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Author Topic: Zoom F3  (Read 24132 times)

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Offline voltronic

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Re: Zoom F3
« Reply #30 on: February 19, 2022, 08:18:50 AM »
I have been out of the loop for some years regarding 32bit float.
Is the format now widely adapted, also in the entry level DAW's?

When the MixPre II series and F6 came out, I recall I checked and found out I couldn't work on the files in GarageBand or Hindenburg Lite.
Has that changed?

I can't speak to those particular DAWs, but Reaper has handled float-point files without issues for years.
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Offline voltronic

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Re: Zoom F3
« Reply #31 on: February 19, 2022, 08:26:18 AM »
I have asked B&H whether there is any support for M/S mics - given that it's designed partly for video I would be surprised if it didn't even decode M/S to X/Y for headphone monitoring.  I really hope they have not overlooked this - it could be a dealbreaker for me (which would save me some money of course!).

[Edit - reading the English manual at https://zoomcorp.com/media/documents/E_F3.pdf it looks like there is no M/S support.  That astonishes me.]

I have never liked the idea of applying a M/S decoding matrix straight to the recorder, as it defeats one of the most major benefits of M/S recording - being able to change the imaging in post. I completely agree, however, that having a decoding matrix for monitoring is a necessary feature, especially for boom pole operators which this unit seems perfectly designed for. If you are recording 32-bit float, there is no need to monitoring levels, but it would be nice to at least hear what's going into the mics in a "default" 50/50 M/S decode.

This is something that could probably be added via a firmware update.
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Offline Niels

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Re: Zoom F3
« Reply #32 on: February 19, 2022, 08:55:21 AM »
I have been out of the loop for some years regarding 32bit float.
Is the format now widely adapted, also in the entry level DAW's?

When the MixPre II series and F6 came out, I recall I checked and found out I couldn't work on the files in GarageBand or Hindenburg Lite.
Has that changed?

I can't speak to those particular DAWs, but Reaper has handled float-point files without issues for years.
Thanks. I think that was the case at the time, and I checked it out but found the UI unintuitive.
I'll look for a 32bit float file and see how it imports - not much info in he respective applications help fuction.
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Offline Ozpeter

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Re: Zoom F3
« Reply #33 on: February 19, 2022, 10:32:01 AM »
I have asked B&H whether there is any support for M/S mics - given that it's designed partly for video I would be surprised if it didn't even decode M/S to X/Y for headphone monitoring.  I really hope they have not overlooked this - it could be a dealbreaker for me (which would save me some money of course!).

[Edit - reading the English manual at https://zoomcorp.com/media/documents/E_F3.pdf it looks like there is no M/S support.  That astonishes me.]

I have never liked the idea of applying a M/S decoding matrix straight to the recorder, as it defeats one of the most major benefits of M/S recording - being able to change the imaging in post.... [snipped]

I am very sure that we are on the same page in that respect - but I will none the less mention that there are (for me at least) two merits in MS recordings.  One is that they can be decoded to provide whatever width is appropriate.  This can vary from mono (for speech), through various degrees of stereo for music or ambience, or you can have the side mics only and have an interviewer and victim either side of the fig of 8 capsule.  But there's actually no reason why normal X/Y recordings shouldn't be processed for width in post-production much as an MS recording is processed - you just need a plugin like Voxengo Msed to convert from XY to MS, vary the width, then reconvert back to XY.  However, the difference between an MS pair and an XY pair is that the MS pair has that front facing mic for most appropriate mono recording, and the fig of 8 mic for, well, fig of 8 applications.

So - when using an MS mic with a recorder which will decode the signal to XY before you record, there's no theoretical difference between that approach and the alternative of recording the MS pair 'as is' undecoded.  Pass either signal through MSED and you will end up with the same degree of choice over width, albeit by first converting the already dematrixed XY version back to MS, tweaking it, and converting to XY again, as compared with using the native MS recording 'as is' and tweaking it for width when dematrixing it with the plugin.

