A few weeks ago I upgraded from a Zoom H4N to the newer Zoom H6 audio recorder. I have used the H4N extensively for the past couple of years to record audio when shooting video, and for recording voice over work for a variety of projects. I was always very happy with the product, although it only supported two XLR inputs. I could record 4 tracks total by using 2 XLR mics and 2 wireless mics connected via 1/8″ inputs. It was a bit of a pain since I had to keep so many batteries charged for both the Zoom and the wireless mics, make sure the wireless frequency was not interfered with, and keep everything turned on and recording at the same time.
I recorded a podcast on my H4N with my wife Kay for her real estate web site and was unable to copy the files from the SD card to my computer. I could hear our voices on the H4N but could not get them copied to a computer at all. The files were corrupt and I lost the session. I thought my H4N was a problem so upgraded the firmware on it but still no luck. I started looking for a replacement and found the H6 and fell in love with it, and the price was quite reasonable. Later I found that my H4N just needed fresh batteries. Once those were replaced it started working fine, but the H6 was stuck in my head. After a few weeks I decided to pull the trigger. I sold my H4N and bought an H6.
I am every bit as impressed with using it as I was with reading about it on the internet or handling it at Guitar Center. I liked the H4N but the H6 is much, much easier to use. I can control gain with simple manual dials for each channel rather than trying to go through menus. That in itself is worth the upgrade. It has a PAD switch for every channel – no fumbling with menus. It has 4 built-in XLR inputs and you can add 2 more XLR’s with a simple add-on module, which I did. The menus are much easier to navigate and the meters are easier to see in color. The unit even feels lighter than the H4N. I can run it with AC power using a simple USB wall charger rather than a proprietary charger as on the H4N.
Recording multiple input is MUCH easier with the H6N. I had planned to use it as an audio input interface on my MacBook Pro, which it can easily do, but the recording right on the H6 is so easy I don’t even mess with my laptop. I just carry the H6, several XLR cables and mics, and a good Sony headset for monitoring. I set the unit to do a backup recording at -12b so in case I get an audio spike, I have a backup recording at a lower level I can use. I expect this to be very helpful – nothing is worse than clipped audio and not much you can do to fix bad audio. A backup file at a lower volume will be wonderful.
I still like the H4N and it is a great product at half the price of an H6. The H4N is still a great device for filmmakers who need to record just a few tracks of audio. I am doing more podcasts now and often need to record 4-5 people and it is SO much easier to edit in post production if each person has a mic and is on their own audio track.
I am very, very pleased with my Zoom H6. Great, great product that exceeded my lofty expectations.
UPDATE: I recently tested my Zoom H6 recorder with Boss Jock software on my iPad Air 2 and it worked perfectly. All I needed was a Lightning to USB cable. Once the Zoom was plugged in, I had to set it from RECORD mode to AUDIO INTERFACE mode. It specifically asks in the menus if you are connecting to an iPad. I chose IPAD and it worked perfectly. Boss Jock speeds up the workflow of making quick down and dirty podcasts and the H6 can act as a multi-channel mixer for the iPad. Boss Jock only allows a single track of recording so I didn’t get to try multi-track recording, but I believe the H6 will do that in Garage Band on the iPad, which I plan to test next.
The H6 acts as my audio interface on the iPad when plugged in, so it takes over all audio input and output functions. That means I have to plug my headsets into the H6 instead of the iPad to monitor the recording. Not an issue at all but something to be aware of.
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