ZOOM H8 Announced – Multi-Purpose Audio Recorder

July 3rd, 2020
ZOOM H8 Announced – Multi-Purpose Audio Recorder

Audio specialist ZOOM readies the all-new H8 recorder. As the name suggests, it offers an impressive 8 channels of audio input (but, even more impressively, can record up to 12 channels). Furthermore, it comes with a bunch of modules and handy upgrade paths. Meet the ZOOM H8.

ZOOM H8

The new ZOOM H8 audio recorder. Image credit: ZOOM

So I do own a Zoom H1n from back in the day. This is a handy device for recording audio on-the-go without the need of packing a fully-fledged field mixer/recorder. Times have changed, obviously. The new ZOOM H8 is a beast, really. It not only features an incredible amount of audio inputs, it’s also modular, expandable, has touch-control built in, can act as a digital audio interface for your laptop, the list oes on.. Have a look at the introduction video below to get a first glance:

Since things can pretty complicated pretty fast when a device offers too much options and features, the ZOOM H8 has a trick up its sleeve: apps. The whole device adapts to your project’s needs via three dedicated app-driven workflows. Yes, there’s finally an app for that, too.

ZOOM H8 Audio Mixer/Recorder

This new mixer/recorder is basically 4 devices in one: A location sound mixer/recorder (FIELD app), a podcast recording device (PODCAST app), a live performance music recorder (MUSIC app) and an audio interface for expanding your computers audio capabilities.

ZOOM H8

using the H8 as a field recorder. Image credit: ZOOM

Each app turns the ZOOM H8 into a much more specialized recording device, supporting your specific workflow. That’s a neat trick and if the touchscreen works well, I think it’s the way to go with these rather small devices. The whole device is pretty much modular, just like other ZOOM audio recorder in the past. The core unit consits of the screen part and the uniquely-shaped I/O part. This is where you connect your mics, instruments and/or other audio sources to the H8.

ZOOM H8

image credit: ZOOM

On top of the unit you can tap into the so-called Zoom Capsule System 2. As a default, the H8 comes with the XYH-6 X/Y Mic Capsule, offering 2 additional channels in a X/Y configuration. But you can swap the module for others, such as the XAH-8, which is basically a more advanced version of the aformentioned module.

ZOOM H8

the XAH-8 module. Image credit: ZOOM

The XAH-8 offers a combination of both, a X/Y and a A/B  stereo setup. If you want to go crazy in terms of external audio sources, you should take a close look at the EXH-8, an extension module with 4 additional XLS inputs. It offers gain knobs, pad swithces and +48V phantom power (but you need an external power source connected for that).

ZOOM H8

EXH-8 and VRH-8 modules. Image credit: ZOOM

For 360 ambisonic recordings, add the VRH-8. It sports a mic capsule that utilizes four condenser microphones and a built-in accelerometer so that the mic is always aligned in space. Furthermore, this module features an ambisonic decoder which automatically handles the necessary conversions.

In the following video, Samuel Greene, product specialist at ZOOM, walks us through the new H8 unit:

So this new unit really seems to be a capable piece of tech, although it might be a bit bulky for some. Of course ZOOM has more compact units available, the ZOOM H8 is really building a bridge here to larger recorders, such as the ZOOM F8n.

Specifications

Four of the six base inputs (1-4) come in the shape of a XLR socket. The next two (A, B) offer a combo jack, accepting XLR or 6.3mm plugs, this is useful for guitars for example. All 6 main inputs support phantom power if needed. The XY module on top supplies the missing two channels. Eight in total, hence the name H8! A 3.5mm audio output can be connected to a camera’s input for example.

ZOOM H8

touch control. Image credit: ZOOM

For recording audio the H8 utilizes regular SD cards with capacities up to 512GB. When using the H8 as an audio interface it can record up to 12 individual tracks at the same time. And speaking of recording, it supports both WAV and MP3 files in the following formats:

  • WAV: 44.1/48/96 kHz, 16/24-bit, mono/stereo
  • MP3: 128, 192, 320 kbps

The whole thing is powerd by four regular AAA batteries but you also can get the optional AC adapter (ZOOM AD-17) which supplies DC 5 V/1A. When using the H8 as an audio interface, the micro USB socket is on double duty: audio and power.

ZOOM H8

An audio spider? Image credit: ZOOM

The ZOOM H8 is 116.4 mm (W) × 163.3 mm (D) × 48.6 mm (H) in size and it weights 354 g. These measurments only apply to the main unit without the attached XYH-6 module. When using the optional BTA-1 remote dongle, you also can start/stop and monitor levels remotely via your phone.

ZOOM H8

Remote control. Image credit: ZOOM

The ZOOM H8 is available now. I think this is a pretty impressive piece of gear for those who don’t want to go all in with large and bulky devices but still want to use their audio gear in a very flexible way. The app-driven approach seems to be well thought out, things like dedicated menus for still photography and video modes on mirrorless cameras pop in mind.

Links: ZOOM website

What do you think? Could this be your next-gen audio recorder? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Waldomizer
Waldomizer
Guest
July 9th, 2020

Triple A batteries? Micro USB power externally? Nice try!

Jilt Wilcomb
Jilt Wilcomb
Guest
July 9th, 2020

“When using the H8 as an audio interface, the micro USB socket is on double duty: audio and power”

Absolute failure right there. Micro USB was NEVER acceptable as a power source (or anything else, really), but especially not now when at least USB-C is available.

This is a disappointing failure from Zoom that kills the whole product. AAA batteries aren’t going to get you through one scene, meaning that external power is a must. And a flimsy, POS micro-USB connector will break and become uselessly loose on day one.

Ask anyone who owns a Tascam with this same blunder.

 Claus Meyer
Claus Meyer
Member
July 9th, 2020

NO timecode – NO THANKS, and not useful design, will break cables!!!

João Augusto Quint de Souza
Guest
July 6th, 2020

Cool spider! Kinda interested to know more about their pre-amps.

Peter G
Peter G
Guest
July 12th, 2020

I thought it strange that not a word was written about the preamplifier section on the Zoom H8. I also believe reviewers ought to rail against any use of microUSB on products of this sort. #missedopportunity

Member
July 4th, 2020

I shot a narrative short film last week using the H4n and the Rode NTG-2. A popular combination, but requires an unpowered Fethead in the middle between the two to get the levels strong enough. It worked like a charm after that, beautiful, clean sound.

So I see the H8 as a specialized device for extreme situations. For more normal, lower budget narrative shoots, a simpler setup should be enough.

Nishi Sharma
Guest
July 4th, 2020

Like the idea but seems a very strange form factor. It must require external power as audio recorders tend to be notoriously hungry for batteries. Not for me!

Jilt Wilcomb
Jilt Wilcomb
Guest
July 9th, 2020
Reply to  Nishi Sharma

Yep, and the power jack is micro-USB… so this device will be ruined in a matter of hours.

 Andrew Hart
Andrew Hart
Member
July 4th, 2020

The illustration shows an ORTF stereo recording configuration in addition to X/Y mic — not sure where the A/B in the text came from.

eric
eric
Guest
July 4th, 2020

could they add playback with that screen. Could be a perfect portable adr recorder with xml saving all the looped recordings to match the video. would easily spend another 50 for 2track recording at 32bit when needed.

Tom
Tom
Guest
July 4th, 2020

Very Cool Device The H8.

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