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!
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.
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.
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.
Running out of space or juice in the middle of a recording is a real drag, which is why many of us here at Music Experience 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.
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.
Here at Zoom we've been building innovative products for the past thirty years. But with the revolutionary H6 six-track recorder, the bar is raised further still. Four interchangeable input capsules – X/Y, MS, Shotgun, and Dual XLR/TRS Combo – make the H6 the ultimate chameleon of the audio world, and its advanced preamps make it the best-sounding one too. Whatever your application – live recording, professional film/video work, live broadcast or electronic news gathering – the H6 can handle it with ease.
The H6's included X/Y capsule employs two angled high-quality unidirectional mics which are sensitive to signals coming from the front but less to signals coming from the sides and rear. X/Y recording is optimum when you want to cover a wide area yet still capture a strong center image, making it the perfect choice for all types of live stereo recording.
Welcome to “Mid-Side” recording, a whole new level of precision in your ability to shape sound. The H6's provided MS Capsule contains dual mic elements – a forward-facing, unidirectional mic (the “Mid”) and a side-facing, bi-directional mic (the “Side”). Together with the H6's onboard MS decoder, they capture a fully mono-compatible stereo image that can actually be adjusted after recording – ideal for film, video, and television projects.
The XYH-5 X/Y microphone capsule provides two matched unidirectional condenser microphones set at a 90 degree angle. These mics are housed within an advanced shockmount that employs rugged external mic wires and rubberized material to minimize vibration and handling noise, making the XYH-5 ideal for location videography and live broadcast/podcast applications. The design of the XYH-5 also allows it to handle extremely loud sounds—140 dB SPL, to be precise (equivalent to the sound of a jet aircraft from less than 200 feet away)—making it perfect for capturing the sound of live rock concerts and for electronic news gathering.
The optional SGH-6 Shotgun Capsule adds a professional-quality, highly directional microphone to the H6, creating an ideal audio setup for film, video, live theater, and ENG (electronic newsgathering) applications. Three elements combined with digital signal processing inside the SGH-6 give you the highly directional pickup power of a conventional shotgun mic in a unit only half the size – ideal for recording dialogue and narration with no intrusive mic in the scene.
Plugging in the optional EXH-6 Dual XLR/TRS Combo Capsule gives you two more inputs, transforming your H6 into the world’s smallest six-track recorder. Connect up to six discrete signals from external microphones, instruments, mixers, or portable music players to fully realize your audio vision. It’s all the power of a professional recording studio, right in the palm of your hand.
The SSH-6 Stereo Shotgun capsule adds a super-directional mic for capturing sounds directly in front, plus a bi-directional one for capturing ambient sounds. It’s ideal for location recording, allowing videographers and content creators to capture dialogue or narration with the center microphone and mixing in the desired amount of environmental sound captured by the side microphone.
Do more than just record the show: Document the experience. Use the X/Y capsule to capture the overall sound in stereo, then use the other four inputs for a direct feed from the mixing board, or for external spot mics to pick up specific instruments and the room sound. With the H6, you can relive that great performance night after night.
Whether you slide it onto your camera strap or attach it directly to your DSLR with our Hot Shoe mount, the H6 is the essential audio recorder for location videography. Its supplied MSH-6 mic capsule and onboard MS decoding, plus the ability to record up to 6 tracks simultaneously, gives you plenty of options in post-production.
Extend your range with the optional SGH-6 Shotgun mic. Get every word of that headline-making interview. Capture breaking news with maximum impact, then mix and prepare the audio for broadcast while still in the field. With the H6, you can do onsite reporting that really resonates.
Plug in the optional EXH-6 Dual XLR/TRS capsule and your H6 becomes a personal 6-track studio with six discrete line- or mic-level inputs, each with its own volume control and pad. Record and overdub up to 99 takes in high-resolution audio, then mix down to a stereo MP3 for posting to your favorite website. With the H6, the road from great idea to perfect track just got a lot shorter.
