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Author Topic: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)  (Read 7319 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.

Offline 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 heathen

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #8 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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Offline jerryfreak

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #9 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 #10 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 #11 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 #12 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 #13 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.

Jeff

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #14 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 #15 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 #16 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.

Offline jerryfreak

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #17 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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Offline EmRR

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #18 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 #19 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 #20 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...

Offline jerryfreak

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #21 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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Offline IronFilm

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #22 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)

Offline aaronji

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #23 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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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #24 on: May 15, 2019, 08:37:57 PM »
YouTube discussion of what may be going on in the Zoom F6:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTuJ1fk3PsY

Julian Krause makes a very sensible guess at what may be in the F6 (if not, it's what should be!).

Waiting to hear more.

Offline voltronic

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #25 on: May 19, 2019, 02:43:37 PM »
This NAB video from Gotham Sound with the Zoom rep has an interesting explanation on the benefits of recording direct from dual ADCs to 32-bit floating.  Skip to 2:20 for the part focused on that.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VR-kvI7Gbl0

So the big deal isn't so much the 8 additional bits; it is the floating-point math, which means you don't reduce your resolution at the bottom end of the dynamic range.  You're not just looking at 8 more bits above 24-bit, as you would be if it were fixed point; the floating-point allows the full resolution at all volume levels. 

Here is a good explanation on floating-point numbers:
http://steve.hollasch.net/cgindex/coding/ieeefloat.html


A lot of the arguments I am reading here and elsewhere that say there is no benefit to recording in 32-bit float seem to make one or more of the following assumptions:

1. The 8 additional bits in a 32-bit audio file are useless, because 24-bit already exceeds the dynamic range of any mic, preamp, or ADC.

This is true when talking about the overall dynamic range, but how many bits of resolution are you able to actually use for the quietest sounds in your recording within a fixed-point file?  Also, once you introduce dual ADCs, that dynamic range widens significantly.


2. There are no native 32-bit ADC chips, so you have to quantize to 24-bit anyway which makes 32-bit float good for processing, but pointless for recording.

This was true until recently, but 32-bit ADCs are now available.


3. No one needs such ridiculously huge dynamic range, even if the hardware and software can do it.

Again, we're not just talking about the overall dynamic range, we are talking about the resolution available to the loudest and softest sounds in your recording.  Why would all of the DAW programs use 32-bit float (or 64-bit) for internal processing if there wasn't a benefit?
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Offline vwmule

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #26 on: May 22, 2019, 01:24:26 PM »
« Last Edit: May 22, 2019, 01:32:31 PM by vwmule »

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #27 on: May 22, 2019, 02:16:20 PM »
Thing looks small
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #28 on: May 22, 2019, 03:15:14 PM »
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #29 on: May 22, 2019, 11:27:38 PM »
If you follow the "buy now" link on the Zoom US site to B&H, you see an pre-order price of $649 for the F6.

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #30 on: May 23, 2019, 12:48:27 AM »
Interesting to read.
It do have some analog/digital hybrid limiters to handle the inputs in 24 bit mode.

Advanced Look-Ahead Hybrid Limiters
When recording in 24-bit, the F6 uses advanced look-ahead hybrid limiters to provide overload protection. By adding a 1-millisecond delay, the limiters “look ahead” anticipating clipping before it’s recorded.


I could imagine this would be a two channel dream if they slashed the height with 2/3. 😃

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #31 on: May 23, 2019, 07:08:16 AM »
A lot of the arguments I am reading here and elsewhere that say there is no benefit to recording in 32-bit float
i dont think technically anybody is arguing that it has *no* benefit, rather that it has nominal benefit.

technically it would be better if all the full size mics people used had a self noise of 14 dB vs 16 dB, practically speaking its not really a concern

technically it would be better if everybody running schoeps ditched their cmc6 for XTs, practically speaking its not really a concern

we could go on and on... sample rates, magical oxygen-free interconnects, etc etc


Again, we're not just talking about the overall dynamic range, we are talking about the resolution available to the loudest and softest sounds in your recording.  Why would all of the DAW programs use 32-bit float (or 64-bit) for internal processing if there wasn't a benefit?

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #32 on: May 23, 2019, 08:46:40 AM »
I would've liked it to support dual SD cards like the F4 and F8, but seeing how small it is I guess they wouldn't fit.
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #33 on: May 23, 2019, 08:48:39 AM »
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #34 on: May 23, 2019, 09:49:28 AM »

I was really interested in this until I saw that it doesn't have combo Neutrik inputs that can also take TRS plugs.

Why wouldn't they include this really easy to implement and widely needed feature?

When I'm working in the field I don't want to have to rely on adapters and I can only carry so many cables.
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Offline ButchAlmberg

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #35 on: May 23, 2019, 10:12:12 AM »
Quote
doesn't have combo Neutrik inputs that can also take TRS plugs

Thanks for pointing this out
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #36 on: May 23, 2019, 10:35:21 PM »

i dont think technically anybody is arguing that it has *no* benefit, rather that it has nominal benefit.


^you actually said on the first page of the thread that it has "zero" benefit...

After watching the vids and listening to the Zoom folks talk it looks like the knobs are faders - not gain - and the individual tracks are recorded post fader - so the knobs on the front will make the ISO tracks recorded "louder" if I'm understanding this correctly.

If I'm not they may only adjust volume of the mix track or the output.
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #37 on: May 23, 2019, 11:00:52 PM »
This thing is a game changer for live recording. Literally set it and forget it. I'm probably getting one.

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #38 on: May 23, 2019, 11:11:06 PM »
I've pre-ordered at B&H.  Delivery pushed out to July.

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #39 on: May 24, 2019, 12:05:26 AM »

i dont think technically anybody is arguing that it has *no* benefit, rather that it has nominal benefit.


^you actually said on the first page of the thread that it has "zero" benefit...


touche

zero benefit for 'me' i guess ;) (as a live concert taper)

for the same reasons i listed
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #40 on: May 24, 2019, 04:29:17 PM »

I was really interested in this until I saw that it doesn't have combo Neutrik inputs that can also take TRS plugs.

Why wouldn't they include this really easy to implement and widely needed feature?

When I'm working in the field I don't want to have to rely on adapters and I can only carry so many cables.


