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IronFilm

Zoom F6 (a 32bit recorder!)

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We have an estimated date now for the Zoom F6, mid June 2019.

 

Interestingly can record to 32 bit files, I wonder how post production will feel about that?

 

https://www.gothamsound.com/product/f6-recorder

 

Quote

The Zoom F6 is an extremely compact recorder that uses the same preamps and time code generator as the rest of the F-series and adds dual A/D conveters and the ability to record 32-bit floating pointaudio files, as well as the standard 24-bit.

 

The extra bits in the 32-bit file give the F6 the capacity to record an enormous dynamic range at high quality with amazing freedom to adjust gain in post, since everything from a shout to a whisper is stored with the same fidelity. The F6 can record simultaneous 24- and 32-bit files or either format singly.

 

The F6 uses a single L-series battery which can run the unit for up to eight hours. It can also be powered by USB-C or AA batteries.

 

 

IMG_9539

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Curious. 

 

I've always wondered about the 32 bit A/D converters mentioned in the SD MixPre specs. I imagine they play a role in gain staging (hybrid approach between analog and digital gain in the preamps). But it's just a guess of course. 

 

That said, the bits issue is a bit tricky. 32 bits of quantization in an A/D converter won't really translate into the full dynamic range you could represent with 32 bits in floating point. 

 

32 bits FP is actually useful for processing.

 

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Perhaps a useful tracker aimed at camera people? Unless you have the fingers of a 5y.o I don't think those pots were designed for riding levels - more set an forget. Being F series, is it compatible with the zoom control surface? Ambisonic?

 

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25 minutes ago, daniel said:

Being F series, is it compatible with the zoom control surface?

Well it has USB C connection which is different to the ones in the past Zooms, but you'd hope if you just use the right cable I can still use my F Control with the F6
 

26 minutes ago, daniel said:

Ambisonic?

It has six XLR inputs. I'd be very surprised if it doesn't support Ambisonics. After all the Zoom F4 does!

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2 minutes ago, IronFilm said:

Well it has USB C connection which is different to the ones in the past Zooms, but you'd hope if you just use the right cable I can still use my F Control with the F6
 

It has six XLR inputs. I'd be very surprised if it doesn't support Ambisonics. After all the Zoom F4 does!

You'd hope for both these things if they're calling it part of their F series but...

...if the engineers have hit the target the marketing dept seem to be still looking for their eyewear.

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Yes if this is a repeat of the F1 (which should never have been part of the F series!) then I'll be bitterly disappointed. (but not a bad thing if I avoid buying a recorder this year.... I only got my current one a handful of months ago!)

However with them putting 32bits into the F6 then I'll assume the engineers have high aims for the F6

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13 minutes ago, IronFilm said:

Yes if this is a repeat of the F1 (which should never have been part of the F series!) then I'll be bitterly disappointed. (but not a bad thing if I avoid buying a recorder this year.... I only got my current one a handful of months ago!)

However with them putting 32bits into the F6 then I'll assume the engineers have high aims for the F6

 

Now that I think of it, the main advantage of those 32 bits will be a better limiter implementation in software without degrading resolution.

 

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Just now, Olle Sjostrom said:

I don't get why Zooms webpage isn't updated with info about this or any other product they launched... 

It was the same when the F8n came out; It is a "prototype" first shown into the world on a trade show, I reckon they are settling on the final details for the listing (again, just like the F8n), getting feedback etc from trade-show go-ers. And get the "Instagram-buzzzz" out... 

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My education in digital audio is probably a bit outdated so I'd welcome some input regarding my comments below:

 "Recording 32-bit floating point audio files" seems pointless to me as long as the dynamic range of the analog I/O falls way below the dynamic range limitations of 24 bit. In these prosumer recorders this is most certainly the case.

