Zoom F2 & F2-BT Ultracompact Field Audio Recorders Announced

Zoom F2 & F2-BT Ultracompact Field Audio Recorders Announced

Zoom F2 and Zoom F2-BT are new ultra-compact field audio recorders with 32-bit float technology that do not require setting the gain due to 32-bit audio recording. The F2-BT offers built-in Bluetooth for app remote control and timecode sync. The recorders can be pre-ordered from $150 with an included lavalier microphone.

If you want to capture high-quality audio with very compact devices, these are exciting times. Only a few days ago, Tentacle Sync finally started shipping its Track E – audio recorder with timecode sync built-in (announced at IBC 2019). Zoom just announced a similar device.

Known for its audio recorders for many years already, Japanese manufacturer Zoom already has many popular products in its portfolio. The newest addition announced only a few days ago is the Zoom F2, an ultracompact field audio recorder. Let’s take a short look at it.

Zoom F2 – Set and forget?

The Zoom F2 recorder uses 32-bit float technology that can capture the softest and loudest sounds at the without additional levelling, while avoiding distortion, clipping, and maintaining low-noise performance. It is not necessary to adjust gain anymore when in this mode. Zoom made a video explaining the 32-bit float recording and comparing it to the 24-bit linear.

There are two high-quality recording modes to choose from – 32-bit / 44.1 kHz or 32-bit / 48 kHz, both in mono uncompressed BWF (Broadcast Wave File) format. Further, the onboard 80 Hz low-cut filter can be engaged to reduce rumble and bass buildup in the recordings.

Zoom F2 and F2-BT audio recorders announced. Source: Zoom

Another useful feature of the recorder is the hold switch that prevents unintentional recording interruption as it turns off all the physical buttons of the recorder. Thanks to its pocket-sized dimensions (2.3 x 0.9 x 1.8″ / 57.5 x 22.4 x 46.4 mm) and low weight (1.1oz, 32g – without batteries), the Zoom F2 can be kept in a talent’s pocket or attached to a belt via the included steel clip.

Included lavelier microphone

The included LMF-2 lavalier microphone features a low-profile design, omnidirectional polar pattern, and locking connector. It comes with three WSL-1 windscreens and the Zoom MCL-1 clip. F2 can accommodate mic- or line-level signals via its locking 3.5mm stereo mini-jack input. Since it supplies 2.5V plug-in power, users can attach any common condenser mic. Mind you that included lav mics with recorders are usually not the greatest quality. It’s a bit like a kit lens on a camera. It’s okay for what it is but using a better mic will of course get you better results with this recorder.

Zoom F2 and F2-BT come with a lavalier mic. Source: Zoom

Connection & powering

A locking 3.5mm stereo output jack with dedicated volume up/down buttons enables straightforward routing to a camera, secondary recorder, or headphones for monitoring. The recorder features simple one-touch controls and a long battery life of up to 18 hours with two AAA batteries.

Recording media

The Zoom F2 uses MicroSD cards (up to 512GB capacity) to store the recorded audio. As opposed to the Tentacle Sync Track E, the memory card needs to be purchased separately. The files can also be transferred via the built-in USB-C port. Zoom includes a free license for Steinberg WaveLab Cast software that enables users to edit, enhance, mix, and export audio.

Zoom F2 and F2-BT audio recorders announced. Source: Zoom

Zoom F2-BT – Bluetooth sync

The Bluetooth version of the recorder – the Zoom F2-BT – can pair with the free Zoom F2 Control app on a smartphone that enables users to wirelessly start/stop recordings, display battery levels, adjust output volume, control low-cut filtering, and more.

Zoom F2-BT can communicate with the Zoom app. Source: Zoom

You can also pair the F2-BT with an UltraSync BLUE device by Timecode Systems to receive and write a timecode to recorded files. The F2-BT, of course, offers all the functions of the Zoom F2 as well.

Price and Availability

Both Zoom F2 and Zoom F2-BT recorders can now already be pre-ordered. Shipping is expected to start in mid-December 2020. Apart from the audio recorder itself, the package includes the LMF-2 lavalier microphone with a clip, three windscreens, and two AAA batteries.

The price for the Zoom F2 (without Bluetooth) has been set to $150 (€152 plus VAT in Europe). The Zoom F2-BT will retail for $200 (€196 plus VAT in Europe).

What do you think about the new Zoom F2 pocket-sized field audio recorder? Do you plan on using it for your production? Let us know in the comments section below the article.

