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Zoom Introduces the H5 Audio Recorder, a More Compact Version of the H6

01.30.14 @ 4:35PM Tags : , , , ,

Zoom H5 Handy Recorder Front CroppedThe Zoom H6 audio recorder was unveiled earlier in 2013, and along with it came some much-needed upgrades to the brand that has become extremely popular among lower-budget productions. Now the company has unveiled a smaller version called the H5, which removes some of the fancy features of the H6. Click through to check out more about the recorder.

Zoom H5 Audio Recorder

Here’s what’s different in the new recorder:


Appealing to those who are looking for the functionality of the H6, but don’t need all of its inputs or bells and whistles, the H5 has a black-and-white screen (as opposed to the H6’s color screen) and features 2  inputs for external sources, in addition to its swappable stereo mic capabilities. The H5 will record to external SD cards.

The H5 will ship with its own, brand-new XY stereo microphone module that features a built-in shockmount system and an impressive 140dB maximum SPL. The recorder is also equipped with four input channels, allowing you to record simultaneously from the included stereo XY mic and two additional sources. Each input is controllable by its own analog gain knob.

A big addition to the H6 was the ability to add modules on the top of the recorder. This includes all sorts of different mic attachments, and the H5 is compatible with all of them. While the H5 will be limited to two XLR inputs, you can add two more with the EXH-6 module (XLR inputs are on the left and right):

Zoom EXH-6 Dual XLR-TRS Input

So what’s it going to cost you? It doesn’t seem like there has been a price released just yet, but based on the $400 cost of the H6, and the $270 H4n, the H5 will likely slot in somewhere in-between there (we’ll update when we find out). I would venture a guess that it will be offered for $300, so you’ll have to make a decision whether you really care about the extra inputs and channels on the H6 (though again you can add a few with the EXH-6 module for $70).

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  • Bravo, I have my old h4 and it works really well. But if one gets broke i will buy h5, no doubt.

  • Are the preamps the same as the H4N?

    • It likely has the same or similar preamps as the H6, so this model should offer better performance than the H4n.

  • The add-on xlr’s don’t offer phantom-power. Could be good to keep in mind.

  • im due for a new recorder. I have a couple h1′s and an h4n that takes forever to boot up.
    I wish that h6 was a little cheaper, this may be it,.. or maybe suck it up and get the h6

  • Why do you think they put bars in front of the dials?

    • To stop you accidentally jogging the dial.

      • trackofalljades on 01.31.14 @ 1:03AM

        Yeah the price point, features, construction, and SPL tolerance on this thing all speak “docs, ENG, and concert recording” very loudly to me. In all those cases, it would be really nice to be able to pocket or bag the thing repeatedly and not have the dials come across your fingers too easily.

      • henry: “To stop you accidentally jogging the dial.”

        Wouldn’t a LOCK slider or switch be better?

        • Andrew Cox on 02.6.14 @ 6:15PM

          A bar still allows instant access to the dials – a slider or switch would mean having to unlock the switch before adjusting – not good for responsive adjustments – also then the dials would need to be digital buttons instead of analog which means the AD processing would miss out on the gain adjustment…kind of self defeating and slower to adjust and harder to see the current settings than a simple dial. Sorry, long sentence, but no time for grammar right now!

  • I would practically get this just for the analog gain knobs. I can’t stand adjusting stuff like that in menus.

  • john jeffries on 01.30.14 @ 8:30PM

    Sound recorders have not had the democratizing effect that cameras have had. Somebody needs to step up and offer a small, cheap box that you just set down next to your actors and it provides feature film quality sound straight to SD cards. I dont have to hire a sound guy (who almost always has a superiority complex) just to get good sound

    • Well, just put a shotgun mic on a boom and the recorder on the stand (or floor), adjust the level and there you go.

    • Hahahahahahahahahahaha…. Whew.. That was a good one.. Thanks for that.

    • You’re kidding, right?

    • In my experience, more shoots have been ruined by bad sound than by bad camera work. Sound is always taken for granted, but if you need that sync sound, and it sucks, you are sunk.

      The problem is that there’s no such thing as a telephoto microphone. There is no substitute for getting the mic close, having the signal clean and undistorted and not having undesired background sounds.

      While lenses see only what they point at, mics pick up everything from all angles. A door slams or an airplane drones overhead and you’ll hear it.

      Further, it was the sound class that sunk most students at school.

      It’s really hard to get a simple, professional sound recording and takes really good equipment, starting with the mic itself. And the complexity is exponential. Add wireless mics, cable runs, preamps, mixers, recorders line/mic adapters, windjammers, lav vs shotgun, overhead mount options, balanced/unbalanced/lo-z/hi-z signal, phantom power (12V T-power or 12-48VP), bitrate and sample rate, stereo, mono, 5.1 surround. Then you think the guy who knows all this stuff should volunteer his equipment and time. Oh, and you probably give him about 30 seconds to be in position and ready, not to mention able to move after every shot.

      No wonder they act up.

      • Thank you. I’m not a sound guy, but I know they don’t usually get enough respect on set. Hiring a good sound recordist is as important as anything.

    • I wish somebody would invent a camera that I could just place on the ground and it would shoot a feature film for me. I’m tired of hiring DPs.

