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Sooner or later, whether you’re a blogger, film maker, or musician, you’ll think about taking your sound to the next level. One of the simplest solutions in this case will be a portable recorder. This review is entirely devoted to the Zoom recorder, namely the H5 model.
Zoom company is well known in the market thanks to its handy recorders, which stand out in terms of the price / quality ratio among their competitors.
This handy device offers myriads of functions to make your recording process easier and better. Without further ado, let’s get straight into this.
Zoom H5 Features
ZOOM H5 features interchangeable input capsules and can also be used with Zoom H6 microphone modules. H5 is equipped with a new X/Y stereo microphone capsule with anti-vibration suspension, which has a sound pressure level as much as 140 dB. Just for the record it’s the sound of the jet aircraft in 200 feet away from you.
So, if you’re planning to shoot an interview in a loud environment — live concert, street with heavy traffic, office — it can be no-nonsense choice.
Apart from a stereo microphone, the ZOOM H5 recorder can capture signals from external microphones with two analog inputs; as a result, you have four channels for recording. Interchangeable capsules allow you to use two XLR / TRS inputs, meaning you can handle them as both mic or line-level signal.
Additionally, the mic / line inputs have a -20-dB attenuator and phantom power with a choice of +24 and +48 volts.
The quality of sound recording is, as always, beyond praise. However, it is worth noting that the microphones on the default capsule cover the sound in the range of 90 degrees in front of you. But you can expand it up to 120 degrees with XYH-6 capsule.
The first thing that you would notice is that the general stereo panorama is well-defined and clear. A human voice is distinct and loud. If we take for an example typical working environment in the office, an air conditioner would be muffled, although its presence, as well as the presence of a room space is quite noticeable.
“Multi file” recording mode exploits native microphones or any other external microphone and records a sound as a separate track. The signals from 1 and 2 inputs are also recorded separately. As a result, you have 3 files in WAV format, which you can mix in one or adjust them to achieve the optimal sound.
In the “Stereo file” recording mode, you select only one recording track from either LR microphones or input signal 1/2.
Zoom H5 can record sound in WAV or MP3 formats. WAV stereo recording has quantization and a sampling rate of up to 24 bit / 96 kHz, or up to 24 bit / 48 kHz in the four-track mode. The MP3 format is available only for stereo mode, and the bitrate is adjustable from 48 to 320 kbps.
As for the sound processing, the device has incorporated compressor and limiter; it will help you to equalize the volume, while a low-cut filter will eliminate unnecessary noise.
Interesting features such as looping playback, pitch change, playback speed, metronome and even a tuner with chromatic guitar and bass module will certainly be handy for live musicians, interviewing, or podcast recording.
Let’s quickly break down each of the functions:
- Pre-recording function —the recorder records the sound for another 2 seconds before pressing the “Record” button.
- Automatic recording — starts a recording when the volume exceeds the specified parameter.
- Auto-stop — recording stops at a given volume level, either immediately or 5 seconds later.
- Backup-record —duplicates file with the signal level lower by 12 dB. The record button is pressed very gently and, if you use the pre-record buffer, there will be no click from the button in the track.
Let’s now talk about the appearance of the device. H5 is made of rubberized plastic (which is, unfortunately, easy to scratch), the size is 66.8 × 135.2 × 42.1 mm, and weight is only 176 grams. Also, as mentioned above, the XYH-5 microphone-capsule comes with the recorder, featuring two unidirectional condenser microphones with vibration-absorbing mount. It is fixed on top of the device and can be easily unattached if necessary.
On the front side of the recorder is control panel, including two analog volume controls and four LED buttons to control each track separately.
The volume control knobs for the “default” microphones are located directly on the microphone capsule.
Monochrome display is of a small size, but it performs well and does not scratch as in the H6 model.
On the right side there are a two-position switch, a menu button, remote control connection, and a slot for an SD / SDHC memory card of up to 32 GB.
On the left side you’ll see a USB port for transferring files or connecting to an external power source, a separate line-out and an output for connecting headphones. Line-out will allow you to output sound directly to the input of an external microphone of your camera, and headphones will allow you to monitor the sound during recording.
Next to the ports there are two headphone volume control buttons. The standard XLR / TRS inputs for microphone connection are located at the bottom of the recorder.
Two AA or NiMH batteries would suffice to run the recorder. Battery compartment is located under the cover on the back side, right under the built-in speaker. According to the manufacturer, H5 can run on batteries for up to 15 hours of continuous recording (depending on the card size and file type).
- Compatible with all functional capsules of the Zoom company
- Simultaneous four-track recording
- Large LCD display
- Built-in audio effects, including low pass filter, compression and limiter
- 15 hours of operation with alkaline batteries
- Default capsule is quiet and has only a 90-degree fixed angle.
- The built-in speaker is too quiet on the street.
- Easy to scratch
- Can be noisy as an audio interface
- Shuts down upon low battery charge
With all the features on the board, Zoom H5 will be handy for anyone who is looking for high quality audio recording.
The essential pack of functions opens up a whole new world for expressing your ideas, ranging from rock-band rehearsal recording to simply podcast at home.
Along with the 4-channel mode, the built-in effects, additional filters and interchangeable capsules, you’ll get a powerful, mobile recording device with high-end quality of sound.
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