Zoom H5 wireless

Zoom H5 Review + Why It’s Useful in Video Production

There are several budget-friendly audio recorders available that are capable machines for recording sound in video productions, and the Zoom H4n and the Tascam DR-40 stand out as popular favorites. The new Zoom H5 recently arrived on the scene, and I finally had the chance to use it. On paper, I was aware of the new features it offered video people before I ever touched the thing. When I used the H5 for an extended period, I discovered a few more things that make it more attractive for video production, and I found some things that could be improved as well.

For starters, the most obvious thing that sets the Zoom H5 apart from the pack is its interchangeable microphone module port (a feature also found on the Zoom H6). You likely already know that you can attach a separately available Mid-Side or shotgun microphone capsule to this port to capture sound suitable for certain kinds of video productions—but its greatest virtue doesn’t require an extra purchase. What I love about the removable capsules is that I often don’t need to use onboard mics at all (I just use the XLR inputs), so I remove it altogether. This gives me a much more lightweight and compact device to work with. Without a capsule, the H5 is easier to mount to my shoulder rig, and it’s easier to fit into my audio bag, too.

Zoom H5 audio bag
The outputs of the Sound Devices 302 plugged into the Zoom H5

Another obvious aspect to the design of the H5 are the two physical input level dials on its front panel. As you would assume, they are indeed easier to adjust, especially when compared to the lone, rocker-style, side-mounted gain control on the Zoom H4n and the Tascam DR-40.

There is a slight downside to the rotary dials on the H5. When you have a microphone capsule attached and you want to record with it, the dial that controls the level of the capsule is attached to the capsule itself, which means that it’s located in a completely different place from the two built-in dials on the H5. It’s not a big problem, but it did throw me off a little bit once or twice when I was working with the recorder.

A much less obvious feature on the H5’s front panel are the four buttons that arm its separate tracks for recording. Each one has a dedicated red LED that let’s you know if a track is armed or not. These buttons and lights are exactly the kind of simple audio controls that I appreciate most.

Zoom H4 DSLR rig

One of the most beneficial features on the H5 for video production are its dual outputs. This is something you won’t find on the Zoom H4n or the Tascam DR-40. The Zoom H5 is equipped with a dedicated headphone output, and a separate “line” output. The reason this is important is that it enables you to connect a mini-plug cable to the line output on the H5 in order to record directly into the mic input on your camera. You can connect your headphones to the headphone output, so you can listen to the audio you’re recording into the H5 as you shoot. You can adjust the volume level of your headphones without changing the audio level you’re outputting to your camera.

Utilizing dual outputs to record sound in video production is a practice that can easily confuse beginners, as well as experienced video people who aren’t as well-versed in audio. Don’t let this stop you from learning this technique. It’s a little confusing, for certain, but even simple things involving audio can get confusing. If I can figure it out, you can too.

Zoom H4 outputs

The reason you can connect the line output of the H5 to the mic input on a camera is that the H5 allows you to turn the level of the line output down by -30dB. Again, this is confusing goobledeegook, but bear with me. A “line-level” signal is much stronger than a “mic-level” signal. If you plugged a line-level signal into the mic input on a camera, the audio would be an overdriven, distorted mess. You can’t damage your equipment by doing this, but the audio you record would be useless. This is why you can go into the menu on the H5 and turn its line output down by -30dB.

If the Zoom H5 didn’t let you turn down its line output, you would need to use a Sescom cable to properly tame the line-level signal down to a camera-friendly mic-level signal. I fully explain the Sescom cable workflow in my video review of the Zoom H5, and in an older video of mine called How to Use a Zoom H4n as an On-Camera Mic.

Zoom H4n Sescom

Even though having a dedicated line output that you can turn down by -30dB is a great feature for video people, I do have one gripe. Let me explain… I performed a shootout that pitted the Zoom H5 against the Zoom H4n. I tested both recorders with their XY stereo mics, and with external shotgun and hypercardioid mics. I recorded 24-bit 48kHz WAV files internally, but I also connected the recorders to my GH2 camera with cables. On the H5, I connected its line output to my camera with a standard mini-plug cable. On the H4n, I used a Sescom cable to connect the headphone output of the recorder to the mic input on my camera. My gripe is that, when recording directly into the camera, the audio from the H4n with a Sescom cable was clearly superior to the audio from the line output on the H5.

