First public hands-on with new Zoom Essentials range reveals speed boost

 Zoom H4E.
Zoom H4E.

Seen in public for the first time in Europe, the new Zoom Essential range of recorders could be compared to their predecessors and each boasted obvious improvements, with clearer brighter screens and much quicker startup times.

The term 'Essential', incidentally, it was pointed out to me as I checked out the range, isn't applied because these are cut-down models (as some Waitrose shoppers in the UK might think). Here Zoom are applying the E to those products which are essential to creators.

In fact all three – the H1E, H4E, and H6E – boast 32-bit float recording, so there is no need to set gain levels for most users. Recording without sound clipped at noise peaks is a goal of most in video and music (it's essentially the 'Raw file' of sound).

Zoom H6E
Zoom H6E

We'll be getting the new recording devices – which replace favourites long established in the podcasting and video worlds as leading options for content creators.

Concerns about running out of storage space should also have been eliminated, with the new devices having 1TB of storage on board. All have improved screens, with the H4E and H6E having color LCDs. The H1E, on the other hand, gets a much crisper mono OLED than its predecessor's LED.

In a move which will be appreciated by those keen to minimise cable types in their bags, and who remember running out of batteries, power can come from disposable batteries (as before), AC adapter, and USB-C, making the devices flexible with your phone charger at least to keep running.

Zoom H6E
Zoom H6E

The new H6E looks a lot cleaner than its predecessor, too, because recording in 32-bit float means there is very little need for worrying about tweaking levels, so unlike the older device it doesn't need all the physical gain adjustments. It can still record up to 4 channels via XLR at up to 96kHZ

Zoom H1E
Zoom H1E

As well as the range of features, something which long-time users of the Zoom recorders might be most impressed by – the quick startup. While older versions would display a startup graphic for a few seconds when powering up, the new models are ready at a moment's notice. I saw this demonstrated and (as someone who has worked with a H4N professionally for a long while) I can really see the difference this will make.

These products were available to touch and feel at The Photography and Video Show, Europe's largest photography show (and will be until the end of tomorrow), after an official launch in L.A. a few weeks ago. They should be shipping next month. We're hoping to bring you more details after doing a full review.

Several Zoom devices appear on our guide to the best audio recorders for filmmaking and video production in 2024 – some will no doubt now be replaced by these new models, however!