreen, a USB cable, and has space for extra batteries and memory cards. That said, if you plan to haul it around with a ton of other stuff, it might be worth investing in a weather proof foam filled case from Gator or SKB.
I feel I need to clarify or rebut a a few things I read in external reviews. Some reviewers are significantly bothered because the H6's XLR connectors don't lock. The built in jacks provide a very snug fit, and I think the odds of anyone or anything tugging the connector out of the unit while its recording is close to zero. Is it possible? Sure, but you might actually wish it would pull out if someone yanked on a cable. If you have the H6 and/or DSLR mounted on a mic stand, the whole thing will tip over before the cable comes out. So I think anyone who complains about this is looking for something to complain about.
Next, some people complained about the quality of the mics. Yes, the 2 included mics are not as good as my $1200 AKG Stereo Shot Gun, or my pair of Neumann KM84s which might be worth that much each. But, the included mics ARE good enough that I have left them in the mix with recordings I have made using the better mics in tandem with the X-Y. The -12db safety feature of the built-in units is really handy when you have to locate the unit where you cannot monitor the levels during a Performance.
Next, I have seen reviewer comments about poor battery life, but I cannot find any fault there. On a single set of 4 AA batteries, I have been able to record several shows that exceeded an hour, while using 48 volt phantom powering on 4 microphones (The AKG and Neumann's) plus recording 2 sets of stereo tracks using the built-in mic. So, this device is putting down 8 tracks (3 pairs of stereo tracks plus the safety stereo track) for 90 minutes and it appeared to use only 1/3 or less of the battery capacity. I guess if I had to have it running unattended for a 4+ hour show, I might be a little paranoid, but you can attach a mini USB cord with AC power if you have no ability to swap out batteries.
Nice surprises? The device has lots of great features, but there were 2 things I discovered I had not known about from reviews. The first seems silly, but you can set the display to mimic VU meters rather than to emulate LED level displays. Its not going to increase sales, but I like the look and the fact that Zoom looked for extra features to add, The second which has real use is that you can attenuate the level of the "line Out" up to -30db. If you are using this to feed audio to a video camera, most will want mic level signals, but that s not true of all cameras, and maybe you are using it to feed a mixer or other device which has no mic preamps and you need the higher signal strength to avoid too much noise due to overactive AGCs.
So, what would I change? These are minor, but I have 2 wishes in case anyone from Zoom reads these things to look for future product changes: First, it would be really useful to have the ability to turn on the "Backup Record" feature for all 6 channels, not just the 2 that come form the built-in mics. The second would be to enable phantom power on the EXH-6 attachment that allows you to add 2 more XLR ports in exchange for giving up the built-in mics. Maybe that's not possible because this is the port where 2.5volt "Plug-In Power" is provided for cheaper off-board mics, but it would sure be nice to be able to run six 48V phantom powered XLR mics off of this handy recorder.
I've had the H4N for years...good product, but the H6 is what the H4N should've been. Sounds better. The X/Y mic is better. The possibly of up to 6 inputs is pretty hard to beat. MUCH easier to use, and the results sound better. In fact, the first time I used it (as in I opened the box on site) was at a festival my band played. The recording got used in a news report because the reporters sound recorder was bad!!!
Great sound and very versatile
I had the Zoom H4N before this one. That one was good but didn't have the user friendly vibe this one has. I am now using this before getting out my MacBook Pro and Apogee Interface. This is quick to setup and get levels. The preamps are ultra clean and don't require much gain at all with the condenser mics. I record with the 24bit option and it sounds great for quick and mobile recording. I have the XLR expander as well and that is great too! This is my new "go to" product for doing DSLR interviews and performances as well using multi-cam editing.
Best Zoom recorder to date...
So far, I've used it now to record a bluegrass festival (live mics and board lines) and a string quartet up close and personal (using the MS Side mic for this was great for this). I have to say that, for me at least, this is a MUCH BETTER unit than my old H4N in every way.
