Zoom has been the indie filmmaker's audio friend for quite some time, especially now with their low-cost field recorder.
Zoom has unveiled the F4, an 8-track/6-input field recorder and mixer. They took everything we enjoyed about the F8 and made it bite-sized. With more recording capacity than a Nagra Seven or Sound Devices 744T, and at a cheaper cost ($649.99), it looks to be a solid companion for any run-and-gun audiophile.
The multitrack recorder features four locking Neurtik XLR/TRS combo connections with the XLR inputs offering switchable 24/48V Phantom power. Each input has a dedicated six-segment LED level meter and a Record Ready and PFL switch. A 3.5mm stereo input or a Zoom mic capsule provides inputs for tracks 5 and 6. If you're not familiar with the Zoom mic capsule, it's a 10-pin connection where an optional EXH-6 Dual XLR/TRS Combo capsule adds two extra XLR mic/line inputs.
Like the F8, the F4 features extremely low noise mic preamps of -127 dBu and +75 dB of input gain—line level inputs are +4 dB. Inputs 5 and 6 can be used as a camera return for monitoring, e.g. confidence checks and there's a variable-frequency slate tone generator to confirm levels.
Zoom also added onboard limiters to all four channels with 10 dB of headroom. Additional threshold, attack, and release controls have been added which makes it perfect for louder sound environments or an unexpected scream. The unit records Broadcast Wave Format (BWF) files at 16-bit or 24-bit resolution at any standard sample rate up to 192 kHz. There's also MP3 recording options at 128, 192, or 320 kbps. In dual-channel recording mode you can create safety tracks on inputs 1 and 2 with independent levels, delay, high-pass filtering, limiting, and phase inversion.
For outputs there's a 1/4" headphone jack with a dedicated volume knob and two main outs on balanced XLR jacks to connect to external mixers and other devices. Two additional sub outs are available on single unbalanced 1/8" stereo mini-jack connectors with the front panel output button giving you access to levels and routing.
What's more surprising about the F4 is that you get time code at this price point. You can ask any audio manufacturer and the spec that inevitable bumps the cost is TC. The F4 uses a Temperature Compensated Crystal Oscillator (TCXO) that generates accuracy of 0.2 ppm with selectable rates at 23.976ND, 24ND, 25ND, 29.97ND, 29.97D, 30ND and 30D.
Weighing just under 2.5 lbs (without batteries), a dual SD card slot supports multiple recordings at once. They've added an extra layer of safety where the F4 periodically saves files while recording. You can remove the SD card to transfer files or use the USB port. The F4 can be also used as a 6-in/4-out USB audio interface with sample rates up to 96 kHz.
For power, you can use 8 AA batteries or an external DC battery pack with a converter cable connector. It also comes with a AD-19 power supply for a wall outlet, and for those using DC-HIROSE, an adapter is available. And as you'd expect the F4 has a built-in tripod mount.
- 6-input/8-track multitrack recorder with integrated mixer
- Input 5/6 can be used as a camera return for monitoring
- High-quality mic preamps
- Support for up to 24-bit/192 kHz recording
- Accurate time code
- Dedicated gain control knob
- 6-segment LED level meter for each channel
- Phantom power (+48V/+24V) on every preamp
- High pass filter, phase invert, and Mid-Side decoder
- Advanced onboard limiters
Be sure to check out more of our IBC 2016 coverage.