That was a letdown for me as well.  I was really eyeing this bad boy but that had me slamming on the breaks.  Than and the single SD card slot -- dual recording to two cards is a HUGE benefit in the event one of the cards flakes.  When I'm doing 4 channel records, it's usually with a board patch plus mics and I really don't want to lose that option. I ended up picking up a minty F4 with a Portabrace bag off eBay. 
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #41 on: May 24, 2019, 10:48:14 PM »
Using standard XLR jacks rather than the combo versions does seem a bit odd, given the F4 and F8n, their most recent pro recorders, both have the combo jacks.

I find it interesting that Sound Devices has the same odd choices.  While the 6 and 7 series had regular XLR jacks only, as does the MixPre-3, the MixPre-6 and MixPre-10 both use combo jacks.  The new Scorpio flagship recorder is back to using regular XLR.

It also may be worth noting that the switching version of the Neutrik XLR-1/4" combo jacks cost about double what a standard XLR jack does.  Then again, my DR-70D has combo jacks, and is far cheaper than anything we're talking about here.
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #42 on: May 26, 2019, 09:10:04 PM »
OK, I think this picture shows a possible reason why the F6 uses standard XLR rather than combo jacks.  With 1/4" plugs inserted, there probably wouldn't be room for the internal AA pack without making the whole unit wider.
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #43 on: May 26, 2019, 10:07:48 PM »
Audio examples recorded at extreme levels starting around 5:40 in this video.

I agree that the dual-ADC with 32-bit float is a game changer, particularly for people like me who record music with wide dynamic range.  As soon as funds allow, I need one of these.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=338&v=y4oNd1RgGL0
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #44 on: May 27, 2019, 03:02:10 AM »
ok thats impressive but its obviously using a bunch of digital fuckery to achieve it

at the beginning of the vid he says "there are no levels to set" but then says there is a fader

the inability to disable digital processing would be an area of concern imo... and those asymmetric waveforms also look suspect
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #45 on: May 27, 2019, 07:11:16 AM »
ok thats impressive but its obviously using a bunch of digital fuckery to achieve it

I'm not sure what you're getting at with "digital fuckery".  What processing?  Sure, there needs to be a hand-off between the two ADCs somewhere where the ranges overlap, but I wouldn't call that "processing".  Zoom isn't the first to implement dual-ADCs; but they appear to be the first to pair that with 32-bit float recording, and that's what's special here.


at the beginning of the vid he says "there are no levels to set" but then says there is a fader

When he says "no levels to set" I believe he is only talking about preamp gain when running in 32-bit float.  That would be consistent with how other people have spoken about this unit.  The gain setting is fixed in that case, because when recording in 32-bit float, gain setting is irrelevant as the video demonstrates.  The knobs are faders, which are post-gain, and you would only need to bother with them for your stereo mixdown track.  For your ISO tracks, you just boost or attenuate in post with nothing lost.

If you record in 24-bit, then gain setting would matter, and the specs show you have a range of +12 dB to +75 dB.  We will have to wait for a manual to be posted and/or a more detailed review to show how preamp game is / is not available in the menus for the 24 and 32 bit recording options.


the inability to disable digital processing would be an area of concern imo... and those asymmetric waveforms also look suspect

Regarding asymmetric waveforms: I think you are implying there may be a DC offset, but not all asymmetric waveforms indicate this.  See these two links, particularly the high-pass filtered example in the first article.  The video I linked was recorded with a DPA 4017b shotgun mic, and I suspect there was a HPF engaged.
http://www.producenewmedia.com/asymmetric-waveforms-should-you-be-concerned/
http://www.audiomisc.co.uk/asymmetry/asym.html
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #46 on: May 27, 2019, 08:18:06 AM »

I'm pretty impressed with what Zoom has been doing in the recorder market the past few years.

Their first few recorders were miserable but they were marketed as toys not serious recorders for professionals or serious hobbyists. Technology has caught up to affordability for us working stiffs.

Can't wait to tell Zman that he can sell his AD2K  :D
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #47 on: May 28, 2019, 01:41:35 AM »
As soon as funds allow, I need one of these.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=338&v=y4oNd1RgGL0

Hey - you're letting forum standards slip there - I thought waiting for funds to allow new kit purchases was something we simply don't do here?!   I have to say I'd be all over this box except I don't do any recording any more.  Still, it would be nice to have in the cupboard, to take out and pat every now and then.... sigh.  :cheers:

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #48 on: May 28, 2019, 03:09:33 AM »
thanks for the links volt

re: "High-pass filters, and aggressive low-end processing are common causes of asymmetric waveforms. "

asymmetry is something ive only recently experienced (while pushing the bleeding edge of underpowering mics with PIP) and trying to put my finger on the causes of it. Certainly its not always audible (to my ears) in all cases. my A10 is under the knife right now so well see what it does when i get it back with a better battery box
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #49 on: June 22, 2019, 12:09:19 PM »

Has anyone pre ordered one of these yet? After looking at the Ops Manual in depth I think that even with the omission of a couple of features that I would want - TRS inputs mainly - I'm going to grab one of these.

The B and H site says expected availability July 3rd.
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #50 on: June 22, 2019, 12:48:28 PM »
I have not pre-ordered, because I have some Amazon gift money I want to use to knock the price down.  But I am definitely getting one of these as soon as they are available.  The 32-bit floating with dual ADC will be very helpful with the wide dynamic range recording I do.  Besides the benefits already mentioned, it is going to cut way down on storage requirements.  Right now, I record a set of -12 dB safety tracks which do have to be used on occasion.  With the F6, I can eliminate those.  Only about a 40% file size increase from 24-bit.
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #51 on: June 25, 2019, 12:58:43 PM »
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.

This pretty much sums up how I am looking at this, although I am no expert. I would love to hear a well conducted comp or see some numbers. If there is a real advantage, it should be hearable or measureable.

That review by Curtis Judd is very misleading, I think. All of the gain changes were made after conversion. It isn't like he actually recorded a really quiet source and then showed it to be noise free on amplification. I guess he showed that 32-bit float is useful for processing, but not much else.

