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Author Topic: COMP: MixPre-6 vs. Zoom F8  (Read 4628 times)

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Offline wforwumbo

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Re: COMP: MixPre-6 vs. Zoom F8
« Reply #45 on: June 20, 2018, 08:54:42 AM »
With a majority of respondents unable to tell the difference.

And even those who do have a preference, it is by a rather narrow margin they prefer one over the other.

Which only makes the conclusion even more clear: both recorders are very good, and basically are just as good machines as each other!

Does this mean the "Zoomies" finally have street cred? :zoomie1:

I feel it has been that way for a long time now.

As the Zoom F8 has been out for three whole years now. And it was pretty quickly clear within the first year of the F8 being released that Zoom had delivered something special and completely different to what Zoom normally produces for sale.

I’m not sure I’d put the recorders exactly “on-par” with one another, but I will readily admit the Zoom punched higher than its reputation had me believe. I’ve always respected the company, and I’ll continue to do so for those in OTS that use their products.

I'm not quibbling with the test methodology since it's probably what would be of interest to most members here. 

One of the most difficult instruments to record is a good grand piano.  The Line Audio CM3s are unusually good piano mics.  If you really want to put these recorders to the test, do comparison recordings of a good grand piano and then listen for whether the notes sound natural or have digital harshness.   When you can focus on each of the piano notes, it's possible to notice things that otherwise blend in unnoticed in a band recording. 

This whole thread caught my interest when I saw that the F8 was priced at $629 lately by Adorama.  This is a particularly timely thread when they start blowing F8's out the door for the F8n.     



I’m not so sure I agree with all of this. Sure if you want to compare the two recorders on piano that’d be a fine comparison and we may see a greater disparity, but the majority of users on here from what I’ve seen are recording precisely this - amplified rock music in an enclosed space. And to that extent, I think this particular comparison is more valid for which recorder to prefer or not prefer. Not that I disagree with you - I imagine the greater SNR of an acoustic instrument would demonstrate a greater flexibility of the MP6 - but I don’t think people who aren’t doing piano recordings and are sticking to amplified rock music will need that example, justification, or eventual desire to buy a MP6 over the F8.

I also disagree 100% with your usage of the phrase “digital harshness”. Can you quantify what digital harshness is? Is a digital recorder or the discretization of audio responsible for imparting said characteristic? Do all digital recorders, or even a subset of them, contribute towards that quality? What about recording digitally is “unnatural”? Have you made any adjustments in post-production to analyze or try to compensate for it? And don’t act like analog doesn’t need it, or recordings should “sound good as-is from the recorder” - de-emphasis, NR, and the RIAA curve are still necessities for a reason! I’m just continuously frustrated by such vague language that’s ascribed to novel technology without a desire to want to use it correctly...

Edit: I want to clarify here as I realize my tone could be easily misinterpreted... I’m not trying to attack you by any means. I do disagree with you, but 1. I want to engender a conversation where hopefully both of us can learn more and 2. I’m still fairly green to taping, so by all means I want to learn about your thoughts and perspective, in the hopes I can improve my own tapes - make sense?
« Last Edit: June 20, 2018, 08:56:31 AM by wforwumbo »
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Offline fanofjam

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Re: COMP: MixPre-6 vs. Zoom F8
« Reply #46 on: June 20, 2018, 01:58:32 PM »
Neil Young was critical and vocal in his anti-digital stance and he probably influenced much of the on-going perception that credits harshness on a digital recording to the fact that well...it's not analog.  Obviously, I'm never gonna tell someone else that what they are hearing is wrong, but there are DSD recordings that sound simply sublime and I'd have a hard time believing could sound better as analog masters.  So I don't know all of the details behind the technology of digital sound reproduction, but anecdotally it sure seems like more bits and/or different encoding has shrunk (and/or possibly eliminated) any gap that might have existed between digital and analog recordings.

That said, it's pretty obvious that just because someone hears harshness in a lower resolution digital recording, one can't conclude that it's due to the fact that it's digital.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2018, 02:00:49 PM by fanofjam »

Offline vwmule

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Re: COMP: MixPre-6 vs. Zoom F8
« Reply #47 on: June 20, 2018, 02:54:56 PM »
> I’m not sure I’d put the recorders exactly “on-par” with one another, but I will readily admit the Zoom punched higher than its reputation had me believe

Owning the F8 and MP6, I would, even allowing a biased edge for the Sound Devices given quality record.

