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Author Topic: Zoom F6 (32-bit float equipped)  (Read 17535 times)

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Offline WiFiJeff

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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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Offline heathen

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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?
« Last Edit: July 11, 2019, 12:03:48 PM by heathen »
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Offline Gutbucket

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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)

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• 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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Offline voltronic

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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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Online DSatz

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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 »
music > microphones > a recorder of some sort

Offline voltronic

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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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