Zoom F8 MultiTrack Field Recorder
|Number of Batteries||8 AA batteries required.|
|Item Dimensions LxWxH||7 x 2.1 x 5.5 inches|
|Item Weight||2.1 Pounds|
About this item
- 8-channel/10-track field audio recorder/mixer for filmmakers, sound designers, and production sound recordists
- 8 high-quality, super low-noise mic preamps with up to 75 dB gain, less than -127 dB EIN, and +4 dB line inputs
- Rock-solid Time Code with 0.2ppm accuracy - I/O on standard BNC connectors; drop frame/non-drop formats with Jam Sync
- Compact and lightweight aluminum chassis, weighing just 2 pounds (without batteries)
- Free Zoom F8 Control App for iOS via iTunes allows wireless remote control, file renaming, and metadata entry
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From the manufacturer
In the box:
The F8 comes with everything you need for optimum field recording.
- Camera mount adapter
- Zoom AD-19 12V AC Adapter
- TA3 to XLR cable x2
- Operation manual
- Cubase LE and WaveLab LE download codes
The Zoom F8 MultiTrack Field Recorder
Hollywood sound. ..within reach.
If you're a serious filmmaker or sound designer, you'll want to check out the Zoom F8. It offers 8-input/10-track recording, super low-noise preamps, and support for high resolution 24-bit/192 kHz audio, plus rock-solid time code with pinpoint accuracy.
It's also the smallest eight-input field recorder ever made. Weighing just 2.1 pounds and housed in a rugged aluminum chassis, the F8 can be tripod mounted and comes with a mounting bracket for your DSLR.
- 8 discrete inputs with locking Neutrik XLR/TRS combo connectors, each with dedicated gain control, 6-segment LED level meter, and PFL/Solo switch.
- 10 tracks plus comprehensive onboard mixer allow you to simultaneously record stereo and multitrack—even stereo and surround sound.
- Phantom power (+24V/+48V) for each input allows you to connect a wide variety of external mics, or you can plug in any Zoom mic capsule.
- Time code generation/jam syncing with an accuracy of 0.2 ppm.
- Input/output delay, advanced multi-channel onboard limiters, built-in slate mic / slate tone, and flexible headphone monitoring options.
- Free Zoom F8 Control app allows wireless remote control, battery/time code monitoring, and metadata entry from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.
- Can be used as an 8-in/4-out USB interface at sample rates of up to 96k.
Time code with pinpoint accuracy
The F8's time code is state-of-the-art. It utilizes a precision oscillator that generates time code with 0.2 ppm accuracy, enabling rock-solid syncing of audio and video. Both an input and output are provided on standard BNC connectors, enabling easy integration into any rig, with support for all standard dropframe and non-drop formats.
Dual SD card recording
The F8's two card slots allow you to record on dual SD/SDHC/SDXC cards simultaneously for instant backup or split recordings (for example, you can save 8 tracks onto one card and a stereo mix onto another).
Three power sources
A 4-pin Hirose connector allows the use of external 9-16 volt DC battery packs, or you can use the supplied 12 volt AC adapter, with internal power provided by 8 AA batteries. The F8 can even switch power sources from a DC battery pack to the AA batteries automatically to ensure uninterrupted recording.
The F8's dual-channel recording mode allows you to create safety tracks on inputs 1-4, each with independent level, limiting, delay, phase inversion, and high-pass filtering.
Pre-record and File protection
A pre-record function allows you to capture up to 6 seconds of audio before you hit the 'Record' button. Files are saved periodically during recording, providing an extra level of protection in the event of an unexpected interruption due to power loss or the removal of an SD card.
Wireless Bluetooth control
The F8 is the first field recorder to come with wireless Bluetooth control. Zoom's free F8 Control app allows you to use any iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch (5th Gen) to control functions such as Record, Play, Stop, Fast-Forward, and Rewind, plus mixer pan and fader level. F8 Control also enables you to monitor input levels, view the current time code, and check your F8's battery status, as well as rename files, enter metadata, and set date/time information directly from your iOS device.
