The Library Tech Commons offers a collection of audio/visual hardware for a variety of video production needs. Equipment can be checked out by UCSF faculty, staff and students. The Zoom H5 Handy Recorder is a versatile, high-quality 4 track digital audio recorder that creates audio files in either MP3 or WAV formats. It has two built-in microphones, a line-in input, and two XLR/TRS inputs.
Use cases for this device include:
- Record formal interviews
- Record musical instruments
- Connect to a DSLR camera
- Connect to a computer as a USB mic
Batteries required: Two AA batteries (not included), can also run on A/C power (cable included).
To operate the H5, follow these basics steps.
- Supply power – Install two AA batteries (not included), or use the USB cable and A/C adapter (included).
- Turn on: Slide-and-hold the Power button on the side of the device.
- Recording format – MENU button > REC > REC Format. MP3 and WAV formats of various qualities are available.
- Recording mode – MENU > REC MODE.
- Select Stereo File if using the built-in XYH-5 mic module; creates one audio file.
- Select Multi File if using multiple inputs, including XLR inputs; creates multiple audio files.
- Channel – Activate the channel that matches the mic input you wish to use.
- Press L/R channel button if using the built-in XYH-5 mic module.
- Press the 1 or 2 channel button if using XLR inputs.
- Adjust levels – Turn the corresponding levels dial to set the input levels (a.k.a. volume), from 1 to 10.
- Sounds should peak at about the -12dB mark.
- Sounds should peak at about the -12dB mark.
- Record – Press the Record button to start recording, and then again to stop.
- Pressing the play/pause button will pause or resume the recording, maintaining the same audio file.
- Stopping and starting creates a new file.
- Transfer files – Copy the digital audio files to your computer.
- If using an SD card reader, turn the H5 off before ejecting the card.
- If using the USB cable, choose SD CARD READER on the H5 display screen after connecting to your computer.
- Drag-and-drop to copy files onto your computer’s hard drive.
The H5 works well as a simple hand-held recorder with the built-in mic module, but it is capable of much more.
XLR mics are less susceptible to interference, and produce a balanced, high-quality sound. We offer a “Shure Handheld Mic Kit” that includes two Shure SM58 mics, cables and stands. This setup is perfect for audio podcast recordings when quality is important.
- Recording mode – Set the H5 to MENU > REC > MULTI FILE.
- Connect mic(s) – Using XLR cables, connect mic(s) to channels 1 and/or 2 input ports.
- Select channels – On the H5, press the 1 and/or 2 channel buttons to activate (red lights illuminate). If you are not using the XYH-5 built-in mic, press the corresponding L or R channel buttons to deactivate them.
- Adjust levels – Use the levels adjustment dials on the center of the HD device to control volume.
- Record – See Basic Use tab for details.
Many DSLR cameras capture great video, but offer limited audio recording features. The H5 kit includes a Revo Hot Shoe Adapter and 3.5mm audio cable for this purpose. You can also borrow our “Azden Shotgun Mic” and “Gitzo Boom Pole,” and capture audio like the pros!
- Hot shoe install – Set the H5 on top of the DSRL camera, using the Revo Hot Shoe adapter and the camera’s hot shoe mount.
- Audio cable – Connect on end of the 3.5mm cable to the DSLR camera’s MIC port, and the other end to the LINE OUT port on the H5 (located on the left side of the device).
- Recording mode – Set the H5 to MENU > REC > STEREO FILE if using the XYH-5 mic module. Or, set the mode to MULTI FILE if using XLR mics.
- Select channels – On the H5, press the channel buttons to activate any combination of the L, R, 1 or 2 channels, depending on which mics you are using on the H5.
- Adjust Levels – Use the levels dials on the mic module, or the channel 1 and 2 dials to adjust sound levels. If your camera has a headphone port, it is highly recommended that you connect your headphones, and then actively monitor your audio levels while recording.
- Record – Activate the record feature on the DSLR camera. Audio should be passing through the H5, into the camera, and onto the camera’s SD card. In addition, you can press the record button the H5, to create a second, back-up sound file.
The H5 can be connected to a computer or tablet device using the included USB cable. Once connected, the H5 can serve as a microphone input to the computer.
- Connect USB cable – Turn the H5 off, connect the USB cable to the H5, and then to your computer.
- Select USB mode – Turn the H5 on. The USB menu will appear on the H5’s display. Using the selector button, choose AUDIO INTERFACE.
- Select recording mode – The display will prompt you to select either STEREO or MULTI TRACK mode. STEREO is recommended (iPad’s only accept stereo input, and PC’s require special drivers for multitrack input).
- Select power mode – You can choose Bus Powered, Battery, or iPad. Most computers can supply enough power over the USB cable, but if you have issues, switch to the Battery option.
- Select channels – On the H5, press the channel buttons to activate any combination of the L, R, 1 or 2 channels, depending on which mic inputs you are using on the H5.
- Select the H5 as a mic – Either in your computer’s recording application, or in your System Preferences (Mac) or Control Panel (PC), select the “H5” as your mic input device.
- Record – Using your recording app of choice, being the recording, and speak into the H5. Audio files are captured on your computer. You cannot record to the H5’s SD card while in USB AUDIO INTERFACE mode.
- Disconnect – To exit the USB mic mode and return the H5 to its usual operation mode, press the MENU button, and choose EXIT > YES.
These additional notes will help you use the H5 smarter and avoid common pitfalls.
- Reset settings – If something isn’t working as expected, try restoring the H5’s default settings: MENU button > SYSTEM > FACTORY RESET > YES.
- Peak levels – Closely monitor the levels of your audio. Sounds should peak at about the -12 dB mark. Do a test recording, and then use the levels dial(s) to adjust accordingly. Low levels can result in hissy audio, and high levels can result in distorted audio.
- Wind noise – The windscreen can be fitted over the XYH-5 stereo mic module to reduce wind noise when recording outdoors. Line up the notches on the windscreen with the mic before installing (reversing the windscreen will damage the foam). It is not necessary to use the windscreen when recording indoors.
- TRS connection – The XLR import ports, labeled channel 1 and 2 on the bottom of the device, also accept “TRS” cable inputs. TRS cables are commonly used with musical instruments.
- Hold function – Slide the power button into the HOLD state to disable the buttons on the front of the device. This is useful to prevent accidental pressing of the stop or pause buttons while recording. Note that levels dials can still be adjusted when in hold mode.
- Battery life – Fully-charged alkaline batteries will power the device for about 15hrs.
- Card space – The included 32GB card can hold over 200hrs of audio at the highest MP3 setting.
The approximate value of this kit is $350. If anything is lost or damaged during your loan, you are responsible for replacing those items.
Reservations can be made using our online reservation calendar.
The maximum loan time for this device is 4 days. Staff are available Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 9am to 12n, in CL240 of the Parnassus Library for equipment check-out. Equipment can only be used for UCSF related activities, by UCSF students, staff and faculty. More information about the reservation process and our policies can be found here: How to Reserve Equipment.