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Author Topic: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)  (Read 1094 times)

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Offline vwmule

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Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« on: April 09, 2019, 04:08:35 PM »
Saw this on a Facebook group.

https://youtu.be/MGebCVb1CUM

From Gotham listing (see link below)

"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."
« Last Edit: April 09, 2019, 05:24:31 PM by vwmule »

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Offline Sebastian

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2019, 05:04:23 PM »
The 32-bit capability sounds awesome. However, why did they make it look like a real Zoomie? :-)
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Offline heathen

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2019, 05:05:52 PM »
How, if at all, is the 32 bit capability helpful for those of us who record loud concerts (as opposed to film dialog, nature sounds, acoustic music, etc)?
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Offline Sebastian

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2019, 05:11:42 PM »
How, if at all, is the 32 bit capability helpful for those of us who record loud concerts (as opposed to film dialog, nature sounds, acoustic music, etc)?

Not having to worry about setting levels sounds like the best thing since sliced bread to me. Especially for live shows where there's usually a lot of guesswork involved.
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Offline vwmule

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2019, 05:15:23 PM »
> However, why did they make it look like a real Zoomie? :-)

Yeah, pretty ugly. Hopefully it would look better in person.

Online Walstib62

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2019, 05:18:12 PM »
How, if at all, is the 32 bit capability helpful for those of us who record loud concerts (as opposed to film dialog, nature sounds, acoustic music, etc)?

There are reports of folks having issues with clipping, (or brickwalling, as some call it) at the recorder stage. This would at least eliminate clipping at that part of the recording chain.

Offline illconditioned

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2019, 05:21:42 PM »
Wow.  Looks like a drone controller.
Zoom is always innovating.
I have the Zoom F1.  My first one broke (usb connector), but it is so good I bough another.Likes: locking  1/8" mic connectors, phantom powerAlso acts as soundcard on USB.
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Offline ButchAlmberg

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2019, 05:36:50 PM »
That thing's uglier than my first girlfriend looks today
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Offline heathen

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2019, 06:31:45 PM »
How, if at all, is the 32 bit capability helpful for those of us who record loud concerts (as opposed to film dialog, nature sounds, acoustic music, etc)?

Not having to worry about setting levels sounds like the best thing since sliced bread to me. Especially for live shows where there's usually a lot of guesswork involved.

I guess I don't understand this.  How does it alleviate the need to set levels?
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2019, 06:46:29 PM »
How, if at all, is the 32 bit capability helpful for those of us who record loud concerts (as opposed to film dialog, nature sounds, acoustic music, etc)?

Not having to worry about setting levels sounds like the best thing since sliced bread to me. Especially for live shows where there's usually a lot of guesswork involved.

there is zero advantage to recording at 32 bit (192dB of data) vs 24 bit (144 dB of data). the best analog gear in the world is only approaching 21 bits (126 dB of data). Mics have less resolution than that.

you can already record with 24 bit and make nice recordings peaking at -30 to -20 dB with the right gear

now processing is a different animal, most DAWs use 32bit by default for that

« Last Edit: April 09, 2019, 06:49:42 PM by jerryfreak »
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Offline BonoBeats

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2019, 07:25:55 PM »
Curtis Judd has a brief interview from NAB:

https://youtu.be/MGebCVb1CUM
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Offline Sebastian

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2019, 03:33:07 AM »
there is zero advantage to recording at 32 bit (192dB of data) vs 24 bit (144 dB of data). the best analog gear in the world is only approaching 21 bits (126 dB of data). Mics have less resolution than that.

you can already record with 24 bit and make nice recordings peaking at -30 to -20 dB with the right gear

The way I understand it the benefit is not only with the additional bits (which are useless in a traditional setup), but with the dual ADCs combined with them. From the video interview, I understand that they are running two ADCs at the same time for different sensitivity ranges and then combine both their outputs into a single 32 bit file, effectively yielding a higher bit depth than would be possible with a single ADC.
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Offline EmRR

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2019, 06:46:23 AM »
I expect 32 bit to be useful at low levels, not really for high level gain setting.  32 bit does unchain you from any gain change constraints in post, you can crank up -50dBFS signals with little/no penalty. 

An F8n line input set to -10 gain will still clip at about -5.5dBFS with a line source, so the input stage is still the overload point rather than the converter.  

Running F8n on rock band instrument recordings, anything like a KM140 gain stages correctly set on line input at 0dB gain setting.  

« Last Edit: April 10, 2019, 09:39:15 AM by EmRR »
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Offline WiFiJeff

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2019, 09:30:11 PM »
So I watched the youtube videos, and I'm both enthused and confused.  One Zoom guy was saying that you can record one channel without gain and another with say 30 dB of gain, then normalize the files in post and you won't be able to tell the difference.  But then they are advertising the splendidness of their pre-amps, and I don't really get why you need any preamps at all.  Why build in the cost of these? 

