When I first saw the Zoom F8 audio field recorder prototype at NAB 2015, I was a little skeptical. How could they make a pro level field recorder for only $1000? Most of the pro level devices are priced at least twice that, and those with 8 mic inputs are often 3 to 4 times that. But the specs looked really, really good on the most important things: the preamps and analogue to digital converter.
So I put in my preorder and took a chance. What I did not realize at the time, is that the input limiters that should prevent clipping when things get really loud are digital instead of analogue limiters. This is usually a serious disadvantage and render the digital limiters useless because the clipping and distortion damage are done before the audio gets into the digital part of the recorder.
However, there's a reasonably happy ending: because the Zoom F8’s pre-amplifier and analogue to digital converter produce a dynamic range of 120dB, I’ve found that things generally work ok until you get the most extreme screaming, as far as dialogue is concerned. In this episode we take a closer look with an audio sample you can hear to assess how well the F8 does in cases where dialogue suddenly turns to screaming.