When I was doing the test, it was obvious that the audio coming from the line output of the H5 was hot, even with it turned down to -30dB, and the mic input on my GH2 turned all the way down. I was worried that the audio was clipping and distorting, but when I played the footage back on my computer, it was okay. However, the noise floor was much higher than the audio from the H4n + Sescom cable combination. In layman’s terms, the higher noise floor means that there was an audible hiss in the audio that the H5 fed to the camera, whereas the audio from the H4n + Sescom cable was clean.

Why did this happen? It’s likely that the mic input on the Panasonic GH2 camera is on the hot side itself, or, to put it another way, it’s like a volume knob that only turns down to 4, instead of all the way down to zero. There’s a chance that the GH2 is more sensitive than other cameras, and you might get better sounding results using another model of camera.

If I had been able to turn down the line output of the H5 to -40, -50 or -60dB, I could have recorded better sounding audio. If you already own a Sescom cable and you’re shooting with a GH2, you should continue to use your Sescom cable when you work with the H5. If you use another kind of camera, it’s worth your while to conduct a test of your own to determine what method yields the best sounding audio.

The video below demonstrates the difference in sound quality between recording to the SD card in the H5, and recording to the mic input of a Panasonic GH2 though the line output of the H5 using the SGH-6 shotgun capsule. It also compares how the Zoom H5 sounds when recording with an external hypercardioid microphone and feeding the GH2 through its line out. This is compared to a Zoom H4n using the same external hypercardioid mic, but recording into the GH2 through its headphone output using a Sescom cable. It’s best to wear headphones when watching it to hear the difference in noise floor:

While it’s a bummer that the audio I recorded with a Sescom cable sounded cleaner than the audio from the line out of the H5, it doesn’t diminish how I feel about the device on the whole. If I were to buy myself a new recorder right now, I would get the Zoom H5. I like the size. It doesn’t have a totally cheap, plasticy feel. The audio I recorded with it sounded good. The user interface makes sense to me. There’s a lot to like.

In the spirit of not letting compliments go unpunished, allow me to point out a shortcoming: it’s a bummer that the dual XLR inputs on the H5 do not have locking mechanisms. This is one area where the Tascam DR-40 outshines both the Zoom H4n and the H5. When I was setting up my shoulder rig with the H5 and two Sennheiser G3 wireless lav systems, I was never inspired with confidence when I attached the output cables of the wireless systems to the H5. Without the locks, you just never feel certain that everything is hooked up properly, period.

I admit that I found the SGH6 shotgun capsule to be a bit of an odd novelty at first. Then, when I heard what it sounded like, I was pleased. When I saw it mounted on my shoulder rig, it suddenly made total sense to me. With the SGH6 attached, the H5 becomes a recorder that handles the duty of the on-camera shotgun mic, in addition to handling two wireless receivers. It’s a solution for on-camera audio that’s pretty hard to beat. When I moved the H5 to the top of my shoulder rig with the SGH-6 attached, using the included “hairy” windscreen, I was pretty impressed with the how useful of a solution it was for on-camera audio capture.

Zoom H5 DSLR rig

What you need to build this rig:

Zoom H5 DSLR rig

As I mention in my video review, you should use a shockmount when you’re using any of the mic capsules with the H5 while mounting to a rig or a boompole. The only compatible shockmount I know of at this time is the Rycote Portable Recorder Suspension, and it costs $95. I didn’t have time to carry out extensive testing of how much handling and vibration noise the H5 picked up when hard-mounted to a rig or a boompole without a shockmount, but I did get to do some minor testing.


From simply walking around my apartment with the Zoom H5 + SGH6 combo hard-mounted to my shoulder rig, I can say that the amount of noise I picked up wasn’t too bad. It seemed to pick up more handling noise (mostly the sound of my hands gripping the handles of the rig) than vibration noise from walking around. It just might be workable without the $95 Rycote shockmount. But, getting that shockmount is probably worth it.

The Zoom H5 comes with a 2GB micro SD card, and an adapter to full-sized SD, because its built-in card slot is for a full-sized SD card. It’s odd, but it works. Like the H4n, the H5 comes with a form-fitting plastic case, which is useful. The case fits with the XYH-5 capsule attached, and it also holds the H5 snugly when it doesn’t have a capsule attached. Zoom gets points for attention to detail for that one! The SGH-6 shotgun capsule is sold separately, but it comes with a ”hairy” windscreen (that’s what it says on the box). The H5 runs on two AA batteries, which are included. There’s a bunch of functionality baked into the H5 for overdubbing and recording music, and you will likely never need or use any of it.

