How to Use Back Up Record on Zoom H5 to Never Clip Audio

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Author: Tosh Lubek Published: 24th January 2024

Earlier this week I was in a hurry to record with my Zoom H5 recorder. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow my own advice to others of doing a pre-record audio test. The consequence was that my audio turned out to be clipped and distorted. Despite my hurried error, the audio on my finished video turned out fine. Fortunately, I had enabled Back Up Record on my Zoom H5 Handy recorder.

Back Up Record creates two versions of a recording. The first is recorded at the level set by the input level dial, and the second is recorded at a level that’s 12dB lower. That means that if your main recording is distorted, or if there’s a sudden loud sound, there’s a good chance that the backup recording will save the day.

How to enable backup record on the Zoom H5

The first thing you need to know is that you can use Input L/R Backup in either Stereo file record mode or Multifile record mode. With that out the way, here’s how to use backup recording.

1. Enter the Zoom H5 menu by pressing the Menu button on the right side of the recorder.

2. Use the Scroll button to scroll down and select “REC”. Once selected, press the Scroll button inwards to enter the REC menu screen.

3. On the REC screen, use the Scroll button to scroll down and select “In L/R BACKUP”. If backup is not enabled, you will see OFF displayed in the bottom right of the screen.

4. To enable Back Up, press the Scroll button inwards to open the In L/R BACKUP screen. Use the Scroll button to select ON, and then press the Scroll button inwards. You will be returned to the REC screen and “ON” should be displayed in the bottom right corner of the display.

5. Press the Menu button twice to exit the Menu.

To confirm backup is enabled, look at the top line of the display. On the right, you should see XY5+BU. This refers to your XY file plus the Backup.

Now that you have enabled Back Up Record on the L/R input, the H5 will create two recordings. The first file will be at the input level set by the record level knob on the mic capsule, and the second file will be at 12dB lower than the first.

Limitations that apply to H5 backup record

Now there are three limitations to using Back Up Record on the Zoom H5.

The first is that it only applies to the L/R inputs. That’s the detachable microphone capsule. However, that does not mean Back Up Record is restricted to the XY mics. Back Up Record will be applied to your L/R inputs, so that’s the input from whatever capsule you are currently using on the H5.

Even if it’s the XY capsule that came with the H5, notice there is a 3.5mm mic input socket on the side of it. This can accept most microphones with a 3.5mm TRS jack, such as a Lavalier mic. In fact, if you have an XLR to 3.5mm TRS adapter you could even plug in a dynamic XLR microphone.

The second limitation of Back Up Record is that it only works with 44.1 or 48kHz WAV recordings. That’s probably not that much of a problem if you aim to record good-quality audio.

Finally, if you have enabled LO CUT and COMP/LIMITER settings, these effects will not be applied to the backup recording.

Where will your H5 Back Up recordings be saved? 

The location of the backup recordings on the SD card will depend on whether the H5 is in Stereo or Multifile mode. But they will be in the same folder as the normal recording.

What you will notice is that the file name will be slightly different.

In stereo mode, if the main L/R file is called, “ZOOM0001_TrLR.wav”, the the backup file will be called “ZOOM0001_TrLR_BU.wav”. So “BU” has been added to the end of the main file name.

If you enable Back Up Record in Multifile mode, the Zoom H5 recorder will create four files. You will have one file each for Inputs 1 and 2, plus two stereo files. The first of the stereo files will be the main L/R recording and the second stereo file will be the L/R Back Up recording.

Conclusion: Ditch the Distortion, Embrace the Backup

So, there you have it! With the simple yet powerful Backup Record feature on your Zoom H5, you can say goodbye to the fear of distorted audio ruining your recordings. Whether you’re capturing the energy of a live performance, the intimate tones of a spoken word piece, or the crisp audio for your next video project, the peace of mind that a safety net provides is invaluable.

Remember, distorted audio happens to the best of us. But with Backup Record, it doesn’t have to spell disaster. So go out there, experiment, push boundaries, and record with confidence knowing that even if you accidentally crank the input knob a bit too high, your audio masterpiece is still safe and sound.

Portrait of Tosh Lubek

About the author: Tosh Lubek is a multi-award-winning broadcaster, writer, and video producer, with 40 years of experience in professional broadcasting and has been using Canon video and stills cameras since 2010. He has worked with radio and TV broadcasters, advertising agencies, and direct clients on a variety of projects including radio and television advertising, online video production, corporate videos, award ceremony motion graphics, and theme park sound design. Tosh has won numerous awards, including a Radio Academy Awards Gold Sony, a Gold, Silver, and Bronze World Medals in the New York Festivals International Advertising Awards. Since about 2007 he has been creating YouTube videos. Tosh has been a sponsor of the “video booth” at HashTag Business Events across the UK.

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