Zoom H5 audio recorder review
At the moment, there are several truly worthy and at the same time affordable audio recorders available for sale, such as the Zoom H4n and Tascam DR-40. The new Zoom H5 is just getting started, and judging by the specs, it has every chance of becoming the next budget favorite of videographers.
First things first, let’s talk about appearance: the H5 is made of durable rubberized plastic, the physical dimensions of the case are 66.8×135.2×42.1 mm, and the weight is only 176 grams. The recorder comes with an XYH-5 capsule microphone, consisting of two unidirectional condenser microphones with vibration-absorbing coating. It is mounted on top and adds to the bulkiness of the whole structure (XYH-5 dimensions are 65.5×62.2×41 mm), so if you wish, you can easily replace it with any Mid-Side equipment or other capsule microphone.
On the front panel of the novelty are the main controls, including two volume dials and four buttons with LEDs for controlling each track individually (H5 allows you to record sound in two or four tracks). A bit of a nuisance is that the XYH-5’s volume control dial is on its own body, which makes it quite confusing to use.
Unlike its older brother, the Zoom H6, which is equipped with a color display, the hero of our review only got a monochrome LCD display, which, nevertheless, copes with its task perfectly: the information is easy to read, and the menu scrolls smoothly.
The right side has acquired a two-position selector, a menu button and a “jack” for remote control, as well as a door behind which hides a slot for SD / SDHC memory cards up to 32 GB.
The left side is equipped with a USB port for file transfer, and, which is very cool, two outputs: a separate line output and a headphone output. The same Zoom H4n or Tascam DR-40 cannot boast of such luxury. This is very important, as the line output will allow you to output sound directly to the external microphone input of your camera, and headphones will allow you to listen to the sound directly during recording. Next to the ports is a headphone volume control button. On the bottom side there are standard XLR / TRS inputs for connecting microphones.
The Zoom H5 is powered by two AA batteries or nickel-metal hydride batteries that are hidden on the rear panel, right under the built-in speaker. The device is capable of continuous operation up to 15 hours (depending on the selected mode and additional modules), which, in my opinion, is more than enough for standard situations, especially considering the possibility of emergency battery replacement.
The Zoom H5 is capable of recording audio in WAV or MP3 formats in various presentation formats. For WAV, stereo recording is available with quantization and sampling rates up to 24-bit/96 kHz, or up to 24-bit/48 kHz in four-track mode. The MP3 format is only available for stereo mode, and the bit rate is adjustable from 48 to 320 kbps.
Sound testing took place under the following conditions: speech recording in a closed room with ventilation, H5 with an XYH-5 stereo module connected, located one and a half meters from the speaker. The recorder records in 24-bit mode at 48 kHz. Approximately 3-4 meters to the right of the speaker is the air conditioner turned on.
So, the first thing you pay attention to is that the overall stereo panorama is rather “collected” and “squeezed”, that is, the human voice is heard clearly and loudly, and the working air conditioner is much quieter and muffled, although its presence, like the presence of a small the spaces around the sound source are quite noticeable. Pretty nice start.
The stereo module was then replaced with an SGH-6 microphone (sold separately), which significantly improved the recording quality: the sound of the environment is completely inaudible, the air conditioner is barely noticeable, and the speaker’s voice sounds amazingly clear and alive.
So what happened to Zoom in the end? But it turned out to be a slightly stripped-down brother of the flagship H6 in a more compact package and with an insanely attractive price tag. I cannot say that the new H5 can easily replace the same Tascam DR-40, because each of the devices has its pros and cons, so the final choice will depend only on the personal preferences of each user.
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