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4.4 out of 5 stars33
4.4 out of 5 stars
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 14 October 2013
I've been an owner of an H4n for the past three years or so. For anyone familiar with that model, you'll know the pros and the cons. The pros were having an extremely portable little unit that packed a punch with phantom power, onboard effects, and more options than you could shake a stick at. The cons were noisy preamps, the infamous noise floor and fiddly ways to get to the screen or folder you wanted.

 I was very excited to see the H6 released, especially when I heard of the improvements with regard to the much quieter background noise it produces. In this respect, I have not been disappointed. In fact, I've been very pleasantly surprised. There is noticeable difference in the amount of background hiss with this model. The sound is not as true as the H4n and it can give quite a hard edge to things. I'm trying to find out what I would need to do in post production to give it a warmer, rounder sound.
 The machine feels good quality. Gone are the internal buttons and knobs to control things--the H6 has the gain control as four physical dials for each of the XLR jacks, plus another on the XY mic attachments and Mid-Side mic.

 There is no three mode option as with the H4n... Zoom have scrapped the Stereo/4 Channel/Multi-track modes. Now everything you get, you see. One screen for everything. So, selecting just the LR input lets you record to stereo. Selecting another input allows for multi-track recording (so long as you have 'overdub' selected in the options).
 Other good things that I like about it is the battery life. On alkaline batteries, the unit has yet to die on me, and I've used it for probably around 8 hours and it's now down from the maximum three bars to two. I hope to use NiMH rechargables but I haven't needed them yet so can't comment on life.

 Now, here are the things that I don't like. And I have to say, I really don't like these things.
 Worst thing: there are absolutely no built-in effects in terms of patches, despite the company (and product pages) telling us it has 'many inbuilt effects, including...' the 'including' is the operative word. You get some pretty lousy compression and limiters. You don't get any of the guitar effects that came with the H4n. Admittedly, most of these were rubbish, but I used the reverb function extensively, for playing acoustic fingerstyle and Celtic whistles. Without this option, I feel a bit lost. I will have to buy some computer software, but it really defeats the object with not being able to apply even a touch of reverb in the unit. Everything records absolutely flat. So I would not recommend this for use as a music multi-track, especially if like me you need it for acoustic instruments.
 Another gripe is that the external mic jack is not on the unit itself, but on the XY mic attachment. Seeing as the advent of binaural 3D in-ear mics has taken the world by storm, this is something I really need. But with the mic attachment it brings the model to a size that is not really pocketable.
 Another thing that makes this less portable is that all the gains are loose and there's no way to 'hold' the buttons. Inside a pocket, they would probably move.
 Lastly, the omission of an AC supply with the unit, at the price it sells for, is a scandal. You have to fork out another £40+ to get the accessory pack for that.

 All in all... a much improved output in terms of background hiss, and very suitable for podcasting or interviews. Much more user friendly, but the price you pay for that is a stripped down upgrade. No frills, just press record. You'll have to rely heavily on a computer for making it work for you as a multi-track, gone are the days of creating a nice, tidy little demo somewhat true to how a professionally mastered track would sound to send as an .mp3 to a friend.

EDIT ~ I've now had this unit for around a month and my overall impression has made me drop this from four stars to three. The gain knob set on maximum sounds loud, until you put it through a computer monitor. Then you realise that number 10 gain on the H6 is around equivalent to a number 75 gain on the previous H4n model. You can access the settings to increase this gain, but with it you increase the noise floor and then you're more or less back to where you were with the H4n. I bought this to record very detailed and sometimes quite delicate ambient sounds. It's not ideal for this, and the sound is remarkably lifeless/thin and harsh (the kind of sound I would get when I pushed a high pass or noise removal too high on Audicity to counter undesirable levels on the H4n). It seems to me that they have pushed so hard on the noise floor front to improve that they've subsequently erased the fullness of a normal recording. For me this is a real disappointment. For others it could be just perfect, especially if you're looking at this for speech audio, ie. podcasts, reviews, etc.

