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Zoom F6 Portable Field Recorder Review

AnalogSteph

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Although, in practice, it might be more fair to say that floating point has 144dB of dynamic range and 24 bit fixed has 138dB of dynamic range (23 bit equivalent), due mainly to the fact that the negative swinging side of the audio signal doesn't add to Dynamic Range. Haven't thought too much about that detail though, so I could be wrong.
RMAA gives the following noise floor when analyzing its own (integer) test signals:
16/44: -96.3 dB RMS (unweighted)
24/44: -144.4 dB RMS (unweighted)

Int samples are definitely yielding the expected dynamic range.
 

Dave Tremblay

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RMAA gives the following noise floor when analyzing its own (integer) test signals:
16/44: -96.3 dB RMS (unweighted)
24/44: -144.4 dB RMS (unweighted)

Int samples are definitely yielding the expected dynamic range.

You are correct. I forgot to include the fact that Quantization noise has a level equal to 1/2LSB, which gets you the extra 6dB.

Dave
 

rondo

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mfr is active in addressing the distortion issue... will post updates when i can

I would love an update if you have time!

I'm heavily considering the F6. It sounded perfect for my field-recording purposes by all counts until I found this thread... Hoping your unit was just an anomaly.
 

voltronic

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Major F6 news! Zoom has released firmware version 1.70 which addresses the noise issue, which was apparently caused by the DSP filter being used.

From the release notes:
Version 1.70
・ Released as the following bug fixes in May 2021
1. The internal timecode sometimes gains one frame when an external timecode is disconnected while
the timecode is set to “Ext mode” or “Ext Auto Rec mode”.
2. Improved low frequency characteristics of the filter used for internal processing.

I did a quick test in RMAA using a 32-bit FP / 192 kHz test signal out of my MOTU M2 with the output set to max level, sent to the F6 and recorded in the same depth and rate. I did this for firmware 1.50 and also the new 1.70. The resulting files were then analyzed in RMAA.

I did not do any loop-through tests in order to minimize variables. All I really care about is the recording performance of the F6. I did not do these tests in the same sitting, but the conditions were identical.

As you can see in the results, Amir's results were NOT an anomaly specific to one unit. The great news is that this new firmware fixes the low-frequency noise issue, and in my opinion the performance of the F6 can now be considered professional level.

Perhaps Amir might be able to run his tests again using the new firmware sometime in the future.

PDF links:
F6 1.50
F6 1.70
 

AdamG247

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Major F6 news! Zoom has released firmware version 1.70 which addresses the noise issue, which was apparently caused by the DSP filter being used.

From the release notes:


I did a quick test in RMAA using a 32-bit FP / 192 kHz test signal out of my MOTU M2 with the output set to max level, sent to the F6 and recorded in the same depth and rate. I did this for firmware 1.50 and also the new 1.70. The resulting files were then analyzed in RMAA.

I did not do any loop-through tests in order to minimize variables. All I really care about is the recording performance of the F6. I did not do these tests in the same sitting, but the conditions were identical.

As you can see in the results, Amir's results were NOT an anomaly specific to one unit. The great news is that this new firmware fixes the low-frequency noise issue, and in my opinion the performance of the F6 can now be considered professional level.

Perhaps Amir might be able to run his tests again using the new firmware sometime in the future.

PDF links:
F6 1.50
F6 1.70
Welcome Aboard @voltronic.
 

617

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I had a zoom h4n with noise issues. I wanted to get a warranty replacement so I contacted zoom support. They asked for some sound files so I sent some files using various mics, all very noisy and they were just like 'sounds good to us! Cya!' I sold it.

It's a shame really because the Zoom products are really cool and very nicely made for the price. Field recording is dominated by sound devices so it's nice to have an alternative.

Noise is really critical for products like this because they're often used to record dialog and podcasts remotely. The best mics for that use tend to be dynamic which makes things harder.
 

voltronic

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I had a zoom h4n with noise issues. I wanted to get a warranty replacement so I contacted zoom support. They asked for some sound files so I sent some files using various mics, all very noisy and they were just like 'sounds good to us! Cya!' I sold it.

It's a shame really because the Zoom products are really cool and very nicely made for the price. Field recording is dominated by sound devices so it's nice to have an alternative.

Noise is really critical for products like this because they're often used to record dialog and podcasts remotely. The best mics for that use tend to be dynamic which makes things harder.

I don't know if you have had a chance to try any of the Zoom F series recorders, but they are in a different league than the H series. A choir director I work with asked me to record and edit some of his concerts using his AKG C214s into a Zoom H6. I also ran my own parallel recording with my own equipment. Even though his mics had much lower self-noise than my SDCs, the significantly higher noise floor of the H6 made his capture far noisier than mine.

It bothers me that Zoom does not give complete specs for all of their recorders, especially the F series where people are likely to care the most. For example, the F8 page lists EIN, A/D Dynamic Range and Crosstalk. Same goes for the F4. The F6 only lists EIN. None of the Zoom recorders list THD+Noise.

In any case, I am glad to see Zoom kept working on the F6 to fix the serious noise issue it had.
 
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