For starters, it's actually fun to use and starts up in seconds as opposed to the annoying long wait time of the H4N. The knobs make it much easier to get good levels...and the whole thing from owner's manual (the last one for the H4N was gibberish) to the onboard user interface is quick and painless. I've seen a few people complain about the display screen, but it's actually very easy to see, stays on as long as you want it to, and it's much different than looking at a smartphone.
In short, this unit seems more professional and is just MORE FUN. No learning curve at all, and with a few minor tweaks you can get great results.
Never using anything else ever in the world. Ever.
I'm in love with the h6 so far. It sounds great and appears to have a lower noise-floor than the h6 using the onboard mics (could just be my brain reiterating how much I love this thing).
I can now ride levels like a real boy, and if you were using the on-board mic capsule you wouldn't be stuck with hearing clicks every time you adjust your level. Not only that, but you don't have to do some cumbersome finger magic (at least cumbersome compared to this) to choose a channel to adjust it's level.
Also, the MS mic is handy as all hell if I need to capture someones dialogue real quick. You can adjust the M/S blending, which is so invaluable when you don't want to deal with setting anything up, so you just stick the MS capsule on, adjust it's middiness or sideyness (technical terms) and go for it.
Everything you could do with the H4n is now a lot easier to do with the H6.
Seriously, I look forward to being able to use this thing for every shoot, whereas the h4n, to me, was always something to "deal with" on a shoot (as weird as that may sound, but hopefully you get where i'm going with this).
Zoom H6 Recorder
I have put this unit to good use during a film trailer for a video game product and was able to capture the main actors spoken dialogue with a shot gun mike and boom rod with complete clarity and ease of use. Will make plenty of projects with this recording unit.
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.
Very pleased...huge improvement over previous model. I use for capture audio with dslr.
ZOOM H6 Recorder Review
The H6 recorder is a well-engineered and high-quality product. The controls are easy to use and the display is easily readable in all modes. I was very impressed by the MS mic when used to record meetings because it picked up all conversation around the table with equal clarity. Everything I have tried to record so far has been outstanding, and the recording quality in both MP3 and WAV modes seems to rival studio-quality units. It has so many features that I'm still finding new things every time I use it. I highly recommend the H6! Best recorder I've ever used. My only suggestion is to get the AC Adapter to power the unit during firmware upgrades or when formatting the SD card, I found that the unit will "freeze" during these operations (using batteries) if the battery power indicator is only one bar below full power. Great product!
So far so good
I'm recording an improv piano and clarinet session with it off site right now. Sounds great to me. Battery life is greatly decreased when sending 48v phantom to four channels, but that's to be expected. Get the accessory pack with the ac adapter if you plan to do that. This thing's great! I love that it doubles as an interface, too.
I am very pleased with my purchase.
I was very impressed with the quality of the recordings so far.
Really nice recorder!
I have to agree with most of the posts from other users. They have covered all aspects of this great little recorder. It does everything I need and probably more from demo to live gig recording.
The only issue I have with the recorder is the scroll/ select button. You use the button like a mouse scroll wheel and press it to select. My button is "picky" about being exactly centered before toy can push it to select the menu item. It hasn't really been a problem, but seems fragile. I have just learned to take my time making selections and it works fine.
I do like the H6! Good value for what you get.
I've read all the reviews and I agree. Buy it. Fantastic unit with all sorts of recording options.
JUST BE AWARE OF ONE THING. ... the playback volume doesn't have a lot of gain. I called Zoom directly
( I have an H4n) and was told the headphone amp in the H6 is significantly lower than the h4n. Even at 100, it gives you half the volume of the h4n. Other than adding a separate headphone amp, nothing can be done about it. Kind of a drag, but it doesn't stop me from loving the machine.
