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Old 11-18-2017, 05:15 AM
Dakedi Dakedi is offline
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Default Zoom H4n Pro vs H6 Concerns and Questions

Zoom H4n Pro vs H6

<long post warning>

Intro ...

I am considering getting one of these two devices, however, there a few concerns for each one that I am trying to find answers for before I pull the trigger. I understand the advantages of the H6 over the H4nPro and vice versa.

My usage ...

My primary use for both devices would be to do acoustic instrument recordings ... guitar, violin, percussion etc. and occasionally DI bass, electric guitar or amps although for the latter I prefer miking a cab. Sometimes these recordings will be done 'live' in a studio either close mic'd or all around a mono or stereo mic. And other times they will be done track by track ala overdubbing style.

What I like re H6 ...

What I like about the H6 is of course the 4 XLR ins, the high quality preamps, pro line level +4db inputs and the physical controls. My concerns are the multitracking or more specifically its overdubbing abilities. I already see that you can't assign preamps/inputs to different tracks ... they appear to be hardwired. I think I can live with this. Neither can you monitor the track you are overdubbing onto (which can be useful for punching in to correct a little mistake).

My concerns and questions re H6 ...

Everything I find on the internet regarding overdubbing only mentions the 4 XLR ins. I am wondering if you can also use the built in mics ... for example, record a guide track using the X/Y mics, then overdub something onto XLR input 1, then 2 and so on. Is this possible and can you monitor the XY mics input whilst recording to XLR inputs? Is it possible the other way round ... i.e. record a track to XLR1 and then overdub using the XY mics? And can you do multiple takes with the inbuilt XY mics (or XLR attachments) just as you can with the other XLR ins whilst monitoring the XLR ins?

What I like re H4n Pro ...

What I like about the H4nPro is the fact that you can multitrack and overdub almost like with a proper multitrack device (albeit with a lot of menu dancing if you start doing anything more complex). If you use the XY mic in your multitrack project it takes up 2 tracks leaving you with 2 free (a shame you can't convert to mono in the device) ... but I can live with this as you can just use the the XLR inputs and assign to any track.

My concerns and questions re H4nPro ...

My major concern is the quality of the preamps (and to a lesser extent the built in XY mics). I hear the oft repeated statement that they are now the same as in the H5 and H6. But it appears to be just this ... an oft repeated internet statement ... with little or no realworld experience backing it up. Even if the preamps were the same, the electronics and implementation of the devices are different and this does not automatically mean they will sound the same. So, does anyone have any real world experience with a direct comparison to either the H5/6 or gear such as the RME? Ideally one of those wonderful blind tests by Fran Guidry is what I am looking for. I suppose, what I'm asking is are the H4nPro preamps really as good as the H6 or is it probably just wishful thinking?

... concern and question 2 ...

My other major concern with the H4nPro is the 'line' level inputs ... nearly all my gear is of the more common +4db level. Mixers, amp DI outs, etc. Will this be a major problem? Even plugging a bass guitar directly into the inputs seems like a no no. Sure you can turn the bass volume down but on a passive system this will lose a lot of the tone. Does anyone have experience DI'ing pro level line level signals into the H4nPro? Can you pad the signal properly? I've heard you need to dial down the gain levels to about 5-6% (out of 100%) which is not really that confidence inspiring.

</end long post warning>

Thanks for reading through my post and I look forward to any insights yawl can provide. Jan.
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Old 11-18-2017, 05:58 AM
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Fran Guidry is quite the authority:

http://www.homebrewedmusic.com/categ...rial-category/

If your answers aren't there perhaps he'll see your thread and post.
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Old 11-18-2017, 06:22 AM
Dakedi Dakedi is offline
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Yes, thanks ... I know his site and contributions to this forum well.

Unfortunately, as far as I know he has the H4n and H6. Not the H4n Pro which has different preamps, mics and electronics.

I've listened to the H6 vs RME sound samples and really, although many folks say they hear a difference, I can't reliably hear it myself. I think after you add room or mic positioning changes then, for me at least, the difference is too small to worry about. So, with regards to preamp quality, the H6 is a good candidate.
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Old 11-18-2017, 10:44 AM
Fran Guidry Fran Guidry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakedi View Post
Zoom H4n Pro vs H6

...

My concerns and questions re H6 ...