Pros:

  • Compact with capsule removed
  • Included XY mic capsule sounds nice
  • Optional SGH-6 shotgun capsule sounds good
  • Rotary level controls are nice
  • Illuminated track arm buttons rule
  • Separate line and headphone outputs
  • Optional module for adding two more XLR inputs

Cons:

  • More expensive than the Zoom H4n and Tascam DR-40
  • The line output fed audio that was too high of level for my GH2 (may not be an issue with other camera models)
  • XLR inputs do not have locks

At the end of the day, this is a low-budget, entry-level device. This is not a subsistute for a Zaxcom or Sound Devices recorder. That’s what the Zoom H5 isn’t. It is, however, a pretty cool recorder that’s affordable, and it’s a solid choice for budget-conscious video work.

Hear what the Zoom H5 sounds like in a shootout against the Zoom H4n and the Tascam DR-40 in this post.

Hear how the Zoom H5 sounds with the SGH-6 shotgun capsule in a shootout against the Rode NTG-3 and NTG-2 in this post.


Purchase links:

Zoom H5 - Amazon USA, Amazon.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr
Zoom H4n - Amazon USA, Amazon.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr
Tascam DR-40 - Amazon USA, Amazon.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr
Rode VideoMic Pro - Amazon USA, Amazon.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr
Revo SR-1000 Shoulder Rig - B&H Photo, Amazon USA, Amazon.uk
Revo Counterweight for the SR-1000 - B&H Photo, Amazon USA, Amazon.uk
Short Mini-Plug cables - Amazon USA, Amazon.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr
Sennheiser G3 Wireless - B&H Photo, Amazon USA, Amazon.uk, Amazon.fr

Published by

Sam

Writer, musician, photo taker and video maker. When not writing somewhat longish articles for this blog, I write incredibly short things on Twitter: @SamMallery

53 thoughts on “Zoom H5 Review + Why It’s Useful in Video Production”

  1. Sam, nice review, and this looks like a great audio device, could you please answer me this question ? I have problems with the Azden FMX DSLR XLR adapter, whenever in an event cell phones and all types of antennas cause RF interference, does this Zoom H5 has this problem ?

  2. Hi Felipe. Mobile phones can certainly cause problems with audio. The thing is, they usually need to be pretty close to the gear to interfere. Is it possibly your own phone that’s messing with your gear? What do you have plugged into your Azden FMX when you encounter this interference?

  3. Sam, no is not my phone are Mobiles say like 10-15 feet and closer, usually I plug an audio technica, 875, I mean in fact I know what I’m doing but when I do Corporete video and I’m in controlled situations there is no problem but fashion shows, events in general is where the problems are, antennas etc. that is why I appreciate your answer to how close a mobile phone can be to the zoom h5 to produce interference,

  4. One thing that might be worth a try is using an in-line radio frequency attenuator. It’s called the Shure A15RF. You plug it in between your mic and your XLR adapter. It’s designed to reduce the chances of picking up radio stations, but I made a note of it in the past because I was told that it helps to cut out mobile phone interference. I never ended up buying one, but for you, it’s probably worth a try. If it works out, it will save you money from having to upgrade the gear you have now.

  5. Thank you for the advice Sam I’ll give it a try, but I also did a test of the Azden minimixer without mics pluged and is the unit itself that catches the RFI, I was told that Beachtek does a better job in this respect what do you think ? One thing I have to tell you is that when I use the Azden SGM-1X shotgun with 3.5 adapter is possible to make a phone call from my mobile at 2 inches an there is not RFI, at all, probably is trhe moment to include another question to Beachtek one, Does the Shure VP83 can do that, I mean to make a mobile phone call a few inches close and not to catch RFI , just as the Azden SGM-1X does ?

  6. Sam, try setting the line output at -20 instead of -30. I believe the Sescom cable for the H4n is -20 unlike the -35 for Tascam. It may be possible your audio level going into your camera is actually too low and introducing the noise you are hearing.

