Zoom iQ6 is a portable microphone designed to work with iOS devices. It looks similar to the mic on the Zoom H6 portable recorder, and is available at a much lower price. So, will it sound as good, or should you stick to a real recorder? Read the comparison of Zoom iQ6 vs H6 below to find out.
The discussion below will cover about:
- The design and build quality of each device
- The features of Zoom iQ6 and Zoom H6
- The available connection options on each device
- The sound quality of Zoom iQ6 vs H6
- Which recording device that will give you the best value
Zoom iQ6: Design
As a portable microphone that is designed to work with iOS devices, Zoom iQ6 needs to be compact and lightweight. It doesn’t fail in that regard. This microphone is sufficiently compact and lightweight to attach to your iOS device without adding too much bulk, and to fit inside your shirt’s pocket. See also: Shure MV88 vs Zoom iQ6
The mic actually has two capsules that are arranged in an X/Y pattern. On the bottom, you can find the Lightning connector. The base is slim enough to allow you to fit the mic on an iOS device that is wearing an external case without a problem.
The construction is mostly plastic. However, it is quite solid and durable, so you don’t need to worry. On the front, you can find a large knob for adjusting the mic’s gain and also a three-stage meter. On the side, there is a headphone output which is very handy for direct monitoring.
One of the primary advantages of Zoom iQ6 vs H6 is the practicality. The idea is that you don’t need to bring a bunch of recording equipment; you just need to bring this portable mic and your iPhone or iPad. With Zoom H6, you will need to carry a handheld unit and perhaps some mics. The box includes a foam wind screen that can be useful in outdoor situations because the mic doesn’t have a built-in wind noise reduction feature.
Zoom iQ6: Features
Since Zoom iQ6 is just the mic and not a recorder, you need a mobile app to do the recording. It can work with popular recording apps like Voice Memos and GarageBand, but you need its dedicated app in order to access some advanced features. The mobile app for Zoom iQ6 is called HandyRecorder.
In the mobile app, you can see a more precise meter that shows the mic’s input level in real-time. You can adjust the mic’s gain remotely through the mobile app, too. One nice feature is the automatic start; you can make it start recording automatically, so you don’t need to be near your iOS device all the time. Then, you can choose to save the recording in WAV or AAC.
The sharing features of HandyRecorder are quite limited. It can only share via email and upload to SoundCloud. It also has some basic editing and mixing features. You can split and combine recordings on the mobile app. You can also add EQ, reverb, and compression. As mentioned previously, there is no wind noise reduction feature. The quality of the effects is good but not great.
The only problem with Zoom iQ6’s mobile app is the clunky user interface. It looks a bit outdated, and the file management hasn’t been optimized. It is usable and functional; you just need to get used to its quirks. Then again, if we compare the capabilities of Zoom iQ6 vs H6, there are indeed several cool features that are only available on Zoom H6. For example, Zoom iQ6 can only record one track at a time.
Zoom iQ6: Performance
Zoom iQ6 has very good performance. It is difficult to beat Zoom iQ6 at this price point. Despite being a simple and budget-friendly mic, Zoom iQ6 is able to record sound with exceptional detail, clarity, and accuracy.
The maximum quality setting is only 16-bit/48kHz, but this should be good enough for most purposes already. Zoom iQ6 can record on-stage musical performances, interviews, podcasts very well. Vocals sound clean and articulate with nice subtle nuances. Instruments also sound rich and detailed.
As long as the distance to the source is not too far, the recording will have ample volume. However, depending on the environment, finding that sweet spot can be quite tricky. Sometimes, you can’t get as close as you want. Still, Zoom iQ6 is great for home studios and small gigs, and pretty much for any situation that requires a portable mic.
Zoom H6: Design
Zoom H6 is a portable recorder that has been designed to be extremely flexible and versatile. It should interest amateur film makers, musicians, and any person that has to record multiple sources at the same time. Zoom H6 can record up to six tracks simultaneously, and the body is equipped with four inputs that can accept different attachments to suit different needs and purposes. You can swap the attachments quickly to change the recorder’s capabilities.
The four inputs are XLR/TRS combo sockets, each of which has an independent phantom power, gain control, and pre-attenuation pad switch. So, you can connect condenser microphones and instruments directly.
However, the box does include two mic attachments. One is an X/Y mic, while the other is an M-S mic. Other optional accessories that are sold separately include shotgun mics and dual XLR/TRS combo attachments for additional inputs. The box also includes a foam wind shield that can be used on either the X/Y mic or the M-S mic.
So, when choosing between Zoom iQ6 vs H6, you need to consider how many inputs and how much versatility that you need. For simple recording, Zoom iQ6 is a fine choice. For more complex set-ups that require multiple inputs to be captured into different tracks, you need Zoom H6.
The build quality of Zoom H6 is exceptionally good. The plastic casing is rubberized, so it is not slippery and it won’t create ridiculous handling noise. The display screen is tilted, so you will be able to read the shown information from different angles. The plastic casing is quite lightweight, but still feels very sturdy and durable. As a recorder, Zoom H6 is quite portable and easy to carry around.
Zoom H6: Features
Since Zoom H6 can record up to six tracks simultaneously, you can purchase two combo attachments and plug them onto the recorder in order to expand the number of inputs to six. Besides functioning as a recorder, Zoom H6 can also work as an audio interface. Simply connect Zoom H6 to your DAW using a USB cable. While in the Multitrack Mode, Zoom H6 can send all of the six audio channels to the DAW while providing a return signal for monitoring.
The display screen has two pages that are essential for the recorder’s operation. On the Monitor Mixer page, you can manage the input settings. It will also show for each channel whether the phantom power, low-cut filter, or compressor/limiter is applied or not. On the Project Mixer page, you can process pre-recorded materials from the storage and mix them into a stereo track.
The other features are spread around the sides of the hardware. There is a memory card slot which supports up to 128GB, a headphone output, a USB port, line out sockets, and a remote control socket. There is also a built-in speaker for reviewing the recordings. While using a pair of headphones is generally more recommended, the speaker can be quite handy for quick checks in the field.
Zoom H6: Performance
In terms of performance, Zoom H6 is great. It is able to record in a maximum quality of 24-bit/96kHz. Compared to Zoom iQ6, the sound captured by Zoom H6 is indeed richer and more detailed, though the sound quality will also depend on the particular mics that you use.
The included mics offer decent quality. It is fair to say that these mics re better than what other portable recorders have in this price range. While budget models often have audible noise, Zoom H6’s mics have almost zero noise.
Zoom H6 can tackle serious recording work. The only limitation is the lack of a high-impedance input, which is needed if you want to connect an electric guitar or bass directly. Still, the versatility and performance are excellent. The X/Y mic has very good dynamic range with a narrow pick-up angle. The M-S mic also has comparable dynamic range, but with a wider pick-up angle and a more expansive sound.
This portable recorder runs on battery and can last for up to 20 hours. However, you can also power up the unit with an external USB battery. The battery life is quite long, but in case that you run out of battery, the ability to use an external USB battery is quite relieving.
Zoom iQ6 vs H6
If you only need to do simple recording, Zoom iQ6 is a good choice. It has decent sound quality, too. However, if you need a more complex set-up that requires multiple mics that are recorded into different tracks, you should choose Zoom H6. Also, Zoom H6 has higher sound quality.