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At Zoom they've been building innovative, great-sounding products for the past thirty years. But with the revolutionary H6—the most versatile portable recorder ever—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, or broadcast ENG (electronic news gathering), etc.—the H6 can handle it with ease.Add to kit list
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 1/8" 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 1/4" 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 a L, R) has a dedicated gain control knob. In addition, the four main inputs and the EXH-6 capsule feature 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 utilise 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 the 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.
File types supported.
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. The H6 can record up to six monophonic WAV files (or up to three stereo files) in any of the following formats:
44.1kHz / 16-bit44.1kHz / 24-bit48kHz / 16-bit48kHz / 24-bit96kHz / 16-bit96kHz / 24-bit
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 synchronised with the onscreen action in post-production.
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.
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.
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.
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 below a threshold point). The main difference between the two is that a limiter reduces louder sounds more severely.
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 optimised for use with vocals and drums, respectively, while the Limiter2 and Limiter3 presets are optimised for use in live concert recording and small room "studio" recording, respectively.
In addition, there's an on-board metronome and chromatic / guitar / bass tuner—both handy tools when recording musical content.
Battery life and recording times
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 adaptor (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.
Using the H6 as an audio interface
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 favourite DAW or use the included Cubase LE , 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 on-board 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, enabling monitoring with 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.
Live concert recording
The illustration shows how you might typically use the H6 for live concert recording. Here, the XYH-6 X/Y capsule is being used to capture the onstage performance in stereo. In addition, a stereo feed from the mixer is being sent to inputs 1 and 2 in order to record the board sound, and a pair of external mics is connected to inputs 3 and 4 to capture the audience sound.
In the example shown in the illustration , the MSH-6 MS capsule is being used to capture the main sound source in stereo, with external boom and lavalier mics (connected to Inputs 1 and 2) focused on the talent providing narration. Another pair of external mics is connected to inputs 3 and 4 and are being used to record a second stereo image, this one of the other performers in the scene. By using the MS capsule, you can then use the H6's on-board MS decoder to adjust the width of the main stereo image in post-production.
The H6 is the perfect audio companion for anyone doing ENG work, especially when it is used with the optional SGH-6 Shotgun mic capsule, as shown in this example. Here, the SGH-6 is being used to capture the news event itself, recorded on the L/R track. Because shotgun mics have a narrower focus (sometimes referred to as more "reach") than an average microphone, the SGH-6 is the perfect choice when covering late-breaking news at a distance. In addition, the SGH-6 does a great job of picking up the frequencies produced by the human voice.
Two external handheld mics for the interviewer and interview subject are plugged into Inputs 1 and 3, with backup external lavaliers plugged into Inputs 2 and 4. The H6's on-board effects and powerful mixing functions make it the ideal field mixer; the low-cut filter can be used to reduce wind noise, and the compressor/limiter can be used to condense the dynamic range and thus make the audio more television-friendly. The six recorded tracks can then be mixed down internally to a stereo MP3 file for microwave or satellite transmission to the broadcast facility.
Want to record your band as they rehearse? No problem, especially if you plug in the optional EXH-6 Dual XLR/TRS capsule, which allows six discrete mic- or line-level connections to be made to your H6.
In this example, a stereo submix of the mics covering the drum kit is being fed from the PA mixer to the L/R inputs of the H6 via the EXH-6. The four main inputs are used as follows: the lead singer's mic is connected to Input 1; a microphone positioned in front of the guitar amp is connected to Input 2; a direct signal from the bass player's active electric bass is connected to Input 3; and an electronic keyboard is connected to Input 4. Thus, each instrument and vocal is receiving a track of its own (or, in the case of the drums, two tracks).
Being able to spread your instruments and vocals over six tracks instead of four gives you an extra degree of flexibility that other handy recorders cannot provide. As you listen back to your song, new musical ideas may spring to mind, and that's where the H6's powerful overdubbing function comes into play, because it allows any of the tracks to be redone—up to 99 different takes—meaning that you can reshape your song after the fact.