If you are looking for a high-quality recorder for your music or an interview, you can never go wrong with Zoom’s products!
Two of their best ones are the Zoom H5 and H6!
But which is the way to go? Who is superior between the Zoom H5 vs. H6?
We’ve got you covered! Allow us to walk you through this convenient comparison guide to help you make the right decision!
Ready? Let’s get started!
Zoom H5 Overview
The Zoom H5 has 2 XLR mic inputs, making it great for journalism, like recording interviews and small podcasts.
On the X/Y mic capsules side, there are two XLR inputs and one 3.5 mm headphone jack connector, which the TS or TRS connectors use.
You can also connect external microphones or a line-level device to the X/Y mic’s mic/line input jack. If you have mics that need it, the jack can also supply plug-in power (like a lavalier mic!).
The XLR inputs accept larger microphones like those used for podcasts or film. Meanwhile, a stereo signal can be recorded using the TRS plug.
Exceptional Battery life
The Zoom H5 has up to 15 hours of battery life on 2 alkaline AA batteries, without any external mics connected.
However, if the two microphones are plugged in or the digital recorder needs to supply phantom power, its long battery life will deplete faster.
So if you plan on doing this, make sure to carry extra batteries!
Perfect for the Road
The Zoom H5 is sturdy but light and can take a roughing, which is useful when you’re always on the go.
It’s very portable and even comes with a cushioned, compact plastic case!
Better Audio Quality
It has the same preamps as the Zoom H6, and the sound quality isn’t much different either. But it is WAY better than the previous model, the Zoom H4.
The self-noise and the preamps on this new model are also better than the Zoom H4.
This means that when you record quiet sounds, you will notice that there is less hiss.
The Zoom H5 is ideal for recording voice, but it is flexible enough to record sound effects excellently when you need it to.
It also features a -12 dB backup recording so that when you record, it creates a backup file of your recording but makes it 12dB quieter.
SDHC or SD cards with a capacity of up to 32 GB are required for storage. So you won’t run out of space even if you’re recording at 96 kHz!
Even if you’re recording a stereo track at 24bit/48kHz, you can record up to 33 hours of sound!
An upgraded feature from the Zoom H4 to the Zoom H5 is that this new recorder is modular!
The X/Y mic at the top can also be removed and replaced with 6 different mic capsules!
The Zoom H5 isn’t just a recorder; it can also function as an audio interface!
Just connect it to your laptop using a USB cable, and you’re all set!
Additionally, it also has a metal bar, making it difficult to accidentally tap and change the input levels while recording.
- Great for lavalier mics, can provide 2.5V plugin power
- Can do four-track simultaneous recording
- Excellent build quality. Rugged and built for the road
- A backlit display screen is great for low light environments
- Two XLR inputs limit
- The LCD screen can not easily be seen when mounted on top of a DSLR
- No built-in storage
Zoom H6 Overview
The Zoom H6 has fully built-in XLR inputs and can plug up to 4 microphones, making it great for band music and studio use and podcasts for more than 2 people.
The Zoom H6 features 4 XLR/TRS combo inputs, but it can simultaneously record up to six tracks with the mic capsules.
You can monitor the level of each individual track by plugging a mic into each input. And you can also record a -12dB safety track!
The Zoom H6 recorder comes with an X/Y capsule, but you can buy and use it with the other available capsules compatible with the Zoom H5.
Sturdy Build Quality
The moment you hold it, you already know that the Zoom h6 is well-built.
The weight feels substantial, and it even comes with a rubberized plastic casing! This eliminates most of the handling noise when you’re out recording.
It features a 2-inch full-color LCD, down-angled screen, making it best for people who have the recorder closer to their eye level.
No more fuss when your recorder is mounted on a DSLR!
The Zoom H6 has up to 20 hours of battery life without connecting external microphones.
But again, it can change depending on the different variables of your recording conditions.
The more mics are plugged in and the more power it needs to supply to those mics, the faster the battery depletes.
The Zoom H6 can record up to 24bit / 96 kHz and captures MORE DETAIL than the Zoom H5, making it the perfect recorder for sound effects, ambiance, or ASMR!
