You just had the performance of your life but don’t have a (good) recording. Does that sound familiar? It does to me. And I bet many composers and musicians also recognise this. Find out how with a portable music recorder you can record your compositions and live performances in high quality.

Zoom H6 Portable music recorder

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As a composer and songwriter, nothing is more annoying than listening to the best performance of your music that you have heard before but finding out afterwards that it wasn’t recorded. What a disappointment! The same goes for all musicians out there. Never again give your best performance without recording it.

What are portable music recorders or portable audio recorders?

A portable music recorder is a device that can record music and audio wherever you want, whenever you want. With its adjustable microphone capsules, you can record music on the fly. So you never have to worry about cables or bringing a lot of expensive gear because, with this music recorder, you can do it all. This small recorder has built-in audio convertors, phantom power, and microphone pre-amps. You name it.

Also, many audio recorders have the option to connect external microphones via XLR cables. This means that you really get to choose the best quality recordings afterwards. Just think about all the options.

This also brings me to the next point:

Why would you buy a handheld recorder / portable music recorder?

Selection of portable music recorders. (Tascam, Zoom, Olympus, Yamaha)
Selection of portable music recorders. (Tascam, Zoom, Olympus, Yamaha)

I have never regretted the day that I bought my Zoom H5. I have brought it to so many concerts, recording sessions and field recordings. Every time great recordings. And I know that you can simply clip on different microphone capsules to the Zoom H5, but I have never felt the need. The quality of the XY microphone capsule is simply amazing.

Zoom H5
My trusty used Zoom H5

The Best Portable Audio Recorder: Zoom H6

There is very little that the Zoom H6 cannot do. And I guarantee that for 99% of the musicians, composers and songwriters it will be a one-time purchase. Why am I so sure? Well, I bought the Zoom H5 almost 10 years ago, and it still records music in great quality.


This portable studio recorder can record up to six tracks of 24-bit/96khz WAV audio at the same time. And also two -12Db backup tracks that you can capture from the attached mics or imputs.

There are four XLR/TRS combi sockets, and all of them have separate access to phantom power. Each input has it’s own input level control dial and a -20dB pad switch.

The other two inputs depend on what capsule you attach to it. The options that you have are X/Y, M/S and shotgun microphone capsules, and a dual XLR/TRS combo attachment with a hardware level control and pad switch matching those on the main body of the recorder.

My favourite capsule, which is the X/Y setting, can be set at either 90 or 120 degrees.

Recorder and audio interface in one

As a recorder, the H6 really shines. But it is also able to function as a digital audio interface. So you can send the audio directly to your DAW via a USB connection. When putting the Zoom H6 into Multitrack mode, all six audio channels can be sent simultaneously, while the recorder provides a stereo return signal for monitoring. Just keep in mind that when you are in this mode any type of processing that is applied will also be recorded. For example, the low-cut filter or compressor presets.


I think it is quite clear by now, but for those who are still in doubt: Are portable audio recorders worth it?

It is a must. You have to have a music recorder device if you are serious about your music. You cannot miss any music recording opportunities. Remember: when will you hear such a great performance at a unique location again? Or when will you have such a great audience again?

The Zoom H6 is extremely versatile and for any composer, musician, band or filmmaker it is a piece of audio equipment that cannot be missed. I can vouch for that. I have done multiple field recordings with it. Recorded sound design elements and I have used it to record performances and rehearsals of my music. So this mobile audio recorder does the trick!

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