ZOOM H5 vs ZOOM H6

Zoom H5 - H6ZOOM H5 VS H6   VIDEO
I purchased the Zoom H5 after using the Zoom H6 for a few weeks.  The Zoom H6 is advertised as a fully functional 6 track recording device however, the L/R tracks can only be used together, as 1 stereo track, leaving you 5 separate recording tracks instead of 6.  I didn’t have the xlr combo capsule for comparison.

The Zoom H5 and H4n have 4 tracks, which can be used individually or linked as stereo L/R tracks.  The Zoom H6 is a bit unclear/tricky with this.  See my post on ZOOM H6 OVERDUB WORK AROUND.

I was a bit disappointed to discover the H6 had limited overdub functions and after reading the manuals for the H6 (1.5 pages overdubbing instructions) & the H5 (4 pages overdubbing instructions) this becomes very apparent.  I seem to remember having problems listening to the other tracks while overdubbing on the H6.


The Zoom H5 (and H4n) are much lighter and easier to maneuver, manage, operate than the Zoom H6.  Side by side the H5 is slightly smaller than the H6 and the difference is really noticeable when when plugging in XLR and 1/4 cables, then trying to maneuver  the unit on a mic stand, music stand or table top.  A bit bulky, awkward, messy.  The H6 XY capsules are quite a bit larger than the H5.
The H6 specs are 77.8mm x 152.8mm x 47.8mm at 280g. With 115 page user manual.
The H5 specs are  66.8mm x 135.2mm x 42.1mm at 176g weight.  With 102 page user manual.

The H5 is shaped like the H4n, straight body, with the screen visible during recording.  The screen is mono and a  bit larger than the H4n.  The body of the H6 has an arched shape with the color screen slanted down, in the rear, making it very difficult to monitor recording levels while recording, unless you are behind the unit.  Though the screen is slightly larger and the color is a huge improvement over the mono screens of the H5 and H4n.

The file/recording structures are similar to other Zoom recorders I’ve used.   Each recording and re-recording is rendered as a new file in a project folder.
[SDCARD] – [FOLDER01-10] – [ZOOM000?] – [WAV FILES]

For straight on recording with any of the included capsules or inputs (excluding re-recording/overdubbing) both the H5 and H6 are a breeze to use and setup.  They are both a big improvement over the menu system of the H4n.

You can see my demo recordings video.  I placed the Zoom H5 and H6 on mic stands, side by side, using the XY capsules of each, along with a 1/4″ input from my Taylor 456 12-string guitar, split with a Fender ABY switch for two 1/4″ inputs, plugging  one into H5, the other into the H6.

I preferred the recording of the x/y capsule with the H5, which has a warmer sound then the H6.  But, I prefer the H6 combo inputs over the H5 combo inputs.  They both have excellent sound, are easy to setup and use.  Plenty of headroom in all recordings.

My overall impressions are this;
had I not had the Zoom H4n or R16, I would have been thrilled with the H6. But, having owned both, I was a bit disappointed in the H6. The recorded sounds for both recorders have that distinctive Zoom warmth, that I appreciate.  The difficult Zoom H4n menu’s have been remedied in both the H5 and H6.  The H6 was a bit limited in recording options, as compared to the H4n and H5. But, would be a great alternative to someone not minding the bulk and overdub limitations.  If you need 6 track recordings this is the recorded to get. The H5 is the recorder I am using now. I’m very happy with the size, functions, overdub abilities and easy to use menu system.

My experience with Zoom products is always amazing satisfaction at what these little recorders can accomplish. If you ever need support you will be thrilled with Zoom Tech support. The only company I’ve ever called that is answered on the first few rings with a LIVE TECH.

Contact Deb at deberney@att.net

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