If you’re looking for a pro-quality digital recorder with a tonne of flexibility, but at a decent price, then this article is for you. This is my Zoom H5 review, where I peel back the layers and show you whether this device is worth the money.
Try to imagine you have access to an amazing shrinking machine that can take large immobile objects and make them hand-held size. Then, imagine using this machine on your average good quality mixing desk, a device that’s often very immobile! The result is something akin to our subject for today, the most excellent Zoom H5 Digital Audio Recorder.
If you’re looking for a quality digital recorder to capture audio on the go, without sacrificing the sound quality and recording options of a mixer in a studio, then the Zoom H5 could very well be your dream gadget. Let’s break this recorder down and see what the Zoom H5 brings to the table.
Price Point and Starting Out
If you are starting out as a podcaster there are definitely cheaper options than the Zoom H5 within the Zoom line, as well as several cheaper digital recorders from other manufacturers on the market. So it’s important to keep this in mind. The Zoom H5 can be purchased for around $350 AUD, £180 UK, $275 USD. If you can find them cheaper in your area, then you’re getting a bargain.
This might be a little pricey for some people, but what is great about the Zoom H5, is the quality of the sound and the options that come with it. The preamp upgrade over the Zoom H4n, and other previous models, is very noticeable and produces crisp, clean audio without having to use any other microphones other than the super cool interchangeable mic capsules that Zoom has developed for their line of digital recorders.
It’s also very good value for a device that can record two separate XLR mics, out of the box, and more if you add one of the Zoom range of extra capsules. Compare the price to the Zoom H6 – the H5’s older brother – and it’s actually quite reasonable for all the features. The H6 has more, and can take 4 mics by default, but it’s a much higher price-point. And a lot of the extra features are overkill for most podcasters. Remember we have a Zoom H5 vs Zoom H6 article for a full comparison.
Check out the PodCraft Podcast PS05 that talks about the five levels of podcasting kit setup. The Zoom H5 is for podcasters who are trying to use level 4 kits and above, basically semi-professional to professional podcasts.
What’s In The Box?
Obviously, you are going to get the Zoom H5 digital audio recorder, but it also comes with an interchangeable, shock-mounted, X/Y Stereo mic that is able to handle up to 140 decibels. This gives you more than enough to record some great podcasts without spending another dollar.
However, if you have an awesome mic that you want to keep using, you can plug it straight into one of the two XLR inputs on the bottom of the device or the line in for mics that work with headphone jacks or from your computer if that is the setup that you are using.
If you decide to purchase the Zoom H5 here is a list of what you will get right out of the box:
- Operation manual
- XYH-5 X/Y mic capsule
- SD card (2 GB) Which is good because the H5 Records directly to SD and SDHC
- AA size (LR6) battery x 2
- USB cable
- Foam windscreen
- Steinberg WaveLab LE software download
- Steinberg Cubase LE software download
If you want more options, which are always nice to have, here is a list of what else you can get for the Zoom H5:
- SGH-6 Shotgun Mic Capsule
- SSH-6 Stereo Shotgun Mic Capsule
- EXH-6 Dual XLR/TRS Combo Capsule
- XYH-6 X/Y Mic Capsule
- MSH-6 Mid-Side Mic Capsule
- HS-01 Hot Shoe Mount Adapter
- WSU-1 Universal Windscreen
- APH-5 Accessory Pack includes RCH-5 wired Remote Controller,
- AD-17 USB-type AC adapter, and Hairy Windscreen
My Top Pros vs Cons
- Build Quality Is Superb
- Portable, Hand-held Studio-Like Sound
- Rubberized Grip Reduces Handling Noise
- Interchangeable Mics + 2 XLR Mic Inputs (+2 More With Additional Capsule)
- The Gain Controls Are Very User Friendly
- Separate Volume Control For Headphone Jack Is Great
- A Bit Pricey If You Are On A Budget
- It Is Not The Flagship Model In The Zoom Series (That is the Zoom H6)
Before running out and grabbing one, take a minute to listen to what the Zoom H5 is capable of below. These are a few sounds the Zoom H5 recorded without any post-production added to them. They’re as raw as eating sushi inside of a butcher’s shop, and they still sound delicious.
Let’s get one thing clear, there are cheaper ways to podcast than the Zoom H5. So if you are just starting out and trying to podcast on a budget, this is probably not a piece of equipment that you want to add to your kit, at least right now.
The Zoom H5 is for podcasters who are trying to get that professional quality sound, without paying through the nose. It is nestled, nicely between Budget Kits and Break-The-Bank setups. The Zoom H5 especially excels at getting beautiful recording quality audio on the go. So if you have the money and like getting impromptu interviews at Comic Con, the latest gossip in the hair salon, or interviews with people whenever or wherever, then the ZOOM H5 is a solid choice and should make you toss and turn at night until you buy it. Enough said, start podcasting.
Of course, other digital recorders are available too. If you’re tempted by the H5 but still want to shop around a little, here’s our roundup of the Best Digital Recorders for Podcasting!