- Great value for money
- Features hold settings, something that the Zoom H5 does not have.
- Longer battery life
- More XLR / TRS combo inputs
- Best for DSLR usage
- The screen that displays up to six tracks can look cramped
- A bit heavy and bulky
Zoom H5 vs. H6: Tech Specs Showdown
After looking at the two devices side by side, let’s look at them side by side.
Inputs and Outputs
The major differences between the two recorders are in the inputs.
Let’s take a closer look!
Zoom H5 vs. H6: Inputs
The Zoom H5 has one stereo mic and two phantom-powered inputs so that it can supply power to an external mic.
You can also plug in a lapel mic right in a separate port and use that instead of the capsule. However, that port is not phantom-powered.
The winning formula of the Zoom H6, however, is that it features four inputs that are phantom powered, for a total of six input channels.
That being said, the H6 wins this input category of Zoom H5 vs. H6!
Zoom H5 vs. H6: Outputs
The Zoom H5 has a black and white backlit LCD display. It will work fine in places where there is little to no light.
Meanwhile, the Zoom H6 has a color screen that is also sharper.
However, due to the layout of the H6 screen and the number of input tracks it needs to display simultaneously, it will take longer than a glance to get all that information.
Both recorders can also send their audio files to DAWs through their USB connection.
Size and Structure
Zoom H5 is smaller and lighter than the Zoom H6, so in the portability category of Zoom H5 vs. H6, the H5 wins!
The Zoom H5 also has some nice rounded edges, while the Zoom H6 is sleeker and looks more structured.
Both recorders provide phantom power for any condenser microphone.
The Zoom H6 can power all four microphones, and the Zoom H5 can power its two additional XLR mics.
However, neither of them extends the phantom power provided to the additional ports.
Sound Quality Comparison
If you have heard of the Zoom H4n Pro, these two Zoom recorders sound similar. However, they are both a great improvement from the Zoom H4.
The sound quality for the two digital recorders is ALMOST IDENTICAL. However, there are a few key differences.
In the bass response category of the Zoom H5 vs. H6, the Zoom H5 wins since it has a slightly better bass response.
When it comes to extreme details, the Zoom H6 wins. It captures a little more detail than the Zoom H5.
The Zoom H5 also has reduced midrange and low frequencies, giving it a less powerful low end than the Zoom H6.
Zoom H5 vs. H6: Similarities and Differences
Both recorders are modular, and they both come with a Zoom dual XLR/TRS input capsule. This input capsule lets both recorders connect two or more microphones.
Both recorders also feature up to 6 interchangeable capsules!
The only downside of the capsules is that none of them can receive phantom power supply from either recorder.
Both recorders are battery-powered, but the Zoom H5 has shorter battery life at 15 hours compared to the 20 hours of the Zoom H6.
It’s mostly because the Zoom H6 requires four batteries instead of the Zoom H5’s two, so the H6 wins in the battery life category.
Final Verdict: Zoom H5 vs. H6
The big question in the H5 vs. Zoom H6 debate is, will you need more than two inputs? Since it’s the only difference, these two recorders have.
The price difference isn’t huge, so if you think you will, you should purchase the H6.
If you are a musician, you will be better off buying the Zoom H6 since you will need all the phantom-powered plugs you can get.
You gain more control over your live music recording balances with these additional inputs.
The Zoom H6 will give you more room to edit your sounds in the post-processing category.
The Zoom H6 also wins if you are a professional sound recorderist, a filmmaker, an audio enthusiast, or an ASMR artist since it can capture those very detailed sounds a little better.
However, the sound quality difference margin is VERY MINIMAL!
Without compromising the excellent audio quality, you can settle with the Zoom H5 unless you need those extreme details.
However, if you don’t need more XLR inputs, the Zoom H6 is not worth the additional cost. It’s perfect for journalists or those who will only record audio of two external mics.
And that’s all!
It comes down to whether you will need all those upgraded inputs and features the H6 has because if you don’t, the Zoom H5 is already perfect!
We hope this comparison guide helped you come to a decision!