Zoom H5 Review – A Portable Sound Studio
Rating: 8 out of 10
I did a lot of research and I decided on the Zoom H5 for two reasons. One was that it did everything I wanted and more, and the other reason was, I couldn’t afford the top of their range, the Zoom H6. I always try to buy the best I can afford. And this is my Zoom H5 review after over 12 months of using it.
The X/Y microphone capsule
The Zoom H5 has at least a four-way microphone recording ability. On the top there are the stereo desktop X/Y microphones which are part of a detachable capsule. These are used for when placing the recorder on a table/tripod/camera and recording a group or conference. The microphones are insulated against slight vibration with a shock mount, but this would only work when the recorder is off the person and stationary on a tripod etc.
Rode make a shotgun microphone capsule which can be exchanged with the x/y capsule. This will then turn your H5 into a shotgun microphone recorder, camera or tripod mounted. But there is then no shock mount for the microphone. So you will need to get on which will fit on the camera/tripod mount.
By the side on the capsule is a stereo 3.5 mm jack plug socket which allows an external microphone with this size of plug to be used with this recorder. Would this socket be better positioned elsewhere on the recorder? This would allow the x/y microphone capsule to be removed so that the recorder could be worn on the body easier? Also there would be less chance of the x/y microphones being damaged if used this way.
Underneath the recorder at the bottom are two sockets for two external mono microphones which can be used independently. Only one mono microphone can be used if required.
All mono microphones have complete independent gain adjustment controls and on/off switches. The x/y microphones and stereo external microphone (via 3.5 mm plug-in socket) have one gain adjustment control.
Batteries & phantom power
The zoom H5 recorder delivers a variety of phantom power to any of your external microphones.
It uses two AA batteries which seem to last for hours. I have read people say up to 14 hours record time? Well I can tell you when using phantom power. You will get no where near that. There is a battery indicator which will tell you when your batteries are low. It’s not the best. But remember supplying phantom power to external microphones can delete your batteries far quicker.
Phantom power is 12v – 24v and 48v. Phantom power can be supplied to the 3 external microphones.
So to be on the safe side carry spare batteries and test your batteries with a good battery meter. Otherwise disaster looms. Or you use the external power source to supply the extra power needed for phantom power for the external microphones. This would be essential if all microphones are plugged at the same time. You can record using all microphones at the same time.
Recordings are saved on multiple files on an SD card of up to 32 gb. This is not supplied but you do get a 2gb card. MP3 & WAV files are the files in how your sound is recorded and saved.
There are also record, prerecord and backup record functions in its menu feature.
A line ‘in’ socket will allow external plug-in 2.5v power. (I have never used).
It has lots of built-in features to be used on your recordings such as high-pass filters, compressor and limiter.
It has a 3.5 earphones plug where you can listen to your recordings playback and also monitor your live recordings. There is of course playback facility without the use of earphones through a built in speaker located on the back of the Zoom.
One little thing I love is that it has a quarter-inch attachment thread on the back of the recorder so it can be screwed onto a second tripod or other attachment near your external microphone. Even onto a boom pole It allows you to be free when recording instead of being attached by a cable to your Blimp/boom pole. Also it allows you to monitor the controls this way. You could also use the x/y microphones on a camera and attach the Zoom to the camera for recording a conference type recording this way
Because of its extensive menu, it is like walking around with your personal sound engineer. Because you can just plug in your lapel microphone and put this Zoom H5 in your pocket and just record away.
Processing is done through downloading via usb so the sd card need never leave the recorder.
It comes with a foam muffler for the X/Y microphones and a great little shaped plastic hard case to protect it from knocks when not in use.
My opinion of the Zoom H5? I use it all the time for making my own videos. As already shown in this Zoom H5 review. It is more than just a sound recorder for video production because it has many different uses. It comes with a lot of facilities on it’s menu that I would never use. I use it for mobile/outside recording with my Rode NTG2 (in a blimp). Also for studio recording with a clip-on/lapel microphone. It is simply to operate when recording and when transferring to pc. It is very versatile.
Pros: Phantom power. Ease-of-use. Lots of features. Multiple microphone sockets.
Cons: The top stereo X/Y microphones are a worry regards being damaged.