Zoom F8 Field Recorder Review

Best Solution under a Grand

Images and my gear setup coming - check back in a few days (busy in the summer)

About 2 years ago I put together a solid audio solution for my needs, at that time I was and still am interested in field recordings.  I shelled out a bunch of money for some Sound Devices mixers, recorder and Sennheiser gear.  I still enjoy using the setup.  Recently I decided to lighten my bag and wanted to begin recording using a matched pair in a ORTF setup this began my search for a set up.

My search lead me to a Zoom F8, but before the F8 I was poised to purchase a Sound Devices 633, after all I was already using some Sound Devices equipment with excellent results. So, why look else where? My decision was not based on any short comings of the Sound Devices equipment, but more so on what mattered most to me.  Here is my rational.

Zoom found a way to target the fringes of Audio Enthusiast who simply don't need quad battery backups, with audio reporting, or other top shelf "extras" that drive up the cost of a recorder.  We need good low noise audio, with easy to use and flexible input/output capabilities and of course Time Code. A Zoom F8 is 1/5 the cost of something similar in Sound Devices line up and offers near same quality sound at the end of the day. 

With the money I saved buying the Zoom F8 over Sound Devices, I invested that into better Microphones, the other half of the equation for great audio. I know of no one who retires their Microphones. However, The same is hardly true for the "recording/mixing" electronics.. In a few years, I will move on to the Zoom F9 but my microphones will remain and be used as long as I take care of them.

In my research, I found four types of folks who talk about the F8 in no particular order.

1. The users of Sound Devices Equipment who believe only "professional" sound can be had using a 5K+ recorder.  This group may feel threatened by the "new" recorder on the block. We all respect why this group invest in top shelf equipment, if my income depended on it - I would do the same.

2. The seekers of  knowledge, those individuals looking to acquire "good" audio and are not sure what to get. You find them in forums and such asking questions - which is good. More than likely the Zoom F8 will be a perfect fit for them.

3. The reviewer who does reviews to do reviews. Maybe in the hopes of driving their SEO up or AD hits. They kind of  spew out facts & figures  of this and that.  A few have posted detailed "comparisons" see the BandH comparison, one of the better comparison for "end of day" sound quality.

4. Finally, the promoter, the person shouting good things about the F8. I kind of fall into this group but with a respect for reality - if your life does depends on day in day out of delivering audio that supports your family income, you may want to be Sound Devices ready, otherwise save yourself  thousands and invest in better Microphones.

So wow! where is the review.  I am working on it.

Photographer's Notes

Buy yourself a Zoom F8

Author: TrueToad
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I live at the edge of the forest in semi-moist locations, I enjoy larva, and other delights. Although I am toothless and mostly warty, I am a sight to see.

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2 comments on article "Zoom F8 Field Recorder Review"

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David Peterson

7/25/2016 5:18 AM

What Sound Devices mixer and recorder do you have at the moment, you'll keep using them I assume? What kinda things will make you pick the F8 or SD over the other?

I'm using a Sound Devices 552 in front of a Tascam DR680 at the moment myself:

But hope to upgrade to an F8 soon myself! Though no rush, might wait for 2017 and see if any good secondhand prices pop up on an F8.

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7/27/2016 1:09 PM

David Good Question: I have a 702 and 302 both are fantastic pieces of equipment. I primarily used the SD equipment for outdoor ambiance & nature sound recordings and wanted to begin using additional inputs. The 302/702 combo made that difficult. I was on the edge of buying a SD 633 but at the last minute changed my mind and picked up the F8 and after using the F8 now for a couple months I can say no regrets. very happy with the F8 and sound quality.

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