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Zoom H6 vs H4n & other portable recorders, idiosyncrasies compared to others
andy o
post Mar 8 2014, 17:05
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So I finally got a portable recorder, the Zoom H6. Overall it's pretty cool, it doubles as a 6-in interface as well.

From what I've noticed in a few days of use and after reading the manual, there's a few things that bug me that seem too obvious to me to have been overlooked, but I have no previous experience with modern digital recorders:

1) You can put "marks" on your recording for easier navigation, but there seems to be no way whatsoever to delete these marks. You can view a list of them, but not do anything about them (but add more).

2) When you overdub, you can record many times, and each time will be saved as a different "take" but again, there seems to be no way to delete a take.

3) There seems to be no way to move recorded tracks to blank tracks, so when you overdub, you need to physically change the mic to another input and change input settings for that mic again. This may be a problem if you're overdubbing more than 4 tracks and your mic requires phantom power, cause the H6 only offers it on 4 inputs.

4) When overdubbing, you press record and have to start from the beginning, apparently there's no way to overdub only the parts you actually need to record.


Am I missing something? These seem obvious things to include in such a recorder. I'm presuming the H4n behaves similarly but I haven't seem people mentioning it. Is #4 a normal thing for recorders in general? I know Garage Band on iOS behaves more like a proper DAW in this regard, but of course has other limitations.
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ktf
post Mar 8 2014, 20:05
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I've used the H4n (easily > 100 hours of 'real' recording) extensively and have been using the H6 lately, but I've never used the overdub feature.

These recorders are too small and have too few buttons to fully implement those features IMO. Thing of not being able to delete tracks and marks is probably because it is not really easy to visualize which is which for tracks and marks. I can't be of more help, I only use these devices for live recordings.


--------------------
Music: sounds arranged such that they construct feelings.
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andy o
post Mar 10 2014, 01:57
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Dunno, overdubbing is pretty unusable for long-ish recordings if you can't just record over the parts you need. And deleting marks is fairly innocuous for it to be left out due to being prone to accidental deletions. Having superfluous tracks are of course a waste of space, you can already tell which track you're on and then you could delete current track, like you do for projects.
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Robertina
post Mar 27 2014, 01:15
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QUOTE (andy o @ Mar 8 2014, 06:05) *
1) You can put "marks" on your recording for easier navigation, but there seems to be no way whatsoever to delete these marks. You can view a list of them, but not do anything about them (but add more). [-snip-] I'm presuming the H4n behaves similarly but I haven't seem people mentioning it.

The H4n manual says:

QUOTE
Once a mark has been created it cannot be deleted.

Side note: Some handheld recorders allow a mark's deletion by first moving to it, and then pressing again the button for adding a mark. I don't know whether this might work for the Zoom H6 as well.

QUOTE (andy o @ Mar 8 2014, 06:05) *
3) There seems to be no way to move recorded tracks to blank tracks, so when you overdub, you need to physically change the mic to another input and change input settings for that mic again. This may be a problem if you're overdubbing more than 4 tracks and your mic requires phantom power, cause the H6 only offers it on 4 inputs.

This video deals with the second part of your concern, I think.
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andy o
post Mar 27 2014, 01:21
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Thanks. I can't watch the video right now, but from the description it seems it's another problem. Apparently it's confusing to turn on phantom power at all when overdubbing, cause you have to do it separately from the menu from which you usually turn it on. I probably got lucky and didn't have that problem. My comment was about the fact that the H6 only offers phantom power in 4 inputs, not in all 6.
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Robertina
post Mar 27 2014, 01:39
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You are right, andy o.