|Number of inputs /tracks||8 locking Neutrik XLR/TRS combo input connectors; 10 tracks (8 plus stereo mix)||4 locking Neutrik XLR/TRS combo input connectors, 8 tracks (6 plus stereo mix)|
|Mic preamps||Up to 75 dB gain, less than -127 dBu EIN; +4 dB line inputs.||Up to 75 dB gain, less than -127 dBu EIN; +4 dB line inputs|
|Phantom power||+24/+48V, switchable on/off for each input||+24/+48V, switchable on/off for each input|
|Time Code||TCXO generation (with accuracy of 0.2 ppm) or jam sync to external TC, both on standard BNC connectors; all standard dropframe/non-drop formats supported||TCXO generation (with accuracy of 0.2 ppm) or jam sync to external TC, both on standard BNC connectors; all standard dropframe/non-drop formats supported|
|Power supply options||8x AA batteries, external DC battery pack with Hirose connector, or 12V AC adapter. Automatic switching of power from DC to batteries at user-defined voltage level.||8 x AA batteries, external DC battery pack with 4-pin HIROSE connector, and Zoom AD-19 12V AC Adapter with DHC-1 DC-HIROSE adapter (included). Automatic switching of power from DC to batteries at user-defined voltage level|
|File formats||BWF-compliant WAV and MP3||BWF-compliant WAV and MP3|
|Sample rate / bit resolution||192 kHz, 96 kHz, 88.2 kHz, 48k, and 44.1 kHz, plus 47.952 kHz / 48.048 kHz for HD video compatibility; 16-/24-bit resolution||4-bit/192 kHz, 96 kHz, 88.2 kHz, 48 kHz, and 44.1 kHz, plus 47.952 kHz/48.048 kHz for HD video compatibility; 16-/24-bit resolution|
|Display||2.4" full-color backlit LCD with monochrome mode||1.9” white, backlit monochrome LCD|
|Media||SD/SDHC/SDXC cards, up to 512 GB each; dual card slots||Dual SD/SDHC/SDXC card slots, up to 512 GB each|
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|Sold By||Available from these sellers||Last Samurai||EsteeSales||Amazon.com||Amazon.com|
|Item Dimensions||7 x 2.1 x 5.5 inches||3.07 x 5.24 x 3.67 inches||6.5 x 4.29 x 2.01 inches||9 x 6 x 3 inches||10.12 x 7.48 x 2.01 inches|
Advances in video have made filmmaking accessible to creators everywhere. But the accessibility of professional audio devices has not kept pace. Field recorders, with essential features such as time code, have been unobtainable for most. Until now. The F8 is made for serious filmmakers and sound designers. With 8-input/10-track recording, super low-noise preamps, and support for 24-bit/192kHz audio, the F8 captures the highest-quality audio.
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Top reviews from the United States
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I recommend purchasing the FRC remote, too. Zoom may have gone a little too far in their quest for miniaturization. If you have larger hands, you may find it difficult to operate the gain knobs and menu knob without bumping adjacent controls. Since the F8 and FRC sell for $1,000.00 total, this is a very cost effective package.
How does it sound? Last week I was recording Verdi's Requiem which involves an 80+ piece orchestra and a 100 voice chorus. I usually use a Millennia Media HV-32P mic preamp for the main stereo microphone but, in keeping with Murphy's Law, the HV-32P chose that recoring to develop problems. Consequently, the orchestra, chorus, and 4 vocal soloists were recorded using the mic preamps in the F8. The Zoom mic preamps did a fine job and my client will never know the difference unless one of you tells them...
Bottom line: highly recommended.
Anyway, awesome, especially for the price.
I do mostly product featurettes for work (really short videos), or record training classes for clients (really long, maybe two hours plus). Some fits and starts in podcasting, but really the little work stuff is the main thing.
When first starting, I was using an iPhone for these videos, and iMovie for “post”. The iPhone sucked because the video quality at the time was kinda meh (iphone 4), video quality was too dark or too bright without enough detail, and the audio noise floor and background noise was so loud that it wasn't always easy to hear people. Plus, the quality of the voices was very bad, and there was nothing you could do about it.
I upgraded to a DSLR camera, and that improved video so much I haven’t messed with it since, but sound improved only marginally. Then added the Rode VideoMic pro, which improved sound marginally again. To get a little more control, I did get a twin mic setup that recorded in the left and right tracks through a saramonic audio interface. Through it all, it was intensely frustrating because the sound quality never sounded the way I wanted.
