Podcast Equipment

Podcasting on the move with the new Zoom H6

You've got to love new toys.

I’ve just added the Zoom H6 to my podcasting arsenal.

New to me, the H6 was actually launched back in 2013 as the world’s first six-track portable recorder, featuring a revolutionary system of interchangeable input capsules.

For podcasters, particularly those who regular feature more than two contributors, it’s a dream.

It’s currently retailing on Amazon for £251/€289.

Import and edit straight from the Zoom H6
Import and edit straight from the Zoom H6

Why did I buy the H6?

My main reason for buying the Zoom H6 was practicality. I’m in the middle of doing up a small home studio, years in the planning (figured I should buy a house first before getting too comfortable) and I’m co-opting my UFX1604 into the home setup.

Previously, I would have lugged the desk on location, set everything up, and while it certainly looks impressive, it’s far from practical at the best of times. For podcast recording – note recording, and not necessarily production – the H6 does everything I need the UFX1604 to do.

It allows me to take 4 separate mono inputs (XLR or jack), multi-tracked and leveled separately, and record them safely to SD. In one handheld unit. It saves bringing the desk, the MacBook, extension reels, the lot.

I turn up with the H6, plug in, record and when I’m back at home all my tracks are safely squared away in their folders, ready to be mixed.

So, what’s in the box?

Zoom H6
Zoom H6

Credit to Zoom, they’ve backed a lot into the box, including a handy carry case.

You’ll get

  • The Zoom H6 Handy Recorder
  • An X/Y mic capsule (pictured attached above)
  • The MSH-6 Mid-Side mic capsule
  • A USB cable for transferring content from the recorder
  • The WSH-6S Zoom-branded pop shield (to cover both mic attachments)
  • 4x AA batteries, plus bags for each piece of kit
  • A foam-lined hard plastic carry case for the lot
  • Copies of Cubase LE and Wavelab LE from Steinberg.

Unlike the H4, there’s no memory card included in the kit (unless you buy a bundle), so you’ll need to have an SD to SD-XC card in advance. I usually travel with a few 16gb cards in the bag.

The recorder is battery operated but you can buy a power adapter separately, similarly too for a remote control. There is an APH-6 kit available to buy separately, running around £48 on Amazon or €47 on Thomann. In it you’ll find a windjammer for outdoor use, a wired remote and a wired power supply.

Xoom H6 Features

  • 4 XLR/TRS Inputs
  • Dedicated 6-channel recording (tracks saved separately)
  • 24-bit/96kHz audio recording
  • Compressor, limiter and low cut filters
  • Individual gain controls per channel
  • 48v phantom power
  • 2″ LCD colour screen for menus and monitoring
  • 6-in / 2-out USB interface (USB 2.0)
  • Support for up to 128GB storage with SD-XC cards
  • Around 20 hours recording using 4 AA batteries (power supply is optional)
Zoom H6 Kit
Zoom H6 Kit

First Impressions

First impressions of the Zoom H6 are good. There’s a nice bit of weight in the kit and it feels robust, but you wouldn’t want to go dropping it on a hard surface all the same.

Load times are quick, the interface is simple to use and if you’re just doing one to one chats, you can jump in straight away.

My preference is to use external microphones, usually the Shure SM58 (see my podcasting kit here) and straight out of the box I can plug 4 into the recorder. Levelling is intuitive and the bright LCD screen is a big help, way more so than the monochrome versions in the H4N and older models.

Rolling it out straight away

I’ll be rolling the Zoom H6 into production straight away for season 2 of Rambling Rhinos.

I’ve a little bit of work to do to get a safe mix-minus going to record Skype or Messenger calls through the device but that’s for another post.

Have you had any good or bad experiences with the Zoom H6? Is it an essential piece of your field recording kit? Let me know in the comments below.

Ken McGuire

Award-winning podcaster, presenter and broadcast engineer at KCLR96FM; digital media head with a production eye on theatre, film and video; Read my Irish food blog, Ken On Food.

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