In ways I find the F8 to be easier to use and navigate and it has pluses like double SD card readers, 8 preamps.

I use the MP6 mainly for two channel, and it's a winner on size, weight.

Offline dogmusic

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Re: COMP: MixPre-6 vs. Zoom F8
« Reply #48 on: June 20, 2018, 07:20:35 PM »

In ways I find the F8 to be easier to use and navigate

I have the MP6, really like the sound quality, but I find it a problem to navigate, esp. the lack of complete transport control keys, but also jumping from file to file.
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Offline Paul Isaacs

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Re: COMP: MixPre-6 vs. Zoom F8
« Reply #49 on: June 20, 2018, 11:14:53 PM »


I have the MP6, really like the sound quality, but I find it a problem to navigate, esp. the lack of complete transport control keys, but also jumping from file to file.

Jumping file to file: While stopped, hold in encoder and rotate. Same for ffwd, rew, and scrubbing while in playback.

Offline dogmusic

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Re: COMP: MixPre-6 vs. Zoom F8
« Reply #50 on: June 21, 2018, 10:25:16 AM »


I have the MP6, really like the sound quality, but I find it a problem to navigate, esp. the lack of complete transport control keys, but also jumping from file to file.

Jumping file to file: While stopped, hold in encoder and rotate. Same for ffwd, rew, and scrubbing while in playback.

Thanks, Paul, yes, I know the method. I just don't find it intuitive, especially after a lifetime of using ordinary tape transport controls which have been mimicked on most other digital recorders (where you can also just use the ffwd and rew keys to jump from file to file).

I'm hoping the wonderful folks at Sound Devices can implement my suggestion to incorporate virtual standard transport controls in the Wingman app.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2018, 10:26:51 AM by dogmusic »
"The ear is much more than a mere appendage on the side of the head." - Catherine Parker Anthony, Structure and Function of the Human Body (1972)

"That's metaphysically absurd, man! How can I know what you hear?" - Firesign Theatre

Offline aaronji

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Re: COMP: MixPre-6 vs. Zoom F8
« Reply #51 on: June 21, 2018, 10:49:55 AM »
I’m not so sure I agree with all of this. Sure if you want to compare the two recorders on piano that’d be a fine comparison and we may see a greater disparity, but the majority of users on here from what I’ve seen are recording precisely this - amplified rock music in an enclosed space. And to that extent, I think this particular comparison is more valid for which recorder to prefer or not prefer. Not that I disagree with you - I imagine the greater SNR of an acoustic instrument would demonstrate a greater flexibility of the MP6 - but I don’t think people who aren’t doing piano recordings and are sticking to amplified rock music will need that example, justification, or eventual desire to buy a MP6 over the F8.

That may be the majority, but there are quite a few members here who record jazz, classical, bluegrass or choral music (for example).  Plus some spoken word, comedy, ambient, etc.

Offline IronFilm

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Re: COMP: MixPre-6 vs. Zoom F8
« Reply #52 on: June 24, 2018, 12:55:37 AM »
With a majority of respondents unable to tell the difference.

And even those who do have a preference, it is by a rather narrow margin they prefer one over the other.

Which only makes the conclusion even more clear: both recorders are very good, and basically are just as good machines as each other!


If you read Gutbucket and aaronji's comments, there was a noticeable difference between the results of the two sources when listened thru better playback equipment.

I feel that just further proves my point.

If the difference between two files are so extremely close that a person's opinion can swap just depending on how they're listening to them, then they are indeed very very very very close indeed! Basically equivalent.

A point could even be made that the one which sounds "better" on the non-high end gear is likely then the "better" choice because odds are high the vast majority of your work will *not* be listened to on such gear but rather just run of the mill consumer gear, so it is better to be tailored to the viewer like that.