It was my misreading of your post.
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Movieman53
post Mar 28 2014, 19:03
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Andi o, you are right about all four items. You are wrong about the H4n behaving similarly. I had an H4n for two and a half years. All four of these functions worked in a completely different way than the way they do on the H6. I had been using the H4n to record with a cover band I am in. We used the overdub function of the H4n extensively.
The H4n had 3 different recording modes: Stereo, 4 Track and Multi-track. You had to be in Multi-track mode to overdub. It let you go to any point in a recording to fix mistakes, or to record an instrument solo half way through the song. It had the ability to rename a file after it was recorded, so I could give the file a name that told me what the track contained. The recorded track files could then be assigned to any of the 4 available tracks for playback. This allowed the recording and playback of multiple tracks by the same intsrument without ever having to move the recording instrument's input cable. Overdubbed track files could be deleted. File markers could be added and deleted. The H4n also had 50 effects, including reverb, delay, phase shifter, flanger, wah-wah, pitch shift, and a number of guitar and bass amp simulators that could be applied to tracks recorded in Multi-track mode. These effects were all editable. The effects were not the best I've heard, but actually sounded pretty good considering the price paid for the H4n. All of this functionality that was available in the H4n has been removed from the H6. I just discovered this 3 nights ago when I started playing around with the overdub function on the H6. For the way I need to use the recorder, the H4n overdubbing functionality is essential for me, but is no longer there on the H6. So you are not missing anything. I thought the same thing at first, that I must be missing something. The H6 is being touted as the successor to the H4n and the next generation in recording. If that's the case you would expect that all the features that the H4n had would still be present in the H6. Apparently, not true. I did tons of research on the Zoom H6 back at the beginning of the year. I watched umpteen youtube video reviews and read lots of online magazine reviews. Not a single one of them mentioned the missing features. Yours is the first post I have seen online that mentions what I discovered myself three days ago. Everyone highlighted all the new features, ease of use and better sound quality. All thiose things are true. It's just that the main thing I need it to do got yanked. All the videos that did comparisons between the H6 and H4n only compared sound quality and things like the new color display and the easier to use volume dials.
I contacted the North American Tech Support for Zoom. I asked if I was missing something. If not, I asked if Zoom was considering adding these features back in through a firmware update. The answer I got back said that they were sorry for the incoonvenience that this caused me, that they firmly stood by the fact that the H6 is a great device, and that they would forward my concerns/problems on to the developers. I replied to them asking again if they had any idea whether the missing features would be added back through a firmware update in the future, since they had not really answered that question directly. They replied back that the developers in Japan never tell them what is planned. They sent me the email address of the Japanese division of Tech Support and suggested I contact them directly myself. I forwarded my first email to the NA Tech Support to the Japanese division. I have not received any response.
I bought my H6 in mid January, so it is too late to try to return it. I'm stuck. If I could use it's USB audio interface capabilities to record directly to DAW software on my PC, I could get around the lack of features with overdubbing. Unfortunately, I can't seem to get that function to work either. I'm pretty upset right now over this, but there's nothing I can do. sad.gif
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andy o
post Mar 28 2014, 19:45
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Thanks for the report. I also checked many "reviews" before I bought it but since I didn't have the h4n, I don't feel as cheated. Yours is the first account I've read about this though.
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terrynyc
post Jul 4 2014, 12:28
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So glad to read your post. Thought I was going crazy. I too read only rave reviews about the H6, but it looks to me that actually using it will be a nightmare. I spent a few hours unable to record a vocal track with a phantom mike because even tbough you have set phantom pose in the Rec section there is another (non intuitive) place where it also must be set in the Overdub menu - not in the instructions. Nos I can't get the vocal track to Normalize. Pre recorded accompaniment normalized fine - though now you have to normalize each track separately but vocal is still a tiny little voice far away. PLUS it seems that once you do Mixdown (formerly a bounce file), you have lost forever the original Project. I liked having a finished version but still have the for track project in case later I think I can go back and fedo a track or part of a track (shich you can't do with tbis machine). And yes I liked the various settings such as Lead Vocal, Spring, Room, etc. The big advantage of ghiz sdt appears to be the amps and the extdrnal buttons, but the rest is more of a comedown rather than up. Do they i tend you will do all of your "fixing" in post rather than on the spot? But then I havn't fjgured out bow to copy nust one track to computer (which I did easily on H4. I wonder if h5 is the same or more like h4?
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andy o
post Jul 30 2014, 01:03
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I've got an iPad mini retina now, and installed Auria on it. It's far more convenient to use the H6 as an interface to it. Even as an interface only, the H6 has some advantages and $400 seems to be a good price for 6 simultaneous inputs, plus phantom power, plus battery-operated. Especially the latter, there seems to be no comparable solution at any price range. Or maybe I'm just rationalizing a bit.
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SergeyM
post Sep 9 2014, 22:18
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QUOTE (andy o @ Mar 8 2014, 17:05) *
2) When you overdub, you can record many times, and each time will be saved as a different "take" but again, there seems to be no way to delete a take.
3) There seems to be no way to move recorded tracks to blank tracks, so when you overdub, you need to physically change the mic to another input and change input settings for that mic again. This may be a problem if you're overdubbing more than 4 tracks and your mic requires phantom power, cause the H6 only offers it on 4 inputs.

Am I missing something? These seem obvious things to include in such a recorder. I'm presuming the H4n behaves similarly but I haven't seem people mentioning it. Is #4 a normal thing for recorders in general? I know Garage Band on iOS behaves more like a proper DAW in this regard, but of course has other limitations.


You can delete takes in a project folder. It will free the space but the number of takes will stay the same because it is saved in a project file (ZOOM????.hprj)

If it is really crucial you could try to hack the structure of ZOOM????.hprj file - it seems not very difficult and perhaps even junior programmer could:
1) hack it (understand how it works) and
2) make an easy user interface to manipulate zoom projects' tracks and takes under Win/Mac.

This post has been edited by SergeyM: Sep 9 2014, 22:19
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