Upgrade Zoom H5 & H6 With EXH-6 XLR/TRS Dual Input Capsule

Upgrade Zoom H5 & H6 With EXH-6 XLR TRS Dual Input Capsule Featured Image

Author: Tosh Lubek Published: 6th February 2024

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Do you want your Zoom H5 or H6 handy recorder to have more audio inputs? If yes, then you’re not alone. That’s exactly why I got the Zoom EXH-6 dual XLR/TRS input capsule.

This nifty accessory expands the audio capabilities of your Handy recorder and your creative horizons. This dual-input capsule adds two XLR/TRS combo inputs to the Zoom H5 or H6, making it a must-have accessory for any audio or video producer who wants to record pristine multi-input audio. Examples of its uses include:

  • Panel discussions: Capture every voice clearly at conferences and events with individual microphone inputs for up to four (Zoom H5) or six (Zoom H6) panelists.
  • Multi-person podcasts: Interview multiple guests easily and have discrete control over their levels.
  • Live music performances: Record stunning stereo or multi-mic setups.
  • Event recording: Connect your Zoom recorder to mixers or directly grab high-quality audio.

The Zoom EXH-6 dual XLR/TRS input capsule complements the functionality of the Zoom H5 and H6 Handy Recorders. It opens a world of audio capture possibilities for owners of these recorders, and at around $90 in the US or £65 in the UK, it provides terrific value for money.

Zoom EXH-6 Dual XLR/TRS Input Capsule, 2 XLR/TRS Inputs, works with H5, H6,…
  • Features two additional combo jacks that accept either XLR or ¼” balanced (TRS) or unbalanced (TS)…
  • Each EXH-6 input offers a dedicated analog gain control knob as well as a -20dB pad that allows you…
  • With the use of the Pad switch, the H6 can input 30dB louder signal and 14dB softer signal than any…
  • The built-in instrumentation amp allows signals to be transmitted with minimal noise even when long…

Last update on 2024-02-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Zoom EXH-6 Key Features

The key feature of the EXH-6 capsule includes:

  • Dual XLR/TRS inputs: Plug in microphones, instruments, line-level devices, and more.
  • Versatile compatibility: The capsule works with Zoom H5, H6, F4, U-44, F1, F8n, and more. Maximizing the usefulness of the audio gear you own.
  • Independent gain control: Like the other XLR/TRS inputs on your H5/H6, each of the two inputs on the EXH-6 capsule has a dedicated step-less gain control. This allows you to fine-tune each input to achieve the perfect balance.
  • 20dB pad switches: These will help prevent clipping and distortion from hot signals.
  • Accepts various signal levels: You can plug in almost any input since the capsule accepts mic, instrument, and +4dB line levels.
  • Metal construction: The shell of the EXH-6 is all metal and built to last. It’ll resist minor knocks while in your equipment bag when out on location recording sessions. The whole thing has a bit of weight to it, giving it a robust feel in the hand.

Seamless Integration with Zoom H5 and H6 recorders

The Zoom H5 and H6 Handy recorders are designed to connect to a range of accessories via a connector on the top of the recorder. By default, this is used for the stereo XY microphone capsule that comes with the recorder. However, this can easily be removed by pressing in the two release buttons on either side and pulling off the capsule.

Attaching the EXH-6 capsule is simply a case of aligning the connector on the H5/H6 with the one on the capsule and pushing the two together. The locking hooks on the capsule secure it in place, making it feel secure and part of the recorder.

The design of the EXH-6 capsule is robust and straightforward. The external components include:

  • 2x XLR/TRS combo female sockets
  • 2x step-less gain dials
  • 2x -20dB pad switches
  • A 10-pin connector on the base (with a removable plastic cover)
  • Locking hooks
  • Capsule release buttons on the sides

If you’re keen to see inside this external XLR/TRS input capsule, you can remove the 4 main crosshead screws and ease the metal shell apart. However, unless you understand what you are doing, I would leave this well alone.

Before attaching the EXH-6 capsule, you should remove the protective plastic cap. It has the Zoom logo embossed on it. After removing it, place it on the XY mic capsule connector to prevent the risk of accidental damage.

The design of the external input capsule means its use is reasonably intuitive. After you’ve attached one or two inputs, adjust the level(s) with the gain dial(s) and pad switch(es). The audio will appear on inputs L&R, or the tracks normally used for the stereo XY microphones.