I also find the reactions to this kind of ironic; when the MixPre-3/6 came out, SD claimed something pretty similar, due to the wide dynamic range. "Now, precisely setting the Gain is much less critical (in most cases unnecessary) due to the extremely quiet (lack of hiss) nature of their design. This allows you to use the MixPre-6 with the confidence that even if optimal Gain levels haven’t been set, your audio will still be handled and recorded with grace. The extraordinarily low noise floor of the Kashmir mic preamplifiers allow recorded tracks to be 'normalized' (the process of adding level to a whole recorded track as to align the loudest peak with near-maximum) in post-processing without fear of ruining the track due to the added noise that would have been present in other preamplifier designs. Finally, you’re free to capture audio on the fly without worry!" People here were not at all receptive to that argument (it's a dealbreaker and whatnot), but with this Zoom it's a game-changer...

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #52 on: June 25, 2019, 02:44:44 PM »
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.

This pretty much sums up how I am looking at this, although I am no expert. I would love to hear a well conducted comp or see some numbers. If there is a real advantage, it should be hearable or measureable.


I believe Paul's comment was in regards to 32-bit fixed; not floating.  They are not at all the same thing.  Please see the links I posted in Reply #25.

I do agree with you on "hearable and measureable", but I believe the links in that post explain what the advantages of float-point recording are.

That review by Curtis Judd is very misleading, I think. All of the gain changes were made after conversion. It isn't like he actually recorded a really quiet source and then showed it to be noise free on amplification. I guess he showed that 32-bit float is useful for processing, but not much else.

It is not misleading at all.  He did one recording at an extremely low level, and another at extremely high level.  He showed that increasing the level of the very low-level recording in post did not increase the preamp noise, and then he demonstrated the other recording that had levels way above 0 dBFS could be lowered to within normal digital signal levels, and there was no clipping. 

This demonstrates that you never need to worry about your gain being set too high or too low in such a system.  In fact, the F6 preamp gain is fixed when in 32-bit float recording mode.  This means the preamp gain was identical for both the high-level and low-level recordings.  The difference in levels for the recorded tracks were made by the F6 post-ADC (the channel level knobs are faders; not gain trims in 32/float).

I'm assuming your use the of the word "gain" here doesn't really mean "gain" in the analog sense but digital signal "level".  Either way: changing the levels after conversion is exactly the point.  With this kind of system, you can do that without compromising the original quality.

Try either of those extreme recordings with similar post manipulation with a 24-bit (or 32-bit) fixed-point recording system.  If you have very low-noise mics and preamps, you might get similar results on the quiet recording, but definitely not on the loud one - it will be clipped all over the place.


I also find the reactions to this kind of ironic; when the MixPre-3/6 came out, SD claimed something pretty similar, due to the wide dynamic range. "Now, precisely setting the Gain is much less critical (in most cases unnecessary) due to the extremely quiet (lack of hiss) nature of their design. This allows you to use the MixPre-6 with the confidence that even if optimal Gain levels haven’t been set, your audio will still be handled and recorded with grace. The extraordinarily low noise floor of the Kashmir mic preamplifiers allow recorded tracks to be 'normalized' (the process of adding level to a whole recorded track as to align the loudest peak with near-maximum) in post-processing without fear of ruining the track due to the added noise that would have been present in other preamplifier designs. Finally, you’re free to capture audio on the fly without worry!" People here were not at all receptive to that argument (it's a dealbreaker and whatnot), but with this Zoom it's a game-changer...

You cant directly compare the two.  MixPre 3/6/10 only records in 16 or 24 bit, but uses 32-bit for internal processing.  The criticism (at least from me) was that they were being a bit misleading in their specs and promo materials by touting "32-bit precision" of the ADC, when the recorder doesn't actually produce 32-bit files, be they fixed or float.

Sound Devices' selling point for the MixPre is the extremely low noise floor of their preamps, which allows you to set levels lower than you otherwise would normally do, because you don't want your low-level signals to be anywhere near the self-noise of your preamp.

Zoom's selling point for the F6 is the dual ADCs and 32-bit float point recording, which means that the dynamic range available is so wide, with the full resolution available even at extreme levels, that the gain setting is entirely irrelevant.

Two different approaches to tackling the same issue.

So, yes, I absolutely believe the F6 is a game-changer, especially for what I record.  The only other recording devices I am aware of that incorporate a similar dual-ADC system are Zaxcom recorders, and those are many times more expensive.
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #53 on: June 25, 2019, 05:33:45 PM »
I'm following the thread, but holding out for whatever the F8N replacement will be incorporating similar tech.  F10 perhaps.

Out of necessity, I'm currently running my older model F8 like the new F6 is intended to be used.  Because of the high minimum-sensitivity of the microphone inputs and the inability of the F8 (non N version) to provide phantom through the lower-sensitivity line-inputs, combined with running relatively high-output condenser mics into all 8 channels (all requiring about the same input trim), I set the input trims to the lowest setting available across all channels, leave them that way and keep the advanced limiter switched on regardless of what material I'm recording.

Basically for quiet acoustic material the gain is correct and the limiter does not engage, and for loud stuff it does engage, works well, and I suspect I actually like the sound of it the advanced limiting routine on amplified material anyway.  I don't like having to rely on the limiter to keep levels under control, but this is the only way to avoid clipping on high SPL material with my microphones into the F8, and accomplishes that while sounding transparent.  I had been planning on migrating from the F8 to the F8N to correct the problem.. then the F6 appeared and I reassessed.  I currently feel little motivation to change things until 32-bit float recording tech or it's functional equivalent is included in an new 8 (maybe 10) channel recorder.
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #54 on: June 25, 2019, 06:24:19 PM »
I'm following the thread, but holding out for whatever the F8N replacement will be incorporating similar tech.  F10 perhaps.

Out of necessity, I'm currently running my older model F8 like the new F6 is intended to be used.  Because of the high minimum-sensitivity of the microphone inputs and the inability of the F8 (non N version) to provide phantom through the lower-sensitivity line-inputs, combined with running relatively high-output condenser mics into all 8 channels (all requiring about the same input trim), I set the input trims to the lowest setting available across all channels, leave them that way and keep the advanced limiter switched on regardless of what material I'm recording.

