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Product Review: The Zoom Essential range

Written by Tom Wild16/04/24

Zoom Corporation have launched their new Essential range, featuring three cutting-edge handy recorders designed to meet the diverse needs of musicians, podcasters, teachers, filmmakers, and content creators worldwide. The new products are the H1E, H4E and H6E, replacing the H1N, H4N and H6 respectively.

Accessibility and Versatility Combined

Prioritising accessibility and versatility, Zoom's Essential range signifies a good step forward in portable audio recording. With audible descriptions for menu navigation available in multiple languages, these recorders are inclusive for all creators. From musicians seeking simplicity to filmmakers demanding advanced features, the Zoom Essential range offers unparalleled versatility without compromising on accessibility.

Zoom H1E essential handy recorder

Priced affordably at around £90, the Zoom H1E is the perfect entry-level option for creators looking for simplicity without compromising on quality. Its 32-bit float recording technology eliminates the need to adjust levels, ensuring perfect audio capture every time. Ideal for interviews, podcasting, and on-the-go audio/visual work, the H1E offers essential features like overdubbing and playback speed adjustment, making it a worthy investment for beginners and enthusiasts. It even comes in slightly cheaper than Tascam's equivalent, the DR05X, which sits at around £95.


Zoom H4E essential handy recorder

Priced at around £180, the Zoom H4E strikes a balance between affordability and versatility. Its 32-bit float recording capabilities and X/Y stereo microphones capable of handling sound sources up to 130dB SPL make it ideal for podcasters, filmmakers, and musicians seeking high-quality audio capture. With quad XLR/TRS inputs and built-in interface for 4-track recording and streaming, the H4E offers advanced features at an accessible price point, empowering creators to produce professional-grade content. The Tascam DR40X offers a slightly cheaper 4-track alternative, although its display is slightly less modern and the recording capabilities not quite as high-fidelity in comparison to the H4E.


Zoom H6E essential handy recorder

Coming in around £270, the Zoom H6E stands as the pinnacle of portable audio recording sophistication. Its six-track ultra-high dynamic range, 32-bit float audio capabilities, and dual on-board stereo shotgun capsule microphones make it the a top level tool for filmmakers, podcasters, and musicians. With quad XLR/TRS inputs and Bluetooth timecode sync, the H6E offers unmatched versatility and flexibility, allowing creators to capture pristine audio in any scenario. While priced higher, the H6E's advanced features do justify its cost, as they allow it to cater to professionals and enthusiasts alike in a reliable fashion.


What does Chamberlain Music think?

Zoom have made some really positive innovations with the Essential range. The audio-based menu navigation feature is a good step for helping those with visual impairment use the devices. The sleek blue and red graphics make for a marked aesthetic improvement on the previous models, and these new screens are brighter too. A massive 1TB of storage throughout the range is certainly reassuring and impressively, Zoom have managed to make all these improvement without significantly adding to the physical bulk of any of the recorders. Above all, the recording quality provided by these devices is excellent, reliable, and they're easy enough to set up quickly, which is especially terrific for anyone using them on the move, or in music lessons and basic recording sessions.

Overall, the essential range is certainly worth a look for anyone who needs to record sophisticated audio in an adaptable way, exceeding previous efforts by both Zoom and Tascam.

For more about how you might use these devices in a school setting, check out our Director of Education William Thompson's articles about recording from scratch.