Hope this helps. If you've never bought something like this before then you will quite possibly love it. But I'm writing this review having known what came before and feeling the pinches of the changes.
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As soon as the Zoom H6 hit the market I was sold by the specs of the unit and bought it without hesitation.

As the title I gave suggests, this unit is not suited for dSLR users. Yet to be fair it is not really marketed for such use. The Tascam DR-60D is a better solution for dSLR due various reasons which I cannot cover in this review as it is meant for the Zoom. I will write another review for the Tascam.

Pros:
- Robust build quality, with lots of metal rather than plastic
- Awesome sound quality
- Easy intuitive button and dial layout
- 2 Mics are included with own level control. (Metal mics)
- 4 XLR phantom powered inputs with potentiometers to control gain. Inputs can also accept jack plugs.
- Option to have 6 XLR inputs via
- 3.5mm jack input
- Tripod mount
- Line out which can be fed into any recording equipment ie: camera.
- Offers many recording options. WAV files to mp3
- Nice colour display
- Comes with everything you need to get started plus a travel case (yet no power supply)

Cons:
- When colour display backlight goes off screen becomes unreadable. (Unlike normal LCD displays which remain viewable)
- Jog dial used for scrolling through the menu is a bit fiddly.
- When mounted on a tripod, battery access is tricky. Yet battery life is really great.
- Vocals recording could sound slightly nasal. (On my unit at least)

So is this the recorder for you?
Ultimately we buy these recorders for sound quality and ease of use. And this unit performs well in both departments. On my unit I notice that vocals sound slightly nasal. Whilst I love the colour display, I do not find it practical in the long run due to the fact that the screen blanks out, as mentioned in the cons.

That said, the sound quality recording is still awesome, albeit slightly over processed. The unit is a welcome upgrade over the Zoom Hn4, and one thing I particularly like is the one touch recording and button layout. I have missed so many recordings on the H4N due to the record button having to be armed prior to start recording.

I give the unit 4 stars due to the screen and over processed sound quality

The bottom line: The Zoom H6 is an awesome versatile recorder for the price! It will not disappoint.

Recommended
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on 29 October 2015
I bought this even though I already had digital recording kit, because I wanted something quick and easy to set up. Often I would feel in the mood to do some music, but then think it wasn't worth getting out my existing kit (a rather large Roland hard disk recorder) for the time I had available.

Not only does the Zoom H6 fulfill this need, but I think it may have completely replaced my old kit.

First of all, the reason I bought it - it works brilliantly as a stand alone recorder, with stereo microphones integrated, and 4 XLR/TRS combined sockets for the option of 4 additional microphones. I recently attended a choral workshop, and set it up at the side of the hall - it picked up the whole room brilliantly. One of the optional features is a "backup recording". When making a recording, using this option makes a duplicate recording, but at -12dB. This means that if you have set the gain too high, and have peaking, you have a copy of the recording made at a lower volume, which you can probably bet on being fine. This has already gotten me out of one situation, and I expect it will be just as useful in the future.

The second mode in which it can be used is as a digital audio interface. Connected by USB to a computer, running audio software, it gives the computer the full 6 channels of audio (stereo microphone, and 4 XLR/TRS), allowing you to do more sophisticated recording and multiple takes [See Note 1, below]. The literature mentions it being compatible with Windows PC and Mac, and it also has an Ipad mode. No mention of Android, but I found that it worked with Android fine - note that you will need a USB/OTG (On The Go) adapter to do this.

The recorder, as bought, comes with two different integrated microphone modules - the XY, which I have been using, and a Mid-Side module. These are easy to attach and detach. Available separately is a shotgun microphone module, and a module that replaces the integrated microphone with another 2 XLR/TRS sockets.

This little recorder is superb, and a lot of fun.