Everything its supposed to be
This is first of all a fantastic recorder that needs nothing between it and the mic. I am recording for film and with older recorders always had to have a mixer to boost the signal before the recorder. The Zoom simplifies our job by allowing us to remove the field mixer from the chain.
The sound is fantastic and it is easy to use.
Now, for the things that could be fixed. Firmware could be updated to allow custom folder names so that files could be named in some way that relates to the project at hand.
The wonderful backup (-12db) feature could be extended to channels other than the built in mic channels. Currently the automatic backup recording feature is associated with the channels that are used by the modular mics that snap onto the unit. If you purchase an XLR extension module, presumably you could attach an external mic and it would be able to use the feature. Make it available to the XLRs that are built in and make us all happy.
Even with these issues, this is the best field recorder I have ever used.
This is an updated review from my original review back in August of 2014. I still stand by my review based on the quality of this product. All attachments are a great investment and the quality of the microphones that come with the device (X/Y and midside) are very good. That being stated, here are my issues with this device:
1:) It is incredibly bulky. Zoom really needs to come out with a case that is not the size of a small laptop or iPad. Personally, I would love to have a case just like the Zoom H4N. Fits right in, put it in your bag, and you're ready to go. I purchased a Gator case for it and although it offers amazing protection and storage for all the attachments plus more, its about as big as a clarinet case. Won't really fit in a bag.
***For me, I'd love to be able to throw something in my backpack for music lessons or when I'm singing and not worry about lugging another case.
2.) The location of the inputs is incredibly annoying. Two on each side makes this thing look like a spider (I read a review of this that said the same thing and it was right). It's awkward looking and don't even try to set it up on a small tripod when using XLR cables.
3.) The angled screen is great for those wishing to mount on a DSLR...not so much for musicians who need to actually see their levels and make sure they aren't peaking.
Once again, all of these are the major cons I have in relation to an updated review. I will say, that I love the sound I get while using a stereo pair of condensers (Shure KSM 141's) with a Focusrite ISA 2. I will tell you that it's an amazing sound and this device does a great job handling that rig. Just awkward to setup is all.
Quality Recording in a Handy Package
Quality sound and excellent range of options in a small package. Great for gigs, small location jobs, group rehearsals or individual practice. This unit provides great flexibility for a range of situations and needs. 24-96 recording made convenient for on-the-go in a solid unit!
I have the old ZOOM H2 and H4 - they have proven to be very useful tools in rehearsal, small live gigs, and they serve constantly as stereo back-up recorders for booked recording jobs. I had been considering adding another handheld for stereo backups (often record at multiple locations simultaneously). When I saw the H6, I was immediately interested... 4 - 6 external mic/line inputs will easily cover most Hall recording mic setups (recording directly or as backup of each channel).
I went for the base unit plus the EXH-6 XLR/TRS Expander Module (plus the waterproof case, mostly for convenience and safety with the location work). Just started to put the H6 into service, and very happy with it to date! Menu/navigation is similar to the other ZOOMs I have, so no problems there, though it would probably be good to review the manual for the mid-side options and the on-board options.
Recently I recorded a live gig (jazz trio w/vocal) using the X-Y @ 90deg only (personal gig, quickie setup). Positioned it right at the front edge of the stage on a stand - Sounded very good; representation of the space was realistic with good freq response, although I prefer a fuller bass (rather typical of small diaphragm condensers in this format).
Also used the H6 to record a jazz band rehearsal for some online promo files; another quick set-up, but this time with external mics: 2 large-diaphragm condensers (mid-side) plus 2 solo mics. Sounded great despite the minimal setup. Definitely a fuller bass response thanks to the external mics. I was wondering about the unit's on-board 48v supply, but it was just fine. Not sure I want to drive 100' of snake + mic cable with it, but I'd use external pres in that situation anyway.