32 bit Floating Point processing is useful once inside a DAW since it allows the mixer more leeway regarding gainstaging as long as the output is free of clipping. Some mixing engines boast internal headroom in the 5 figure dB range due to 32 or 64 bit processing but that doesn't change the fact that during acquisition the analog stage (including the A part of the AD converter) largely determines the S/N ratio. Putting a 32 bit converter after an input stage that can only handle moderate maximum input levels and exhibits a high noisefloor is not giving us the ability to record a wider range of dynamics. We seem to be living in an age where theoretical dynamic range moves one way (up) while actual hardware based dynamic range moves down due to cheaper front and back ends, lower analog reference levels ( 0 dBu being the "new" +4, etc). Just for fun put up an audio file recorded with  the mic pres up halfway and no mic connected to the recorder, then gain it up 50 dB in your DAW. What you'll hear is hiss where theoretically there should be another 60dB of S/N under 24 bits theoretical specs. 24 bit resolution exceeds all but but the most over-engineered analog stages in any mixer so why bother with higher wordlength?

 I wish they'd go for better sounding mic pres instead. Just my opinion.

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interest!

Dual ADC will probably work like ZAXCOM recorders. maybe it comes 135 and higher dynamic range.

By the way, is this 32 bit floating point or integer?

There is no doubt that either can handle huge or tiny input.

 

And how much is it?

if it is 1500USD or lower,it is fuss as apocalypse!

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15 minutes ago, Werner Althaus said:

below:

 "Recording 32-bit floating point audio files" seems pointless to me as long as the dynamic range of the analog I/O falls way below the dynamic range limitations of 24 bit. In these prosumer recorders this is most certainly the case.

There is a video on Gothamsound's Facebook page, the GS representative mentioned he was sceptical too, hearing the "technology mumbo jumbo" reasons and what not. But then he got some audio examples from Zoom to check it out himself and indeed he saw/hear the potential "win" out of this. 

 

* Disclaimer: Your millage may very, and opinions are opinions etc etc etc*

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1 hour ago, INARI said:

interest!

Dual ADC will probably work like ZAXCOM recorders. maybe it comes 135 and higher dynamic range.

By the way, is this 32 bit floating point or integer?

There is no doubt that either can handle huge or tiny input.

 

And how much is it?

if it is 1500USD or lower,it is fuss as apocalypse!

No official price yet, but my guess between 500/850 USD. 

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6 minutes ago, Vincent R. said:

No official price yet, but my guess between 500/850 USD. 

It is logical to place it between an F4 and an F8 in price.

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This interview from Curtis Judd just confirmed that the F6 has dual ADCs. This means that the F6 should record such a high dynamic range that you can capture the whole dynamic range of a microphone. This would completely eliminate the need to set your gain. You can set your gain digitally in post. It's a bit like RAW but for audio. Exciting stuff!

 

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That Zoom guy lost me when he said that 24 bit records high volume at much better quality than low volume. The fact that cheap prosumer recorders sound worse at recording levels that are low (as well as too high despite being encoded below 0 dBFS ) has nothing to do with the supposedly insufficient 24 bit rate and everything to do with the quality of the analog circuitry used. For them to state that the mic will distort before the mic pres will is also a rather bold claim, it all comes down to the degree with which they give you honest specs. The Zoom F8 at its minimal mipre gain (10dB) cannot handle high output mics at all, my DPA miniature mics for example will over modulate the mic pres in those things. Depending on the source even a hot dynamic mic can over modulate the mic input of our old Soundcraft 800 series console with it's max input level of +37 dBu, no way can the F6 handle levels like that without distorting, 32 bit notwithstanding.

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4 minutes ago, Werner Althaus said:

The Zoom F8 at its minimal mipre gain (10dB) cannot handle high output mics at all, my DPA miniature mics for example will over modulate the mic pres in those things

Which DPA specifically you tested with the F8 (Or F8n)? I ran some high output Audix and AKGs with a F8 without problems.

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9 hours ago, Werner Althaus said:

 I wish they'd go for better sounding mic pres instead. Just my opinion.