Note 1: I'll mention this here, as I have seen some reviewers complain of this. As a stand-alone recorder, the H6 will do multiple takes, but each track recorded (of the 6 tracks available) needs to be recorded on its own channel. i.e. if you start with a stereo recording from the intergrated microphones, which will record on tracks "L" and "R", to then re-record on track 1, you will need a separate microphone plugged into XLR/TRS socket 1. There is no internal re-routing of signal available. I understand the complaint, but practically, I have had no difficulty with it. When using it stand-alone, I am usually recording something live, so would not need multiple takes; but simply plugging into a tablet (or even a decent-spec Android phone) gives you full multitrack ability, without limits on number of tracks. So be aware of this limitation, but don't let it put you off.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 August 2015
I upgraded from a Tascam-DR40 to the Zoom H6 - it's a fabulous portable recorder. Here's its features:

- The top internal X/Y stereo mic unit can be unplugged and replaced with a (supplied) M/S mic. I have not seen this before on a portable recorder.M/S (mid/side) recording, although it seems to have gone a little out of fashion in recent years has two advantages - the stereo spread can be adjusted in post and one channel (the mid mic) is a regular mono signal on its own. Zoom also sell two other modules to replace the X/Y mic - a directional gun mic and a unit that adds two more XLR channels in place of the mic. The X/Y mic module also has a stereo minijack input with 'plug-in power' - great if you want to use binaural mics (obviously the minijack disconnects the X/Y mics). The X/Y mics also swivel adjusting the angle of the heads from 90º to 110º for a wider stereo image.

- You can select a 'back-up' mode for the top stereo mic inputs that lays down an additional stereo pair a lower level than the original as a safety copy in case you peak on the original (effectively meaning it possible to record 8 tracks at once). This is a great feature.

- The remaining for channels have individual gain pots (the stereo internal mic channel shares one). Each channel has individually switchable phantom power, low cut, limiters and compressors. Although the pots are quite small and fiddle, it's great to have individual, physical gain controls. These four channels all have combined XLR/jack inputs. Channels 1 & 2 and 3 & 4 can be switched to stereo pairs.

- An angled colour LCD display shows all 6 channels and their settings together. The screen is small and might be difficult to see in bright light but it is great to have all this information together. A menu button and a small joy-stick switch control the menu settings.

So what does it sound like? Mic pre-amps tend to be the weakness on these low cost recorders but, compared to my previous Tascam, they are pretty quiet and have good gain. Low-output mics that I could not use on the Tascam are fine on this recorder. The in-built mics are surprisingly good - but not as good as high quality external mics. Whether they are 'good enough' depends entirely on the sort of recordings you make.

All in all I think this is a fantastic recorder. Some have pointed out failings in the lack of lockable XLR inputs but I have really not found this a problem (they are firm enough) and labelling on the files it produces (yep, that is a weakness). Others have criticised it's limited in-built effects but they are something I would simply never use on a recorder so that is irrelevant to me. As far as I am concerned, there is little wrong with this machine.
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on 31 October 2013
This is definitely a step up from the H4N, although not as ergonomic.
When using the modules that attached to the top of the recorder, there is a very low noise floor which is great.
When using the XLR inputs, I found volume 6 noise floor was okay, and there was a huge leap in noise at volume 7.
I use this mounted on top of my 5D3 with a Rode NTG2 Mic, and it's a pretty good combination.
The whole thing is easy to use, the knobs you can turn to adjust the volume is a new feature.
The unit is covered in a rubberized material, which is smooth to handle, but I fear would scratch and mark easily is mishandled.