Everything I find on the internet regarding overdubbing only mentions the 4 XLR ins. I am wondering if you can also use the built in mics ... for example, record a guide track using the X/Y mics, then overdub something onto XLR input 1, then 2 and so on. Is this possible and can you monitor the XY mics input whilst recording to XLR inputs? Is it possible the other way round ... i.e. record a track to XLR1 and then overdub using the XY mics? And can you do multiple takes with the inbuilt XY mics (or XLR attachments) just as you can with the other XLR ins whilst monitoring the XLR ins?
...
Thanks for reading through my post and I look forward to any insights yawl can provide. Jan.
As you noted above I have no experience with the H4nPro. I can say that with the H6 you can use the attached mic (XY/MS/Shotgun/etc) as a source for a single track in an overdub situation. So in your example above you can record through each XLR input and overdub using the XY or go the other way starting with the XY then overdubbing through each of the four inputs. In either case you have a total of five tracks.

I haven't experimented much with overdubbing on the H6 so I'm not at all sure how it handles punch-ins and such.

Fran
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Old 11-18-2017, 11:17 AM
Dakedi Dakedi is offline
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Thanks Fran. That helps a lot in eliminating some of my H6 concerns. It's nice to know that the built in Mics are part of the overdubbing capabilities.

As far as I know the H6 has only very basic overdub features which is a real shame.

For anyone trying to make a similar decision I found the following buyer feedback somewhere ... you have to take it as is ... but the buyer appears to have owned an H4n (not Pro) and 'upgraded' to an H6 only to be disappointed with the basic overdubbing/multitracking abilities.

Quote:
The following H4n features are missing from the H6:

1) The ability to go to any point in a recorded project when overdubbing to fix mistakes, or add a new overdubbed part anywhere within the song. On the H6 you can only start at the beginning of a song and overdub the entire song or stop it somewhere within the song. There is no ability to move to any point in the song. The only buttons that work in overdub mode are the track selector buttons to choose your track, the record and stop buttons.

2) The ability to punch in and punch out of record at pre-determined spots on the timeline in overdub mode either manually or automatically via pre-programming.

3) The ability to use track markers or A/B repeat when in overdub mode.

4) The ability to assign any recorded file to any available track for playback. The lack of this feature forces you to physically switch the mic or instrument being recorded to a different track input when overdubbing to allow simultaneous playback of recorded overdubs.

5) The inclusion of 50 editable effects, including reverb, delay, phase shifter, flanger, wah-wah, pitch shift, and a number of guitar and bass amp simulators that could be applied to tracks recorded in Multi-track mode. 47 of the 50 effects that were included on the H4 were removed from the H6. The compressor, limiter and low-cut filter are the only effects from the H4n that remain on the H6.

6) The ability to manage and delete track marks. On the H6 you can only view a list of track markers, but you are not able to do anything about them, except add more.

7) The ability to delete a recorded "take". A "take" is a concept of the H6, not on the H4n. On the H6 it refers to multiple recordings on the same track. There is no way to delete them once they have been recorded.

8) The ability to delete any recorded track.

9) The ability to rename recorded tracks.

10) The ability to even see the names of the recorded track files on the H6 is now gone.

11) The ability to playback any .wav or .mp3 file. The H6 can only play back the files it creates, or at least ones that use its naming conventions. You can get around items 7-10 by hooking a USB cable between the H6 and a computer and setting the H6 to SD Reader mode, which makes it look like an external drive to the computer. You can then view, rename or delete track files from the computer. However, renamed files will no longer be playable on the H6. Renaming and deleting of recorded files could be done on the H4n itself, without the need to connect to a computer.
Personally not having effects is no problem since the effects were only available for recording (and got recorded onto the track!) ... you could not use them to monitor playback. Which would have been nice as a bit of reverb in the monitor sometimes helps playing/singing etc.

Also, point 4 is already well documented so no surprise.
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Old 11-19-2017, 06:01 PM
alohachris alohachris is offline
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Aloha Jan,

The Zoom's have their place. But....

If you're moving up to the level of recording, mixing & editing you're describing, I'd recommend moving away from the Zoom's & other small recorders (quality, noise issues & inconveniences).

Use a laptop w/ Logic Pro or Pro Tools DAW, some great mic's (much quieter than the Zoom's), & one of the Apogee preamps (for a Mac) or RME's for PC. It's ALL there, including pro level FX & EQ. Buy used to keep down the costs.

It's much easier to track, mix, edit & master ITB on a laptop - even for live remote - than messing with ANY of those tiny menu's on those small recorders. And the quality of every step is MUCH better as well.

Make it easy on yourself, Jan. If you're recording a lot, then invest in a MacBook Pro w/ Logic Pro, great condenser mic's & an Apogee Duet2. That chain is all you need for pro level two-track recording & ITB mixing.

