One of the undisputed leaders in the development and production of professional recording equipment – the Japanese company Zoom more than 4 years ago drew attention to the rapidly growing video market. The classic Zoom recorders have become an indispensable accessory for many professional video makers, operators and journalists.
Over the next years, Zoom specialists worked on the development of new concept and in 2013 the innovative Zoom H6 model appeared. A distinctive feature of this top-end recorder was a system of interchangeable microphone heads, which significantly expanded the functionality. A year later, an affordable follower appeared on the market – the Zoom H5 model.
In this article we will compare two models and look at the demand for the specific model on the market.
|Yes (via USB)
|Yes (via USB)
|16-bit/44.1 kHz, 24-bit/96kHz
|Simultaneous Rec Tracks
|Simultaneous Play Tracks
|XYH-5 X/Y mic
|Modular (includes X/Y and Mid-Side mics)
|2 x XLR-1/4" combo, 1 x 1/8"
|4 x XLR-1/4" combo
|1 x 1/8" Stereo Line Out
|1 x 1/8" Stereo Line Out
|1 x 1/8"
|1 x 1/8"
|SD/SDHC Card Slot (up to 32GB)
|SD/SDHC/SDXC up to 128GB
|Compression, Limiting, Low-cut filter, Metronome, Tuner, Playback Looping, Pitch Change, Variable Playback Speed
|Highpass filter, compressor, limiter
|AA battery, AC, USB bus power
|4 x AA (alkaline or NiMH)
|Over 15 hours
|Yes (Mountable to DSLR or camcorder with optional HS-01 Hot Shoe Mount adapter)
|Yes (via optional adapter)
Although the Zoom H6 is an upgrade of the Zoom H5, the differences between them may not be important for everyone. Let’s take a look at the main differences, so you know which recorder suits your needs best.
With fully charged batteries recorders can work up to:
Zoom H6 – up to 21 hours
Zoom H5 – up to 15 hours
As both recorders come with AA batteries, you will have to change them anyway. The only difference is that H6 require 4 AA batteries, while H5 only 2.
Number of inputs
Zoom H6 is the undisputed leader in multichannel recording; it can record 6 tracks (2 channels with XY stereo and 4 channels with XLR / TRS inputs).
Zoom H5 and Zoom H4n can record 4 tracks (2 channels less with XLR / TRS inputs).
Zoom H6: LCD 320х240
Zoom H5: LCD 128×64
The H6 has 2″ full-color LCD screen mounted at an angle, so you do not have to move the recorder for monitoring. H5, however, has a backlit LCD, which is smaller in dimensions.
Zoom H6 can work with SDXC (64GB – 128GB), SDHC (4GB – 32GB), SD (16MB – 2GB)
Zoom H5 can work with SDHC (4GB – 32GB), SD (16MB – 2GB)
As for the sound quality, these recorders are quite similar. Sure, there is some differences in diaphragm, slight difference in sensitivity, and max sound pressure input, but you will not hear it any major differences in the sound.
The only difference worth noting is that H5 has fixed 90 degrees XY capsule, while you can change the angle from 90 to 120 degrees on the H6. As a result, the stereo image will be notable.
Zoom H6 is a younger and more expensive model. It weighs 280g, and in fact shares similar features with the H5. However, it allows you to record 8 tracks, plus it provides more audio editing features on the go. So the choice between the two models from Zoom depends solely on work conditions and budget since Zoom H6 costs $50 more than its follower. Let’s have a look at main features.
Zoom H6 comes with wide range functionality and rich equipment. It has ton of functionality to it and products you can use.
The default capsule records an audio in stereo. Being very sensitive, it’s great for recording ambience sounds.
Zoom H6 has 4 XLR/TRS inputs, which allows you to plug in and record 4 tracks simultaneously, adjusting the sound levels from different inputs. You can purchase a separate head for 2 additional inputs. As a result, you have 6 combo inputs to plug in microphones or instruments.
Keep in mind that some microphones require phantom power. The built-in XLRs on the Zoom H6 do offer Phantom Power, but the two extra ones don’t.
This recorder will support some of the most difficult and demanding recording scenarios you can encounter. It’s particularly handy if you are going to record music. You can bring the whole kit with professional microphones and set it up so you can record each of the different instruments.
According to Zoom, it can record up to 20 hours, depending on the conditions. You will be able to record 3 hours long track at 44.1 kHz/16 bit WAV, and 34 hours at 128 kbps MP3.
Sure, you can apply all the post editing directly through your DAW, but for journalists and people on the road, these effect can be more than helpful.
Some of the good features of the Zoom H6 are designed to improve recording quality on the road. Firstly, it is an LF FILTER, cutting off unnecessary frequencies in the lower register – you set the ceiling yourself through the menu. The low-pass filter helps to get rid of the noise of wind, a nearby freeway, resonance from a microphone, etc.
COMPRESSOR AND LIMITER adjust level fluctuations. They prevent overload and distortion, not allowing the sound to exceed the level set by you in these functions. Their function is relatively similar with the only difference being that the limiter does it more severely.
Comp1 and Limiter1 are suitable in most of the cases, which is great to boost overall quality of your recording. Comp 2 is optimal for recording vocals, and Comp 3 is for drums. Limiter2 is great for recording at a concert, and Limiter3 – in a small home studio.
- The number of recording channels. If you are a musician, this is a more suitable option for demo recording for a band of 4-5 people.
- Capsules that are included in the kit: two capsules come standard with the H6 and XYH-6 X/Y capsule has wider stereo image.
- With SDXC card H6 gives you 128 GB versus 32 GB for H5. It is not critical, but for those who will use 6 inputs in the WAY format it can be a significant argument.
- Longer battery life
- Less portable
- Overwhelmed functionality at the first glance
- Comes only with 2GB of storage
Zoom H5 is a four-channel recorder with interchangeable microphone capsules, two slots for additional microphones (XLR / TRS), memory capacity up to 32GB, work up to 15 hours, LCD display.
In a word, everything you need for a good record and a little more. Zoom H5 records up to 5 tracks at a time, which is quite enough to record a performance or music. The recorder is equipped with two XY microphones, which, as noted above, can be changed, respectively, obtaining a higher recording quality.
So what are you paying for? Let’s jump into main pros and cons.
- Fair Quality-Price-Ratio
- Wide range of applications
- Compatible with H6 capsules
- Comes with foam windscreen for outdoor filming
- Small LCD display
- Fixed 90 degree angle XY capsule
Both devices share high ratings according to Thomann. Choosing one depends on your goals and budget. Generally speaking, Zoom H5 is a smaller version of the Zoom h6. Unlike his follower, H5 is reduced in size and is able to write on 4 channels at the same time. Apart from it, it is the same H6.
With replaceable capsules for all occasions, the ability to apply compressor or limiter for different recording conditions, these recorders are suitable for various applications.
If you are looking for your first audio recorder for podcast or interviewing, H5 would be the best option. However, H6 is also great for musicians and professional journalists on the go. Range of applications may include: live concert recording, music making, electronic newsgathering, location videography.