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Review: Zoom H5 – Run & Gun Audio Recorder

Review: Zoom H5 – Run & Gun Audio Recorder

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The H5 can be mounted to any DSLR. Its dual combo inputs can handle both mic- and line-level signals. There’s even a dedicated Line Out for direct connection to. Buy a complete recording kit from B&H, featuring the Zoom H5, its built-in mics (the DRD has none, the DR has two basic omni mics.). Record rich, detailed audio with this Zoom H5 Handy recorder that features an included X/Y capsule with extended signal capacity and shockmounted microphones.


What is zoom h5 – none: –

The Zoom H5 has a metal bar across it, which makes it difficult, if not impossible to accidentally change the input levels. The H5 can also be used as an audio interface, with your DAW of choice.


– Read This Before You Buy the Zoom H5 in — SKYES Media


The recordings are often echoey and heavy on environmental noise like air conditioning, computer fans, and running refrigerators. If it helps to keep it straight, think about the signal chain as a series of pipes taking water from a reservoir. The microphone collects water and pumps it through a cable into the H5 where it is filtered into the SD card and safe to drink. Next to that symbol is a number. In the next row down, the display reads the folder into which the recordings are being stored.

To the right of the folder is the name of the current file ex: ZOOM The , , , , -6, and 0 represent the level in decibels dB. The first box in the bottom row tells you the file type the recordings are being created as.

The next box tells you which, if either, of Input 1 and 2 are providing phantom power 48V. In short, phantom power is a boost of voltage required to power some microphones.

If you need more info… well then I laugh as I point you to the charred remains of your Zoom instruction booklet in the ashtray. Just kidding. Please recycle. View Larger Image. Using the included capsule or an external mic The first thing you may have noticed about your shiny new Zoom H5 is the silver-stun-baton-looking-device sticking out of the top. But if you want to save yourself the step of syncing the recorder and audio in post, you always have that option. Phone jack Monitor your audio here.

Volume buttons Use these to adjust volume of the Line Out signal and the built-in playback speaker on the back of the H5 USB port This is useful for supplying plug-in power and saving some batteries on long recording sessions.

The port can also be used to plug into the computer, effectively turning the H5 into an SD card reader or my personal favorite an audio interface. If you need to record a voice over or narration, Adobe Premiere and other editing software will recognize the Zoom H5 as an audio interface and record directly into an open project. Remote jack The remote is sold separately. Scroll button Pushing up or down will switch between menu items while pushing down will confirm your selection.

Menu button This opens the menu if you can believe it. Unless you are recording a real life Leslie Knope filibuster, an empty 32 GB SD card will always be overkill with a recording time somewhere between 50 and hours depending on file format and how many inputs you are using. The H5 will take a hot second to format a blank SD card with its filing system. The emptier the card, the quicker the formatting. An empty card will only take a couple of seconds but a fuller card could take five minutes or longer to format.

If you need more than 3 inputs, the EXH-6 capsule is a valuable purchase. Peaking or clipping will cause a distorted buzzing noise. This capsule allows you to connect two external microphones, instruments, mixers, or portable music players to the Zoom H5. Note that this capsule unfortunately can not provide Phantom Power to the two inputs, somewhat limiting your options of microphones. The MS in the name stands for Mid-Side recording, which is a technique that allows you to adjust the width of the stereo image after the recording has already taken place.

This is useful as it gives you a lot more flexibility in post production. This capsule comes by default with the Zoom H6 , and adds two matched high-quality unidirectional microphones to your device.

The capsule is more sensitive to sound coming from in front of it, then from the sides, or behind it. It is mostly used to record natural ambiences, live performances, instruments, and some sound effects. This one comes by default with the Zoom H5. It’s similar to the XYH-6 capsule that we looked at earlier, but it has built-in shock-mounts. The purpose of the shock-mount is to minimise vibrations affecting the recording, either from handling the recorder, or from the surface the recorder is placed on.

This includes a super-directional microphone which picks up sound in the centre, as well as a bidirectional side mic for picking up sounds from the left and the right. The advantage of this microphone would be that you can record dialogue with the directional mic, and then mix in as much or as little of the environment as you’d like, which was captured with the bidirectional side mic. This can be done both in post-production, and directly in the Zoom recorder. Highly directional, it allows you to record focused sound, without having to carry a separate microphone and grip with the recorder.

Whilst those can be better, they can also be way more expensive, and burdensome to carry. This is a winning combo if you prefer to have a compact set-up, like I do. Because of its directionality, it mostly picks up the sounds in front of it, whilst largely ignoring anything coming from the side, or the back. By the way, the narration for the video at the top of this article was recorded with a Zoom H6 , and this capsule.

I use a Manfrotto desk stand in conjuncture with them, and the microphone itself is aimed at my mouth, from the side. The reason is because I like to have the mic quite close to me, and having it on the side prevents plosives. As a quick side note, one of the benefits of these capsules is that if one stops working, you don’t have to bin the whole unit. Instead, you can just buy a new capsule, and keep using the recording device.