Very quickly I discovered that for training videos and product featurettes, people were okay with amateurish video quality as long as the camera was very still, but if the audio wasn't good, it was much more annoying.
So, after much research, I picked up the F8, bought some wireless lavs (two each of G3s and Rode filmmakers), picked up some additional mics, and started experimenting with audio.
Coming from zero audio mixer recorder background, there is a small learning curve for the basics, but even just learning the basics provided a huge jump in audio quality.
TRACKS (and dual SD cards):
- Before the F8: I could only really use one or two mics at a time, which I could record into the left and right of the stereo channel. This sucks in a large room, or when you have multiple people talking and the mic (or two mics) is/are not uniformly distant from all speakers. What's more frustrating, if one person in a group is particularly loud, or particular close to the mic, or a person is particularly far or quiet, I can't isolate such voices and adjust volume relevant to other speakers. Is that a huge deal? Well, since I'm not trying to be a professional, not really. But in extreme cases, it can be difficult to hear at all, and that’s a real problem.
- After the F8: I can now attach up to 8 mics, space them out throughout a classroom, or use wireless lavs on key individuals (like the training class instructor who walks around the room), which provides two advantages: First, I can save as a polywav file, which is a single file that stores all 8 tracks plus two more tracks for Left Right mix down. Ooooooorrrrr, I can record every track as an individual track. Either way, I can make minor volume adjustments in post to even out volume across all voices. Even better, since I record to TWO SD cards, I can do the fancier stuff I just mentioned to one SD card, and to the other SD card I can record just an MP3 mix down, which creates a much smaller file, so i can send that file to other people right away before making adjustments in FCPX. Or I can record the same thing to both SD cards so I have a backup in case one of the cards gets corrupted. Also, with a USB cable (older mini-USB type to USB-A), I can actually mount the SD cards to my Mac or Windows machine as if they were external disks, so I never even have to take the SD cards out of the F8.
GAIN/FADER (and FRC-8):
- Speaking of individual tracks, one of the great features with having all these inputs and independent controls is that I can quickly setup each mic and adjust the incoming audio level (called gain or trim) and the outgoing or recording level (fader). In some scenarios, you adjust gain settings, and once set, don’t mess with them, but rather adjust faders. You can do that with the F8 as is, but it requires switching between gain (trim) and fader in the display, and then turning each potentiometer (knob) until the current setting is caught, before you can start adjusting it. It’s easier to show in video than explain in words, but in any case, this is a small bit of extra stuff you have to do. For most of my stuff, setting faders to 0 (sometimes called unity), and just futzing with gain (trim) to get the preferred volume range is just fine since I’m only recording, and do most of my volume adjustments in post.
- However, if I do a live panel discussion, than I’m sending audio out to speakers live (as a left right track) while I’m also recording, so for this purpose, I picked up the FRC-8, which is a dedicated mixing board for the F8 (and also the F4), designed to make working with faders a ton easier. In fact, if you plan to do any live “to speaker” stuff, I would recommend getting the FRC-8. This is because you set the gain (trim) for what you’re recording, and once you set those, you don’t want to mess with them, but since you’re ALSO sending the audio out live to speakers, you can use the fader to adjust speaker volumes by track. Also really useful if you don’t really know what you’re doing, since when you get that loud pitched escalation of looping audio, you can drop the faders instantly. It’s also way better to try and keep most talkers set a little lower in volume, and bring up the each person as they’re speaking. Truthfully, I would prefer an auto-mixer built into the F8, but the fader board is still useful.
- Routing is so very cool. Basically, you can decide what inputs go where. You can do routing for the Main outs (which is great when going to speakers, or the camera, or a video recorder (I use the Atomos Ninja 2). You can do routing for the sub-outs, and you can do routing for the headphones.
So, what is routing? Basically, for every single track, you can decide whether to send that audio out as pre-fader sound, or post fader sound. Or you can route the mix-down stereo track. For the headphones, sometimes you want just the pre-fader, but might want the stereo mix-down post fader going to the speakers, and maybe the same for the sub-outs (for a video recorder like the Atomos Ninja).