Basically for quiet acoustic material the gain is correct and the limiter does not engage, and for loud stuff it does engage, works well, and I suspect I actually like the sound of it the advanced limiting routine on amplified material anyway.  I don't like having to rely on the limiter to keep levels under control, but this is the only way to avoid clipping on high SPL material with my microphones into the F8, and accomplishes that while sounding transparent.  I had been planning on migrating from the F8 to the F8N to correct the problem.. then the F6 appeared and I reassessed.  I currently feel little motivation to change things until 32-bit float recording tech or it's functional equivalent is included in an new 8 (maybe 10) channel recorder.

That's good to hear the F8 limiter works well for you.  I haven't been able to get my hands on any of the Zoom F series yet.  My experiences with other digital limiters has always been very audible and annoying when they engage on the type of music I record, so I just don't use them at all, and try to set my levels as carefully as possible.  That's easier said than done with acoustic concerts that have a variety of vocal and instrumental groups and overall span a very wide dynamic range.

What I do right now most of the time is I use my DR-70D at the highest pot level of the lowest of 3 gain levels as a starting point, and I set up -12 dB safety tracks.  One of the two stereo pairs winds up being the better pair.  The worse situation is when I have clipping on the first set and have to go with the -12 set, I am usually amplifying 8-10 dB and the noise along with it.

Of course, that only gives me the ability to use two mics with that recorder.  That's fine if I am in a really good acoustic and can use a pair of DPAs in just the right spot, but that obviously doesn't happen all the time.  In other settings, I am unfortunately avoiding 4-mic arrays, even when I know they will be a better choice, because I only have 4 preamps to work with and I don't want to set my levels super-low because of self-noise being amplified in post.

At least twice a year, I record concerts that need two setups; one on stage and one on pit, and one of those events includes a huge combined choir which has both of those setups active at once.  For all those situations, I use my 70D as described, and then have the FP24/M10 rig.  That introduces other issues.  I have to set the FP24 very conservatively, the M10 has higher self-noise than I would like, and no safety tracks on that rig.  Oh, and a giant pain trying to split and manually sync individual pieces from those two separate recorders.

I almost bought an F8, but held off because I never have need for more than 6 preamps.

I'm glad I waited.  The F6 solves all of my issues for less money.

I will be interested to see what Zoom applies this setup to next.  The F8n didn't come out all that long ago, so I doubt they would rush to make an 8-preamp version.  Maybe they are planning something with a higher track count to get part of the way towards something like the Sound Devices Scorpio?
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #55 on: June 25, 2019, 06:27:16 PM »
The bottom line, as far as I am concerned, is that nobody actually knows what is happening inside this box as of yet. Nobody has really tested one. Maybe it's got some magical properties, maybe not. That remains to be seen.

More specifically, though:

I believe Paul's comment was in regards to 32-bit fixed; not floating.  They are not at all the same thing.  Please see the links I posted in Reply #25.

I do agree with you on "hearable and measureable", but I believe the links in that post explain what the advantages of float-point recording are.

I am very familiar with floating point math, as I use it all the time in my work. In any event, while I wouldn't presume to speak for Paul, I interpreted his comment as meaning that 24-bit provides amply sufficient dynamic range to accurately capture any real world recording situation and that the increased dynamic range of 32-bit or 32-bit float is simply unnecessary.

It is not misleading at all.  He did one recording at an extremely low level, and another at extremely high level.  He showed that increasing the level of the very low-level recording in post did not increase the preamp noise, and then he demonstrated the other recording that had levels way above 0 dBFS could be lowered to within normal digital signal levels, and there was no clipping. 

This demonstrates that you never need to worry about your gain being set too high or too low in such a system.  In fact, the F6 preamp gain is fixed when in 32-bit float recording mode.  This means the preamp gain was identical for both the high-level and low-level recordings.  The difference in levels for the recorded tracks were made by the F6 post-ADC (the channel level knobs are faders; not gain trims in 32/float).

I'm assuming your use the of the word "gain" here doesn't really mean "gain" in the analog sense but digital signal "level".  Either way: changing the levels after conversion is exactly the point.  With this kind of system, you can do that without compromising the original quality.

Try either of those extreme recordings with similar post manipulation with a 24-bit (or 32-bit) fixed-point recording system.  If you have very low-noise mics and preamps, you might get similar results on the quiet recording, but definitely not on the loud one - it will be clipped all over the place.

As for Judd, he did not do "one recording at an extremely low level, and another at extremely high level". He did all of the recordings at a "normal" level and then, post conversion, used the (digital) faders to drastically alter the gain in 32-bit float. You can do the exact same thing in your DAW, which is almost certainly 32-bit floating point, and obtain the same results. The only difference is that he changed the gain in 32-bit float on the recorder and then reverted on the DAW.

I don't think most recordists, at least the kind frequenting this site, care about changing levels on the recorder post-conversion. As long as the ISOs are good, nobody cares about digital gain, hence the hoopla about gain structure on the MixPres.

Also, it is not true that this recorder is immune to clipping. They list the input overload point as 4 dBu. Certainly possible with the right combination of mics and source. Likewise, it is possible that the quietest parts of your recording can get lost in the ambient noise. In either event, a fancy sounding conversion process presumably won't help.

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #56 on: June 25, 2019, 07:25:02 PM »
good to hear the F8 limiter works well for you.  I haven't been able to get my hands on any of the Zoom F series yet.  My experiences with other digital limiters has always been very audible and annoying when they engage on the type of music I record, so I just don't use them at all, and try to set my levels as carefully as possible.  That's easier said than done with acoustic concerts that have a variety of vocal and instrumental groups and overall span a very wide dynamic range.

There is also a traditional digital limiter, but the Advanced Limiter is the improved limiter option to use. I think it was a newer F8N feature which the F8 benefited from via firmware update.  It's an DSP look ahead routine with an variable ratio and no traditional threshold setting.  Engaging it changes the meter display to read 0dB at what I presume is its initial engagement threshold and it presumably varies ratio as signal rises above that until reaching ∞:1 just prior to hitting the +20dB mark on the meters, correlating to 0dBFS.  So it sort of acts like a very wide soft-knee across its entire range of engagement.  Look ahead increases latency slightly by a few milliseconds (I don't care).  It has an adjustable max level setting it never crosses which I have set at 0dB (as tapers other would want to run it).  Setting that lower is presumably useful for helping to auto control a live mix when doing dialog film work or whatever.

