Last year we saw Zoom release the H6 – a handheld multi channel audio recorder with interchangeable mic and input modules, 24-bit/96kHz recording and full colour screen. This came as a much needed update to the H4n. Zoom has now released another portable audio device; the H5 will sit between the two current recorders, retaining many of the updated components of the H6, minus some features.
The Zoom H4n quickly earned itself as the go-to recorder for filmmakers at the start of the DSLR revolution. With two external inputs, phantom power, onboard stereo recording and SD compatibility it presented a great package for the one-man-band filmmaker.
But it had some flaws: Prior to a firmware upgrade you couldn’t set the input levels independently, there are no dedicated gain knobs (all volume adjustments must be made via a set of very loud and fiddly toggle buttons) and the battery life is very poor (especially when using with microphones that require phantom power).
The Zoom H6 solved all of these issues, whilst also providing an additional two onboard XLR inputs, a colour screen and modular top mic/input design. This came at a price however; currently retailing at $399 it’s considerably more expensive than competing devices.
The H5 brings the new technology from Zoom in a more affordable package. It trades off the colour screen of the H6 for a black and white one, and goes back to having 2 external inputs (like the H4n). Most importantly, it retains the top design of the H6, meaning that the H5 is compatible with all microphone modules produced for the H6, including the module for an additional two external inputs.
The Zoom H5 has analog gain knobs for both external channels and ships with a brand new stereo X/Y microphone with shock mount design and 140dB maximum SPL.
One feature that seems to be missing is the increase in battery support. The H6 requires 4X AAs for operation, a vast improvement over the H4n at 2X AAs. By examining the pictures of the rear of the H5, it looks as if it will support 2X AA batteries. Lets hope it’s better at power management than the H4n.