An audio recording and my thoughts…
Are you ready to disengage from your frenzied day with 45 minutes of audio actuality?
The audio below is recorded with the Zoom F2 field recorder.
Wanting to kill two birds with one stone, I turned on the mic, jumped in the car and went shopping.
At the end of the trip I had two files (you will know why there’s two when you listen). One 646.2 MB 56min WAV file, plus a 14.3 MB 1min WAV file. Both were recorded as 32 bit float audio files and I pieced them together in GarageBand.
Finally to minimise your pain and frustration I have uploaded to Audioboom to embed here. No idea of the final size but I imagine it will be an MP3.
No prizes for listening to the end, just my respect.
So what’s so special about this recorder?
Well although it’s not the first audio recorder to offer 32bit float, I do believe it’s the smallest. Zoom were the first to market with a recorder that captured 32bit floating point audio when they released the Zoom F6. 32bit float audio has greater dynamic range than both 24 or 16-bit audio files.
Before I explain why that is so cool, there are a few things that can get in the way of you capturing high quality audio.
- The wrong mic for the environment
- Bad quality or faulty gear
- Incorrect mic placement
- Uncontrollable or unwanted ambient noise or echo
The main concern that I find the hardest to get right, or that will most often catch me out, is recording audio at a level that is either too high or too low.
Quite often this can be fixed in post production but when you increase the audio volume you also introduce unwanted noise.
Trying to recover audio that has distorted due to a sudden increase in volume is really hard and most times impossible to fix. On some recorders or set-ups you can protect against this by recording a ‘safety channel’ that records an extra track at a lower recording gain. But this complicates your workflow and gives you double the file size for everything you record.
Enter 32-bit float.
The more dynamic range you have in your recorded audio, the more final adjustment you’ll have without losing audio quality.
Right now a high quality audio recording might be captured as a 24-bit, 48 kHz WAV file. This has a dynamic range of 144.5 dB.
The dynamic range you can get from a 32-bit floating point audio file is a whopping 1,528 dB.
Although you can make some adjustments on the Zoom F2 when it’s connected to a computer, this recorder has no gain controls on the unit itself. But fear not, you are covered.
If you consider that the quietest sound in the world is the sound of a particle moving through air at -23 dB, and the loudest sound ever recorded was the Krakatoa eruption at 310dB, recording with a dynamic range of just 287dB should have you covered. (Although as dB is a logarithmic scale I may have these numbers wrong. Please feel free to correct me in the comments.)
So with the Zoom F2 you can hit record and faced with sudden laughs, slamming doors, screams, gunfire, exploding cars, cracks of lightning or even an erupting volcano, everything can be captured at the correct sound level.
There is also a bluetooth enabled version of the Zoom F2 for remote control recording and adjustment. But I was using the standard Zoom F2.
Here are some specs from the standard F2:
- A compact size at only 57x47x20mm
- Equipped Wirth 32-Bit Float for clip-free recording
- No need to adjust gain
- Records 44.1kHz/32-bit float or 48kHz/32-bit float audio files
- Lock the record button with Rec Hold function
- 1/8″ Mic In mini phone jack with plug-in power (2.5V)
- Stereo ⅛” Phone/Line Output jack with volume control
- 80 Hz low cut filter selected with computer app
- Records to micro SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards up to 512 GB
- Edit settings with USB-C connection and the F2 Editor app
- Runs on only 2 AAA alkaline, Lithium, or NiMH rechargeable batteries, or via an AC adapter (AD-17)
- Up to 15 hours of recording with two AAA alkaline batteries
I have tried this recorder with a variety of microphones and the only downside I can find is that it does not record in stereo. I’d love a unit this size to use with my binaural microphones. I would not be surprised to see a 32 Bit float update to the Zoom F1 around the corner. Perhaps the Zoom H1n will evolve into the Zoom H1f. Now that I would love to see.
I must thank Zoom UK for the loan of this device. This is not a paid endorsement. I’m a longtime fan of Zoom recorders (since 2007) and as soon as this is returned I’ll be ordering the BT version. If only so I can remotely control the recorder. File transfer will still have to be via USBC or a card reader but that’s not an issue.
I see this body-pack style recorder much more than just a back up audio capture device. It’s high quality audio recorder for podcasters, videographers, bloggers and journalists wanting hassle free one touch recording in a compact unit you really can carry anywhere.
Or anyone who never wants to clip their audio again.
Thanks for reading and listening. This post originally appeared in me weekly dispatch which you can find on Documentally.net Please head there to subscribe to that and my podcast.
Alan Williams says
I’m looking forward to getting my hands on one of these when they’re available in the UK (and not an import). Looks like that will be before the end of the month. Can think of lots of use cases for it.
Hi Alan, I had no idea they were not out yet. Seems like a long time ago when I first got wind of them. I was last told they would be in the UK by Christmas. Seems Brexit/Covid might be to blame.