ZOOM F6 Setup for birders

If you are one of us wanting maximum quality out of your work, adding a ZOOM F6 or a Sound-devices MicPre3 II to your gear-kit will help you manage recordings in 32-Bit Float and give you the superb possibilities for editing in post!

But myself is not a sound engineer and what I’ve learned so far about recording is through internet, feedback and hints from fellow recorders out there and fail and try again till it works! So with the Zoom F6 as well! This machine is of course not made explicit for bird-recorders, and is far beyond the advancement we normally trod into. But nonetheless it is a great recorder when you have set it up for your use, then you turn it on (On/Off-button: stupidly placed low behind the headphone 3.5 mm input) and push Record and stop when you leave the scene. That’s more or less it!
But from you wrap it out of the box till you can present it for your birds there are some work to be done, this I will guide you through!
A tip for free: Keep a set of AA’s in the battery compartment to make sure date/time-info is not deleted when changing batteries. You can run AA, Sony-type NP-F’s and Powerbank into USB-C simultaneously.

NB! One special issue compared with all other recorders I have had my hands on is that the KNOBS are NOT level in, they are always on full throttle and you have to reduce the input signal by turning it to the left!! And to be worse is that have to choose if the level should be adjusted during recording session or not, I have chosen NOT by setting INPUT>TRACK KNOB> REFERENCE LEVEL and as long as the recording’s going on (RED LIGHT) it will have the same level in what so ever you set the knob to! This makes actually sense since you do the final job adjusting on your computer at home!

The Zoom F6 in a Zoom F4-bag with space for USB-C Powerbank and spare Sony-style NP-F batteries.
Knobs and screen of the F6. Fader 1 governs ch 1 &2 as a Stereo L-R-out file, same with 3&4. 5 & 6 are set up for mono mics. You can pause during a recording (Red flashing) BUT hit pause again to continue the same file, hit flashing Record and it creates a new file!
LINE OUT is disabled since I do not use it on cameras etc. See links in bottom for more info!
Push MENU-button and this is the screen shown, this is where you do all your adjustments.
FINDER is where you find SD-card, performance, FORMAT etc.,

Go to INPUT and SET/PFL and you will find a menu for all your six Input 1-6. This is where you decide what
microphone you shall use. If you have a Stereo parabola, SASS etc. you have to set f.ex. both 1 & 2 for Phantom 48V.
Go to Input 1, input 2 and so on and set the source of your signal. Mic (PH) = Microphone with Phantom up to 48V
(this can be set in another menu) Since I use a Telinga MK2 Stereo I use Input 1 and 2 for this mic.
Go back to main MENU and push REC. Here you set Float(32bit) or even dual 24/32bit etc but now I am just showing the 32 bit float setup!
Sample rate I use 96 but possible till 192kHz.
File format: Mono/Stereo
L/R Track> ON(LR Only) This ensures you write a ready-made Stereo file into the SD-card. You can choose to save the Inputs separately.
Pre Rec ON(3 seconds) : ensures you will get the first 3 seconds of your lifer recorded till you manage to hit the Record-button
In the Input>Input link you set the LINK between the input mics and what button adjusting the fader. Jump with the up/down til you hit Stereo 1/2 (BLUE SQUARE) and confirm with SET/PFL button. This means as long as Input 2 is set to Mic(PH) Fader knob 1 adjusts both the 1 and 2 and all adjustment is done with this button. For my mics I set it ab. 3o’clock +50dB and do rest of adjustments of levels in Audacity or Audition.
See example: https://www.fuglesang-troms.net/audacity-quick-guide/
Input 5 and 6 are separate MONO inputs with this setting shown on the picture.
Ambisonics: I do not have a clue!
Headphone settings is a bit of a mystery on this recorder! I found eventually that S curve is what works best on my 32 Ohm Bose and AKG-52. Actually I struggled to adjust volume in a normal way, but with this setting it’s OK for me!
You go to OUTPUT>Headphone out>Vol Curve> S curve
You might need to set Routing>L & R to get sound into your Headphones (Use PRE red triangles)

So bring your gear out and create some fantastic recordings!
SOME USEFUL LINKS:
Facebook «ZOOM F6 ONLY»-group: very skilled guys here!
Chris Spiegl Explains all about the knobs
Chris Spiegl Explains all about 32-bit float files
Curtis Judd Initial test and impression
Telinga https://www.telinga.com/
See also pages on: RECORDING and MIXPRE3 II Setup and power-options
NB! We are NOT affiliated with Zoom or any other brands mentioned in the article!

Western Yellow Wagtail M. flava thunberghii (Finland 2021) Photo: Tone Malm
This actual bird is in the background in the recording below!