  7. Hi Bill. Thanks for commenting. If I still had the H5, I would give this a try, but it was just a loaner from Zoom, and I already sent it back. That said, I don’t think setting the output at -20 will resolve the issue. The audio signal coming from the H5 at -30 was too hot, even with the input setting on the camera set at its lowest setting. Adding 10dB of gain by setting the H5 at -20 would just make it hotter, meaning more noise and likely some clipping. But, the gear isn’t here in front of me, so I can’t test it, so who knows. Maybe you’re right.

  8. Sam I’ll try the A15RF, Thank you for the advice, is it better between the mic plug and the cable or between the mixer plug and the cable ?

  9. What do you think about this Sescom SES-INLINE-EMCF Inline RF Filter, it mentions taht works with mobilephones signals and have neutrik connectors

  10. Hi Sam thanks for the useful review. May I ask a basic question from a novice that is puzzling me? Why would someone want to connect the line out from a Zoom H5 to the audio in of their camera and record the audio on the camera when they can record the audio on the Zoom at better quality? I assume there is an advantage but it is escaping me! :o)

  11. Sam,

    A follow up to an earlier comment re: audio line level to camera mic level. I just had the opportunity to calibrate my H5 line output VS signal to my SONY a99. mic input/ The H5 was recorded pink noise at -6db (could have been another level but picked this one as a reference) and the line output was set to -30 db. That signal was fed to my camera. That signal was well within the manual range adjustment of the camera. So the point was to have the H 5 and camera both read -6 db. With this calibration done the camera levels and H5 levels stayed in sync. There were no issues with noise or clipping when the levels in the H5 were set within the proper range. I had been using the 20db pad cable as you have. There is no sonic reason to continue with that cable unless there is some issue with a particular camera’s mic preamp or sensitivity. I suspect that may be the case with your camera – it should not have been “hot” with a feed of -30db. Perhaps your H5 may have had an issue with its line output.

    Cheers, Bill

  12. Basic questions are encouraged. It’s beneficial to do this for a few reasons:

    1) If something goes wrong with your recorder, say the file you recorded gets corrupted, or something similar happens, you will have a really decent sounding second copy of the audio in your camera. It’s a redundancy. Like the old military saying: two is one, one is none.

    2) If you have nice sounding audio recorded into your camera, you have the option not to sync in post. YES, it’s better to have the high-resolution audio from your portable recorder in your final product, but, it’s also nice to have the option to skip the syncing process in post.

    3) If you shoot and review your footage in the field as you work, you get a better idea of how your production is going when you can hear good audio straight out of the camera.

  13. I’m using two external microphones. What kind of signal comes out of ‘line out’: is it a stereo signal or a mixed signal?
    If stereo, will they appear as two different separated tracks in post?
    I’m considering to buy a panasonic gh4.

  14. The line out is stereo. In post the audio from your camera will show up as a single stereo track. If you duplicate this track in post, and pan one track left and the other right, you will get separate, isolated tracks of each of your microphones.

  15. Thank you Sam for your very clearly articulated answer. I shall be venturing into videography for the first time, mainly recording myself as a talking head and sometimes interviewing another person. I shall get the H5 and a couple of wireless lavaliers for my audio setup. Thanks for the help.

  16. Hi Sam,

    Question… Which dynamic mic would you use with the Zoom H5? I was thinking about using the Shure SM57 with a windscreen. It’s the same mic the president uses. What is your thought?

    Thanks,
    John

  17. Depends on what you’re miking. An SM57 sounds good on electric guitar amps (and lots of other stuff), but, assuming you need a mic for video production, a 57 usually isn’t the best mic to use. As far as dynamic mics go, most people use those for handheld interview situations in video. For this purpose, you are much better off using an omni-directional mic (the 57 has a cardiod pickup pattern). My first choice would be an Electro-Voice RE50N/D-B. It’s a dynamic handheld mic with an omni pickup pattern. The reason you want omni is that people often move their heads around as they’re speaking. With a cardiod mic, you get distracting dips in volume when people move their heads around, because they’re moving in and out of the pick up pattern. It’s also nice to have a mic with a longer stem, like the Rode Reporter.

  18. Hi Eric,

    Thank you!

    I did not know anything about omni directional mics.

    If I may ask… which carrying bag would you use with a Zoom H5 Recorder & the Electro-Voice RE50N/D-B to conduct interviews on the street?