When I discovered the F8's high minimum mic input sensitivity issue I thought I'd not be able to use the recorder at all, but upgraded the firmware and engaged the new advanced limiter simply to save my bacon at a the next few recording dates until I could swap it for an N-version.  But I was pleasantly surprised with it and found it far better than any traditional digital limiter I've come across.  It's really a different animal.  I figured I'd sill want to move to F8N to gain about 15dB more headroom, yet was happy enough with it that I would keep the advanced limiter engaged as a full-time over-prevention.  Running it a few more times I've tentatively decided I'm OK with it being actively engaged most of the time in high SPL situations, at least for now.
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #57 on: July 01, 2019, 03:22:41 AM »
Fascinating prospect, this recorder.  I can see the advantages of 32 bit floating, but I can also see that there has to be some kind of limitation imposed by the analog input. 

But as for setting levels for acoustic music, I never found this to be too big an issue.  After some weeks of using the particular MS mic preamp and mics that I used for almost everything, I realised that the level set on the preamp was almost the same for every recording, symphony orchestra or acoustic classical guitar.  I marked it carefully!  The 'normal' place to record an orchestra was of course significantly further back than for the guitar.  Therefore there was natural attentuation in the case of the orchestra, and so the input level was much the same.  Of course it got more complex with multimic, multitrack setups. 

But I'm probably digressing.  Looking forward to end user tests of the F6 under really challenging conditions in due course.

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #58 on: July 01, 2019, 07:58:17 AM »

But as for setting levels for acoustic music, I never found this to be too big an issue.  After some weeks of using the particular MS mic preamp and mics that I used for almost everything, I realised that the level set on the preamp was almost the same for every recording, symphony orchestra or acoustic classical guitar.  I marked it carefully!  The 'normal' place to record an orchestra was of course significantly further back than for the guitar.  Therefore there was natural attentuation in the case of the orchestra, and so the input level was much the same.  Of course it got more complex with multimic, multitrack setups. 

But I'm probably digressing.  Looking forward to end user tests of the F6 under really challenging conditions in due course.

My use case is perhaps a bit unusual.  While I do start with a "default" gain level on most recordings found through trial & error, the vast majority of what I record are concert performances where I do not have the chance to check levels ahead of time.  Very often I am conducting or performing in a group being recorded, so I am in a hurry to set up and then get on stage.  For the times I am not directly involved in the performance, I often do not know how the pieces are going to be performed in a dynamic sense, because I just have to show up, set up, and go.

For the two recording chains I have now, I have significant pros & cons:
- The DR-70D allows me a stereo pair with a set of safety tracks.  I find this is better than just setting the gain lower, as the preamps show their self-noise on quieter material where I need to boost the levels in post.
- The FP-24 is a very quiet preamp with gobs of gain, but unless I am very sure of the dynamics of the performance (and as I've said, I often am not) I have to set gain very conservatively so as to not overload the inputs on my recorder.

Because of everything mentioned above, I am very limited in track counts as mentioned earlier.

My hope is that the F6 solves these problems, so I can just worry about mic choices and placements, have the ability to use 4-6 mics if needed, and not worry at all about my levels.
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #59 on: July 02, 2019, 01:07:54 PM »
I emailed info@zoom-na.com today, asking if they could provide an updated on the release date beyond generally saying "July".  I received a response immediately, but the rep stated that he could not give me an update.

B&H is saying July 24 expected availability; Amazon and Sweetwater (the other two vendors linked from Zoom's official site) have no date listed.

I seem to remember seeing July 3 listed at B&H or somewhere else, but clearly that has changed.
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #60 on: July 02, 2019, 02:02:53 PM »
I emailed info@zoom-na.com today, asking if they could provide an updated on the release date beyond generally saying "July".  I received a response immediately, but the rep stated that he could not give me an update.

B&H is saying July 24 expected availability; Amazon and Sweetwater (the other two vendors linked from Zoom's official site) have no date listed.

I seem to remember seeing July 3 listed at B&H or somewhere else, but clearly that has changed.

Yes, B&H had July 3 listed until recently, then ran it out another three weeks (the original Zoom April announcement targeted a June release).  Hopin'....

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #61 on: July 02, 2019, 11:30:57 PM »
If I buy this, I would go directly to recording in 32 bit floating.  Adobe Audition 3.0 is a million years old and it handles these files with ease.

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #62 on: July 07, 2019, 09:37:55 PM »

I've been watching B and H and after they changed the expected availability from July 3rd to July 24th I looked elsewhere.

Trew Audio had them listed so I put one in my cart - it allowed me to choose a shipping method and check out with no mention of any delay.

We'll see what happens tomorrow but unless something changes looks like I'll have one in hand this week.
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #63 on: July 08, 2019, 11:50:03 AM »

I've been watching B and H and after they changed the expected availability from July 3rd to July 24th I looked elsewhere.

Trew Audio had them listed so I put one in my cart - it allowed me to choose a shipping method and check out with no mention of any delay.

We'll see what happens tomorrow but unless something changes looks like I'll have one in hand this week.

I saw that at Trew also, and was also thinking of going ahead.  I still have $100 in Amazon cash, so I'm holding out there for now.

Please let us know what happens regarding your order.
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #64 on: July 10, 2019, 09:30:14 PM »
B & H Photo video has been upped.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auRCm4v20Sw

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #65 on: July 11, 2019, 01:55:17 AM »
Hi. I just noticed the technical nature of this thread, since I don't follow Zoom products in general. A few comments if I may.

First, neither floating point data storage nor gain-ranging by combining the output of two converters per channel is new in digital audio by any means. The combination may well be new in a consumer recorder, I dunno. But these techniques haven't been all that widely used in professional digital audio up to now, not because they're "so advanced," but simply because neither has offered sufficient advantage so far.

Neumann's digital microphones have gain-ranging A/D converters, for example, but they offer no wider dynamic range than comparable analog microphones that are connected to external preamps and converters--a comparison that can be made by anyone, since Neumann sells several of their models in both digital and analog versions. And for the record, those mikes all have digitally remote-controlled gain settings.

--Someone further up the thread surmised that 32-bit float must be a superior format because why else does so much audio software use it internally. The answer is that recent Intel CPUs can process four 32-bit floats in parallel for many mathematical operations, which makes DSP functions in the software much more efficient than linear PCM allows, if your CPU supports the needed instruction set.