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Stephen Strangways
Stephen Strangways
Guest
10 days ago

$150 or $200 for this, instead of $349 for a Sync E – or if you need more than 10 hours of recording, it would be $698 to buy TWO Sync E units and rotate them between use and charging their built-in batteries, whereas this can just swap AAA batteries. That sounds much better to me!

Paul Szilard
Paul Szilard
Member
10 days ago

The TRACK E can record for 10hrs on a fully charged internal battery and recharges in 2hrs. Nobody would work uninterrupted for 10hrs(?), so you could easily do a top-up charge during lunch brake, or use a small USB-C powerbank, if absolutely necessary.

Blaine Skrainka
Blaine Skrainka
Member
11 days ago

How do you sync audio to video in post without jamming timecode to camera with an additional UltraSync BLUE device?

David Peterson - "Sound Speeds!"
Member
10 days ago

You’ll need an UltraSync ONE on each camera. (as well as an UltraSync BLUE for the Zooms)

Paul Szilard
Paul Szilard
Member
10 days ago
Paul Szilard
Paul Szilard
Member
10 days ago
Reply to  Paul Szilard

If you can get the Ultrasync Blue, the extra cost puts this in the ball park with the fully integrated Tentacle Sync Track E.

Mike Andersen
Mike Andersen
Member
12 days ago

Nice to see more mini recorders, good with some competition. A signal which has not been converted and modulatet for wireless transmision is, theoretically a least, better quality, and It’s much better with a useless sync signal than a useless audio signal. 32 bit float is great, I use it all the time on my Sound Devices Pre Mix 6 ii but it’s to big to fit in a pocket, except in my vinter coat. I’m curious to see some noise floor test, which has been the Zoom recorders weak point. You write “Since it supplies 2.5V plug-in power, users can attach any common condenser mic” It’s only true for – electret microphones (most Lavalier and cheap mic). Real condensator mic use so called “Phantom power” which is normal 48v DC. Monitoring problems with rubbing while recording only helps if you can make a retake. I always use a backup mic.

Last edited 12 days ago by Mike Andersen
James Bridges
James Bridges
Guest
13 days ago

Ok, this is a great idea, both the Zoom and Tentacle, but, how do you monitor the audio? If you hide the mic we all know rubbing occurs, if this is your primary source, you cannot fix this in post. Can Bluetooth headphones be used on the app? The recorder?

Louis Vieira
Louis Vieira
Guest
12 days ago
Reply to  James Bridges

Curious about this as well. The Sony PCM-A10 allows you to monitor via Bluetooth but is much more expensive and doesn’t come with a mic / compact size.

Kyle
Kyle
Guest
11 days ago
Reply to  Louis Vieira

No, the Sony PCM-A10 doesn’t let you monitor via bluetooth actually: https://helpguide.sony.net/icd/pcma10/v1/en2/contents/TP0001970033.html

Member
11 days ago
Reply to  James Bridges

Especially given the emphasis on 32 bit float and the price point(s), I’d peg this as a fire-and-forget tool. I’d personally like to get one for subjects I wouldn’t be able to monitor in the first place, but that’s just me

David Peterson - "Sound Speeds!"
Member
10 days ago
Reply to  James Bridges

I agree, would anybody ever be crazy enough to film with a camera that doesn’t have a video monitor with it? Is good to think about the same considerations for audio too.

Cal
Cal
Guest
10 days ago
Reply to  James Bridges

Zaxcom has a patent for record AND transmitting, which is why all these units need to do one or the other. You can run the headphone out into a traditional wireless pack but then you’ve got two units to put on the talent.

Paul Szilard
Paul Szilard
Member
10 days ago
Reply to  Cal

That’s not a bad idea. Consider using a RØDE Wireless Go as transmitter, then you can check for rustles but not worry about dropouts due to distance or interference.

Gavin Greenwalt
Gavin Greenwalt
Member
9 days ago
Reply to  Cal

Which is beyond absurd. Someone should really challenge that patent. It is beyond “obvious” to an expert in the field that it would be ideal to both record locally in case of wireless drop-out and also transmit to the camera.

Imagine if cameras could only record or transmit wirelessly but not both at the same time. #()@! stupid. This sort of obvious nonsense is why people hate patents.

I’ve heard a dozen non-experts even in the field ask the exact same question every time someone brings up recorders. “Can I listen to it wirelessly?” Or very much non experts not in the field when I mic them up “Does this little box record or just transmit?” People who have never heard of Zaxcom but one of the very first things that pops into their heads is “hey it would be nice if it recorded and transmitted at once.”

Last edited 9 days ago by Gavin Greenwalt
KJHalvy / CreatureProject 🐟
Guest
14 days ago

Any idea when this ships?

Admin
14 days ago

Middle of December, according to B&H.

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