The H6 offers four main inputs (1-4), plus two additional inputs (L, R) that are derived from whichever capsule (X/Y, MS, Shotgun, or Dual XLR/TRS Combo) is plugged into the unit. The supplied XYH-6 X/Y capsule also provides a secondary input for connecting an external mic- or line-level signal via a stereo ⅛” Mic/Line In mini phone jack. When a connection is made to that jack, signal from the X/Y microphones is muted. All four main H6 inputs (inputs 1-4) are combo connectors that can accept either XLR or ¼” balanced or unbalanced phone cables. They can handle both mic- and line-level signals, which means that you can connect either external microphones or line-level devices like mixers, portable music players, electronic keyboards, or electric guitars or basses with active electronics (passive electric guitars or basses can also be connected with the use of a mixer or effects device). Internal switching contacts automatically detect the circuit of choice. Each of the six inputs (that is, 1-4 as well L, R) have a dedicated gain control knob as well as a -20dB pad, allowing you to prevent distortion even when high-level signals are introduced. In fact, with the use of the Pad switch, the H6 can input a signal 30dB louder and 14dB softer than any other Handy Recorder model. In addition, all capsules utilize higher voltage preamps (5 volts instead of the more commonly used 3 volts) for distortion free recording, even at high volumes. A built-in instrumentation amp allows signals to be transmitted with minimal noise even when long cables are used. If you’re using high-quality condenser (powered) microphones with the H6, no problem—a simple menu option allows the unit to provide Phantom Power (either +12, +24, or +48 volts) to any or all of the main inputs (inputs 1-4). Inexpensive condenser microphones requiring Plug-In Power (2.5 volts) can be connected to the X/Y capsule’s stereo 1/8” Line In jack. The H6 Line Out is an unbalanced stereo 1/8” phone jack, located on the bottom of the H6, beneath the LCD display. It carries the analog stereo output signal, as determined by the H6’s internal mixer. The H6 USB port, located on the side panel to the right of the LCD display, provides a digital output of either a stereo mix or the six individual input signals, depending upon the setting of the “Audio Interface” function in the USB menu. In addition, the H6 provides a headphone output with a dedicated volume control, located on the side panel to the left of the LCD display. Connect your headphones to its stereo 1/8” mini phone jack for private monitoring of the stereo output signal. The H6 even has a built-in speaker, located on the underside of the unit, for fast monophonic monitoring of the recorded signal without the need to make any connections whatsoever. This speaker is automatically disconnected when connection is made to either the Line Out or Headphone output.
The interview started a split-second before you were ready. The conductor lifted his baton just as you were checking a cable. The talent went back on-air a moment too soon. No problem… as long as you’re using the H6. Its Pre-Record function automatically keeps the H6 silently but continuously recording in the background, all the time. Then, when you hit the RECORD button, it keeps the previous two seconds and appends it to the beginning of the file. It’s as if the H6 had started recording two seconds before you actually got to hit the button.
Backup-Record—the ultimate safety net. When turned on during the recording of WAV files, the H6 automatically records a duplicate set of L/R tracks, but with 12dB less input gain. Even if the original L/R track is distorted, chances are the Backup version is fine. You can listen to either set of tracks simply by going to the Backup File option in the PROJECT menu. When turned OFF, you’ll hear the original L/R tracks; when turned ON, you’ll hear the lower-level Backup tracks instead. Pick the one you prefer and use it as your L/R master. Bacon saved.
The Auto-Record function allows the H6 to automatically start recording when a certain level of sound is detected. When turned ON and the RECORD button is pressed, the H6 doesn’t immediately start recording; instead, it goes into a standby mode; as soon as an incoming signal exceeds the Start Level you’ve set, recording begins. There’s an equivalent Auto-Record Stop function, too. When turned ON, as soon as incoming signal drops below the Stop Level you’ve set, recording ends.