Have not used the supplied mid-side capsule for recording anything 'real' yet, but I've tested it. Can't comment yet on the on-board decoding; my preference would always be to record the tracks RAW and mix it post anyway. However, since I can use higher-quality external mics with this unit, I'm not sure how much use I'll get out of this capsule. Will have to put it up in a rehearsal and check it out!
I recommend that you monitor/playback on-location with headphones... I wouldn't make mic placement decisions based on any built-in speaker, though it's fine for checking signal.
Fits the bill-and then some
Although I am a university professor and a professional musician I would consider myself a novice-intermediate when it comes to music technology. I have used digital recorders to archive my students' private lessons, and have also recorded some of their performances.
I purchased the Zoom H6 to replace a malfunctioning LS-10 and I have to say I have not skipped a beat. This piece of equipment appears well-built and engineered. For someone who has limited experience with recording I have to say that the controls are well-laid out and the menus, although totally different from what I was used to, are very easy to navigate through.
To this point I have not attempted to record with anything but the onboard microphones-primarily because I do not own anything else. :-) I am very satisfied with the sound and accuracy of instrumental timbre-and that is with the recording mode set to a lower MP3 rate. I will really look forward to an upcoming recital when I record in 24/96!
The only quibble I have with the H6 is the cover over the SD card slot. Unless you have longer nails it is harder to open than it should be and the material looks as though it is chipping a little bit. Unless you are ultra-finicky with cosmetics this should not be a deal-breaker.
I would strongly recommend you purchase the SBK case to complement the H6. It is sturdily built, yet extremely lightweight. I am very happy with its functionality.
Finally, I have to comment on Sweetwater's customer service. My sales representative was patient and made me feel I selected the right piece of gear for my application. I received my order the next day-yet I did not request expedited delivery! This was my first transaction with the
company and it will not be my last.
So far, I'm really impressed with the quality of this recorder. As a classical singer, I need something for my voice lessons and performances to set up and listen and review. This makes it incredibly easy to do just that. The build quality and sound quality are phenomenal on this device. Why the 4.5? The only downside I found on this device is that when using the expansion device (combo connector) there is no phantom power to those inputs. In reality, you end up with 4 xlr/trs phantom powered inputs and an additional 2 unpowered inputs. Still a great deal and worlds better than the H4N.
Zoom H6 nice upgrade
I put the unit to work the day I got it. I used it for a live recording of myself and another musician friend for a 2 hour non-stop performance. The unit worked great and was pretty easy to control levels. 4.5 stars because it does get squirrelly with the attenuation in the higher levels. Easy to use and I like the independent phantom power controls for each channel. It also appears to have an audibly cleaner sound than my H4n. I feel it is a great value for the money and my purposes.
The New Zoom H6
Yes there is a learning curve. But if you stick with it and read the manual you will get great reward in doing so. Buy a hair wind muff to fit the x/y and ms microphones you will need it. I also purchased extra SD memory cards. The only down side I have read is the way files transfer happens between the H6 and a computer.(file layout) So for me 4.5 stars makes the unit too purchase.
Killer recorder with a future if they do it right
This little unit works great, sounds excellent and is easy to use.
For my location recording business I use Schoeps, DPA, and Viintage Neumanns along with True Precision 8 pres. This recorder's noise levels pres and A/D conversion is very close to my pro set up making it ideal for tight situations or slightly less critical recording situations. I can record a string quartet spot mic'ing and ambient mic'ing. I picked the extra attachment that adds 2 more combo jacks and look forward to six channel mic'ing. (only draw back is no phantom power on those 2 channels). I do hope that Zoom fixes that.
Zoom left the door open!
Expand-ability: I believe with the modular design that third party microphone and preamp companies make units that attach to this port. Also how about Zoom making a mirrored dock that combines 2 H6's into an 8 or even 12 track recorder! How about an extension cable that connects the detachable mic's or other unit to the main unit.
That way one could choose better mic placement of the included mics.
I call dibs. Great unit with a future and excellent sound. I hope the firm ware can be updated to allow for some of these ideas.
