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Author Topic: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)  (Read 8829 times)

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Offline voltronic

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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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Offline goodcooker

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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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Offline voltronic

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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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Offline aaronji

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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...

Offline voltronic

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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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Offline Gutbucket

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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.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2019, 05:38:34 PM by Gutbucket »
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Offline voltronic

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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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Offline aaronji

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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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