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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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 AA 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.
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.
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!