    And should I use the Zoom H5 software? Please see link >>> http://www.zoom.co.jp/products/h5/software/

    ~ John

  19. Hello Sam,

    Thank you for your discussion on Zoom H5. I have 2 questions:
    1. By connecting the H5 to a camera using a Sescom cable, is the audio automactically sinced to the video? I assumed this was the whole point of conntecting the two but I just wasn’t sure.
    2. If I use a Sescom cable does this mean I don’t have to mess with the output and input levels?

    Thanks very much for any help you have.

    Henry

  20. I have not had a problem using the H5 setting of -30db line output. Did not need the Sescom -20db cable pad.If you have manual audio control in your camera make sure it isn’t set to a high level.

  21. Hi,

    I have a Sony Handycam PJ260VE. I want to use H5 as a on camera mic. But, this handycam does not have any point to fix anything on it. Secondly, how long cable can I use so that I will be able to use H5 as it is without any external mics attached to my camera?

  22. Greatly appreciated both this blog and the video. I’m about to buy a GH4 and have been trying to sort out my audio options first. You explain beautifully how I could use a Zoom H5, but I have one question.

    I notice your tests were done on a GH2. There has been discussion on-line about a problem with the GH4’s audio jack input. Apparently it has, I believe, four sleeves, whereas the standard jack found with most mics, and by the look of it the Zoom, have three. This is apparently leading to grounding problems, with a corresponding buzz/humm on the audio.

    I’m including here a link to one of those sites “GH4 External Mic Audio Issue and Workaround” http://eriknaso.com/2014/05/23/gh4-external-mic-audio-issues-and-work-around/ This site gives a link to a B&H video where a Panasonic representative acknowledges the problem.

    Are you aware of this issue with the GH4? Do you feel using the H5 with the attenuator as you describe would work with this model?

    Thanks again for the blog and video.

    John

  23. I bought the H5 to use the multi file/overdub feature. The manual says you can easily assign one track to another. I guess you don’t have the H5 anymore. But do you remember how to do this? The manual doesn’t help me at all! thanks… Tom

  24. Hello! Thanks for the great review and video. I am brand new to all this audio stuff, and am trying to learn more about digital audio recorders for podcasting. I realize this may not be your primary area of interest, but since you have the best review I’ve found so far, and are WAY more knowledgeable than I, I figured I would ask.

    A lot of podcasters recommend the Roland R-05 or the Zoom H4n. I don’t see many picking the H5. Part of that is because there are not a ton of recommendation lists that have been written recently (it seems that many of these lists were written awhile ago and are seldom updated). Another reason may be the price, but I’m ok with the added expense if it offers the value.

    All that said, in your opinion, would the H5 be a good option for someone looking to record podcasts from a mixer, or do “in the field” interviews, etc.? Is there any reason, other than price, that the Roland or H4n would be better? I preferred the audio quality of the H5 in the tests you ran, and I like the look and feel of it. I just don’t know much about the bells and whistles of any of these things yet and want a more experienced opinion.

    Thanks!

  25. Hi Sam, just read with great interest your comparisons of the Tascam DR40 & the ZOOM H5.
    I am a voice over-artist traveling a lot & in need of a very mobile & light recording solution. I will be using my airbook to mail the files & a Sennheiser MK4. I will only use an external mike & record in mono. Is the H5 my right choice, considering that I can remove the internal mikes & travel even “lighter”? Thanks for your advice!

  26. Hi There,

    I have a Zoom H6 and I am looking for a bag that I can rest the Zoom on top of and let my 4 senheiser Recievers sit inside the bag.

    I shoot on a DSLR and I often need to change levels while shooting so I need the zoom to be sitting on top so I dont have to pull it out and adjust. I want to be able to look straight down and make adjustments. Do you know of anything?

  27. Hey Sam,
    great review about the Zoom H5. Did you have any experience about using the Zoom H5 as an audio interface with an iPad?
    Regards
    Xiron

  28. Hi Xiron,

    I haven’t used the H5 as an audio interface with an iPad. I sold my iPad a couple of years ago. I have a toddler (and a 9-month old, too) and I decided that I don’t want tablets in the house until the kids are much older.

