Read This Before You Buy the Zoom H6 / by Chris Skyes

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Thinking about purchasing the Zoom H6, but you want to know if it suits your needs before you do so? Here are my thoughts on it after using it for a while.

Late last year I purchased the Zoom H6. Even though I specifically bought it to record sound effects, after I began using it, I started to slowly realise what a versatile piece of hardware it really is, and how you can use it for anything from podcasting and voice over work, to dialogue and live music recording.

Grab some tea and biscuits, and play some smooth jazz, because we're about to dive deep into the pros and cons of the Zoom H6.

It's versatile

Upon close inspection, you might notice that the Zoom H6 has 4 XLR/TRS inputs, which can actually be expanded to 6 if you purchase the separate attachable head.

This can come in handy if you, for example, want to record a podcast in the studio. You plug in a microphone in each XLR input, and not only can you monitor the level of each individual track, but you can also record a safety track at -12 dB, in case one of the guests gets a bit too excited.

Need to record some location audio? Plug in a boom and a few radio mics into the inputs, and you're ready to go!

Want to record a demo with your band? Plug in the instruments and the microphones, and you can record on the go, wherever you might be.

It's modular

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One of the things that I really love about the Zoom H6 is the fact that it's modular. The recorder itself comes with an X/Y capsule and MS capsule, but there are a few other capsules that you can purchase and use when needed.

Here is a list of the capsules which I could find, together with more information, and relevant Amazon affiliate links.

 

  • The Combo Input Capsule: This is the capsule mentioned before, which offers you an extra 2 XLR/TLR inputs. 
  • MS capsule: This one comes with the Zoom H6 by default, but the really cool thing about it is that it also works on the Zoom H5, and the Zoom Q8.
  • X/Y capsule: This capsule also comes by default with the Zoom H6. This means that if the capsules stop working, you don't have to throw out the entire unit. You just need to purchase a replacement capsule, and you can keep on recording.
  • X/Y shock mounted capsule: Whilst this does not come by default with the Zoom H6, it is still compatible with it, as well as with the Zoom H5, and the Zoom Q8.
  • Stereo shotgun microphone capsule: Includes a super-directional microphone for picking up sound in the centre, as well as a bidirectional side mic for picking up sounds from the left and right. It is also compatible with the Zoom H5.
  • Shotgun microphone capsule: Highly directional, it allows you to record focused sound effects without having to carry a separate microphone and grip with the recorder. Whilst there are obviously better, and more expensive, shotgun microphones out there, this is a winning combo if you prefer to have a more compact set-up.

Build quality

The device itself feels really sturdy. The rubberised plastic casing also helps diminish handling noise if hand held, though I would wholeheartedly recommend getting this Rycote kit which contains a windshield, shock mount, and grip.

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I've used it and it really helped to eliminate most of the handling noise. When I went on my last recording trip, I could only hear handling noise if I basically shook the whole thing really hard.

Tilted screen

The screen is obviously tilted, which is great when placed on a DSLR for location recording, or when monitoring whilst recording a podcast. There are situations in which the tilted screen doesn't help, but they are in the minority.

If I could make a suggestion, I would say that I would have loved it to have a swivel screen, so it could be tilted as needed.

Great for loud ambiences

Whilst on my last recording trip, I recorded some gorgeous ambiences, such as windy or rainy ambiences, or city ambiences. The Zoom H6 was actually used to record my Dormant Village audio library.

Super portable

The device itself is super portable, and it comes in a very sturdy case. I wish more portable recorders, such as the Sony PCM-D100 came in such a case.

Affordable

Whilst the prices vary depending on where you are, the Zoom H6 remains a very affordable portable recording device. Click this affiliate link to view it on Amazon in your country.

Unbelievable battery life

Whilst on a recording trip to Transylvania earlier this year, and whilst recording all the time, I only really had to replace the batteries maybe four or five times. Zoom says it can record for up to 20 hours, and depending on the conditions, I'd definitely say that's true.

I left it to record rain ambiences overnight and 8-9 hours later it was still going strong. When I checked the battery status, it wasn't even half-way depleted.

Ease of use

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I found the design and menus to be really intuitive and easy to use, and changing capsules is also painless and quick to do. When under time constraints, this is a massive plus.

It records high quality audio

The Zoom H6 can record audio up to 24bit/96kHz, which is great if you record ambiences or sound effects. If you're recording a podcast, or dialogue, there's no real need to go above 24bit/48kHz.

Now that I've talked about all the pros, I want to talk about the cons.

Tilted Screen

I would have loved to see a flip screen on the Zoom H6, like you see on some DSLR cameras. Whilst the tilted screen is a pro in most situations, there are instances where being able to move it around a bit would come in handy.

Noise

Whilst some Zoom recorder pre-amps tend to not be seen in a positive light online, I want to make it clear that the Zoom H6 is miles above in terms of quality and noise.

Conclusion

If you want to record super quiet nature ambiences, the Zoom H6 would not be my first choice. For literally anything else, it's an amazing, affordable, and portable choice!

These have been my thoughts on the Zoom H6, after using it for months. If you click on any of the links above, it will take you to Amazon, where you will be able to view the price of the item in question, along with more specs.

If you purchase the item, I receive some money from Amazon, at no extra cost to you, which helps support this blog.

Do you have any questions? Feel free to leave a comment down below.

Thank you very much for reading, and I'll see you next week!