Zoom has recently announced a new addition to its lineup of field recorders: the Zoom F3. This very compact and lightweight audio recorder only has two XLR inputs, two outputs, it runs on two AA batteries for up to eight hours, and you don’t need to adjust gain during the take as it records 32-bit float files at up to 96 kHz. Let’s take a closer look at it!
Japanese manufacturer Zoom is back with a compact field recorder for content creators: the Zoom F3. Lately, the company has launched a couple of more significant podcasting/live stream products like the Zoom R20, which are not precisely designed for independent/one-man-band filmmakers.
Some competitors like Tascam with their Portacapture X8 saw the opportunity to release innovative audio field recorders with 32-bit float recording capabilities.
We can say without much doubt that 32-bit float audio recording is the future of audio recording for content creators. Indeed, 32-bit float is pretty much “RAW” but for audio, which means you can adjust the gain in post without any clipping risks (except if your microphone itself clips). If you want to learn more about it, you can look at our review of the Tentacle TRACK E 32-bit float audio recorder here.
Zoom F3 features
The Zoom F3 is a compact 75 x 77.3 x 47.8mm audio field recorder with a weight of only 242g/0.53lbs with two AA batteries inside.
You got it; the F3 is powered by replaceable AA batteries that will run the unit for about 8 hours, according to Zoom. Also, you can power it via the USB Type-C port on the left side of the recorder.
The F3 is a two-channel recorder that features two XLR audio inputs and two audio outputs (line and headphone). +24/+48V phantom power is also provided.
Audio recording capabilities
On the inside, your audio files will be recorded in either WAV/BWF format (with iXML metadata files) onto a microSDHC/microSDXC memory card up to 1TB.
You can choose to record in various sample rates, including 44,1 / 48 / 88,2 / 96/192 kHz in mono or stereo.
However, as you can tell, the Zoom F3 doesn’t have any gain adjustment knob, as all audio files are recorded in a 32-bit float bit-depth. With 32-bit float audio recorders, it’s close to impossible to clip your recordings, so all audio gain adjustments are made in post.
Zoom F3 connectivity
On the right side of the F3, you’ll find a power button, a switch to lock the unit, and trigger recording.
Also, there is another port to connect the optional BTA-1 Bluetooth adapter that integrates with UltraSync Blue timecode systems. The same Bluetooth adapter is also required if you want to control the F3 via your smartphone, and the “F3 Control” Android/iOS App available in March 2022.
So unfortunately there is no built-in TC module to be found here, and although the F3 is really compact, an additional external TC box might defeat the purpose a little bit for some use cases.
Price and availability
The Zoom F3 will be available at the end of February 2022, but there is no price indication at the moment.
What do you think about this new compact and lightweight audio field recorder? Do you often need to record more than two audio tracks simultaneously? Did you already use 32-bit float audio gear? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments down below!