OUT OF THE BOX | Zoom H6
I think if I had a quid for every time that I'd referenced my Zoom H6, I probably wouldn't be blogging, hell - I probably wouldn't be doing these audio and music things. I'd likely be swimming in a pool of quids, accompanied by my spectator-ship of Zooms.
A wiseman suggested that an 'outa-the-box' blog, walking a little through some handy settings would be useful for those new to the Zoom H6. It's a great idea, and at no point shall I absorb the credit for this - that lightning bolt goes to James O'Halloran, an executive coach working out of Bristol, UK.
I've been singing the praises of this kit to James for a short while, and it became a no-brainer to write a short blog post about this, following his great suggestion.
| In a Nutshell
There isn't an awful lot that I haven't already said about the Zoom H6, but to sum up before I go on with some handy beginner settings - versatile, powerful, convenient. That is all.
There are also a bunch of cool peripheral addons available for the H6, which whilst aren't always cheap, they certainly won't cripple you financially either. I'll cover my top three addons in a future blog post.
| Low Cut
As a general rule-of-thumb, having the low cut setting set to 'off' is the way forward. From my experience I prefer to have all audio and frequencies recorded so that I know what I'm likely to be dealing with in post-production. Unless of course there is a substantial amount of noise worth cutting out (in which case), it's better to have that noise dealt with by either eliminating it (e.g. turning off if it's an appliance), or finding a new recording environment. This maybe a better solution.
First off, locate 'LO CUT' from within the 'INPUT & OUTPUT' option, then select 'ALL' to make an action towards all Zoom channels. Select 'OFF' and this will set all available channels to off.
As mentioned, I like to keep this 'off' for the most part as I'm able to either work with the low-end that I've recorded, or know exactly what to eliminate when using Equalisation in post-production. If the low-end is cut from the word go, then you'll end up compensating to potentially add in later, which for me - will never sound as natural. EQ (for the most part) should be used to eliminate unwanted frequencies, with additive EQ used carefully and sparingly.
| Compressor / Limiter
Applying your compressor and limiter setting is much the same and easy to find, like the 'Low Cut.
First, locate 'INPUTS & OUTPUTS' within your Zoom menu, then scroll down to 'ALL' once more, and set to 'LIMITER 1 (GENERAL)' - this is an all-purpose setting that will work well with most of your beginners recordings. A limiter is necessary to stop your recording from peaking, distorting your recording and spoiling your hard work.
| Monitor Mixer
Another straight forward setting that can save you a lot of energy in post-production is setting your 'MONITOR MIXER' levels to a point that'll allow for a good amount of head-room. "What's 'head room?" This is the amount of space you allow your audio to dynamically shift, without peaking. During a conversation or vocal performance, our natural volume shifts, rarely ever staying at the same point - within an audio recording you'll want to allow this headroom so that the said dynamic can be captured without risk of it (the recording) being tarnished.
Again, this is straight forward to find. Locate to 'INPUT & OUTPUT' - then select 'MONITOR MIXER'. You can then cycle through each fader, setting each to -12db. This'll give you plenty of that golden head room - recording without fear that all will be burnt. You'll still need to maintain a good mic position and delivery of course when recording. As good as the H6 is, it can't do everything.
| Line Out Level
Very easy to find and set this too.
Locate 'INPUT & OUTPUT'. Select 'LINE OUT LEVEL', and set this to -10db. Following the above - this is again giving you some head room when recording via the line out plugin at the base of the Zoom H6 unit.
| Recording Format
Arguably the most important setting in this beginners list. The recording format.
Generally, setting to 48kHz, 24bit WAV will see you well. This is a step up from 'CD quality', and will give you an edge when working with these recorded stems in mixing and post-production. To set and locate...
Find 'REC', and select 'REC FORMAT' - from within this menu, select 'WAV48kHz/24bit'. Unless your recording audio to be used in a cinema or large scale project setting, 48/24 will allow you the clarity and exporting options that you'll need for your podcast, vocal, or sound design assets.
| It's my go-to
The Zoom H6 is an incredible piece of kit, that either as an interface or sound design recording module, delivers on both. I'll be using it for some time yet and am looking forward to writing more blog posts surrounding some of its handy features.
This short blog is on personal taste when setting the Zoom H6 up. I've used this gear on commercial shoots, together with film sets, and as a sound design tool with game audio.
After having used the Zoom H6 for a short while, you may find that certain settings will feel more comfortable having been tweaked by your good self, and that's absolutely fine. This is a beginners guide that I hope is useful to those just starting out, or wanting to make an investment that will not disappoint.
See you in the next one.