At the last NAB Show most of us got surprised by the announcement of the Zoom F8n, the successor to the F8 which came out at the end of 2015. We quickly had a chat with Samuel Greene, the Product Specialist at Zoom North America, about the updates and what he can tell us already.
We are about 2.5 years after launch of the F8, that’s not a long time for a professional location recorder. It was Zoom’s first recorder directly targeted at the location sound recordist, and, although it had a lot of bells and whistles we all need, it had some ‘quirks’. Most of them could be resolved by matter of firmware updates, but it was time to revise the hardware as well, according to Samuel.
The known hardware updates are: a better headphone amp, selectable line/mic input via the menu and a wider voltage range (to accommodate to industry standards, see our guide for more info about that) on the Hirose input.
On questions about other hardware improvements like;
- The consumer line level outputs, at -10 dBV vs. +4 dBV
- Bluetooth OR the FRC8 fader panel, you can not use both options at the same time
- USB keyboard without the FRC8 fader panel, you currently need the panel to attach a keyboard for meta data
- TC not kept when you do a power cycle;
There was not much to say about at the moment:
Currently can not report on any of these. More info will be available the 1st of June. The FRC8 fader panel will work as is with the F8n.
Another already known improvement is the limiting section. The current F8 (and F4) work with a hybrid analog/digital solution, the new F8n will have another trick up it’s sleeve:
When the limiter of the F8/F8n is activated for a channel it automatically cuts 10 dB of gain from the analog preamp. That 10 dB is automatically added back after the AD converter. This is a way we build an extra 10 dB of headroom to avoid clipping over the already high dynamic range (A/D Converter has 120 dB dynamic range, with limiter effective dynamic range is 130 dB)
Additionally the new F8/F8n limiters features “Look Ahead” detection. This allows the limiters to anticipate peaks above the threshold and attenuate it before clipping occurs. It does this by creating a small (1 ms) delay that allows the limiter to see a high peak and activate before the audio is recorded.
A question popping up a couple of times on the various online user groups was how Zoom will continue firmware support on the current F8. and if the newer F8n software features will be made available for the current line up.
I could not say currently if the new software functionalities will be made available for the current line up. The firmware will not be interchangeable. I cannot say how long firmware updates for the F8 will continue.
The ‘web-release’ date for the new F8n will be june 2018, ready for (pre-)order from that moment. The price will be around 1200 USD. That a bit higher than the initial price of the F8, which came in around the 1000 USD mark.