But having said all that, indeed the purist approach is simply to monitor in XY but record in MS, as you say.

Show me a nit and I will pick it...

Offline kuba e

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Re: Zoom F3
« Reply #34 on: February 20, 2022, 05:03:46 PM »
Ozpeter is right. We can encode any stereo track left/right to mid/side and back to left/right without loss. But when we do editing in mid/side, it's good that the stereo doesn't have a time difference - it is recorded in coincident config (xy). If the stereo has a time differences - spaced config (din, ortf, ab ...) some degradation will occur when editing in mid/side and converting back to left/right. But it's not always disturbing, sometimes I do mid/side editing for spaced configs.

I think stereo mp3 is also encoded in mid/side and players decode it internally to left/right. When I created a stereo mp3 that contained only a mono recording but in two tracks, the file was still half the size. I assume there is zero side channel and only mid channel is compressed.

Recording with fig8+mid or with directional microphones in xy works on the same principle. We can get the same results with a pair of directional mics in xy as with fig8+mid. Very nice explanation is in this thread. At the end, our friends are explaining what are the practical differences when recording with mid and fig.8 vs directional mics in xy.
https://taperssection.com/index.php?topic=193204.msg2320506#msg2320506

« Last Edit: February 22, 2022, 06:49:40 AM by kuba e »

Offline gaijin

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Re: Zoom F3
« Reply #35 on: February 22, 2022, 05:34:49 PM »
This looks like the first proper review:

https://www.audiotechnology.com/reviews/zoom-f3

Offline Niels

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Re: Zoom F3
« Reply #36 on: February 23, 2022, 07:11:39 AM »
What's up with that screen, though? It's 2022 and all. It would probably only add a couple of bucks to the list price to have something a little more contemporary. It's worse than a first generation GameBoy...
I guess they thought that you'll get all the resolution and color you want on the smartphone you use to control it with.
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Offline aaronji

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Re: Zoom F3
« Reply #37 on: February 23, 2022, 09:55:27 AM »
^ I suppose, but, if I am standing right next to the thing, I would prefer not to deal with possible latency or connection issues and just monitor/control my recording using the built-in features. I doubt a more modern screen would have added much cost.

Offline WiFiJeff

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Re: Zoom F3
« Reply #38 on: February 23, 2022, 10:34:28 AM »
And think of all those beautiful, maybe screen-related,  ultra-sonic hum resonances you'd be able to get, just like the Tascam X8! 

Offline voltronic

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Re: Zoom F3
« Reply #39 on: February 23, 2022, 09:14:50 PM »
This looks like the first proper review:

https://www.audiotechnology.com/reviews/zoom-f3

I wish the reviewer had told people the whole story: It's 32-bit floating point, being fed by multiple auto-ranging ADCs. It's explained pretty well in the manual. He also says "dynamic range will be limited by your microphone and not your recorder." Not the whole story either - if you have a sensitive mic with a hot output recording a loud source, you can overload the preamp ahead of the ADC. (I had to be reminded of this in the F6 thread.)

Still, after using my F6 exclusively in 32-bit FP mode for over 2 years, I am happy to see Zoom drop the level controls for this simple 2-channel recorder. They are completely unnecessary for recording with this kind of setup, but hopefully there is plenty of adjustment for monitoring for those who need to do so.

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Offline cd2go

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Re: Zoom F3
« Reply #40 on: February 23, 2022, 11:48:50 PM »
This unit looks very interesting, I love small and simple. I will likely end up grabbing one to play with. I'm confused as to whether or not you can actually even (although you don't 'need' to) adjust the recording signal level? The full operation manual states:

Recording

The F3 records in 32-bit float format, so the input gain does not need to be adjusted. Depending on the input signals, however, waveforms shown on the display could appear too small or too large, making them difficult to check.
By changing the waveform display magnification, input waveforms can be adjusted to sizes that are easy to check. The magnification rate can be set separately for each input. The volume will also be changed according to the waveform magnification rate.

