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Hmm, I remember a job i did a few years ago where that app could come in handy. It was a low budget show where contestants would randomly talk to strangers in the style of impractical jokers except they really did ambush the people that had no idea what was happening. It was also in an extremely heavy rf environment so range was a big issue.

Imagine this. The F8 is in a back pack along with the wireless. The wireless feed a distro box and you run the antennas to the front shoulder straps flush with the material in a very incognito way. Also run the headphones from the back pack to the front. Then use the app to control the recorder and people would just think you are some guy walking around playing with your phone and listening to music. You could even be right next to the contestants and if the camera caught you, no big deal.

 

Not extremely practical I know but should theoretically work.

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codyman   

For $999, I'm thinking this might be a no brainer buy for just process trailer / "bag drop" things.  I could put this into my bag with my 2x SRb's + IFB, sit in the rig's cab and monitor / change settings on the fly while reducing the range of wireless...

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daniel   

Well a first with an extensive wireless control surface for a location recorder. If it's rock solid and reliable, it's also perhaps a first for really enabling the recorder to be in a backpack, and a start in addressing this rather ridiculous situation of bag recordists having to strap all this stuff at waist level on their front, like some cinema interval choc ice and drinks salesperson.

If you place recorder in backpack then the control surfaces/app needs to be very good. Maybe recorders get so small they are little more than control surfaces anyway (the f8 takes 8 x aa batteries - the battery pack is c.25% of its size). Probably best to see the app as 'gravy' (for meta data and a bigger screen to can hang somewhere else). A venue or RX-12 like box with a control app would move more weight back but already sennheiser AVX has a receiver little bigger than a right angle XLR and no cabling to add to the weight and complexity. Zoom f8 fully loaded with AVX RX, will weigh less than battery and power distribution needed to power it all day?

Edited by daniel

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Zoom f8 fully loaded with AVX RX, will weigh less than battery and power distribution needed to power it all day?

well, i wouldn't want to trust the automatic channel selection of 8 AVX next to each other. that and the auto gain and keeping track of 8 sets of batteries...

but i find the idea of a headless recorder intriguing, imagine a nomad or 788 spliced in two where the body with all the inputs is separated from the control panel (one with physical knobs, not touch based). heck, it wouldn't even have to be wireless, just being able to run it on a cat5 cable would be completely awesome.

the F8 is probably closest that we'll get for quite a while.

chris 

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From a quick read through the manual, the main limitations seem to be -

- Sort of a reverse of Zax's Auto Trim, where the faders instead of the trims are menu selectable (seems clunky with or without the app)

- Only one headphone preset at a time

Still, not bad for $1K.  Looking forward to the reviews.

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Tracks can be independently assigned to the Main and Sub outs!

Main 1/2=> camera sends, sub 1=> boom op send, sub 2 => IFBs.  Very nice

Everything can be controlled with an iPad!

Edited by Michael Panfeld

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daniel   

well, i wouldn't want to trust the automatic channel selection of 8 AVX next to each other. that and the auto gain and keeping track of 8 sets of batteries...

but i find the idea of a headless recorder intriguing, imagine a nomad or 788 spliced in two where the body with all the inputs is separated from the control panel (one with physical knobs, not touch based). heck, it wouldn't even have to be wireless, just being able to run it on a cat5 cable would be completely awesome.

the F8 is probably closest that we'll get for quite a while.

chris 

sure sure - you or i might not but someone will and if it works well enough others will follow. in 1 of the various videos about the avx the man says rx can be powered externally from a usb powerbank.

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Boomboom   

For $999, I'm thinking this might be a no brainer buy for just process trailer / "bag drop" things.  

If I buy one, it's gonna be exactly for that.

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mskill   

It's cute, think it will do well.  I does lack a competent mixing interface (don't think that iOS device qualifies for heat of the moment type of stuff), but provides a great value for what it does.  It does however lack so much, that I don't think most professionals will use it as anything other than either a backup, 1st recorder to get a foot in the door, or for high risk environments (just the other day I loaded up my rig into a dry bag, then into a pelican, and then onto a raft for a white water sequence - the typical "bag drop" where we are not mixing anyways).  I don't care if the unit costs $1,000 or $20,000 - the best hardware for the job gets my dollar and I think this is a serious attempt by Zoom to get into the professional production sound world.  If there's a future version with digital I/O, camera return(s), a mixing control surface, it's certainly something I'd consider.  I may even pick one up for a grab bag to send out the door for quick/cheap jobs.

What it does better than others... compact size, light weight, iOS features, can act as an (8/4) computer interface (really impressive)

agree entirely Tom. Although why they chose bluetooth control rather than 'straight' network over wifi (both use same freq. band but network easier to extend range over their quoted max 10m ) puzzles me.

 

 Update 29nov15.

it's occured to me since i wrote all this that there IS a good reason for choosing to have the iOS control app work via Bluetooth, and that is simply that going the normal wifi/ip route would mean on the one hand the need for a dhcp server circuit/software in the F8 itself -  because single peer-peer fixed-ip connection is never that reliable in my experience - and on the other hand extra setup in the i-device that would require it to also disconnect from other wifi signals. So for example if i bought an F8 i could control it with their bluetooth app but remain connected to my TC Buddy wifi master at the same time if i wanted.

