Amongst the wide variety of digital recorders available to choose from, it’s the Zoom H5 and the Zoom H6 that have continued to gain popularity as ‘the best of the best.’
But what makes them stand out from the crowd? And, more importantly, what differentiates them from one another?
Below, we’ll take an in-depth look at each of these digital recorders, break down their different features and help to give you a better understanding of which one might be the best for your own recording needs.
Let’s kick things off with the Zoom H5. First of all, the size of this digital recorder makes it compact enough to transport from place to place easily. It is lightweight too, so it won’t take up a lot of room in your gear-bag or leave you feeling weighed down when you’re out on the road.
This innovative little recorder uses a system of interchangeable input capsules so you can find the perfect microphone type for your recording needs. These are all available as separate add-ons and include a Large Diaphragm Mic Capsule, a Mid-Side Mic Capsule, a Shotgun Mic-Capsule, and a Dual XLR/TRS Combo Capsule.
It also features two built-in, X-Y microphones that are shock-mounted and allow you to record with reduced handling noise, ensuring that you get the best quality audio possible every time.
You’ve also got the option to attach two external microphones as well, and you can even record up to four separate tracks at once. You can achieve these different tracks by merely inserting an SD or SDHC card directly into the recorder itself.
The type of external microphone you can connect to the Zoom H5 isn’t restricted either, as it has both XLR and TRS inputs. It also features Phantom power, so you’ll even be able to use it with an external condenser microphone.
Powered by AC or USB, it’s ideal if you’re planning on using this recorder as part of your permanent studio setup. And, should you ever want to head outdoors with it, you’ll be able to record confidently with up to 15 hours of power from just two AA batteries.
The USB connection also gives you the ability to use this portable recorder as an audio interface running directly into your preferred digital audio workstation. Making it ideal for anybody on a budget or just starting with their podcast, and the 24-bit/96KHz recording quality puts it on a similar level as some more expensive, high-end interfaces.
There’s a dedicated line-out port that allows you to connect the recorder to a DSLR camera without the need for an attenuator cable. Meanwhile, the clever mounting system will make sure it’s held securely in place throughout your recording session. It makes it the perfect choice for anybody wanting to create a video with outstanding audio quality.
The easy-to-read LCD screen allows you to navigate your way through the various features quickly and easily. Perfect for recording podcasts, interviews, music, and anything else you could ever dream of using it for, the Zoom H5 is a fantastic piece of recording equipment that anybody serious about podcasting should consider adding to their arsenal.
- Uses an interchangeable capsule system that allows you to choose the best microphone for each type of recording
- Features two built-in X-Y microphones that are shock-mounted to reduce handling noise
- Allows you to connect two external microphones through either the XLR or TRS ports
- Can be used as an audio interface
- Has a dedicated line-out port that allows you to connect it to a DSLR camera
- Lightweight and portable enough to use when you’re recording outdoors
- Can be powered by the AC or USB port, and gives up to 15 hours of power from two AA batteries when used portable
- Has an easy-to-read LCD screen that allows you to navigate through the features quickly
- A great budget-friendly choice for anybody new to podcasting or looking for a great digital recorder that doesn’t cost a small fortune
- Only allows you to record up to 32GB on an SD or SDHC card
The Zoom H6 contains all of the features and functionality of its predecessor but has a few improvements that might make it a better choice for the more experienced podcaster. The first of these improvements is adding two extra XLR TRS input ports, allowing you to record up to six tracks simultaneously.
The built-in microphones are the same quality as the Zoom H5, and both are shock-mounted to reduce any handling noise from appearing on your finished recording. The number of external microphones you’re able to pair with the Zoom H6 is also more significant, allowing you to connect up to four at once.
This makes it perfect for podcasts that have multiple guests or co-hosts, giving each person access to their microphone without having to worry about compromising sound quality.
It also uses the same innovative interchangeable capsule system; however, the Zoom H6 also includes a side-mic. The side-mic is only available as an added extra with the Zoom H5, so you’ll be getting a little more value for money as well as being able to expand your recording capabilities.
Your storage options with the Zoom H6 are improved, and it can record directly onto SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards up to 128GB in memory. It also features a stereo line out and a headphone jack with dedicated volume control, so you’ll be able to review your recording immediately after you’ve finished.
As with the Zoom H5, the Zoom H6 can be used as an interface and connected directly to a DSLR camera. The extra features require a little more power, and you’ll need four AA batteries to power it when you’re recording out in the field.
You will get up to 20 hours of power at a time, though, so you’ll be able to use it confidently without worrying about it dying on you mid-recording session. And you’ll also be able to create a constant power supply through the AC or USB port when you’re recording in the studio.
The 24-bit/96KHz recording quality is the same as the Zoom H5, and this is because it didn’t need improvement, and the LCD screen is still straightforward to use and navigate your way through.
Generally speaking, the Zoom H6 is pretty much an expanded version of the Zoom H5. It’s a better choice for anybody looking to record multiple voices at once, and it gives you the ability to store more on it than the Zoom H5.
- Allows you to record up to six tracks simultaneously through either XLR or TRS inputs
- The built-in, shock-mounted microphones allow you to record without an external mic while reducing handling noise.
- Has two extra ports that allow you to connect up to four external microphones at once
- Uses an interchangeable capsule system to produce the best audio quality possible
- Can be used as an audio interface and connected directly to a DSLR camera
- Gives you up to 20 hours of power from four AA batteries when you’re recording outdoors
- Features an easy-to-read, full-color LCD screen
- May have too many features for anybody looking for a simple recording device.
Which is best for you?
The features and specifications of both the Zoom H5 and the Zoom H6 are incredibly similar. So, when it comes to working out which is best for you, you’ll need to consider your recording requirements.
If you’re a solo podcaster, have one other co-host, or have an interview-format podcast with just one guest per episode, the Zoom H5 will serve you well because you will be unlikely to need more than two microphones at a time. Anything bigger might be unnecessary, unused extras.
The Zoom H6 would be a better choice for anybody that records on a larger scale. It offers you the ability to add four external microphones to the recorder. It gives you a larger storage capacity while retaining all of the fantastic features you’ll find in the Zoom H5.
Both models offer you the opportunity to record outdoors as well and only require AA batteries when you’re recording remotely. They are incredibly portable too, which adds to their appeal when you’re looking for a piece of recording equipment to use outdoors.
Each can be used as an interface and fed a constant power supply through the AC or USB ports, and the 24-bit/96KHz recording quality is similar to that of some more expensive interfaces.
The versatility of each recorder also gives you the chance to save some money as you won’t need to worry about purchasing lots of different equipment, which is ideal if you’re starting. It also allows you to create a streamlined studio setup and is perfect for recording great audio in smaller spaces.