I would have tended not to take this Zoom claim too seriously, but I have been using the 19-channel Zylia ZM-1 for about 5 months now, and that's also a mic system you use without any analog gain.  I laughed when I read the discussion of gain in the Zylia material:  if your recording is distorting because the source is too loud, move the ZM-1 sphere a few feet back from the instrument.  So we're back to the basics of more than a century ago, before the invention of electric recording.  Too loud?  Please move another foot or two back from the recording horn, Mr. Caruso.  When I pulled the 19 channels of a Zylia recording into Reaper, it looked like there was nothing there, but when I played it back with my Grace m900 set at 99, I heard the music.  I am still conditioned by 16 bit DAT machines to try to set levels accurately, back then adding 3-4 dB in post was a big deal; now with 24 bit recorders I routinely add up to 8 dB, maybe 12 dB at times.  With the Zylia recordings, even using their summed "virtual" mics or ambisonic B (first order only for me so far) output, I have to boost 20-30 dB.  The B format stuff is not as good as my Josephson C700S output (well, say under $50 per capsule for the ZM-1 vs. about $3000 per capsule for the C700S) but it's not actually really noisy for chamber music, I really hope a ZM-X comes along with next generation capsules etc.

So I'll likely be getting one of these F6s in June unless someone does a field test and flunks it.

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #15 on: April 14, 2019, 12:35:41 AM »
I expect 32 bit to be useful at low levels, not really for high level gain setting.  32 bit does unchain you from any gain change constraints in post, you can crank up -50dBFS signals with little/no penalty. 

An F8n line input set to -10 gain will still clip at about -5.5dBFS with a line source, so the input stage is still the overload point rather than the converter. 

Running F8n on rock band instrument recordings, anything like a KM140 gain stages correctly set on line input at 0dB gain setting. 
If you’ve got some imaginary input with supersonic specs. Just because you’re recording at-50 dB  doesn’t mean the noise floor is not still around 115. No advantage over 24 bit
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Offline EmRR

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #16 on: April 14, 2019, 11:14:56 AM »
I expect 32 bit to be useful at low levels, not really for high level gain setting.  32 bit does unchain you from any gain change constraints in post, you can crank up -50dBFS signals with little/no penalty. 

If you’ve got some imaginary input with supersonic specs. Just because you’re recording at-50 dB  doesn’t mean the noise floor is not still around 115. No advantage over 24 bit

You are right the analog noise floor remains the same regardless of 24 or 32, and it may be poor/average in this product.  If they are deriving a pretty clean 32 bit word (remains to be seen), the bottom bits are so far down that you can set gain after the fact, which may be better than what the onboard preamp contributes if cranked up.  Digital gain on a low level signal at 32 bit float with a 32 bit word may contribute less noise than a Zoom preamp cranked way up.  It may be the same, but more free of dither noise artifacts for dialog production in film/TV.  It's apples to oranges in lots of ways, but it may give a bit of commercial advantage over the production costs of quieter analog input stages while easing the requirement to worry so much about input levels. 

Typical ambience in a quiet room with most microphones is generally enough to mask most analog noise floor anyway, unless that noise floor is significant.   Most new recorders have pretty respectable noise floors. 

My MOTU 16A converter (24 bit with 32 bit output bus, +24dBu max input = 0dBFS) shows a noise floor no worse than -137dBFS (-113dBu) at 16kHz in an analog wired loop test from DA to AD, -143dBFS (-119dBu) at 4kHz where the ear is generally most sensitive.  It appears to be defined by the dither curve, when you look at various sampling rates up to 192kHz.  That compared to the Zoom F8n at least is a much bigger difference, and easily trumps 24 versus 32 for practical purposes, and that basically agrees with your point. 

I had an F8n (interface mode) and the 16A connected as an aggregate device into a DAW, and used a Sytek MPX-4Aii driving the 16A, set the Sytek for max gain and matched the F8n gain to it.   Then looking at the noise floors, the F8n was 2.5dB to 1.2dB noisier from 1kHz to 16kHz, but 4.5dB at 250Hz, 7.5dB at 100Hz, and 10.5dB at 30Hz. 

What I haven't done yet is measure noise comparisons at minimum gains, will have to do that. 

Anyway, spitballing here, lots of contradictory 'what ifs' and unknowns.  I definitely don't feel any need to upgrade, but it may be something to look forward to when the time comes.   
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Offline Paul Isaacs

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2019, 02:34:39 AM »
FWIW... Microphone self noise and mic preamp noise make the 32-bit v 24-bit debate sort of irrelevant. 24-bit is more than big enough a container to handle the dynamic range of any real world sound and provides all the resolution and accuracy you need even when capturing extremely low level analog signals. If you have a low self-noise microphone plus a high quality mic preamp, record something at low level e.g. peaking to about -50dBFS and normalize to -0.1dBFS. The difference between 32-bit and 24-bit will be negligible. The only difference is that with 32-bit, you've recorded 30% more data for no additional quality.

