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Zoom F6 - game changer?

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@kye Have you ever used dual channel recording? How is what you are explaining different from dual channel recording and using the peaks from the lower track to replace the clipped portions of the higher track? Because I do it all the time and it works, especially when mixed in (surprise) 32 bit space, because then you can match the relative levels of the two tracks without distortion.

I don't know all the maths, but I know from experience that dual channel recording is a life saver at times. I assume the F6 basically does the same thing, combining two input gains based on peaks, but automatically and internally, saving time and file space (1x 32 bit file is smaller than 2x 24 bit files).

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1 hour ago, KnightsFan said:

@kye Have you ever used dual channel recording? How is what you are explaining different from dual channel recording and using the peaks from the lower track to replace the clipped portions of the higher track? Because I do it all the time and it works, especially when mixed in (surprise) 32 bit space, because then you can match the relative levels of the two tracks without distortion.

I don't know all the maths, but I know from experience that dual channel recording is a life saver at times. I assume the F6 basically does the same thing, combining two input gains based on peaks, but automatically and internally, saving time and file space (1x 32 bit file is smaller than 2x 24 bit files).

I use dual channel recording all the time.

The problem isn't that the F6 isn't great, it's that by comparison, everything else is shit.  The F6 could have 4000 bit recording, but if you have a bad signal source then your 4000 bits won't help, because the limitation will be elsewhere in the signal path.

Unfortunately, in comparison to the F6, everything is a bad signal source.

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@kye Oh, okay, I must have misunderstood what you were getting at when you said:

Quote

I'm a bit skeptical about the usefulness of it.

...since the F6's 32 bit mode should be useful in pretty much any scenario that dual channel is--which, as you say, is "all the time."

But yeah, the F6's dynamic range doesn't increase the microphone's dynamic range. You still can't get leaves rustling and a jet engine 50m away in the same file with the same mic, unfortunately.

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My old Sony PCM-D50 audio recorder used dual recording tracks at different levels as a soft clipping solution and it worked very well. Isn't it a bit like the dual ISO feature in ML for the Canon where it records at 2 ISO's at the same time to increase DR. As knight's fan says the limitation then becomes the DR of the microphone. Also it's great to see all these features but how good does it sound as all digital recorders are not equal in their sound quality primarily in the mic pre amps.

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3 hours ago, KnightsFan said:

@kye Oh, okay, I must have misunderstood what you were getting at when you said:

...since the F6's 32 bit mode should be useful in pretty much any scenario that dual channel is--which, as you say, is "all the time."

But yeah, the F6's dynamic range doesn't increase the microphone's dynamic range. You still can't get leaves rustling and a jet engine 50m away in the same file with the same mic, unfortunately.

I use dual level recording all the time because I never know when I will occasionally need it.  That's not to say it's useful all the time.

I am skeptical of their "you never need to change levels again" claim, which is why I explained about DR and SNR.  The extra bit depth is useful even if you're recording within normal parameters.

I think there are three situations:

  1. you manage gain structure and levels and are fine with current bit-depths
  2. you don't manage gain structure and record outside of the current DR for 16-bit audio but still function within the DR of your microphone and other equipment
  3. you don't manage gain and record DR ranges outside the limits of your worst piece of equipment in the signal path

This unit only helps people in situation #2, and is a net loss for people in situation #1 (as @IronFilm explained).  They claim it helps all three, which is quite obviously false.  

I'm all for advancing the tech, but don't have your PR department lie about it to sell more units to people who don't have enough understanding to know you've stretched the truth past breaking point.

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Digital mixing consoles and DAWs have used 32 bit floating point processing for a very long time (ie the hardware engines of consoles that I did dev work for in the mid late 90s had it) as the benefits of the extra headroom for eq/dynamics/summing processes are vital.

DAWs have also had 32 bit float as a record format as well as processing for quite a few years now also so for example if you are using Fairlight in Resolve then you have already been using it to process and will also be able to load the files from the F6 from day one.

So the F6 is definitely more evolution than revolution as what they've done is wrap existing features of dual stage input, 32 bit float processing and file capture into a single benefit and its the benefit that they are marketing.

I much prefer benefits over features so I don't mind that ;)

 

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Anything to eliminate the guesswork and potential for ruining an audio take, I am all for.  

The idea that you can set the level after the recording is made without penalty is pretty huge  especially if you don’t have a dedicated audio person.  Not that it would be as good, but the take itself will not be ruined by clipping or noise.  

If you use the single source dual channel high and low level recording technique on all sources, the F6 replaces the functionality of a 12-track recorder and eliminates the post work switching between tracks.  

All and all if the price is right I don’t see a down side and I see a lot of upside, especially for a one man show or those who are not audio experts.

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On 4/13/2019 at 3:56 AM, SR said:

Ah, a complete dummy when it comes to audio here. So this isn't a big deal at all, if I'm reading this correctly. Is there any truth to their claim of more dynamic range? I thought this might be useful on projects where clients are too cheap to pay for a proper location sound guy (too many situations like that).

You should still try to budget for what is half the film..... sound! 

As after all, good quality sound is waaaaaaay more than just the dynamic range. Just like a good looking film depends on waaaay more than just dynamic range of the camera itself, you also need: the skill of the camera operator, lighting, the location, etc etc

 

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On 4/13/2019 at 1:55 PM, kye said:

The idea is that in traditional system you want to keep the levels in the sweet spot where they are below the clipping point, but above the point where the noise starts to become audible.

"Traditional System", as in back during the bad old days of 16bit recordings? Or even longer ago than that? 

Back then you had a relatively narrow range you could record in, without either getting issues from the noise floor below or hitting the limiters above. That is no longer the case with modern pro equipment, you have a much larger "sweet spot" to aim for. 