Versatile Input Options

Whether you’re working with microphones, instruments, or +4dB line-level signals, the EXH-6 capsule has you covered. Its two XLR/TRS inputs accept a wide range of inputs, including microphones, instruments, and mixer outputs. Plus, with the -20dB pad switches and gain controls, you have the flexibility to tailor your recording settings to suit almost any scenario you’re likely to encounter.

Advantages of the EXH-6 external input capsule with a Handy recorder

There are pros and cons to using the two combo inputs on this clip-on capsule. I’ll go through the main one here.

Two Discrete Inputs: By replacing the XY mics, the EXH-6 capsule offers more versatility allowing:

  • Remote placement: Position the microphones away from the recorder and exactly where they are needed to capture clean audio.
  • Superior audio: A dedicated microphone for each speaker or instrument will produce better separation of the audio than when using the XY mics.

Accepts any signal level: The EXH-6 can accept various signal types, including microphone, instrument, and +4dB line level. So, it’s possible to record vocals, electric instruments, or mixer outputs through the two XLR/TRS connectors.

Access to backup record: On the Zoom H5, the Backup Record feature is only available on the L/R inputs and is usually only available when using the XY mics. When the EXH-6 capsule is used and the Backup Record feature is enabled, external signals into the capsule can also use the Backup Record feature. This creates a second version of the L/R input that has the input level reduced by 12dB, effectively being a safety track that protects the recording from accidental clipping and distortion.

Disadvantages of the EXH-6 external input capsule with a Handy recorder   

No phantom power:  One shortcoming of the L&R inputs on the Zoom H5 and H6 recorders is that phantom power cannot be assigned to them.

However, this is not an insurmountable problem. Self-powered condenser microphones, such as the Sennheiser ME66, and inexpensive inline phantom power supplies can be used to unleash the full potential of the EXH-6 capsule.

No locking XLRs: The XLR connectors on the EXH-6 are like the rest on the H5/H6, they do not lock the plug into the socket. While some prefer locks, friction usually holds plugs securely in place. In years of use, this hasn’t been an issue for me. Users who need locking XLRs likely wouldn’t choose these Zoom Handy recorders anyway because the built-in XLR sockets do not lock.

No MONO MIX: When recording in STEREO mode on the Zoom H5, by activating MONO MIX, whatever is connected through Inputs 1/2 will be mixed to a single signal and sent to both channels. This creates a dual mono file, which is useful if only one input is used or if you aim to have a mono mix of both inputs. Unfortunately, MONO MIX is not available on Inputs L/R.

So, the left and right inputs using the EXH-6 external input capsule will be recorded to the L&R tracks of a stereo file. If you only use one input but need a mono or dual mono file, this will need to be fixed in your editing software, like Audacity, Adobe Audition, or Adobe Premiere Pro.

Streamline your audio and video recording workflow

I usually record my audio and video separately and sync the files in post-production. But if my client has a limited budget and I need to save time, I’ll use my Zoom H5 to gather multiple audio inputs and send the output mix directly to my camera. The audio will be recorded directly to the mp4 file along with the video signal. This can accelerate the workflow while still recording better audio than using the camera’s mics or a single camera-mounted microphone.

Zoom EXH-6 Dual XLR/TRS Input Capsule, 2 XLR/TRS Inputs, works with H5, H6,…
  • Features two additional combo jacks that accept either XLR or ¼” balanced (TRS) or unbalanced (TS)…
  • Each EXH-6 input offers a dedicated analog gain control knob as well as a -20dB pad that allows you…
  • With the use of the Pad switch, the H6 can input 30dB louder signal and 14dB softer signal than any…
  • The built-in instrumentation amp allows signals to be transmitted with minimal noise even when long…

Last update on 2024-02-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Conclusion

Having now used the Zoom EXH-6 dual XLR/TRS input capsule for a few months, I consider it a must-have accessory. Even if you only ever need to record with one or two XLR microphones, there are real advantages to having this external input capsule. When you use the standard Inputs 1/2 you do not have access to Backup Record. This feature is hugely beneficial to prevent clipped or distorted audio if you or a guest suddenly laugh or speak more loudly than usual.

Furthermore, the ability to use two extra XLR/TRS inputs extends the usefulness of your Handy recorder, especially the H5, and broadens your creative horizons. Especially since those two inputs can be mic, instrument, or +4dB line level.

I have listed the pros and cons of the EXH-6 external input capsule for completeness, but I feel the pros heavily outweigh the cons. In most cases, the cons can also be minimized by using a workaround.

Finally, the design and metal construction of the capsule not only give you a sense that you’ve bought a quality item but also make the capsule robust and able to withstand light knocks.

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Thanks. 🙂

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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