I've been playing with my new Zoom F6, and given that I can't go outdoors during this lockdown, that means a lot of button pushing and recording the fridge.

I'm certainly not going to do a full review of the F6, and other people have published some good information on it. But I thought it might be worth sharing my thoughts, particularly on some aspects of the F6 that I haven't seen talked about online.


The Zoom F6.

General Thoughts

It's built like a tank. I'm sure you could drive a car over it with no harm beyond scratches (I'm not going to try it though). I got the impression from some reviews that the knobs are a bit wobbly; it's true that they are probably the most vulnerable feature on here, not surprisingly, but they're nowhere near as loose as I worried they might be. In fact they generally feel perfectly fine.

It's tiny. Really tiny. Which is obviously great for carrying it around; but it does make the front panel very cramped. The knobs are very close together, and the menu is controlled through 4 tiny buttons in between the knobs and the display. At least the display is a pretty decent size, given the overall size of the device. But personally I would have liked the same device in a larger case, with more space to get your fingers round the knobs, a selector knob for the menus, and maybe even a headphone volume on the front panel. Still, it works fine, and the portability is awesome.

No consumer-style (3.5mm, plug-in-power) input. A lot of XLR-based recorders have one of these, but not the F6. No loss for me, though, as I pretty much just use XLRs. And no built-in mics, but with this form factor, that's probably as well.

The SD card slot is under the L-series battery mount; maybe a little bit of a pain, if you use L-series batteries, but not really for me — I have a 64GB card which has way more capacity than I'll ever need, so I'm not really getting at the card slot in the field. More of a pain is that the card doesn't come out very far when you pop it, so you need to get your fingernails around it to pull it out. But you can always access it via USB.

The menus are crammed full of stuff; I wonder if they could have simplified them a bit (or a lot), but I guess everything in there is useful to someone. One issue is that turning phantom power on or off for inputs is awkward, if that's something you do a lot. But overall they're sensibly organised, and each menu page fits on the screen without scrolling, which is very nice.

Specifics

Some specific topics are big enough to be worth their own pages:

Firmware Updates

Just a little clarification on firmware updates, since the manual (page 185) is a little unclear. When you download an update from their web site, this will be a ZIP file (at least at the time of writing). Unpack this file, and you should find a PDF file containing the release notes, and a file called F6SYSTEM.BIN. Your computer might not show the .BIN part of the name.

It's this last file, the F6SYSTEM.BIN, that you copy to the root folder of the SD card — not the ZIP file. Just drop it on to the top level of the card, not inside any other folder. Don't modify it, or rename it, or whatever; then go ahead with the update process. It should take a few minutes.

And that should be it. You can remove the F6SYSTEM.BIN file from the SD card once the machine has rebooted, or just reformat the card.

More Pictures


The rear view, showing the L-Series battery slot.

The front panel.

The card slot, which is behind the L-Series battery slot.