- I use this button mostly just during initial setup. For each input track, you have two buttons and the potentiometer. The numbered button turns the track on or off (it’s also used for shortcuts), The PFL/SOLO button isolates tracks, and then there’s the potentiometer (knob). The PFL/SOLO button is used what you want to hear that track only. Usually, your headphones’ routing is set to either pre- or post-fader mixdown (left right stereo tracks), but if you want to hear just one of the mics, you’d have to go back to the routing menu and futz with it, and then go back. That’s a lot of buttons just to hear a single track. The PFL/SOLO button allows you to quickly block out all other input tracks, so you hear just that input. In the menu, you can set it to be either PFL (Pre-fader listen), or SOLO (which really just means post-fader listen). When I’m rushed, I just turn on all the wireless lavs and hand them out, set up the omni mic and maybe a couple of stand mics, and just turn everything on, and then I go back to the F8 and adjust trim using the PFL button (while asking people to talk normally). I rarely use SOLO mode because I want to focus on gain settings first and foremost.
- Okay, this is pretty common on a lot of mixer recorders, but some don’t have them. it just means that each input can take either a quarter inch TRS plug or an XLR plug. My previous audio interface (stereo only) was XLR only, so I couldn’t use some of my mics. Not a biggie, but convenient. Worth noting that some professional grade field mixer/recorders have XLR only inputs. So I wouldn’t look at XLR inputs as problematic, just that hybrids are a tad more convenient.
- This is somewhat useful. Basically the F8 sends out a tone that helps you calibrate the sound going to your destination. Since I use the Atomos Ninja 2, I turn on tone on the F8, and adjust the gain on the Atomos Ninja 2 until it’s where I want it, and that’s it. Once that’s set, I don’t mess with it. The mic side of the switch just turns on the internal crappy mic on the F8 for a moment. This is useful when I’m recording, and in between takes and I want to add a quick little voice memo in the middle of the recording. I don’t do this very often since I prefer cutting takes as much as possible, but for the long training videos, it’s useful because that audio is easy to find while scrolling in FCPX, making it sort of like a marker.
- You can send 24 or 48 phantom power to any mic, and turn it on and off per mic as required. You can also send plug-in power to mics requiring that instead. Plugin power is just for the EX port.
As long as I’ve come this far, I might as well list up more of the menus, hahaha.
OTHER INPUT MENUS.
- HPF: You can add an HPF for each input. This is for canceling out low noise like air conditioner rumbling, or computer fan rumbling. basically cuts out low frequency noise. I should note that adjusting HPF changes voices, making them sound higher. For more depth for voices, you really want to turn HPF off….but if rumbling is a problem, you need HPF. Kind of a give and take no matter what, but this just means that for the best audio, you really want to minimize HPF as much as possible while reducing any low rumbling. In a quiet room, just turn it off to get the richest voice quality.
- Input Limiter: Hahahahahahahahaha. This doesn’t really work. Watch Curtis Judd videos, and it will be clear why. I’ve done a bunch of tests too, and bleh, definitely doesn’t prevent distortion for loud sounds. Digital limiters don’t work well since the feature only kicks in after the audio is converted to digital, and by then the damage is done, so can’t be fixed. Now, if the F8 had a dynamic range of 140db instead of 120db, the digital limiters would make a lot of sense. In my imaginary fantasy world, pre-amps would have a dynamic range of 166db (the loudest sound that can be heard) and the digital limiters would compress sound to make it more manageable, with a nice soft curved roll-off.
The good news is that the F8’s noise floor is very low, and the dynamic range is 120db, which is pretty darn impressive (despite my earlier fantasy comment), so you can set the gain lower on the F8 than what most folks recommend and still get great sound when you bring the volume up in post, but it also means you have tons of head room for loud noises before the distortion begins to happen. Love the F8 for that. If you do decide to use the digital limiter, you can set it up with a hard breakoff (which can be useful but also sound a little weird), or with a softer gradual rolloff. Either way, you can also apply digital limiters in post, so having them on the F8 is not hugely necessary, but useful if you don’t want to spend a lot of time in post.
- Phase invert: This is for when you have two mics going on separate tracks, but they’re pulling in a lot of the same sound because the mics are close together. This can sometimes cause strange extra silence in weird ways. The phase invert (and I don’t understand the tech concepts at all) basically change how one of the tracks is recorded just a little bit, so the two mics don’t cancel each other out in weird ways.
- Input Delay: I don’t really have a need for this, since I’m not doing any music. But basically, wireless devices record just a shade delayed compared to wired mics, so Input Delay allows you to delay the wired mics to match any wireless mics. We’re talking ms’s here, so for conversational stuff, this doesn’t really matter.