  • trackofalljades on 01.31.14 @ 1:04AM

    “I dont have to hire a sound guy (who almost always has a superiority complex) just to get good sound.”

    I can’t tell if this is supposed to be a joke, but if it is it’s not very funny. Just sad.

  • Javier Mollo on 01.31.14 @ 2:17AM

    I prefer Tascam Dr60. The Pre-amp it’s absolutely better than H6, why H5 going to be better?

  • Off topic, but the industrial design between the two are vastly different. I wonder which groups designed each one and if they outsource to other firms…

  • Filthy Punt on 01.31.14 @ 6:28AM

    In the northern UK we have the same issue with sound guys, they’re generally the only crew members who won’t work for free and they’re nearly always dicks.

    On a more positive note here’s a top tip for increasing the gain (about 20db ultra clean) without adding noise on a Zoom H4n (or any portable recorder with phantom power) http://tritonaudio.com/index.php?Itemid=33 amazing, unbelievable results for £70.

    I like the look of the H5 analogue dials and combined with the Fethead would give a very high quality low cost sound solution, I agree with the person who said someone needs to bring out a mid range high quality audio recorder., there would appear to be a market for it and it’s got be a lot easier to develop than a 4k camera.

    • Why would an experienced, highly rated, popular sound guy bring his hard earned equipment with him to “work” ridiculous hours for free on your film, when they could be earning money to feed and house a family? A credit? Pizza? That’s why you’ve never met any.

      Not a northern thing fella, just a peculiarly British thing where anyone apart from writers, directors and DOPs get some sort of step up the film industry ladder thanks to the unappreciated efforts of art dept, hair/makeup, sound, editors, sparks, runners etc, etc.

      You’re film isn’t the most important thing in the world to everyone you vain idiot.

      The H5 looks like a great piece of kit, used properly by someone who knows what they’re doing. But as with all pieces of equipment, in the hands of an amateur film maker it’d would be distinctly average.

      I might well buy one.

      • Not a sound Guy (anymore) on 01.31.14 @ 3:40PM

        hey we found one!! and he has even been a dick for us right here to give everyone a great example of what the others were talking about above…

        I think it’s because sound guys don’t get the glory of the other jobs, leaves them bitter… they therefore become divas so people will notice how much they do :P

    • “In the northern UK we have the same issue with sound guys, they’re generally the only crew members who won’t work for free and they’re nearly always dicks.”

      Is this serious? How hilarious. All of the sound guys I have worked with have been lovely, amicable, hard working people. Maybe try being nice to them and respecting their skill set, ability and what their hard work brings to the film. Also, I think its pretty big kick in the ass for sound guys when you pay your dop a wage, gear hire and supply them with assistants and offer no compensation for the gear time and crewing needs of your sound department. Most of all, be nice and do your homework, maybe then you’ll have a better experience.

  • I JUST received my brand spanking new Zoom H4n – if this was released a little bit earlier I may as well have gone for this model instead. Sigh, technologic progression is too fast! :P

  • what about overdubbing and multitrack? facts about those functions?

  • Looks like a nice alternative to H4n and H6. It’s very “different” in design though..:-)

  • I am not sure if I will buy H6 or H5

  • Awesome! I was looking to upgrade my H4N to th H6 but this will fit me better as I usually only use one shotgun mic or the XY mics for atmosphere or video blogs.

    I generally like the H4N but the preamps are just not loud enough for the shotgun. You’ve really got to crank it up and even that isn’t enough many times. So if this has the same preamps as the H6 which I hear is greatly improved, that would be great.

    Would also love those analog knobs and it would be cool to experiment with teh different modules, though I’m not sure if in practice I would ever actually buy them and use them. I can see myself thinking that is a nice option but then never use that option.

    For those people complaining about sound guys or the cost of these recorders, get real! You’re willing to spend big money on a camera but then cheap out on audio? Let’s just say I never want to see one of your films.

    When watching movies at home I often find myself looking away, down at my phone, my computer or something else (maybe I’m eating) and the only thing that keeps me connected to the movie/show during those times is the audio. Bad audio will ruin your production and good audio has a way of making your picture look better psychologically. Spend as much or more for your audio as you do for your picture or start making silent films. Don’t be one of those clueless filmmakers.

  • i am intrested to purchase this one how much cost and how can i get it in india ?

  • I am an audio engineer and when I started getting involved with video about 4 years ago with DSLRs I was surprised at the popularity of Zoom, who have a poor reputation in the audio world as toys for students and those starting out who are blinded by spec sheets over reality. I kept my mouth shut, of course, as I felt that perhaps the different requirements meant the gear was more appropriate for video than it is for audio only. However, I have come to feel that the H4 is the Beats or the Monster Cable of the audio for video world. It has good marketing and due to being used by a lot of people has become the defacto standard despite having poor sound, short battery life and a difficult interface. I read a review in Audio Media magazine on the H6 and felt maybe they’d finally upped their game but I have read a lot of comments (P Bloom site, for example) that say that the audio quality is still below par. I am disappointed and am going to stick to Tascam which is a brand I’ve been using since the days of 16 track 1 inch analog (and portastudios before that) unless I hear that the H5 has improved the areas I mentioned.

  • I’m convinced its the answer for me. But still not easy to get in HK. If i buy from US Amazon – is there any difference in US vs. Asia specs? Voltage for DC line in?