 

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2 minutes ago, IronFilm said:

"Traditional System", as in back during the bad old days of 16bit recordings? Or even longer ago than that? 

Back then you had a relatively narrow range you could record in, without either getting issues from the noise floor below or hitting the limiters above. That is no longer the case with modern pro equipment, you have a much larger "sweet spot" to aim for. 

Traditional, in the sense that these people claim that you don't ever need to adjust levels again, which if you take their claims seriously, means every other system where you did need to adjust levels to get a good result :)

I guess my entire point in this thread is that either in 24 or 16-bit digital, or analog before that, either cassette tape or 2-inch machine, levels were important, and they claim they're not for this new machine, but it doesn't seem to be true.

It's kind of like selling a car and saying you don't need to wear seatbelts anymore, when in reality there is a small percentage of the time in very specific situations when not doing so will end badly, which is the same here.  I hate it when marketing people simplify and hype something to the point of out-right lies, and this is that.

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1 hour ago, IronFilm said:

I don't think the Zoom spokesperson (Samuel Greene) is outright lying at all. 

So when he said that apart from selecting line/mic you will never have to set levels that will work in the real world in all cases?  I can record on the tarmac of an aircraft carrier while planes are landing with a boom mic with the same settings as the interview with the captain in controlled conditions with the same mic?

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On 4/13/2019 at 3:52 PM, KnightsFan said:

@kye Oh, okay, I must have misunderstood what you were getting at when you said:

...since the F6's 32 bit mode should be useful in pretty much any scenario that dual channel is--which, as you say, is "all the time."

But yeah, the F6's dynamic range doesn't increase the microphone's dynamic range. You still can't get leaves rustling and a jet engine 50m away in the same file with the same mic, unfortunately.

So long as the jet engine doesn't exceed the mic's SPL then yes, you could of course record both at once at the same time. (welll... hopefully with a small gap between the two, as of course the leafs will get drowned out by the jet!)

35 minutes ago, kye said:

So when he said that apart from selecting line/mic you will never have to set levels that will work in the real world in all cases?  I can record on the tarmac of an aircraft carrier while planes are landing with a boom mic with the same settings as the interview with the captain in controlled conditions with the same mic?

It does indeed sound like that is what he is saying, and I reckon it is technically possible (but I'll wait for the reviews before I know for sure they've pulled this off in a practical sense, but they seem to believe so!). 

Assuming of course that noise on the aircraft carrier is below the max SPL of your mic, which depending on where you're standing on the aircraft carrier might be the case. (oh and the other "gotcha" is maybe you might need an inline pad, but heck even the likes of higher end pro recorders can require these as well for very extreme scenarios like close mic-ing a jet engine!)

Anyway, what you're describing is a truly extreme example which falls under specialist SFX recording scenarios. A more reasonable "extreme" scenario is a NYC street vs bedroom pillow talk. And yes, Zoom seems to think the F6 can handle this and I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt until reviews come out to prove them otherwise. 

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I can't see any technical reason to doubt why it will work. 

Whether there will be a legal reason why it won't be allowed to is another matter depending on how close to the wind Zoom sail with variations of the words "Never" and "Clip" in their marketing.

 

 

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4 hours ago, IronFilm said:

Anyway, what you're describing is a truly extreme example which falls under specialist SFX recording scenarios. A more reasonable "extreme" scenario is a NYC street vs bedroom pillow talk. And yes, Zoom seems to think the F6 can handle this and I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt until reviews come out to prove them otherwise. 

What about the microphone?

I mean, if you set it up so you can record the NY city street then when you get inside then are you simply going to be getting a great recording of the noise floor of the mic preamps?  

You might be right about the Zoom being able to have that low a noise floor, which means the lawyers will be happy, but that's kind of like saying that you can jump off a building without any issues when technically that's true because it's the landing that's the problem - it might be true but it's practically impossible and could therefore be classed as misleading.

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5 hours ago, BTM_Pix said:

I can't see any technical reason to doubt why it will work. 

Whether there will be a legal reason why it won't be allowed to is another matter depending on how close to the wind Zoom sail with variations of the words "Never" and "Clip" in their marketing.

It is not the wording that will be the biggest problem, it is easy enough to avoid the trademark for NeverClip, rather it is the patent which Zoom will want to dodge. (what they *MIGHT* do is take the Sonosax and Tascam approach, just ignore the USA market!)

2 hours ago, kye said:

What about the microphone?

SO???? 
The inherent absolute self noise of a mic is the same if a person is whispering or shouting. 

Which is why I was saying under extremely extreme scenarios the only "gotcha" you likely need to then worry about is the max SPL of the mic, but if you're worrying about the SPL rating of your mic then you've playing in some very rarefied exotic circumstances here when it comes to doing sound effects recordings! Not a problem people need to ever usually worry about. (for example: I'm a professional sound recordist and in the last few years I've never come across a scenario in which the max SPL of my mic was a problem for me, you really need to be some kind of specialist SFX recordist for this to be a big concern for you)

 

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14 minutes ago, IronFilm said:

It is not the wording that will be the biggest problem, it is easy enough to avoid the trademark for NeverClip, rather it is the patent which Zoom will want to dodge. (what they *MIGHT* do is take the Sonosax and Tascam approach, just ignore the USA market!)

That is what I was alluding to in terms of the definition of the encapsulated function rather than the specific term.

Calling it "Clamp-O-Matic" or some such would identify that aspect as it's raison d'être and would, I suspect, set off the alarm bell.

They'd have been better off encapsulating the whole end to end process of dual 24 bit ADC and 32 bit float recording and the post process normalisation function into one over arching name as that would stop the focus on the NeverClip element.

Call it "Max Headroom" or something.

No, hang on.

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