A laptop & a Duet revolutionized the recording industry. Bands could go on the road, get a better take, email it back to the studio, & the engineer could add it to the mix. They don't use Zoom's to do that.

alohachris

Last edited by alohachris; 11-19-2017 at 06:14 PM.
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Old 11-19-2017, 08:38 PM
Doug Young Doug Young is offline
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I think if you want to do overdubbing, punch-ins, etc, a computer-based system would have a far better workflow.

On noise, the H6, at least, is very quiet. In fact, any self-noise it has would be small compared to the noise of fans and disks on most computers, unless you make sure to have the computer in a different room, or use only ssd drives and somehow eliminate the fan. For most of us in home recording environments, environmental noise swamps any self-noise in most gear these days.

You can, of course, use the H6 as an audio interface, so you could use it for live or location recording, or just to be able to have totally silent and very easy recording, then plugin to a computer for overdubbing. For "serious" recording, I use a computer with "better" interfaces, but for portability, etc, it's hard to beat the Zooms. Yes, you can use a Duet, etc, but I welcome any chance to get away from a computer. There's something very liberating about just hitting the record button on the zoom and knowing it will "just work" without bothering with a computer and DAW when the situation allows for it. There's just less to go wrong :-)
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Old 11-20-2017, 04:02 AM
Dakedi Dakedi is offline
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Hi AlohaChris, Doug,

Thanks for your comments. I agree that for 'serious' recording it is possibly 'better' to go the Computer/DAW route. I already have various computer/laptop/DAW based setups ... some of them even quite mobile and I'm happy with the results I can get with them ... however ... I've started a journey away from this to smaller, simpler, quicker to setup and neater solutions and I am trying to look ahead to see where this might go and what options are out there. This is especially for the recording process. The mixing and final processing would still be with the computer/DAW.

<short preamble - skip to end if you prefer not to read>

A few years back I got a Zoom R16 but never used it. Then, about a year and a half ago, I started taking it along instead of the computer/laptop/DAW based setups and, as Doug said, there was something liberating about not having a computer/DAW based system. The on-board mics are not that great but used with external mics it was a lot better than I expected.

So this got me thinking about what I like about this setup even though the sound wasn't quite as good ... and I think it is down to the much reduced setup time, space taken up and endless cabling and the mess it brings ... and (dare I say it) the lack of computer itself (my day job is computers - so it's not because I'm computer shy).

In the last few weeks I've pulled out my trusty hand held Olympus LS14 ... either on a small desk tripod or proper mic stand ... what a revelation. NO setup time, NO cabling, almost NO space taken and NO mess. And the internal mics record much better to my ears than the Zoom R16. The big plus is the ability to record wherever (and whenever) I happen to be playing ... especially in my living room, where I often play (but any computer/DAW based setup needs to be tidied away). I think it's even made me become more creative. Only downsides are one track recording only and no external mics.

<end of short preamble>

So the long and short of it is that I like the lack of setup time, cabling, space taken and mess that a small handheld gives and I am trying to see if I can get something that will get me as close as possible to the preamp quality, ability to attach own mics and basic overdubbing/multitracking abilities as I can from a computer/DAW setup ... but all in a small package. Hence my Zoom questions.

I must stress that this is mainly for the recording process ... not the post production/mixing which would almost certainly remain a computer/DAW job.
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Old 11-20-2017, 06:10 AM
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I use a Zoom H5, with the same quality preamp as the H6 (and H4n pro I believe), but with 2 XLR and a line input. In addition to the ease and mobility of set-up I like the ability to record from it’s own mics (stereo) and external ones (individual tracks) at the same time, and there is the possibility to record a backup stereo track from the on-board mics that is attenuated in case things get too ‘hot’.

I use a DAW to edit.
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Old 11-20-2017, 09:27 AM
Brent Hahn Brent Hahn is offline
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Assuming you have any kind of relatively modern computer, if you're thinking of doing anything other than run-and-gun remote recording, I'd skip the Zooms and their ilk and go straight for DAW software and an interface.
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Old 11-20-2017, 01:21 PM
Dakedi Dakedi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Assuming you have any kind of relatively modern computer, if you're thinking of doing anything other than run-and-gun remote recording, I'd skip the Zooms and their ilk and go straight for DAW software and an interface.
For all my other than run-and-gun remote recording I have up to date computer/interface/DAW. It's for the run-and-gun remote recording that I am looking for a simpler but good quality 'out-in-field' solution.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RodB View Post
I use a Zoom H5, with the same quality preamp as the H6 (and H4n pro I believe), but with 2 XLR and a line input. In addition to the ease and mobility of set-up I like the ability to record from itís own mics (stereo) and external ones (individual tracks) at the same time, and there is the possibility to record a backup stereo track from the on-board mics that is attenuated in case things get too Ďhotí.

