Zoom H6 Handy Recorder Review

Last week, after years of letting my finger hover over the buy button, I finally bought a Zoom H6 Handy Recorder for the podcast, and am I ever glad that I did. I spent the morning with it yesterday putting it through its paces, and it is a real champ. It comes with two mics, an XY and an MS. They are both great for the $400 price. The XY has two crossing directional mics that are adjustable so that you can switch the width of the recording field to 90 or 120 degrees in front of the mic. The MS mic also has two mics, but they are under the round metal cover. One picks up sound from the front and the other picks up sound front the sides. You can adjust the mix while you are recording or just record in MS Raw and adjust the front/side mix in post.

I wasn’t really expecting this level of build quality. 8 years ago, I was using an H5 for a podcast I was working on and it worked fine, but had its issues. One of them was build quality. It always felt like I was going to break it. The H6 does not. It’s solid and mostly made of metal parts, even the mics. The form factor works too. Easy to hold, use and with the angled screen, probably great on top of a camera.

It comes with 4 AA batteries, a sturdy plastic padded case for the mics and the recorder that also includes a USB cord for connecting it to your computer or power. The USB cord allows it to act as a card reader for the SD card or as a kick ass audio interface. The one upgrade I would recommend is the fuzzy wind screen. The wind screen that comes with it is the standard foam type and they just don’t work as well. The upgraded version is worth the extra $25, These mics are pretty sensitive and if you use them outdoors, you’re going to get wind rumble without some kind of extra protection.

It’s got 4 XLR connectors which can record to their own channels with phantom power and pad switches and a line in/plug-in power jack on the side of the XY mic, making it great for recording multiple mics. I took my new binaural mics down to the creek yesterday and walked around in the water while recording a WAV file onto the H6. It’s like you’re right there when you listen to it with headphones.

This is going to be replacing the Røde USB mic I’ve been using on the road to record auditions or client work. It’s also going to be great to throw in a backpack and take along on outdoor trips to record ambient noise and nature sounds. Five stars. Super happy with the H6.

What do you use to record when you’re on the road or away from the studio? Let me know on Twitter. I’m always up for geeking out on audio gear.