Offline IronFilm

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Re: COMP: MixPre-6 vs. Zoom F8
« Reply #53 on: June 24, 2018, 12:59:19 AM »


I have the MP6, really like the sound quality, but I find it a problem to navigate, esp. the lack of complete transport control keys, but also jumping from file to file.

Jumping file to file: While stopped, hold in encoder and rotate. Same for ffwd, rew, and scrubbing while in playback.

Not great when the headphone knob is awkwardly placed on the side :-/

Even though Sound Devices has decades more experience, the Zoom simply has a better user experience with their design. I feel Sound Devices went "too far" in cost cutting / crippling / miniaturization.

Offline gewwang

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Re: COMP: MixPre-6 vs. Zoom F8
« Reply #54 on: June 24, 2018, 12:38:12 PM »
A point could even be made that the one which sounds "better" on the non-high end gear is likely then the "better" choice because odds are high the vast majority of your work will *not* be listened to on such gear but rather just run of the mill consumer gear, so it is better to be tailored to the viewer like that.

That's certainly a valid opinion. Though, I would prefer to create the source that sounds "better" on high end gear than non-high end gear.

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: COMP: MixPre-6 vs. Zoom F8
« Reply #55 on: June 25, 2018, 11:08:21 AM »
If you read Gutbucket and aaronji's comments, there was a noticeable difference between the results of the two sources when listened thru better playback equipment.
I feel that just further proves my point.

If the difference between two files are so extremely close that a person's opinion can swap just depending on how they're listening to them, then they are indeed very very very very close indeed! Basically equivalent.

A point could even be made that the one which sounds "better" on the non-high end gear is likely then the "better" choice because odds are high the vast majority of your work will *not* be listened to on such gear but rather just run of the mill consumer gear, so it is better to be tailored to the viewer like that.

That's certainly a valid opinion..

Yet the later is an invalid conclusion, extrapolating a single initial preference with one particular set of cheap headphones to all cheap headphones and all listeners. 

The only "change of preference" when switching to higher-quality headphones was my own. Aaron did not express a preference for either recorder listening through the cheap headphones. More importantly- all cheap headphones are not the same, and neither are high-quality headphones.  Yet the conclusion above assumes a listening-impression equivalence of all cheap-headphones.

My conclusion is that the response characteristics of various headphones vary far more widely than the differences in sound quality through these two recorders.  By using two different points of reference - neither of them calibrated nor objectively "correct" - I am able to make a somewhat more informed decision about which recorder's sound I prefer.  And when making that decision, even though I don't trust either of them absolutely, I tend to trust what I hear though the higher-quality headphones more than the cheapos.

One would have to run a test with a sufficient number of listeners using a multitude of cheap and costly headphones to test the hypothesis that "the Zoom makes for superior sounding recordings for most listeners using cheap headphones".  But knowing how wildly the response of various 'phones varies, I have a hard time believing such a test would be meaningful.
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Offline heathen

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Re: COMP: MixPre-6 vs. Zoom F8
« Reply #56 on: June 25, 2018, 06:04:03 PM »
At least from my perspective, this comparison provides some information which, like pretty much all information, has varying levels of utility for each individual.  For someone recording grand piano or quiet nature ambiances, this comparison probably doesn't provide much information that's useful to them.  For someone recording loud amplified music, this comparison may provide some very useful information.  Also, it necessarily follows that the latter group may have little interest in the criteria that are important to the former group, and vice versa.  Even these general statements likely won't apply to some on here (they are generalities, after all).  Maybe someone records very loud music from a PA but places great importance on differences between recorders that are only audibly discernible in a setting like recording a grand piano.  Of course there's nothing wrong with that.  As they say, "hike your own hike."  The same general concept applies to what happens with the playback of the recording.  Maybe someone is more interested in how the recording sounds through $20 earbuds than through a $50,000+ stereo system (or, again, vice versa).  At least in my opinion there's nothing objectively wrong with either perspective.  The information is here and it's up to each of us to decide how useful it is and how we apply it (or don't, which is also fine!) to our decision-making processes.

Maybe I've gone off the rails a bit with pontificating, and likely I haven't conveyed any new or unique ideas.  I just wanted to throw my two cents in about some things that have been touched on in my interpretation of some of this thread.
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