NOTE:
• The magnification rate can be set in 11 steps: ×1 , ×2, ×4, ×8, ×16, ×32, ×64, ×128, ×256, ×512 and ×1024. • Be careful with the volume if you are monitoring the input sound with headphones, for example.
Changing the magnification rate, even in the middle of recording, will not affect the recording level.

But the quick tour manual says:

Adjusting waveform amplification

Changing the amplification will change the volume and be applied to the recording data.
• Since the F3 records using 32-bit float WAV format, if monitored audio sounds distorted, lowering the volume of the recording file can restore the waveform to a state without clipping.


Seems conflicting?

Offline dallman

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Re: Zoom F3
« Reply #41 on: February 24, 2022, 05:47:58 PM »
This unit looks very interesting, I love small and simple. I will likely end up grabbing one to play with. I'm confused as to whether or not you can actually even (although you don't 'need' to) adjust the recording signal level? The full operation manual states:

Recording

The F3 records in 32-bit float format, so the input gain does not need to be adjusted. Depending on the input signals, however, waveforms shown on the display could appear too small or too large, making them difficult to check.
By changing the waveform display magnification, input waveforms can be adjusted to sizes that are easy to check. The magnification rate can be set separately for each input. The volume will also be changed according to the waveform magnification rate.

NOTE:
• The magnification rate can be set in 11 steps: ×1 , ×2, ×4, ×8, ×16, ×32, ×64, ×128, ×256, ×512 and ×1024. • Be careful with the volume if you are monitoring the input sound with headphones, for example.
Changing the magnification rate, even in the middle of recording, will not affect the recording level.

But the quick tour manual says:

Adjusting waveform amplification

Changing the amplification will change the volume and be applied to the recording data.
• Since the F3 records using 32-bit float WAV format, if monitored audio sounds distorted, lowering the volume of the recording file can restore the waveform to a state without clipping.


Seems conflicting?
You can change the volume or the outputted signal, but not the gain which is the actual recorded level. That is why the wave is shown versus bars. I like that idea. That said if you go with a much bigger or smaller wave form that optimal for the end product, you can easily adjust in post and the sound will be just fine. (And yes I understand many have written about exceptions and possible problems where there could be distortion for one reason or another but in my few years of using the Zoom F6 and MixPre 6II for all kinds of music, blasting loud and painfully soft, I have yet to experience anything less than a stellar sounding recording.)
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Offline voltronic

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Re: Zoom F3
« Reply #42 on: February 24, 2022, 06:27:58 PM »
OK, so it works like the F6 in the sense that you cannot adjust preamp gain, but you can adjust the post-ADC fader level (REC level as the F6 docs call it).
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Offline cd2go

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Re: Zoom F3
« Reply #43 on: February 25, 2022, 09:32:08 AM »
Thanks I think that helps clarify. So changing the magnification level indeed affects the recorded waveform level? I'm assuming that with amplified PA music low levels won't be an issue, but in the case of recording softer material is it better to try to get the volume from the machine while recording (via magnification), or boost in post in terms of noise/artifacts? I'm guessing since it's digital amplification there wouldn't be much difference?

Offline Ozpeter

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Re: Zoom F3
« Reply #44 on: February 26, 2022, 06:24:01 AM »
Recording will be at a fixed level.  Monitoring and playback will follow whatever amplification you apply to the waveform display.  "• Changing the amplification will change the volume and be applied to the recording data." means that the metadata for the recording will include the current amplification so it will play back (in the device at least) at that volume if you close the file and reopen it.  I don't know whether DAWs will also pick up that volume data.  I suspect there's a difference in meaning between recordED data - meaning the sound recording - and recordING data - meaning the metadata.

I don'r actually know any more than anyone else whether my interpretation of the manual is correct but if you bear in mind that "level" means input and "volume" means playback, then I'm pretty sure I'm right.

 

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