If you've been shooting video with DSLRs for the past couple of years, chances are you also own, or have at least used the Zoom H4N. It's one of those devices that has seemingly become ubiquitous on low-budget shoots due to the fact that it's incredibly easy to use and (relatively) affordable compared to other audio capture equipment. However, the H4N has always been a one-trick pony in that you are limited to either the XY mic atop the device, the two inputs on the bottom, or some combination thereof. For many sound recordists and location mixers, this combination of inputs simply wasn't enough. Luckily for them, Zoom recently announced the big brother (and significant upgrade) from the H4N, the extremely modular and versatile H6. Check below for the details.
Here are the specs of the device (straight from Zoom's website):
- The world's first handy recorder with interchangeable mic system
- XY mics capture remarkable stereo depth and clarity
- Mid-side mics provide continuously variable stereo width
- Four XLR/TRS inputs for external mic/line connections
- Up to six channels of simultaneous recording
- High-definition audio of up to 24-bit/96kHz
- 6-in/2-out USB audio interface
- Over 20 hours of operation with 4 AA batteries
- Supports SDXC memory cards up to 128GB
- Optional Shotgun mic and external XLR/TRS inputs available
Here's a quick pic of the full H6 system (with optional attachments).
Although I've been frustrated with the H4N as a filmmaking tool for the past few years (largely due to its lack of inputs and its inefficient design), I have to say that the H6 looks like an extremely appealing option for filmmakers who are on a budget and who need to travel light. With the ability to record and mix up to six channels of audio at once, the H6 will allow sound recordists to use an arsenal of microphones like lavs, booms, zeppelins etc to record the best possible sound and to have the most options in post.
Another welcome feature of the H6 is the tactile volume knobs on the device itself and the various attachments. One of my biggest complaints about the H4N is that it's extremely inefficient to change levels, especially while recording, due to the small little plus and minus buttons on the side of the device. With the H6, changing levels looks to be both quick and silent, something which I'm sure will make everyone from the boom operator to the post production sound team very happy.
While the price for the Zoom H6 has yet to be released, my guess is that it will come in around $400 for the basic package, and maybe $550 for the complete package with the additional attachments. While that is speculation on my part, those prices would fit with their current line of audio capture devices.
What do you guys think? Do you see yourselves using the H6 on future sets? Let us know in the comments.