Zoom H8 Handy Recorder

Zoom H8 Audio Recorder Review

Do you still remember the Zoom H1n from them days? Man, that was a really good audio recording device for use on-the-go when you didn’t have time to set up a complete field recorder just to create some simple audio content. But those days are long gone now and the modern content creator is making all kinds of audio. Whether you are a sound designer, musician, podcast creator, etc., you need an all-in-one device that really adapts to your workflow for high-quality audio production.

So, meet Zoom’s latest audio recording device, the Zoom H8. This 24bit/96KHZ handheld-style audio recorder really pushes the boundary of what a portable audio recorder should do.

It provides an enormous amount of audio input channels, 10 of them to be exact while impressively recording up to 12 tracks simultaneously. It’s loaded with a pack of useful modules. It is also expandable, upgradeable and can serve as an audio interface for your computer.

But don’t worry that all these features will confuse you; no, the H8 features an app to make everything easier for you. It features a color touchscreen to dive into the menu function directly; the device also easily adapts to your workflow. Musicians, podcasters, and sound designers are really going to love the Zoom H8.

It features three different App-driven interfaces

a)   A Music app for multitrack audio recording

The music app puts faders, audio levels, metering, and other important controls within your reach. You can use your own microphones with the H8 recorder. There are lots of inputs from which to choose. The H8 offers 4XLR mic jacks and 2 XLR-TSR combo jacks with Hi-Z switches allowing you to easily capture microphones, line-level signals, or directly record instruments like electric guitars and basses.

Each of the XLR input features a 20db pad switch and phantom power to enhance flexibility. To select the input you want, just press the square button next to your input of choice, and it’s going to use a red signal to indicate the track is record-ready. You will also tell that the track is set for recording from the touchscreen; you can easily meter your input level from the touchscreen.

There is an SD card slot on the unit’s lower left level where you can fit SD, SD-HC, and SDX cards of 5-12 GB. You can also record to another device via an 8-inch stereo line out jack. The Line, Out Level control, allows you to fine-tune the volume of the audio you are sending to an external device. The touchscreen also allows you to overdub, enhance, or mix recordings using EQ.

b)   A podcast app

Podcasting is possible because the app supports up to four mics and two sound pad channels for high-quality podcast production. You can easily use the touchscreen and manipulate sound pads to produce desirable sound effects and much more. You can easily choose from 13 pre-loaded high-quality sounds or opt to download or load your own sounds from an SD. There’s individual knob gain for each of the mics.

c)   A field app for sound design and location sound

The field is designed explicitly for location sound and sound design, you can use the app to access individual track meters. You can also easily change the input type, compression, lo-cut filtering, noise gate, etc. This is a great app for use during concerts and when recording audio for videos.

The Zoom H8 audio recorder as an audio interface for your computer

You can use the H8 as a 12-in/20-out USB audio interface for your computer. It supports both Windows and Mac OS. For IOS devices, you need adapters. This will boost your laptop’s audio capabilities.

Compatibility with other microphone capsules in the Zoom line of products

The Zoom H8, just like all zoom audio recorders, is compatible with zoom’s line of microphone capsules too. The Zoom H8 comes with the XYH-6 mic capsule by default; this provides two extra X/Y configured channels bringing the total number of audio input channels to 8. The XYH-6 mic capsule is just 2 matched unidirectional mics set in stereo mode. You can choose between a 90 degree or 120-degree stereo field to capture audio directly in front of the setup.

You can also swap out the XYH-6 for the XAH-8, which is a more advanced mic capsule. The other big news is that the new capsule called ‘New Capsule Input 2.0’ will accommodate a new line of mic capsules such as the EXH-8, which offers 4 more XLR inputs with phantom power bringing the number of inputs on the H8 to 10. And each input channel in these new capsules is going to feature a specialized gain knob and pad switch.

Apart from the EXH-8, the new capsule 2.0 will also accommodate the XAH-8 capsule for stereo recording and a VRH-8 ambisonic decoder for 360 degrees audio recordings and automatic audio conversions saving you time.

The Zoom H8 Design

So, you already know that the H8 is loaded with a lot of features, well, that makes the device a bit bulky. It is not as compact as zoom’s other compact units. Instead, it marks Zooms transition to larger audio recorders and you can expect and rugged industrial look. Still, the H8 is a handheld recording device. It uses 4 X AA batteries included in the package or can switch to USB Bus Power or use an AC/DC power adapter.

Other Good things about the H8

  • It features a built-in speaker
  • It includes a 1/4-20 female mounting thread
  • XLR inputs can be locked
  • Supports BMF, MP3 and WAV audio recording formats

The Bad things about the H8

  • Many people don’t like the industrial look
  • There’s no way to physically control headphone volume
  • It doesn’t include an internal storage drive
  • It is a bit too large for handheld recordings; it seems suitable for mounting on stands or tabletops

The take-home?

The physical design misses, but the H8 is still a very attractive audio recorder. It is a 4-in-one device, a versatile multi-track audio recorder, and a USB interface for your laptop.

The fact that it supports a wide variety of capsules, including the VRH-8, which delivers 360 audio recordings and automatically handles conversions to cut down post-production time, is why the modern content creator should smile.

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