They Got It Right
I recorded my show by just placing the H6 about 7 or 8 feet from My Bose L1 Model 11 system It did a great job. I had it set on highest MP3 settings. It picked up vocals, lead, bass and drums. It was good enough recording that I made cd's of the live performance.
I have a H4 which I found confusing to use, but the H6 consumer friendly. It is easy to use and the new color screen is much better to use than the old H4 black and white screen. Overall it is a great live recorder.
Zoom H6 Handy Recorder
I really like it!
Very nice unit with many great accessories... really the only com I have is the file format it writes in... I half to take 1 extra step when importing to pro tools but that is to be expected from proprietary gear I suppose.
Great Little Device
I assumed it would have been more expensive to get a device that could make a decent recording of the music I like to make with my high school age kids. I was very pleased when my Sweetwater rep recommended this handy little device to us. We have really enjoyed playing with it. It is easy to use for non-professionals.
My only criticism is that the memory card included with the device didn't work. We bought a new one elsewhere, and now the device works fine.
Very good sound, navigation is pretty good on the recorder, all in all it does what I hoped it would. For something this small having 6 mic inputs is pretty amazing. Kind of wish the screen wasn't on the opposite side of the XY attachment, your always turning the screen away from you if your recording yourself on say an acoustic and want a direct sound. But really no complaints
A Nice Upgrade to the H4n
I have had the H6 for about two weeks now, and here are my first impressions. The unit is larger than the Zoom H4n and somewhat bulky. This unit is best as a desktop recorder, though it is perfectly portable, at least in theory. I use it for audio recording in a home studio and not for photography work, so I won't comment about its use for the latter. The build quality is very good, on par with the H4n. The manual recording levels, though not detented, are easy to use and much better than digging into menus.
Battery life is good. You can plug it in via USB only to an A/C adapter and I found using a simple iphone USB wall adapter worked just fine. Keep in mind, however, that if you are using it for Ipad or Mac use, that USB port will already be in use and you'll have to rely on batteries, whether alkaline or NiMH.
The new preamps are definitely better than those of the H4n, though they are not as good as those in the Marantz PMD661, which I also own. In most cases, they are more than adequate, but it is not going to replace a dedicated preamp or even a higher end unit's preamps such as the RME UCX, which is my primary interface.
The screen's color is welcome, though all in all, it's still a bit small, significantly smaller than that of the H4n which is replaces. Still, the screen is clear, and there is the necessary information displayed. However, due to the angled design, the screen cannot be viewed well when the unit is handheld, unlike that of the H4n's. If you are recording your own voice, for example, holding the mics to the face eliminates the use of the screen.
I was a bit disappointed that the much touted lower decibel back up recordings only apply to the built in mics. They do not apply to line-in signals, so if you have multiple line signals you won't get a back up recording. This is a bit of s shame because acoustic instrument recordings through the line-ins would definitely benefit from a back up recording.
I was impressed with the Ipad functionality. It works with an Ipad via the camera connection kit, and it works quite well. It will only import a stereo mix (not all six inputs at once) or two inputs at a time, but perhaps a firmware update will remedy this. The sound quality is quite good, and all the major apps (Auria, GarageBand, etc) recognize the H6 with no trouble. In this regard, one might consider this a good alternative to the Apogee One, given the H6's input flexibility, its sound quality, and its ability as a stand alone recorder. And, no messy break out cable.
All in all, the H6 is a very good value. It is well built, has copious input options, and its ability to be both stand alone and an interface for the Ipad and a computer makes its a very good buy.
I think it's a brilliant little recorder. I'm using it for field recordings that I add to my ambient electronic music. It's simple to use and the accessory kit (optional) is worth every dime. The only issue I have is the very high frequency hiss that is prevalent. In post production I'm able to dip/EQ the highs to blend it. It is an obvious issue to ears that are well endowed to a lifetime of being in the studio. It is sensitive and road noise from a half mile away is easily captured.