    But, I did use a Samson Meteor USB Mic with an iPad once. It was incredibly simple. I plugged the mic into the iPad’s port and it just worked. I would assume that Apple makes it just as easy with the H5. There may be a mode you need to put the H5 into to use it as an audio interface, so it may not be as ultra-simple as the Meteor, but it’s probably pretty easy.

    The recordings I made with the Meteor and the iPad sounded really nice. I would assume that the H5 would deliver nice sounding audio with an iPad as well.

  29. Hi Sam, I recently bought the H5, we’re wanting to mount it on a Sony DCR VX2000 camcorder to shoot live audio/video of our band. Any suggestions on which type/brand of external mics would best serve our purpose….and should we purchase a Seacom cable. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

  30. Hi Chick. First let me say that I’m intrigued that you’re using a cutting-edge audio recorder with an old school video camera that records to MiniDV tapes. Are you using this camera for budgetary purposes, or are you after a certain kind of retro look?

    Before you buy anything else, I recommend using the stereo microphone module that comes with the H5 first. Set it up, make sure the levels are good when you record, and shoot. Then, try placing the recorder/mics in different positions/locations around the room/space. The sound quality will change radically when the mics are in different positions/locations, and you will find the best sounding sweet-spot that way. The best sounding spot often isn’t obvious.

    If you’re still not happy with the sound, you can try using external mics. However, without knowing what kind of music you make, and how it sounds, I really can’t suggest specific mics.

    As far as the Sescom cable is concerned, the main reason to get one is to save time in post, so you don’t have to sync external audio files with the video. However, if you’re recording music, it’s definitely worth the extra effort to sync the externally recorded files with the video. The external files will sound better.

    The nice thing about not using a Sescom cable is that you can position the H5 where it sounds best, and position the camera where the shot looks the best, and not have to worry about patching a cable between the two.

    The nice thing about using a Sescom cable would be if you experienced “drift” between the two recorders. This happens most often during long takes. Drift is when the video footage drifts out of sync with the audio. It’s very distracting for the viewer, and must be corrected in post. With a Sescom cable, the sound recorded in the camera would be less susceptible to drift during long takes. But, for your purposes, the Sescom cable certainly isn’t a necessity.

  31. Thanks for the reply Sam. As for the camcorder, I’m using it because it’s all I have. We’re not looking to shoot professional video per se. We have a four-piece blues band and was hoping we could simply hot-shoe the H5 on the camcorder and in addition run two external mics off the H5 to record live gigs. Mostly for personal use, possibly put up some clips on our fb & gplus page.

    We made some pretty good recording with the H5 by itself just using it’s two condenser mics. We’ve tried various placements of the H5 but are still seeing that we’re not getting a good balance mix of instruments. Putting the H5 in the middle the drums are too hot…to the left or right of the stage, whatever instrument is on that side is too hot.

    Our thinking was by using the H5 onboard mics & two external mics placed to the left and right of stage, we could adjust the gain of each to get a more balanced sound.

  32. Okay. Got it.

    Here’s my “econo” recommendation… try using a pair of basic dynamic mics. These are the mics you encounter at most music venues and bars. The most common one is the Shure SM58LC. You may already have a pair of these lying around, or, if your band plays a show, they will most likely have these (or something else like them). Set them up on basic mic stands, and give it a go. It may do the trick, and you won’t have to spend any money. The combination of the condenser mics on the H5 and the dynamic mics may round out the sound nicely.

    If you try that and you’re not into it, perhaps try a pair of small diaphragm condenser mics. A decent option on a budget would be two Audio-Technica Pro 37‘s. Those mics are the starting point, price wise, of what I would recommend. If you have a bigger budget, there are certainly better sounding options.

    I tend to like small condenser mics for the purpose you stated. They have a neutral response, and can sound very natural when used correctly. Plus, they’re small, lightweight, and easy to mount and position.

    If that route doesn’t appeal to you, try a pair of large diaphragm condenser mics. The starting point price-wise of what I would recommend would be a pair of Studio Projects C1‘s.

    It’s funny. After I responded to your comment yesterday, I thought to myself… isn’t that the camcorder that skateboarders used to like? I did a little searching, and moments later I was watching this video and chuckling: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gN4f5qcMwsw

    (I don’t recommend following that dude’s tips, by the way… unless you’re filming someone doing a 360 Nollie Stalefish :)

  33. Any set of recommended settings for anyone starting with H5 + DSLR / your GH2? Or some tutorial how to configure it to work, when mounted on top of the camera?

