Whether you have just started out as a sound recordist or are a seasoned professional, there's a very good chance that you've heard about the Zoom F8. You may have even heard the phrase 'Sound Devices' killer being thrown about. However it's not a question whether it's a Sound Devices killer (which it isn't). The real questions should be; Is it good value for money & will it allow me to do my job in a multitude of recording scenarios? Apart from one or two caveats, the answer is a reassuring yes.
The Zoom F8 offers great value for money and is the first affordable audio recorder to offer Timecode which, until now was something only the more expensive devices offered. The Zoom F8 has many other useful features that we could easily fill a page on. However, to keep it short & sweet, summary for the Zoom F8:
Solid build quality - if you enjoy a good rotary pot. You're in luck!
Nice sounding mic pres.
Individual mic pre-settings - HPF, Limiter, Phantom power, Input delay, etc.
Record up to 10 tracks simultaneously - 8 mic inputs & stereo mix track.
Up to 192Khz at 24-bit as well as MP3 options.
Multiple powering options - interchangeable during recording.
Intuitive LED display with navigation twist & push knob.
Multiple output options - Main, sub and headphones.
Free F8 controller app for IOS.
Accurate timecode feature.
Can be used as an audio interface via USB - comes with freeCubase LE & Wavelab LE download codes.
No analogue limiter or HPF before the mic pre amp stage. (The F8 has digital ones after the mic pre stage).
Buttons are on the small side (for someone like me with sausage fingers anyway!).
No option for physical faders. (You do get the free IOS app).
The IOS app extension file doesn't come installed on the Zoom F8 (See our useful tips section below).
With it's multitude of features there are many pro's for the Zoom F8.
Would I buy one? Yes. Should you buy one? Probably. But that's up to you, your budget and your application. If you are happy working without an analogue limiter or HPF before the mic pre mp stage, it's a no-brainer!
Whether you're a professional soundie looking for an affordable back up unit, or you're an enthusiastic young buck looking to get into the sound recordist game at a fantastically affordable price, then the Zoom F8 is the portable audio recorder for you!
If you'd like to see the full list of features. Please see here - ZOOM F8.
Installing the IOS App on to the Zoom F8:
As mentioned above, our Zoom F8 did not have the IOS App File installed. If you find yourself in the same situation, here's how you do it:
Go to the Zoom F8 product page on the Zoom website here.
Click on the 'Downloads' tab.
Download the file named 'Software Extension File' - Bluetooth add-on.
Extract the file to an SD card.
Insert the SD card containing the file into the F8.
Power up the Zoom F8 and hold down the 'Menu' button until it prompts to install.
It should then install the file and ask you to reboot.
Pairing the Zoom F8 with an iPad or iPhone:
Download the Zoom F8 App from the App store and install on to your Apple device.
Open the App on your iPhone or iPad
Hold the Zoom F8 'Menu' button until it prompts 'Connecting Bluetooth Device?' - Select Yes.
Enter the Pin number into your App.
You should now be paired!
How long will the Zoom F8 run on 8x AA batteries? After applying all the correct settings, such as; battery type (we used rechargeable Ni-MH) and minimum operating voltage (9V), we did a little test in our office to see how it performs. We continuously recorded 4 tracks (2 of which had phantom power enabled) and our fully charged batteries lasted an impressive 5 hours and 3 minutes.
Considering our batteries are a mixture of different makes (and fairly old), that's not bad at all!
The battery symbol on the LED screen displays the voltage value supplied by the batteries. You will notice that over time the voltage value drops; once this drops below the minimum operating value (in this case 9V), it will shut down unless you have an alternative power supply set up.
The Zoom F8 Protective Bag:
Zoom F8 fits in nicely.
Two compartments - one for the Zoom F8 and another larger section for accessories.
Side openings with drawstrings for cables.
Velcro flap underneath the Zoom compartment for timecode cable access.
Velcro dividers to customise additional compartments.
Detachable waterproof cover.
Flexible bag configurations.
The two compartments are sealed from each other meaning there is no internal route for cables. (We'd suggest taking a look at the Sachtler SN607 as an alternative if this is an issue).