Additionally, Zoom provides you with these plastic tabs, which protect the connection points from dust. As fantastic as they are, I wish there was some built-in slot in the device where I can keep them when using a capsule. As things stand, I’ve been known to lose the plastic tabs. The reason is because it’s far more portable, whilst delivering similar quality.

As a digital nomad, I travel around, and I can’t always know what the acoustics of a place will be when I’m booking it. As a result, I use a highly directional microphone, which will mostly just focus on my voice, and it will ignore the sound reflections coming from the side, and other unwanted noise coming from the back.

This can be a good or a bad thing, depending on the situation. Next up, I wanted to cover one of the more useful features of this device, and at the same time discuss its unfortunate limitations. The Zoom H5 has a feature called a dB backup. What it does is when recording, it creates a backup of your recording, which is dB quieter. The reason for this is that if you get too loud when recording, and you get distortion, you can go into the dB safety track, and replace the distorted clip with the quieter, undistorted version.

This sounds fantastic in theory, but there is an issue. When I first heard about this, my assumption was that this feature could be applied to all four inputs, or at the very least the two built-in ones. The strange thing about this is that I’ve seen quite a few conflicting opinions online. Some people say that they’ve managed to get backups of XLR microphones, other say that they can’t.

That might actually work, but that’s a use case that applies to very few people. This does not affect someone like me, who uses the Zoom H6 in conjuncture with the SGH-6 Shotgun Microphone Capsule, but it would impact someone recording a podcast for example. I assume this feature is incomplete due to a limitation in processing power. If you know a workaround for this, make sure to leave it down below in the comments. Now that we’ve covered safety tracks, I actually want to talk about setting healthy levels, and how to avoid needing a backup track in the first place.

Here is the simplest way I can describe setting levels: Peak as high as you can, without actually clipping. In practical terms, set your levels so that you don’t really peak above -6dB, try to keep the average around dB, with softer sounds hitting around dB. You’ll find a lot of debate online as to how you should set your levels, but use the numbers I’ve given you, and play around with your device until you get results that you like.

When in doubt, it’s better to set them too low, than too high. If it’s too high, your recording will be distorted, which will make it unusable. If it’s too low, you’ll get hiss in your recording, but that’s preferable to the alternative. Let’s talk about sample rates, bit depth, and file types. I’m not only going to run you through which sample rates, bit depths, and file types are supported by the Zoom H5 , but I’m also going to tell you which you should use.

First off, you can pick between 16 and 24 bit rate. Not going to go too deep into this one, just go ahead and stick with 24bit. In terms of file type, always use. WAV files. This will produce a file that is rich in audio information, which is preferable to an. MP3 intentionally excludes some data, which will somewhat degrade the quality of your audio, in the interest of a smaller file size. The only instance you’d want to use the. MP3 format is if you strictly use your Zoom H5 as a dictaphone.

If that’s your use case, then go ahead, but most people looking for dictaphones will usually opt for a smaller, and cheaper device. When it comes to sample rate, you have a few options. I’m not going to go into the science of it, but you can think of sample rate kind of like frames per second in video. If you’re just filming someone talking, no need to go beyond 30fps. If you want to be able to slow the footage down though, and not get weird artifacts when doing so, you shoot at 60fps or above.

Your choice of sample rate in audio follows a similar logic. Here are the sample rates you’ll have access to, and what they’re usually used for. This is typically used for recording music.

There is of course nothing stopping you from recording your music at 48kHz, or 96kHz, but unless you plan on doing some crazy audio manipulation, This is typically used for audio which will play alongside picture, like dialogue, or a voice over track for a video.

It’s a sample rate often considered more ‘pro’, compared to Use this if you’re going to record ambiences, or sound effects which will be used for sound design purposes. There is nothing stopping you from using any sample rate by the way, but when it comes to specific use cases, some sample rates are more indicated than others.

The H5 can also be used as an audio interface, with your DAW of choice. The device then gives you the option of either going via the route of a Stereo Mix, or Multi Track. This will use some of the battery in the H5 in order to provide Phantom Power. No major differences between the two when it comes to audio quality. If your aim is to record super quiet ambiences, the Zoom H5 would not be my first choice.

In fact, none of the Zoom handheld recorders would. Even though it can record quiet ambiences with minimal hiss, you do not have XLR inputs. Now, you can connect microphones to it, via the stereo mini jack input, and you can even jerry-rig it to connect XLRs, but at that point, why not invest in a device that has dedicated XLR inputs.

The Zoom H5 does not have built-in guitar effects, like the H4n Pro, or the H8, but it does have a built-in tuner. This is not something that I’ve ever used, as I prefer to record my electric guitar tracks clean, and then add effects later, but this is something that a lot of guitar players might be interested.

In terms of affordability, whilst the prices vary depending on where you are, the Zoom H5 remains a relatively affordable portable recording device.