- Stereo Link mode and Trim Link mode basically allow you to connect two mic tracks together. Actually, in stereo link mode, that’s really when folks use the previous phase invert. Trim Link mode is cool because it ties the gain of multiple mics to a single trim knob. Nifty, huh? You turn one potentiometer, and it affects the gain on multiple mics. Personally, I like setting each one separately, so not a big advantage for me.
- Output on/off: This basically allows you to turn on or off the outputs for Main and Sub. If you’re just recording, you can turn the outs off.
- Output level: You do have fader control, but if you’re going from the outs to another XLR input or a TRS input, it’s common to have an automatic dropoff in volume to match the inputs of the destination device. You can choose from -10 for TRS and -40 for mics.
- Output delay: This is the same concept as the input delay, but I’ve never found this necessary. Pros probably need this for some frame issues to destinations to match accurately. I do the outs to the Atomos Ninja 2, and have never noticed any out of sync recordings, so this isn’t really needed for me.
- Output limiter: Okay, this is useful. You can compress the audio range using the output limiter and that’s useful for both reducing dynamic range to speakers or audio destinations, and to make sure you don’t get distortion at the other end.
- Main and Sub routing. Love this, but already mentioned it earlier.
- The first two menus are for the SD cards 1 and 2. I generally have isolated tracks plus the mix down to SD1 and a mix down MP3 to SD2. You can actually have the same settings for both, giving you a backup in case one card is accidentally corrupted.
- Many of the others are the settings for the recordings.
- Dual Channel Rec: This is useful as an alternative since there is no analog limiter for input. They are pre-paired. So you 1 and 5 go together, 2 and 6 go together, etc. you can turn dual channel recording on for all of them, or any combination of pairs. Basically, what this means is, if you have one mic going into track one, track 5 will automatically record at a lower gain setting. It’s default is -12db. It’s useful as a backup in case you accidentally have the gain trim set too high on one of the tracks because of unexpected loud noises. You then have the backup track. i used this for a while, and then I got the SD442, which allowed me to have tracks 1, 2, 5, 6 without safety tracks enabled, and then I dual recorded 3, 4, to 7, 8. But today, I don’t do any of that. I just set the gain levels low on all 8 tracks, since the noise floor is low enough that I can set gain low, and give myself a lot of extra head room.
- Pre-Rec just means the F8 is always recording, and just dumps the anything over X number of seconds when you hit the record button. This is good when you tend to be a couple of seconds late to hit the record button. I don’t use this feature, but the advantage is good if you plan to start and stop recordings often and are at the mercy of other people’s actions.
- Max file size is about 2GB, there’s no option for more than that. I think this is to accommodate Windows 32-bit machines, since really, with 64bit machines, you don’t have that limitation.
PLAY, TIMECODE, and SLATE are pretty basic. Play is just whether you want to play all or one or repeat. Timecord is for setting up TC. Pros use this, I don’t, since I still use the old standby clapping method to align audio files. Slate is to setup the internal mic and tone generator.
- Date time RTC is pretty standard. set it up, and whenever you hit record, the time information is saved. It’s also the source for the time code generator.
- Power Source: There’s a bunch of ways to power the F8. Plug in, AA battery, and Hirose. You can choose alkaline or lithium, and other settings.
- Auto-power off. Kinda obvious
- Timecode display size. Kinda obvious
- Level meter: This is how the levels show on the display. pretty important. Two in particular matter a lot to me. Level Meter View and Reference Level. When recording, there are 6 total screens that can be scrolled through. I want only three to minimize scrolling. That setup is done at Level Meter View. Reference Level is the other. I want to track the noise floor as much as possible, so I always set this to “LowLevel”
- LED brightness. I leave at the default of 60 and it’s fine.
- LCD: You can also set brightness here. Or turn on powersaving, which decreases backlight, or switch to outdoor mode, which makes the display black and white.
- Play key option. set what the key does when you’re recording or playing. While recording, the play key becomes a marker.
- Trim knob. This can slightly change the display so you can quickly change the potentiometers between gain/trim/pan or just be gain.