This may not be so obvious, but the real issue is the level and behavior of the recorder's internal noise floor, so please keep that issue in mind from now on, OK?

The two techniques that we're talking about can be understood as the same thing in different guises. They both involve "tracking" a signal in real time (i.e. at the sampling frequency) and then, based on its voltage at a given instant, assigning it to a category of bigness or smallness, with a further number of bits indicating where the particular sample value fits within that category. The dual-ranging-converter arrangement is the more obvious of the two in how it works. 32-bit floating point (at least the IEEE 754 flavor that I assume they're using) is the same thing, just done with 256 overlapping levels instead of two.

Both technologies cause the noise floor of the recording channel to rise or fall in response to instantaneous signal levels. When the signal level goes up in magnitude (i.e. absolute value) and you move into a/the higher range, the noise floor of the channel rises along with it. When the signal comes back down, so does the channel's noise. As long as that noise floor is so low that you can't hear it (always, 100%, money-back guaranteed under all circumstances), then the fact that it's shifting up and down will be of no audible consequence.

But that's the big "if" right there. If the noise floor is ever audible--if any possible type of signal, or combination of settings and signals, can coax it out of hiding--then it will be heard to "pump" or "breathe" along with the momentary signal levels. That will make the program material sound gritty or dirty or some such unwanted thing (depending on implementation details such as pre-emphasis/de-emphasis).

It's an effect that used to be called "modulation noise" back in the era of analog tape, and it's one of those things that once you've noticed it, you can never un-notice it again. On wide-dynamic-range program material where the levels change quickly by large amounts, noise pumping "calls attention to itself" and is far more offensive to the ear than a steady, low level of broadband noise would have been. And there's no real way to get rid of those artifacts once you have them on your recording, except to cover them with high levels of steady noise, which is obviously undesirable as well.

So the only hope for this recorder to sound good is if its internal noise floor is so low that it is never, ever heard, even "out of the corners of one's ears." It's possible, but by no means guaranteed. The gain manipulation in the A/D converters and the floating point encoder means that noise caused by those elements of the system will constantly shift up and down. The floating-point encoding system actually doesn't worry me unless it's implemented in an almost unimaginably, bone-headedly stupid way that surely someone would have caught and fixed by now (except, the people at dbx back in the day claimed that they really didn't hear the noise breathing of their noise reduction systems, which was pretty horrible at times). And there are ways to get dual A/Ds to play nice together.

But it all comes down to the actual implementation. If that is as good as it possibly can be, then we'll have a recorder with no gain control, that by definition can't have a wider dynamic range than the best previous recorder that has a gain control. So before you fall too far in love with this design concept, I suggest that you imagine epoxying the gain control on your best existing recorder to a setting that you know will never allow overload. Do you think that it would always make recordings that are as quiet as you could have made if you'd set your levels specifically for each occasion? I don't think so. And in that case you shouldn't expect more from this recorder.

--best regards
« Last Edit: July 19, 2019, 04:11:20 PM by DSatz »
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #66 on: July 11, 2019, 08:40:59 AM »
Regarding DSatz's post about modulation noise, etc...

So does that rise and fall of the noise floor (I take it modulation noise is the same thing) also happen with a recorder that's recording at a set 16 or 24 bit, with the user able to adjust and set the gain?
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #67 on: July 11, 2019, 09:08:38 AM »
Thanks for joining the discussion.  This is precisely the insight we've needed in this discussion.

To summarize, with regards to the use of the recorder:  The tradeoff for never having to manually adjust input levels is the possibility of audible noise floor modulation on highly dynamic material.. which if audible is neither pleasant sounding nor easily remedied afterward.
^
Is that accurate?


Once this recorder is available, what might an appropriate test for audibility of noise floor modulation consist of?
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #68 on: July 11, 2019, 09:14:53 AM »
So does that rise and fall of the noise floor (I take it modulation noise is the same thing) also happen with a recorder that's recording at a set 16 or 24 bit, with the user able to adjust and set the gain?

In a digital recorder with a non-autoranging analog to digital converter (ADC), the noise floor of the ADC remains constant.  The noise-floor of the preamp section does vary with input trim/gain setting, but will not vary during the record unless the input tim/gain is changed during the recording.
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #69 on: July 11, 2019, 09:27:55 AM »
So does that rise and fall of the noise floor (I take it modulation noise is the same thing) also happen with a recorder that's recording at a set 16 or 24 bit, with the user able to adjust and set the gain?

In a digital recorder with a non-autoranging analog to digital converter (ADC), the noise floor of the ADC remains constant.  The noise-floor of the preamp section does vary with input trim/gain setting, but will not vary during the record unless the input tim/gain is changed during the recording.

That's what I suspected, and it makes sense.  Thanks for clarifying.

Is it possible to use the F6 like a "normal" recorder so that the gain is manually set and then it stays there, and records at a set 16 or 24 bit?  I'd assume so but I haven't been following the details very closely.
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #70 on: July 11, 2019, 09:47:57 AM »
Yes, apparently it can also record 16 or 24 bit (with manually set input trim) and 32-bit floating-point simultaneously.

Screen capture from the user manual, p30-
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #71 on: July 11, 2019, 09:49:47 AM »
..and copied from p.25 (Adjusting input levels)

Quote
• This can be set in a range from +12 to +75 dB when the input source is
set to Mic, from –8 to +55 dB when set to Line, and from –35 to +30 dB
when set to USB.
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #72 on: July 11, 2019, 12:09:54 PM »
Thanks for joining the discussion.  This is precisely the insight we've needed in this discussion.

To summarize, with regards to the use of the recorder:  The tradeoff for never having to manually adjust input levels is the possibility of audible noise floor modulation on highly dynamic material.. which if audible is neither pleasant sounding nor easily remedied afterward.
^
Is that accurate?


Once this recorder is available, what might an appropriate test for audibility of noise floor modulation consist of?

DSatz - A second thanks from me.  I hadn't considered the change in internal noise level being audible, as I have no experience listening to auto-ranging dual ADCs.  Your post certainly has caused me to temper my enthusiasm until there are some real-world tests with music recording.

I wonder if these shifts in self-noise will be audible in the context of the ambient noise for a live recording, even classical material.  Again, I suppose it all comes down to the implementation, as you say.