 

Now that the manual is up on their site and i've read it, then in the light of that design choice of Zooms, it's also therefore annoying to find that although those 8 too-small input gain controls are not 'dedicated' pots but software-linked, nonetheless they aren't freely assignable to other functions ( not that their size would make that much use ) and there's no available mechanism apart from their bluetooth iOS app to control the gains externally.

If only they'd also provided a second peripheral usb port and added usb-midi control ( i.e. Option to have wired physical mixer controls ) they'd be talking.

It seems while the timecode and dual-media are 'right' for location sound, the remote functionality is instead aimed at the ipad-controlled-mixer for bands market, which is incongruous to say the least, or perhaps not so much if you remember it can also be a usb interface.  Have to say i've succesfully mixed small PA for a band on a Mackie DL1608 that was on stage, using the Mackie app on iPad standing at back of the venue, but of course i wasn't having to do anything else at the same time....

i could go on picking holes in its feature-provision and strange choices, but obviously that won't change how this recorder is hardware-wise now, while i actually struggle to think what they HAVEN'T thrown into the software already given what the hardware consists of and is fixed as.

What i suspect may happen is that depending on how many Zoom find are selling, or not, through Pro-Audio channels, and how many or not are snapped up by music retailers, plus feedback/coverage etc., we might well see another product from Zoom within 12 months incorporating some of the things it's obvious to us are 'missing' and slightly larger to allow better on-board controls. 

Either that or get ready to see a couple of interesting new products by 2016 from some of the 'proper' location recorder manufacturers ?

 

 

 

 

Edited by mskill
Updated opinion

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mskill   

Also, what's with the -10 output ?   This doesn't make sense even in an MI market context as far as i can see ....

Overall though i think this is another example of the typical Japanese electronic firm obsession of many years with making things as small as they can be made, even if not only does the likely user-base not require or want it to be quite so 'compact', but also where that compromises the ergonomics of the very type of product that depends on things NOT being 99% menu-driven :-/

Yes i know actual hardware controls like toggle switches, pots, encoders are what bumps up the manufacturing cost now compared to having more software, but which would you want given the choice; this for $1000 or the same thing inside but with more+larger controls on the outside for $1500 ?

i know which one i'd opt to buy

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mskill   

well, i wouldn't want to trust the automatic channel selection of 8 AVX next to each other. that and the auto gain and keeping track of 8 sets of batteries...

but i find the idea of a headless recorder intriguing, imagine a nomad or 788 spliced in two where the body with all the inputs is separated from the control panel (one with physical knobs, not touch based). heck, it wouldn't even have to be wireless, just being able to run it on a cat5 cable would be completely awesome.

the F8 is probably closest that we'll get for quite a while.

chris 

yes, that's kind of what i was getting at above, in that with all the physical controls on 9 out of 10 field recorders controlling the software anyway, rather than being 'in circuit', there's no practical reason to 'restrict' the number and placement of them on the recorder except the available surface areas themselves, and so logically best placement would/could be achieved by, as you say , splitting a field recorder/mixer into 2 units cabled together. 

Something it appears Sonosax are kind of doing with the new 'modular' version of the SX4..... , albeit without separation on cable, nor any pan controls, but whatever....

 

 

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Ben B   

Seems like a good first buy recorder for a beginner or non professional. I'm talking about the "one man job" type videos where the person would use more than 2 inputs like there is on the h4n. It probably won't get into the professional circle but i'd be curious to try it out and hear how it sounds.

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RJBerto   

I went and played with it as LSC today. Would be a good add to a 552/422 setup, but for me, too small and clunky to use by itself. The pres were actually pretty quiet and the body had a nice solid feel. It'd be a marked improvement to switch the trim and fader control and put on some better knobs. 

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I also attended LSC's event today. Unfortunately, the unit was on pre-release firmware. As such, everything here needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

That said, onto my initial thoughts after a hands on demo.

PROS

1. Size/weight: Amazing amount of inputs and outputs for a unit that looks smaller than a 633 to my eye. Also, the build quality is a marked improvement over the H series with it's aluminum chassis

2. Routing flexibility and I/O: In addition to the 8(!) combo XLR-TRS Mic/Line inputs, you have two sub outputs and two main outputs (both of which are mic/line switchable). Sub outs are on a locking stereo 1/8 connector and main outs are on TA3s (TA3-XLR breakouts are included in the package). There is also a built in slate mic, but my small gripe is that I was unable to disable it on any of the card tracks so it appears to be an all or nothing venture.

3. Mic Pres: I auditioned an MKH50 and they are far better than the H series. Nothing extraordinarily punchy, but no longer embarrassingly bad. I won't know exactly how much better they are until it's released and I can load in some files for critical listening. I'll leave it at that since the box that they come in has 'Zoom' printed on it which is Japanese for 'eye-roll' and 'knee-jerk reaction.'