- The shortcut list is great. It’s used to setup short cuts for all the buttons. The shortcuts require the use of the “stop” key when not recording, but when recording, you can hit just the shortcut key without holding down the “stop” key.
SD CARD: You can test and format
USB: when the cable is plugged in, it can be either in SD Card mode, which mounts the SD Cards like external disks, or audio interface mode, which sends audio recordings to the computer live. If you turn this feature on, you can’t record to SD card. It’s one or the other. (NOTE: The new SD MixPre-3 and 6 can do both at the same time, a little jealous). This is also where you setup the FRC-8.
Some other tidbits I like about the F8.
You can use the iPad wirelessly for track names. Pretty useful since the track name editing on the F8 itself uses a virtual keyboard that is kinda slow. But the iPad connection automatically also connects to a fader feature, which I don’t like very much. I much prefer the FRC-8.
If you use the FRC-8, you can also attach a USB keyboard. I have a crappy old one for Windows from years ago, which works great.
Let’s see…the AA batteries don’t last long in and of themselves. BUT, if you use an external battery with the Hirose connector, it’s great because when you change the main external battery out with another, the internal AA’s kick in to cover while you’re changing batteries. Very useful for this purpose.
There is so much more to like about the F8 if you’re coming up from either a Zoom H6 or from recording using a DSLR or a smart phone.
I mentioned that a new pair of audio recorders came out from sound devices, call the mixpre-3 and mixpre6. While they do have some significant advantages, the F8 remains a formidable audio recorder mixer and I am very happy with it. With 8 track input and 10 track recording and dual SD cards, and a host of other features, the F8, for its size, is an almost magical piece of gear.
If you decide to pony up for something like the F8, you’ll get greatly improved pre-amps, way better than a handheld like the H4N, and better than the H6. I would put this above a fair number of tascam recorder mixers out there. You will get greatly improved sound from even low-end mics. I have a pair of 25 year old Victor karaoke mics, and just changed the cable to XLR and the sound quality has been impressive. To a professional, I’m sure the sound quality still pales in comparison to top end mics, but I was coming from some really low end pre-amps, so the improvement in audio was dramatic.
If you’re in the market, and have some scenarios where you need between 6-8 mics, I believe the F8 is the absolute best way to go for under $1K. You could get better analog limiter pre-amps from sound devices, but you will not have 8 XLR inputs. The most you can get is 4 XLR inputs, and a crappy 3.5mm input for two additional tracks. This makes the F8 an incredible value for dollar.
If you’re a novice like me, looking to upgrade, the F8 is a rock solid choice.
A few tiny cons:
- As mentioned, the F8 uses digital limiters instead of analog. I don't need analog limiters if the dynamic range is good. If there's a future version of this, I would prefer higher dynamic range.
- The Zoom F8 can be an audio interface to a computer as well. But it can't simultaneously record to the internal SD cards and be an audio interface at the same time. That would be nice.
- I've seen how Dugan auto-mixing works on the $3K-$6K SD devices. Wow, that would be a great feature to add to the F8.
- Hirose powering can be cheap if you put a lot of effort into it. But I'd prefer USB powering. SD's new devices solve this by having a USB-C powering option (and comes with a forked USB-C cable that is USB-C on one end and two USB-A plugs on the other end). I also with that the one USC-C port could be used for both audio interface and powering at the same time.
- The iOS app could be better. Also, the BT driver for the F8 should be default installed as part of the firmware.
- The headphone amp is rather tinny. It doesn't represent the actual audio. Good for basics like finding distortion, but you can miss audio artifacts, and misjudge the timber of sound.
- I really wish there was both a USB-C ports for power/audio interface AND a second port (USB-A) to connect a keyboard and/or mixer board. The first problem right now is, in order to connect a keyboard, you have to have the FRC-8 mixer board. You plug the mixer into the F8 and then you plug the keyboard into the mixer. The second problem right now is that when you connect the FRC-8, you cannot have an audio interface....and if you are using the audio interface, you can't attach the FRC-8. If the Zoom F8 had the USB-C port for power and audio interface, the second port (USB-A) could be used to connect either the FRC-8 or a keyboard.
Top reviews from other countries
Better build and great alternative to Sound Devices.
No hardware limiters before A to D conversion but this poses no problem.
Dual SD card recording is a huge stress reliever.
Timecode is rock solid. More editors have better lives thanks to this recorder.