The H6 provides an arsenal of effects that allows you to add polish to your recordings and compensate for any problems or limitations in the acoustics of the recording environment. The H6 allows you to choose from three compressor settings and three limiter settings. The two “General” settings (Comp1 and Limiter1) are all-purpose settings that will work well on most kinds of program material. The Comp2 and Comp3 presets are optimized for use with vocals and drums, respectively, while the Limiter2 and Limiter3 presets are optimized for use in live concert recording and small room “studio” recording, respectively. Compression and limiting compensate for fluctuations in level; in essence, they act like an automatic volume control, reducing the level of louder sounds (that is, the sounds above a threshold point). The main difference between the two is that a limiter reduces louder sounds more severely. A low-cut filter allows you to remove signal below a certain user-designated frequency (called a cutoff frequency). This is useful for eliminating pops, wind noise, blowing, transmitted resonance from an onstage mic stand and other kinds of low frequency rumble. In addition, there’s an onboard metronome and chromatic / guitar / bass tuner—both handy tools when recording musical content.
The H6 requires just 4 AA batteries—either alkaline or rechargeable NiMH—for power. Battery life (when using alkaline batteries) is more than 20 hours, even during continuous recording. An optional AD-17 AC adapter (included in the APH-6 Accessory Pack) allows you to power the H6 from any standard wall socket. The H6 records directly to SD cards. It supports standard SD cards as well as the newer SDHC and SDXC cards, up to 128 gigabytes, making it capable of accessing massive data storage. A handy "SD Card Remain" function allows you to see at a glance how much space remains on the currently inserted card, both in gigabytes and percentage.
The H6 can record audio in two different basic file types: WAV and MP3. The main difference between the two is that WAV files are uncompressed; that is, they contain all the recorded data without any “bits” (digital words) being removed. Thus, they provide full fidelity without compromise. MP3 recordings are compressed, which means that some unnecessary data is removed prior to storage, making them much smaller than WAV files, and thus much easier to upload and download. Some MP3 files exhibit a slight loss of audio fidelity as compared with the original signal; however, this is not noticeable in all circumstances. All WAV files recorded by the H6 are automatically time-stamped, making them fully compatible with the Broadcast Wave Format (BWF); in other words, they are “BWF-compliant.” This is especially important when recording audio for video, because it allows the audio to be precisely synchronized with the onscreen action in post-production. Note that when the MP3 file type is selected, the H6 only records in stereo; if you want to record in multitrack, you must select a WAV file type. The H6’s internal mixdown function allows multitrack WAV projects to be easily reduced down to stereo MP3 (or WAV), with independent control over each track’s level, panning and pitch.
The H6’s USB port allows it to send and receive digital data. Connect the H6 to your laptop or desktop computer via USB, launch your favorite DAW or use the included Cubase LE software, and start laying down your tracks. You can even connect the H6 to an iPad (camera connection kit required). When the H6 is set to “Stereo Mix” in the USB menu, it acts as a 2-input / 2-output interface; when set to “Multi Track,” it acts as a 6-input / 2-output interface. The H6’s onboard INPUT&OUTPUT mixer allows you to create a custom stereo or six-track mix for output via USB, with independent control over the level and panning of each track, as well as access to effects like low-cut filtering, compression and limiting. In addition, signal that is input to the H6 can be monitored directly before it passes through the connected computer or iPad for zero latency (that is, without any delay). There’s also a handy Loop Back mode that allows you to blend stereo signal coming from the computer or iPad with signal coming into the H6 inputs, useful for live streaming via the Internet or for adding narration to a musical backing track.
With a Zoom H6 handheld recorder in your pocket, you're ready to capture anything!
|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"|
|Memory (removable)||SD/SDHC/SDXC up to 128GB|
|Effects||Highpass filter, compressor, limiter|
|Power Supply||4 x AA (alkaline or NiMH)|
|Max Battery Life||20 hours|
|Stand Mountable||Yes (via optional adapter)|
|Manufacturer Part Number||ZH6|