CONS

1. Trims: I agree with RJ that it is a poor choice to have hardware pots assigned to trim vs. faders. In order to fade a track you have to press the menu dial, scroll the cursor to the desired input, press the menu dial again, and scroll the menu dial. This eliminates any possibility of using this unit in the bag. Alternatively you can use an iPad to access all software faders at your fingertips, but the app will not give you tactile feedback that hardware faders provide for critical mixing. Zoom would be foolish not to consider designing an FP8 like panel that attaches a hardware fader panel to the expansion port.

Additionally, the input trim pots are plastic and are the weakest part of the build IMO.

2. Headphone Routing: You have to go 3 menu levels deep to adjust headphone routing. Also, there are no user presets. Again, this is a huge deal if you are considering an F8 as your front end mixer. A dedicated PFL button for each channel is a nice addition, but this needs to be changed in a firmware update or it's another potential deal breaker.

3. TC I/O Placement: it's on the bottom, so unless your bag has a latch or you are using this on a rack you have to dig it out to jam. Inconvenient, but there just isn't enough room anywhere else on the unit I suppose.

Overall: Even with the warts, you are getting so much for $1K that I would think this is no doubt going to be a huge seller.

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I also attended the event today.

This unit may work for some as a backup recorder, or a starter kit for someone who is new to location recording, but after playing with it, I would not consider it. 

Yes, it is surprisingly small, but perhaps too small for trying to cram everything into this small a package. For example, the tiny fader knobs (that aren't even faders, but trim knobs) are simply too small to be practical imho (and no, I do not have especially fat fingers, quite the opposite).

Also, the inputs are mic level only on XLR, and line level only on 1/4" TRS. There's no way to change this by a switch or even in the menus. OH - and when they say 'Line" level, they are talking about -10, not +4.

 

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Boomboom   

From what I read above, the deal's broke with me.

Seems Johnny quite summed it up: '' too small for trying to cram everything into this small a package''...

 

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daniel   

Fred:

On a FB group page for mixers, one of the members said that he had been working with Zoom for months, giving them feedback on what pros are looking for.  Let's hope you are right and the manager and corporate took heed.  We'll soon see.

"James Appleton I've been talking with Zoom for the past 8 months about this (I used to be in a band with their marketing manager- you've seen him in the NAB/NAMM videos). I constantly gave input as to what we need on a daily basis, sent videos of my 788 set-up in the bag explaining bag stuff and what we always need, etc so I expect this thing to be pretty cool and at minimum a perfect starter or backup recorder. I should be getting my hands on one to test drive soon and will report back with my initial thoughts. But there's been a lot of thought and work put into this bad boy."

Bit baffled how zoom end up with TC recorder/mixer with 8 pots and a stereo mix bus but no realistic way of mixing in the context the device would seem to be made for. It sounds like it will be slower to adjust the mix than a tascam dr-680 (which only has 1 rotary encoder but a quick way to get to the track you want). I chatted with a post production person once who said he preferred post-fade isos over 'safe' pre-fade isos. Maybe the pre-fade isos he was getting were a bit too 'safe' or perhaps his workflow is a bit quicker if using phase inversion to adjust the production mix provided, whatever it was for him I wonder if something like this was part of the feedback zoom were getting? 

dan

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RJBerto   

 It's rare for a sound mixer to need 8 mic inputs/pres and the times when you do, I'd imagine a linear mixer on a cart is the way to go... which I suppose is the thinking for line level on TRS, taking the direct outs from a mackie type mixer, but still... the -10 thing...

And not being able to plug in a wireless receiver at line level without having to make a special cable and padding the output seems odd.  Could be useful for remote music recordings though...

 

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daniel   

 It's rare for a sound mixer to need 8 mic inputs/pres and the times when you do, I'd imagine a linear mixer on a cart is the way to go... which I suppose is the thinking for line level on TRS, taking the direct outs from a mackie type mixer, but still... the -10 thing...

And not being able to plug in a wireless receiver at line level without having to make a special cable and padding the output seems odd.  Could be useful for remote music recordings though...

 

TRS thing is also a pain if you want low profile connectors on the input cables for bag use (potentially you need to make 16 low-pro cables, 8 of each!) - maybe the pay off is the respective signals are handled better.

i don't see the -10 thing as that bad, especially if you have to use a mixer in front for a mix (and distribution) or want to use RM to send scratch track to camera.

what came first - 4 dual tracks or 8 single tracks? by that i mean for the intended market the dual record thing was probably considered more important than 8 tracks (or proper mixing capabilities) but 1 allows the other and the marketing department is happy.

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cjh   

on paper and by size and price this looks very very good as a cheap back / crash recorder, if it proves reliable that is. Not being able to mix easily is no biggy as it could pair up with a 552 etc and just use it as an iso rec. And if all else fails iso tracks only with a crappy mono mix for coms feeds etc will still keep the shoot day rolling along fine until your main gear is sorted.

I wonder if the scene increment option can be either numeric or alphanumeric, can't see it mentioned in the manual.

Very good routing options on where the slate mic and tone goes too.

Leakage of spurious RF would be bad too, hope they thought about that also.

Edited by cjh

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