  34. Hi Sky. If you’re new to this, the best way to figure out settings and how it all works is to get the gear and to start shooting. Shoot some basic video projects. Don’t jump into any serious projects or shoots until you’re confident with the gear. Mount the H5 on top of your camera, and do your thing. Keep doing it until you figure it all out. Sounds like a lame answer, right? But it’s honestly the best way to go.

    As far as specific settings are concerned, be sure to read my How to Set Audio Levels article. I wrote it specifically for people like yourself.

    Above all, don’t be intimidated by audio gear for video production. It’s hard. It stays hard. I screw up all the time, and I know my stuff. It’s just a part of filmmaking. It’s good that it’s hard. But please… do not be intimidated. Jump in, figure it out, and make awesome projects.

  35. Doesn’t sound lame at all :) That’s the way I learn how to use my DSLR, back in a day.

    Thanks for a tutorial, I see I figured out a few things from it already, so I’m definitely on a good path, going to run through it in detail later on.

    Why I got here is trying to get rid of a white noise, this constant… hissing in a background, when I record audio with H5 connected to my DSLR (using line-out -> mic input cable). To my surprise, low-cut filter doesn’t seem to make any difference, while the sound from H5 alone, when recording directly to the wav file on SD card, is just jaw-dropping, pure, no noise I can hear (at least none on the cheap headphones I got with me now…). Quite an obvious thing helped – turning off auto-gain on my DSLR – but even then noise is still there.

    I found on google that some people say the only way to get rid of it is by using separate audio recorders that run signal through XLR (in which case I might just record it on H5 itself), cause the line out to mic connection will always create a white noise, that’s impossible to eliminate. Is that true? Should I just be recording stuff onto the H5 memory card and merge it afterwards instead of trying to record audio directly from H5 to the DSLR through the line connection?

  36. The audio recorded directly to the H5 will sound better than what you record in your camera. Syncing the separate audio and video files in post will yield the best results. I recently upgraded from Final Cut Pro 5 to Final Cut Pro X, and FCPX has a great feature that makes it easy to sync separately recorded audio and video files.

    SIDENOTE: I’m in the process of writing a review of FCPX. There are some things about the program that are truly great, and other things that are just terrible. Stay tuned for that post…

    There is something may want to try, in order to get better audio quality from the LINE OUT of your H5 — before you give up on it. That output can be noisy when it’s set to mic-level and plugged into certain cameras with a regular mini-to-mini audio cable.

    You can buy a Sescom cable, and connect that to the LINE OUT on the H5, and plug the other end into the mic input on your camera. Be sure to set the LINE OUT on the H5 to send line-level audio out of that output (instead of mic-level). The Sescom cable converts line-level signals to mic-level signals. This could fix your problem completely. The same problem exists with the Tascam DR-70D.

  37. Hi, very nice Video!
    Can you tell me one thing: When I use the Stereo Audio Cable on my H5, will my Camera use the Sound of the H 5 in the video?

    Thanks:-)

  38. Hi Dennis,

    Yes. The Line output on the H5 sends the sound from the recorder to your camera. You need to make sure you adjust the levels properly both on the Line out from the H5, and on the Mic input on your camera.

    You’re welcome! Thanks for visiting my blog!
    Sam

  39. Hi There,

    I want to start recording ambient nature soundscapes, and I’m trying to decide what recorder/mic combo I need.

    Leaning toward either the Zoom H5 OR the Sony PCM-M10. I like the size of the Sony, and have heard it’s preamps are quieter, so better for low volume recordings?

    But I am concerned about it not having phantom power (how important is that really?), and lack of XLR inputs (does that mean I can’t use it with my DSLR?).

    Please let me know your thoughts on this. I’d like to spend around $200 – $300 on the recorder, and perhaps $100 – $250 on a mic.

    I want the audio to be as clear as possible, as it’ll be used for producing meditation tracks. Will I need to spend more, or will something like this work for recording ambient sounds?

    Thank you so much!