If you're a one man band DSLR filmmaker, this is a great option for a lower noise floor over the H4N and similar priced juiced-link units, and give easy quick control over your sound.
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on 29 August 2015
Works very nicely, gain is clean up until 7/10, then things start to get noisy. Using external high output mics like the Rode NTG-3 combats this potential problem. The mics that come with it aren't very high output so not the best for capturing quiet sounds as you really have to push the gain up to around 9/10. The limiters are in the digital domain (basically they're pointless) so do not rely on them for live work!! Handling noise is low and the Mid-side capsule is noisier that the XY capsule, so take this into account before buying. Everything else is great! the SD card format, the phantom power, battery life, headphone output and volume, the solo function. You can't solo tracks "L" or "R" which really annoys me, they're always joined as a stereo pair no matter what you're settings. Handy tip, it's quicker to transfer files if you buy a fast SD card and insert that into your PC/MAC, the supplied transfer cable is a bit sow for my liking :). Menus are simple and not too deep that it overwhelms, wish there was a shortcut button for phantom power enabling but there is not. Almost a perfect product, Zoom have really upped their game with this and the F8.
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on 9 March 2016
I'v e had a zoom H6 for over a year now, not from Amazon though, and am mainly writin this in response to the misinformation in the current review voted 'most helpful'.
You can lock the dials so you don't inadbertently change your settings, the power buttonslides both ways from its resting postion and one wau is clarly labelled 'hold' so even if you don't RTFM it\s fairly obvious how to do it.And as I am fortunate enough to possess a 3.5mm to 6.3mm converter I don't have to worrk about having to plug the XY in just to enjoy the benefit of a 3.5mm input.
Over all I think this is a fantastic piece of kit, easy to use, intuitive dials, great sound. Little work is required in post if you've sone your job right when recoding.
My main bugbear is that if you are self recoding using the XY then it is hard to see the screen without a strategically placed mirror, or often a camera with a flip up monitor But I rarely fo that and it is well situated for recorfing everyone else (or one's self using an external mike) so I can live with it.
Other than that it suits me perfectly.
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on 1 April 2015
Simply awesome! This is my first audio recorder of this type so I do not have much to go on by comparison, but so far I have been amazed by it. The Zoom H6 arrived about 30 minutes before I was going to watch a play, which gave me just enough time to pop in the batteries and set the date etc. I had simultaneously purchased the Rode NGT2, so I had some fun testing the equipment on a live performance. All I can say is that I was blown away! As a total noob, I was able to set up and balance the built in mics with the Rode shotgun and play around with the gain settings without needing to refer to a manual. The physical dials work wonderfully and the display is crisp and bright, great for low light performances. Obviously I have a lot to learn before I can get the max out of the H6, but getting that quality right out of the box is very reassuring.
Very very happy with the Zoom H6!
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on 4 October 2013
The Zoom H6 is a great at recording. The X/Y mic in particular is special as it captures the most quietest sounds. Not only does it capture quiet sounds but it captures them in great detail and in fantastic quality. The Side mic is great at capturing ambient sounds. The Zoom H6 is decent to hold however it is slightly top-heavy. A great reason to get this product is because it is incredibly versatile. So far Ive used it for recording rehearsals and Capturing ambient sounds furthermore this product can be used as an audio interface via usb; perfect for any musician on the road. It has 4 XLR/TRS inputs which are ALL phantom powered. How much more do you want !!! :)

The Bad bits
Battery drained much more on phantom power
Slightly awkward for layout menu

The Great bis
4XL/TRS INPUTS !!! ALL PHANTOM POWERED
GREAT QUALITY MICS
CAN BE USED AS AN AUDIO INTERFACE

The Zoom H6 is THE MOST versatile recorder yet. Yet slightly pricey this machine can do anything.
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on 15 December 2013
Having used the Zoom H4n several times a week for close on three years now and with great success, I was intrigued to see the company produce another model, the Zoom H6. At first I thought it was going to be some incremental upgrade with a few alterations to the case and couple of new bells and whistles. How wrong could I be?

I am now the very happy owner of the Zoom H6 and have used it extensively over the last few months recording live bands so I feel qualified to say that it is not in any way like it's predecessor! Just about everything that Zoom could improve, they have improved.

I did invest in the extra module for the top that gives me two more XLR inputs bringing the total up to six so now I have, in effect, a six channel digital recorder and mixer all built in with phantom power on four channels for my condenser mics too!

I still have my H4n, I love it and would never part with it. I use it at home for single track overdubs in my DAW but it doesn't get out much any more. I couldn't even consider going back to this machine for the challenging recordings I now do on location.

I can recommend the Zoom H6 with absolutely no hesitation and NO I don't have any connection with the company whatsoever!
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