 

The Zoom F series mic pres are already on par with the MixPre series mic pres, I don't think this is the most pressing issue for Zoom to develop on if they are aiming to go higher end than the F8. 

I'd rather see Zoom work on adding AES, external bluetooth antenna for range, MCU compatibility, extra USB for adding keyboard directly, Superslot add on, more compatibility with other manufacturers (i.e. RODE NT-SF1, Ambient, Timecode Systems Ltd, etc), etc

 

1 hour ago, Patrick Tresch said:

Dual AD? Zaxcom will be happy.


I am guessing one of:

1) Zoom thinks they have a legal loophole

2) Zoom will not bother with the USA market for the F6 because the rest of the world is big enough? (kinda like Sonosax did)

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7 hours ago, Vincent R. said:

Which DPA specifically you tested with the F8 (Or F8n)? I ran some high output Audix and AKGs with a F8 without problems.

I used a pair of old Omni 4066s , mounted them inside a Steinway into a Zoom F8 (not the F8n, do they have different pres?).

Couldn't use them due to clipping so I changed them out for a pair of MKE-2 Gold. Even before the clip lights come on those pres sounded "pinched".

The same setup into a SD 664 line input with phantom power (brilliant feature BTW) sounded wonderful and clean.

6 hours ago, IronFilm said:

 

The Zoom F series mic pres are already on par with the MixPre series mic pres, I don't think this is the most pressing issue for Zoom to develop on if they are aiming to go higher end than the F8. 
 

I haven't used the MixPre, I only know the MP-1, 442, 552, 633 and 664 pres which all sound different but are all miles ahead of the Zoom IMHO. I use the Zoom F8 for ambisonic recording now, with the Sennheiser Ambeo, it's a decent match. Don't get me wrong, I think Zoom makes a great product at the price , we have H2n, H6 and the F8, they are all very useful and have their place. And yes, AES would be nice.

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I was under the assumption that 24-bit was still enough bit-depth to record the full dynamic range of just about any audio source you could find. Not like we shouldn’t always be striving for more precision and range, but at the same time I feel like if it can’t be done with 24 bits then your bit-depth probably isn’t the issue...  

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I agree with Werner...

As working in location recording and sound postpro i have experience with sd and zoom recorders... for me the pres of the sd gear (specialy new mix pre Series and 788) are the better sounding ones.

Zoom F8 is good for its price but in post you clearly here the difference at the studio room.

For me the more important part for sound quality is the analog side of the machine, i think zoom is jumping at the 32bit waggon because its cheap to implement as its mostly a digital software thing...

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10 hours ago, Patrick Tresch said:

Dual AD? Zaxcom will be happy.

 

While I don’t know this with 100% certainty, I don’t think that Zaxcom have a patent on dual a-d converters per se. Neumann, Stagetec and others have used dual converters for a long time before Zaxcom came along. 

 

2 hours ago, Alex Mitchell said:

I was under the assumption that 24-bit was still enough bit-depth to record the full dynamic range of just about any audio source you could find. 

 

There‘s more to A-D conversion than just bit-rate. Most (or none)  24-bit converters don’t achieve the theoretical maximum dynamic range of 144dB and with 32-bit converters I also only know of one that achieves 148dB, although it’s not a dual converter...

32-bit converters also have lower self-noise, better anti-aliasing filters, etc., which all justify the use of 32-bit converters even if the actual dynamic range cannot be significantly increased. 

 

4 hours ago, Werner Althaus said:

Couldn't use them due to clipping so I changed them out for a pair of MKE-2 Gold. Even before the clip lights come on those pres sounded "pinched"

 

How do you know it was the pres and not the mic?

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6 hours ago, Werner Althaus said:

SD 664 line input with phantom power

Ok so to be fair, it is actually not the "preamp", but the fact the padding saved you, and it has the phantom option whilst padding to line acceptance? 

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