  40. Thanks for submitting your comment, Tim. In your situation, I think the Zoom H5 is the better choice. I am also a fan of the Sony PCM-M10. It’s true, the M10 tends to have better noise performance than other recorders. But, its built-in mics are not as good as the stereo mic module that comes with the Zoom H5. In order to get better sound with Sony’s line of recorders, you would need to bump up to the Sony PCM-D100. The built-in stereo mics on the D100 sound amazing. They are the best sounding built-in mics on any portable digital recorder, hands down. However, the Sony PCM-D100 also doesn’t have XLR inputs.

    If I bought a PCM-M10 for my own needs, I would use it primarily to record the line-level signal from an audio mixer, such as my Sound Devices 302. If I bought a PCM-D100 for myself, I would use it primarily for its built-in mics to record ambiance, music performances, and environments.

    If a recorder lacks XLR inputs, it can still be used with a DSLR. The inputs are for connecting microphones and other audio signals to the recorder. XLR inputs are professional jacks intended for use with professional microphones, primarily.

    I recommend buying the recorder before you buy an external mic. You may find that the included mics on the recorder deliver such good quality that an external mic isn’t necessary. Also, since you are going to be shooting nature soundscapes, budget some money to invest in a furry windscreen for the mics you end up using. If you end up getting an H5 and liking the sound of the included XYH-5 mics, buy a Zoom WSU-1 Hairy Windscreen to use it outdoors.

  41. Hi Sam,

    Thanks for the great review.

    I’m a video journalist shooting on a Canon 7D with either a Rode shotgun mic and Sennheiser G3 lav mics. I used to record the audio from the lavs into a Sony PCM, while the Rode was plugged into the camera to record ambient sound. But since my Sony PCM died (after only 2 years, very disappointing), I have just been recording all audio directly into the camera, either using the rode or the lav, whichever was more suitable in a given situation.

    I am thinking of replacing the Sony PCM though, potentially with the H5. Now here is what I’m wondering:

    1. Is it always better to record audio externally? I actually found that eliminating the Sony PCM and recording directly into the camera made things easier, and as long as I’m not dealing with multiple tracks, I’m tempted to keep things this way and avoid having more stuff to lug around in the field.

    2. Is the H5 a good way to record good quality voice over directly into my macbook air via the USB cable, or would I need to buy a special capsule?

    Thanks a lot!
    Simona

  42. Hi Simona,

    I’m glad you found my review helpful.

    QUESTION 1 – Is it always better to record audio externally?

    As far as sound quality is concerned, the answer is yes. You can set an audio recorder to create 48kHz 24-bit WAV files, which is a higher resolution than cameras are capable of. External recorders also have better sounding preamps than the ones built into cameras.

    Is is more of a pain in the butt? Most certainly. Not only do you have to lug the recorder around, you need to set it up, make sure it has enough battery power and memory card space, and you need to operate the thing… all in addition to operating the camera. Then in post you need to sync the externally recorded audio with the video. More hassle.

    Skipping the recorder and plugging the mics directly into the camera saves you a lot of time and effort. But, it’s also riskier. Your old workflow of using the Sony recorder and the Rode plugged into the camera provided you two separate versions of the audio.

    The trouble with just plugging a mic into your camera is that you have no backup. What if something goes wrong? What if the microphone connector doesn’t get seated properly into the input and no sound gets recorded? What if it gets unseated halfway through a shoot? Your 7D doesn’t have a headphone jack. If you’re shooting video with external microphones and you have no way of being able to listen to it as you set up and shoot… you’re taking a risk.

    So, in a way, it’s always better to use an external recorder. You can plug headphones into it. You can make sure stuff sounds good before, during, and after you shoot it. But, it’s a lot more work.

    QUESTION 2 – Is the Zoom H5 a good way to record directly into a computer?

    I only borrowed an H5 a for a few weeks in 2014 to make my review, and I didn’t try doing this. I recently recorded some voice-over stuff with a Zoom H4n, which is similar. I think the Zoom H5 could work pretty well for this. It may take some experimentation, but I think it could work. The mics on the H4n were a little sensitive to plosive sounds, so I needed to angle them away from my mouth a little bit to get clean takes. The H5 comes with a foam windscreen which may be useful for that application.

    Anyhow… thanks for visiting the blog and posting a comment! I hope what you decide to do works out well for you!

  43. Thanks Sam, this is very helpful. I think I will give it a shot with the H5. Btw I got the 7D Mark II, which has a headphone jack. Major upgrade. But you are right, always better to go for higher quality and have a backup.

    Many thanks!

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