It seems a professional recording studio would be the best place to test this behavior, using some top-level mics with high sensitivity and low self-noise. 
Being a pianist myself, I am thinking of a few choice pieces of Chopin and Beethoven that would make excellent test material.   Put up a nice Steinway D, and a pair of Josephson C617s or DPA 4041s, and that should reveal all.
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #73 on: July 11, 2019, 01:29:10 PM »
gutbucket asked:

> Once this recorder is available, what might an appropriate test for audibility of noise floor modulation consist of?

I'm thinking back to some failures that are engraved in my conscience because of times when I experimented too boldly with noise reduction systems during live recordings. One of the worst--from 40 years ago now--was in Beethoven's fourth piano concerto. The second movement starts with a short, bold, attention-grabbing tone played in octaves by the entire string section. It comes out of silence and fades back to silence for about a second before going on. I remember hearing tape hiss trail off from that tone as it decayed, because I'd set way too low a level on analog tape. I should have raised the gain from the mikes by about 20 dB (!) before the Telefunken telcom c4 noise reduction unit, or else by about 12 dB after it. But I was also playing in the orchestra that night and couldn't watch levels. So I guessed conservatively while setting up, and I guessed wrong.

So the test that I'd want to make would be: Make a source recording of just one tone, "doubled" across several octaves, with a very quiet background. Then record it onto the Zoom multiple times--starting at the highest possible modulation level on the Zoom, then padding the source signal down 6 or 10 dB at a time until the lowest possible recorded level is reached. Then rewind and listen to each recording at fairly high volume, listening for noise artifacts before and after the tone.

A digital device can have much shorter time constants than an analog noise reduction system, so I would expect better results from the Zoom. But I would be the most concerned in the crossover region between the two A/D converters, because switching between them probably creates the largest possible noise floor change in this type of system.

--best regards
« Last Edit: July 11, 2019, 02:00:01 PM by DSatz »
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #74 on: July 11, 2019, 04:57:51 PM »
gutbucket asked:

> Once this recorder is available, what might an appropriate test for audibility of noise floor modulation consist of?

I'm thinking back to some failures that are engraved in my conscience because of times when I experimented too boldly with noise reduction systems during live recordings. One of the worst--from 40 years ago now--was in Beethoven's fourth piano concerto. The second movement starts with a short, bold, attention-grabbing tone played in octaves by the entire string section. It comes out of silence and fades back to silence for about a second before going on. I remember hearing tape hiss trail off from that tone as it decayed, because I'd set way too low a level on analog tape. I should have raised the gain from the mikes by about 20 dB (!) before the Telefunken telcom c4 noise reduction unit, or else by about 12 dB after it. But I was also playing in the orchestra that night and couldn't watch levels. So I guessed conservatively while setting up, and I guessed wrong.

So the test that I'd want to make would be: Make a source recording of just one tone, "doubled" across several octaves, with a very quiet background. Then record it onto the Zoom multiple times--starting at the highest possible modulation level on the Zoom, then padding the source signal down 6 or 10 dB at a time until the lowest possible recorded level is reached. Then rewind and listen to each recording at fairly high volume, listening for noise artifacts before and after the tone.

A digital device can have much shorter time constants than an analog noise reduction system, so I would expect better results from the Zoom. But I would be the most concerned in the crossover region between the two A/D converters, because switching between them probably creates the largest possible noise floor change in this type of system.

--best regards

Well, that's a much more scientific test than I was thinking.  I was thinking of using Beethoven Piano Sonata Op. 110, or Chopin Ballade No. 4, among other pieces.  If an entire orchestra were available, I would pick the very beginnings of Mahler's 2nd, 3rd, or 5th symphonies.

I don't quite understand why you would want a tone doubled across multiple octaves.  How would this make any difference, as opposed to a single tone?

The situation you describe where you are both recording and performing is one I find myself in more often than not, which is why the whole idea of not worrying about levels and safety tracks makes the idea of this dual ADC / float point setup attractive to me.

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #75 on: July 11, 2019, 05:27:57 PM »

So after I ordered the F6 Trew Audio sent me an email requesting that I send them a copy of my drivers license and picture of the front and back of my credit card which I thought was really strange.

Gave the Nashville location a call and the guy told me they get a lot of fraudulent CC charges for easy to resell high dollar gear so they have a layer of protection. Since I called and talked to them and had the order number handy they let me proceed with my order. 

Then they told me it was back ordered until the end of the month  :facepalm:

I still have one ordered through them and look forward to giving it a go later on this month. I should have an opportunity to do some comps in a live setting right after I get my hands on it.
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #76 on: July 11, 2019, 09:06:55 PM »

So after I ordered the F6 Trew Audio sent me an email requesting that I send them a copy of my drivers license and picture of the front and back of my credit card which I thought was really strange.

Gave the Nashville location a call and the guy told me they get a lot of fraudulent CC charges for easy to resell high dollar gear so they have a layer of protection. Since I called and talked to them and had the order number handy they let me proceed with my order. 

Then they told me it was back ordered until the end of the month  :facepalm:

I still have one ordered through them and look forward to giving it a go later on this month. I should have an opportunity to do some comps in a live setting right after I get my hands on it.

I'm glad you didn't send them the pictures they requested.  That would have been a huge risk for fraud.  I can't believe they would even ask for something so ridiculous.  One email, ready-made for easy identity theft.


I suppose the July 24th posted date from B&H is what we're going with now.  This unit was supposed to be out in June.  I wonder if they are having manufacturing issues, or if the pre-orders were more than what they expected?
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #77 on: July 12, 2019, 04:55:07 AM »
But it all comes down to the actual implementation. If that is as good as it possibly can be, then we'll have a recorder with no gain control, that by definition can't have a wider dynamic range than the best previous recorder that has a gain control. So before you fall too far in love with this design concept, I suggest that you imagine epoxying the gain control on your best existing recorder to a setting that you know will never allow overload. Do you think that it would always make recordings that are as quiet as you could have made if you'd set your levels specifically for each occasion? I don't think so. And in that case you shouldn't expect more from this recorder.
a much more technical way of saying what many of us have been saying... its a gimmick that offers no real advantage for our application, as any input has a fixed maximum headroom between noise floor, and maximum input level, and any attempts to skirt this with digital fuckery are in the end... digital fuckery.
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #78 on: July 12, 2019, 04:58:56 AM »
Regarding DSatz's post about modulation noise, etc...

