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In this video I test the Zoom H6 portable field recorder, comparing the design and sound quality with its predecessor, the Zoom H4N, tested at a buzzing Colaba lane in Mumbai. The H6 is definitely an upgrade but is it really worth investing almost Rs. 10,000 more than what you would pay for the H4N, which is already a fine recording device? This video hopes to answer the question.

Detachable Mics

The first radical change in the Zoom H6 is the detachable XY mics. The sturdy XYs are replaceable with another capsule that comes in the same pack – the Mid-Side mic or the MS mic. The MS is actually 2 mics inside one capsule – one on top of the other – with varying degrees of sensitivity to sounds coming from the front and the sides. As a result, the MS captures remarkably keen and clear audio even in very busy spots, without filtering out all the ambient sound, which generally happens if you’re using a unidirectional mic like the Rode NTG-2. Neither does it capture unrestrained ambient sound as with the XY mics. The H6 can also be fitted with two other extensions not included in the pack – a shotgun mic and a TRS combo mic.

6 Recording Channels

Four additional XLR slots, 2 each on the top of the recorder, bring the number of recording channels to 6, compared to 4 in the Zoom H4N. Dedicated gain control knobs for each of the channels are located right on the face of the recorder where the H4N screen used to be. The H6 screen is full colour and has moved to the bottom of the recorder.

Sturdier Build

In terms of build, the H6 is longer, heavier and far sturdier than the H4N. As shown in the video, the XY mics and the SD card slot of the H4N have suffered damage with use due to its relatively fragile build.

Inconvenient Handling 

The uneven weight distribution of the recorder strains the wrist when handheld, and the positioning of the XLR jacks are sure to make handling unwieldy when the recorder is mounted on to a DSLR. Even the dedicated gain control knobs do not lock in place, and can easily move even at the slightest brush of a hand or a chord.

Superior Recording Quality

As you hear in the video, which tests the audio quality indoors and out, the H6 has a far richer audio imprint, lesser noise and superior clarity both with the XY and the MS compared to the H4N. Recording at 100 percent gain predictably captures high ambient sound but it dives drastically on shifting the gain control dial to even 10 percent less. The MS mic sweetens the deal by sifting the ambient sound even further than the XY without losing foreground sound clarity, making the H6 an ideal recording device for documentaries and films, especially when shooting outdoors. The MS mic gives just the right balance of ambient and foreground sound.

So, why should you buy the H6?

While the H6 takes portable sound recording to another level with the flexibility and professional sound quality it offers, it hasn’t pushed the H4N into insignificance. For those who find the price tag of Rs. 32,000 too high for a portable sound recorder, without a doubt go in for the comparatively basic H4N (See our review here) which costs around Rs. 22,000.

Where can you buy it in Mumbai?

If you are in Mumbai, you can buy the Zoom H6 at Rs 28,000 at Shalu Music House at Fort. 

138, Mahendra Chambers, D.N Road,
Fort, Mumbai-400001
Tel.+91 22 2207 6815/6041/2205/4030

Product: Zoom H6
Price: Rs 32,000

Related Reviews:
Zoom H4N
Rode NTG-2 Unidirectional Mic

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