Following the 2015 release of the Zoom F8, Zoom North America has a new multi-track field recorder, the Zoom F4. This 6-input/8-track field recorder includes four low-noise mic pre-amps and produces high-quality audio recording at a superb price ($650). Additionally, it can record up to eight tracks from six total inputs at resolutions up to 24-bit/192kHz.
Zoom F4 Design
Input-wise, the Zoom F4 has four locking Neutrik XLR/TRS combo connectors, a Zoom mic capsule input and a 3.5mm stereo input. Output-wise, you get two main outputs and two sub outputs in addition to a ¼-inch headphone jack with a dedicated volume control. The Zoom F4’s onboard mixer and effects provide signal routing from all inputs to all outputs, as well as controls for level, pan and delay and noise reduction filtering.
The Zoom F4’s predecessor, the F8, is similar in that they both have four preamps. With the F4, each input has individually switchable phantom power, a High Pass Filter adjustable from 80Hz to 240Hz, a polarity invert option, a built-in delay for synchronising different input sources, and a comprehensive limiter with hard or soft knee operation and adjustable threshold, attack and release.
There’s also an optional MS decoding and a high-quality mic preamps with up to 75 dB gain, less than -127 dBu EIN and +4 dB line inputs, and a Temperature Compensated Crystal Oscillator (TCXO), which gives you accurate time code down to .2 ppm.
The F4 measures approximately 7″ x 6″ x 2″ and weighs around 2 lbs without batteries. It comes with an AC adaptor, a USB Audio interface, a Hirose connector and a camera mounting plate. SD cards sold separately.
Zoom F4 Operation
The Zoom F4 can record .wav files in mono or poly formats. All files are written to removable SD cards. The F4 has two SD card slots and is capable of recording to both cards simultaneously. It can also record different things on each card in real time. It also features a dual record option when using inputs one and two, allowing each input to be recorded to a second safety track at a lower level. For further peace of mind, the F4 saves files while recording to prevent data loss upon sudden power loss or SD card removal. A 1.9-inch white backlit monochrome LCD promises to clearly display recording settings in any situation.
To power the Zoom F4, you have the option of a DC socket or an internal 8-cell battery. As with the F8, the battery pack slides into a compartment on the back panel that is covered by a hinged metal door.
Zoom F4 Performance & Bottom Line
The Zoom F4 consistently operates as it should. It uses the same audio circuitry as the F8, and it provides an enhanced clear sound during playback, with full midranges and crisp highs. Bass didn’t falter either, providing a huge sonic presentation.
With its superior preamps, timecode functionality, tons of professional in/outs and the over-the-shoulder form factor, it’s a beast and well worth the money. The Zoom F4 only has four preamps, but adding Zoom’s EXH-6 to the rear panel connector would provide another two. Having said that, most people don’t need more than four preamps.
The Zoom F4 is a true game changer, both in features and in price. It’s perfect for the Indy movie producer or anyone who takes their videography seriously. As mentioned, the Zoom F4 runs around $650, and you can buy it here.