I use a DAW to edit.
The H5 looked interesting at first because you can reassign inputs ... but it has no more tracks than the H4NPro and doesn't enable you to start overdubbing halfway through a track (neither does the H6 I believe).
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Old 11-20-2017, 02:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakedi View Post
So the long and short of it is that I like the lack of setup time, cabling, space taken and mess that a small handheld gives and I am trying to see if I can get something that will get me as close as possible to the preamp quality, ability to attach own mics and basic overdubbing/multitracking abilities as I can from a computer/DAW setup ... but all in a small package. Hence my Zoom questions.
Totally get that, I love using the zoom, and even the internal mics sound quite acceptable.

I hadn't tried overdubbing with it, but just tried to see how it works. The process is pretty easy - but there is one snag. You don't get to select your input channel routing, as best I can tell. So you can't really use the internal mics alone for overdubbing. I recorded a base track with the internal mics tracks 1+2, but then to overdub you need to record on one or more of the remaining tracks - say track 3. You can't use the internal mics for that, you need to plug a mic into input 1, which maps to track 3. Then if you want to overdub on track 4, you'll need to move the mic to input 2, which maps to track 4, and so on. BTW, it keeps all takes, so if you overdub repeatedly, you have all flubs (er... takes) available as separate tracks that could be imported into a DAW.

So not bad, but having to use an external mic and having to change the channel you plug into for each overdub takes away a bit of the simplicity - you'll need an external mic or plugin with a pickup. But it works, sounds fine, fairly easy to set up other than having to switch around the inputs.
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Old 11-21-2017, 01:51 AM
Andy Howell Andy Howell is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Assuming you have any kind of relatively modern computer, if you're thinking of doing anything other than run-and-gun remote recording, I'd skip the Zooms and their ilk and go straight for DAW software and an interface.


In general yes but my H6 always astonished me. I can take two decent mics anywhere and know I am going to get a very decent recording that can be refined in the computer.

The Zoom does allow you to escape the computer and often that is useful.
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Old 11-21-2017, 05:17 AM
Dakedi Dakedi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Howell View Post
In general yes but my H6 always astonished me. I can take two decent mics anywhere and know I am going to get a very decent recording that can be refined in the computer.

The Zoom does allow you to escape the computer and often that is useful.
This is what I was going for. From Fran's recordings and countless recordings and comments on the internet (not YouTube ) I've come to the conclusion that the quality of the H6 recordings would be perfectly acceptable for my projects when I need to get out in the field. It has now been confirmed to me that the XY mics can be included in any overdub scenario which is great because I'd like to use them to create a guide track for the rest of the recording which I prefer to a lifeless metronome.

My concerns now are...

... for the H6 (or the H5) ...

Is it at all possible to start recording an overdub from midway through a track. So, for example, in a 6 minute song if I need to add some violin or percussion at the 4th minute can I fast forward (maybe to a mark just before the 4th minute) and start recording from there? Or do I need to start right from the beginning and wait 4 minutes for every take!? Could an H6 user try this out? (pretty please )

If this is possible then the H6 has won it for me because of the preamp quality and count.

... for the H4N Pro ...

Are the preamps really as good as the H6. I haven't found a single real life comparison for the two. Loads of people repeat the Zoom marketing talk that the preamps are the same but this does not mean they necessarily sound the same. There is so much hardware that has the same this or that and so often it has meant nothing in terms of realworld performance. If I could somehow confirm this then the H4N Pro would be a good second choice if the H6 fails the above overdubbing test.
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Old 11-21-2017, 08:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakedi View Post

My concerns now are...

... for the H6 (or the H5) ...

Is it at all possible to start recording an overdub from midway through a track.

If this is possible then the H6 has won it for me because of the preamp quality and count.

... for the H4N Pro ...

Are the preamps really as good as the H6. If I could somehow confirm this then the H4N Pro would be a good second choice if the H6 fails the above overdubbing test.
Look forward to hearing more ...

Just curious... If you didn't go for the H6. Wouldn't the H5 be better choice then the H4Npro? (if money is not a factor). Or am I missing something on the H4np that it has over the H5. To me the H5 would be the winner (over the H4np) on price/performance. Sleeker design, easier controls, menu navigation, modular mic connection.

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