Beyond that, I like using the H-6. Very portable and way less expensive than what I would pay for a Sound Devices unit, at several thousand dollars. I do not regret my purchase of the H-6. one bit and looking forward to many recording ventures. Best thing since the invention of the portable transistor radio.
Great bang for the buck....but cheap components
I work in feature film sets. Usually we have pro equipment costing thousands of $ to record sound. But for one scene we were doing at a remote place I decided to take out my handy Zoom H6 and wire it up to get the audio of 2 Lavs mics and 2 ambiance C5s. 3 actors, one restaurant. Simple.
Everything sounded great through the headphones and it took almost no time at all to set everything up, limiters and filters used, etc etc.
In post, the files sounded great, until we stumbled into a sudden electronic buzz/static that took a a long time to fade. Not just in one file, but in many different files. And it wasn't constant for you can fix in post either, it suddenly kicked in loudly. We tried to fixed in post, but at the end of the day it became impossible. Luckily, the director didn't like some of the performance so weeks later we shot it again. This time I brought the usual Sound Devices equipment, and the files were perfect.
The H6 is a great bang for the buck, and don't get me wrong, I love it. But, it your butt is on the line, realize that it has some cheap components that will come to bite you at the worse possible moments.
Solid...but with flaws
Don't buy this if you are hoping to use the built in mic on multiple tracks. The L R Mic only works on a single track. The unit is solid though. Well constructed and pretty cool, but not designed for my needs. I wish they would have mentioned that somewhere before I purchased the unit though.
Great, If You Need What It's Got
First, the fact that this device is very much overkill for my needs isn't a negative reflection on the device itself. It's a great device for what it's designed to do, but it has some design flaws that should be noted and considered before purchase.
1. The knobs are very smooth and fluid, which would be a good thing except that it means they are easy to move accidentally. It's too easy to knock your mix off just re-positioning the device.
2. The idea of modular, interchangeable mics is basically a good one, but there still should have been built-in mics, especially for those times when you need to quickly record something, like a musical idea before it dissipates. Having to open the case, pull the unit out, connect a mic, then turn it on an set the record level is very inconvenient. In its defense, though, it's not really made for that kind of usage.
3. If you're recording and the screen turns off, once you're done recording you have to remember that the first time you press the stop button it will simply turn the screen back on. You'd have to hit stop again to actually stop recording. This is true with any button press when the screen is off. Serious design flaw there!
4. The menu system requires you to back out one level at a time; there's no way to press one button to return to the home screen if you're several layers deep in the menus.
5. The position of the volume control relative to the headphone jack makes it unnecessarily hard to adjust the playback volume, especially turning the volume up.
6. The display is silly. On batteries, it will go off after a time to save batteries, but then you face the problem in number 3 above. If you have power connected, the screen never goes off! It can be dimmed, but I like listening to a day's recordings as I'm going to sleep, and the display is very distracting, and on batteries it will drain batteries if left on all night, even with the display off.
7. Minor thing here, but it would be very nice to be able to see on the display remaining time for a track that's playing in addition to elapsed time. For something high-end, that's a rather significant oversight
8. For me, the worst thing is that you cannot do multitrack recording without a mic or mics to connect to the XLR/TRS inputs! I have an H4n, and on that device, you can select either the built in mic, or either or both mics connected to the XLR/TRS jacks, then at the press of a button decide which track you'll be recording on. Not so with the H6. If you want to record on a numbered track, you MUST have something plugged into that track's connector. You cannot record through any mic connected to the L/R connector onto any track other than L and/or R. Seriously? Another dreadful design flaw.
Other than those, the unit is well made and sturdy, sounds pretty good and the color display is a nice touch. At the end of the day though, it's not worth MY money; that doesn't mean it won't be worth YOURS. I'm sending it back unfortunately.