Zoom redefine handheld recording with impressive new Essentials series

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Zoom redefine handheld recording with impressive new Essentials series

Zoom H6 Essentials
Words by Pablo Francois

Of particular note is the flagship H6essential model which comes complete with 6 tracks and a modular microphone system as well as a professional quality LCD display showing real time transient and gain information.

While the NAMM acronym may immediately bring to mind visions of wall to wall guitars and synthesizers being noodled upon by the world’s best players, some of the most exciting announcements are to be found in the broader audio and audio for content sector, where Moore’s Law seems to be flourishing, relatively unimpeded.

Zoom Essentials series

This year it was Zoom’s announcement of their new Essentials line of portable recorders that really upped the ante of what could be done in the handheld/field recording space with the H1essential,  H4essential, and H6essential all bearing the hallmarks of a landmark release from the Japanese brand.

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Of particular note is the flagship H6essential model which comes complete with 6 tracks and a modular microphone system as well as a professional quality LCD display showing real time transient and gain information. This model also ships with a newly designed XYH-6e stereo mic capsule configured in X/Y, that can handle up to 135 dB, providing enough headroom for even the most brutal recording applications. The aforementioned modular mic system is equally versatile, letting you swap out the XYH-6e for the stereo shotgun capsule or the EXH-6e dual XLR-TRS input module (both available separately).

For maximum functionality, all models include built-in speakers and 3.5mm output jacks to connect to cameras or headphones. Use the class-compliant USB-C ports for data transfer or live streaming.

An interesting and forward thinking inclusion on the Essential series is the presence of new  Accessibility functionality, providing audible assistance and descriptions to help the visually impaired in navigating the menus and settings. Users can choose between several languages including English, French, Spanish, Japanese, German, Italian or Chinese. 

Essentials Series

The new Essential series, combines many of the awesome new features found on recent breakthrough Zoom products like the MicTrak as well as the classic H series of field recorders that helped build the brands reputation as one of the leading names in equipment for content manufacturing and taking the strengths of these aforementioned product lines and harnesses them into a new generation of digital audio recording recording products with the modern creator in mind.

It was last year’s MicTack series of handheld recorders in particular, that in many ways set the tone for what Zoom had forthcoming in the handheld domain, the brand making the pioneering leap into the world of 32-Bit float recording for streamers, film, music and content users alike. 

In practice, the presence of 32-bit Float parlays perfectly to the new essential line, providing users with the freedom to automate more extreme dynamic changes, or flatten them out if need be as well as leaving headroom before distortion for maximum clarity.

For musicians, the H6essential may be the ultimate demoing unit, with the ability to mic up to 4 instruments using the XLR inputs in conjunction with the X/Y microphones to capture the full ensemble and ambience in the most phase coherent way possible. The combination of this amount of i/o flexibility coupled with the borderline endless headroom afforded by the 32-bit float makes it a perfect set and forget options for recording live rehearsals or getting things down on the fly as quickly as possible, without having to stress too much about gain staging. 

Zoom H6

For filmmakers, the interchangeable capsules (with the option to run a dual shotgun A/B configuration in the form of the SSH-6e Stereo Shotgun Capsule or the option of simply adding more inputs, by way of the EXH-6e input capsule-each sold separately) give the H6essential a level of flexibility far beyond your average portable recorder. The wireless timecode and optional BTA-1 Bluetooth Adapter makes it easy to pair Bluetooth timecode devices and keeps things in sync. 

If the Essential series wasn’t big enough news in the Audio/Content Creation space, Zoom were sure to give the MI world a shake as well, with the announcement of their awesome new MS-200D+ MultiStomp for Guitar.

Featuring 200 built-in distortions and drives from Zoom’s latest generation of effects, including 152 new Zoom Original drives/distortions, 36 boutique emulations and 12 existing Zoom drives/distortions, all combining to offer the most ever drives and distortions, it’s safe to say the D and stands for drive (or distortion?) and the ‘+’ stands for ‘lots of’.

With up to 250 custom patches, you can create unique distortions by chaining any two effects together, while routing chain effects in series, parallel, or alternate for the ability to quickly switch between two tones, resulting in some unique textures and harmonics as you blend multiple drives and distortions together. 

At this point in history, it’s safe to say that the Zoom brand is really the story of two parallel narratives, that being handheld digital audio recorders and multi effects boxes. Yes, there have been other contenders, but none have come close to offering the kind of consistency and flexibility that the extensive range of Zoom recorders and multi effects has brought to the table. This year’s NAMM was a showcase of what the brand can do across both verticals and suffice to say, it was a more than impressive showing, for a brand that knows what they do and do it extremely well.  

For local enquiries, visit Dynamic Music.