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2019, 04:12:12 AM »
FWIW, this show was recorded 10 years ago without a preamp... schoeps CMR>battery box>AD2K @ 24/96 (AD2K is a great design, but 20-year old tech at this point. 117 dBA dynamic range with it 'wide open' at +14dbU=0 dBFS)

levels peaked around -30 dBFS and was normalized in post with no other processing, EQ, or noise reduction

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcACDQv2x9I&feature=youtu.be&t=548

if you need to record at levels lower than that maybe time to rethink your setup. that setup above was designed to be minimalist and bypass additional components, but realistically, when you get to signal levels lower than that, the self noise of components starts to creep in and become significant, regardless of the word depth you end up capturing at the end.

conceptually with the dual ADCs they can tune to a wider gain range (one mic level, one line level), but in reality thats still somewhat automating the level setting process

there are tons of pres from 20 years ago that had 70 dB or more of clean gain, as paul said when recording at levels that quiet, the mic noise becomes real apparent

maybe theres something im missing, i get the benefit of a wider input range but dont see it as a practical feature id use
« Last Edit: April 16, 2019, 04:30:11 AM by jerryfreak »
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #19 on: April 16, 2019, 10:56:17 AM »
I don't really see anyone here needing this 'feature'.  I'll be curious to see some real data showing practical benefits. 
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Offline heathen

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #20 on: April 16, 2019, 11:58:01 AM »
Speaking from the perspective of someone who mostly records loud concerts where the noise from the crowd alone is probably 60-70 dB, I think a feature that's more important than 32-bit is the number of channels, and this has two less channels than the F8/F8n.  While eight channels is likely overkill for most, I sometimes use that many (particularly when using the dual record function).

That said, I'm glad Zoom is pushing things.

If they really want to dazzle those of us here who comprise about 0.01% of their target audience, they could come out with a M10/R-05 size recorder that can serve as a true digital bit bucket.  Now that would be something.
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Offline Ozpeter

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #21 on: April 17, 2019, 10:59:02 AM »
As I understand it, 32 bits or even 48 bits come in handy when digitally processing audio.  For instance, you can sum 8 channels together when each channel is peaking to zero, and the mix doesn't distort in the digital realm, though you might have to lower the master fader to avoid D/A distortion at the output.  On an anolog mixer you'd have to have each channel fader down somewhat to avoid distortion happening long before it gets to the master.  Maybe the mixer element of this recorder is working in 32 bits and they took the logical step of recording the 32 bits of each channel, rather than be dealing with say 24 bits for recording and 32 bits for mixing.  Guesswork...

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #22 on: April 17, 2019, 09:36:25 PM »
almost all DAW software uses 32bit float for intermediate processing, as it reduces rounding errors in the final rendered product when multiple processing steps are involved
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #23 on: April 17, 2019, 11:31:06 PM »
Speaking from the perspective of someone who mostly records loud concerts where the noise from the crowd alone is probably 60-70 dB, I think a feature that's more important than 32-bit is the number of channels, and this has two less channels than the F8/F8n.  While eight channels is likely overkill for most, I sometimes use that many (particularly when using the dual record function).

That said, I'm glad Zoom is pushing things.

If they really want to dazzle those of us here who comprise about 0.01% of their target audience, they could come out with a M10/R-05 size recorder that can serve as a true digital bit bucket.  Now that would be something.

Good point about needing more channels when using dual record.

Wish Zoom would push a firmware update for the Zoom F8n which allows it to do 18 track recording!

Thus then you'd have all eight channels recorded plus all eight at a safety level (at a pre defined level you could select in the menu) plus a stereo mix down. (which adds up to 18 channels in total)

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #24 on: April 18, 2019, 10:55:26 AM »
Quote from: Dan Lavry in Tape Op #64
One should make a distinction between the "number of bits" and the "number of real bits." Take a 12-cylinder car where only 8 cylinders are connected to the drive shaft. Is it a 12-cylinder car or an 8- cylinder car? You can say it has 8 "real cylinders" plus 4 useless cylinders. Similarly, you can have 24 bits but how many of them are "connected" to the sound? There is no such thing as true 24-bit conversion and there won't be in my lifetime. I'm talking conversion bits here, which is different from processing bits. That's a big distinction. When you do processing you need more bits. Why? If each channel has a range from 0 to 1 million, then the sum of all the channels will range from 0 to 16 million, (requiring 4 more bits). Say you want to attenuate the range of a channel by 2. The "steps" are no longer whole integer. The smaller steps (quantization levels) also call for more bits. So for processing we want more bits to express both bigger numbers and smaller numbers. But at the end we scale back the number of bits. The extra bits served their purpose during processing, but the engine can never yield more dynamic range or less distortion than what was fed to it by the converters.

Mr. Lavry said that more than a decade ago, so maybe he has changed his opinion since then.  I kind of doubt it, though...

 

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