So does that rise and fall of the noise floor (I take it modulation noise is the same thing) also happen with a recorder that's recording at a set 16 or 24 bit, with the user able to adjust and set the gain?

not with gain set to a fixed level. what he describes is an artifact of auto-level feature. its analogous to when you see a youtube someone shoots at a concert which sounds fine at low levels but as soon as it gets loud it automatically compresses the sound horrendously so as to not overload the phone. Which is better than horrible brickwalling, but also a clearly audible artifact
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #79 on: July 12, 2019, 05:05:41 AM »

So after I ordered the F6 Trew Audio sent me an email requesting that I send them a copy of my drivers license and picture of the front and back of my credit card which I thought was really strange.


i put in an offer on some consignment gear with them earlier in the month, which they accepted and we agreed that they would invoice me via paypal. they then ghosted me for a week before insisting i send them all that extra info and also requiring me to fill out scan, and email a credit card authorization form. I told them to beat it as i thought it was highly unprofessional to leave me hanging so long, and that i dont want the gear bad enough to be sending my CC info unsecurely to god knows who.
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #80 on: July 12, 2019, 01:54:24 PM »
My impression of the design of this thing (based only on the description given by the Zoom rep) is as follows:
The analog "front end" of this deck has 2 separate preamps per input. The 2 preamps are scaled differently in gain, (1 high, 1 low)) each feeding a 32 bit convertor. These preamps are selectable in 2 gain ranges, depending on the input setting of "line" or "mic"
The total input gain range for either "mic" or "line"  setting has sufficient bandwidth such that no mic or line level source would clip the analog stage. The input device itself would clip before the recorder does. This is why no input gain adjustment is needed.
The dual convertors are then averaged or summed to a single 32 bit file. The advantage to this design is that the low amplitude signals have much higher resolution because it is being converted directly to 32 bit, rather that residing in the lower end of a 24 or 16 bit ADC.
In terms of noise, using this approach certainly reduces noise in the recorder itself. Self noise from a mic will still be there regardless, especially noticeable when the mic is exposed to very low SPL's.
The advantages I see in this machine for field recording is the elimination of clipping in the recorder, and the noise reduction of highly dynamic sound sources. I look forward to being able to plug in a pair of mics or line level device, hit record and let the thing eat with no worry about gain setting. HUGE advantage.  "Digital fuckery"? I don't think so. I think this innovation was likely on the forefront anyway. I wouldn't be surprised if this becomes the standard in the not too distant future.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2019, 01:56:33 PM by Walstib62 »

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #81 on: July 12, 2019, 02:04:50 PM »
The dual convertors are then averaged or summed to a single 32 bit file.

Not averaged or summed but switched.  It is the transparency of the switching between converter streams which is being questioned.

If it is indeed inaudible, the convenience the elimination of trim adjustment represents will be more helpful to tapers than to professional music recordists who can more easily assume or test for correct level setting in advance.   
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #82 on: July 12, 2019, 02:29:44 PM »
The dual convertors are then averaged or summed to a single 32 bit file.

Not averaged or summed but switched.  It is the transparency of the switching between converter streams which is being questioned.

If it is indeed inaudible, the convenience the elimination of trim adjustment represents will be more helpful to tapers than to professional music recordists who can more easily assume or test for correct level setting in advance.

interesting.  where did you see this? I'd like more information

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #83 on: July 12, 2019, 05:22:02 PM »
It is how previous implementations by other manufacturers which achieve the same end result work (Neumann digital mics, Zaxcom "NeverClip", etc.).. and, lacking clear technical information from Zoom to the contrary, the assumed way the F6 works as well.  Without testing to try and determine how it is doing it and if it does introduce a problem or not, this kind of speculation is the best we have to go on at this point.

I have no doubt the Zoom rep you spoke with is well versed on user-level functionality of the recorder, but I doubt he really knows how it is doing this under the hood, nor well versed on the possible repercussions being discussed above.  In any case, is not in a Zoom rep's interest to highlight these kind of potential problems in a yet to be released new product.

As for myself (acknowledging that the border between digital fuckery and digital blessings is a fine line, more gerrymandered than straight) I'm withholding judgement until we have more information.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2019, 05:23:36 PM by Gutbucket »
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #84 on: July 12, 2019, 06:34:29 PM »
Ah ok! Yes a lot of speculation going on. It will be interesting to see how well this works

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #85 on: July 12, 2019, 07:19:57 PM »
The dual convertors are then averaged or summed to a single 32 bit file.

Not averaged or summed but switched.  It is the transparency of the switching between converter streams which is being questioned.

If it is indeed inaudible, the convenience the elimination of trim adjustment represents will be more helpful to tapers than to professional music recordists who can more easily assume or test for correct level setting in advance.

is this similar to the crossover distortion seen in class B amps?
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #86 on: July 15, 2019, 03:03:56 PM »
I don't think so.  That's switching between output devices at every zero crossing of the signal.  Whereas this is presumably switching between ADCs when the signal level varies between low sensitivity and high sensitivity modes.   
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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #87 on: July 16, 2019, 03:51:22 AM »
Any gossip on this dual-ADC F6 technology appearing in a device with jack inputs? ('prosumer')

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #88 on: July 22, 2019, 02:49:49 PM »
Just got an email from B&H:

"Unfortunately, the manufacturer has informed us that this item has been delayed until 10-01-2019"

Bummer.

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #89 on: July 22, 2019, 03:15:39 PM »
Just got an email from B&H:

"Unfortunately, the manufacturer has informed us that this item has been delayed until 10-01-2019"

Bummer.

That stinks.  Thanks for keeping us in the loop, though.  That's a significant delay, after the initial release date was supposed to be June.  I wonder if there is a serious problem in manufacturing.

I also hope everyone that pre-ordered gets their money back.

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Re: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)
« Reply #90 on: July 22, 2019, 05:41:11 PM »

^ Just got off the phone with Trew Nashville and they said that it would not surprise them at all if it got pushed back even farther than October. He mentioned Zoom and Rode as the worst offenders when it came to the time difference between showing a product at NAB and getting them on the shelf.

I canceled my order. I may get one when it's not a pain to have one in hand but I need something to replace my Marantz like yesterday.
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