There are nice little handheld audio recorders that capture premium recordings, and the newly released Tascam Portacapture X8 is definitely one of them. It’s a fresh portable recorder in 2022, and it’s got some pretty impressive competition.
So, let’s see how the latest Tascam Portacapture X8 high-resolution recorder compares with the classic Zoom F6 field recorder. Let’s take a closer look at their differences and see if the new Tascam portable recorder should be the best choice nowadays.
Tascam Portacapture X8 vs Zoom F6 – Form Factor & Design
In terms of form factor, Tascam Portacapture X and Zoom F6 are not that similar. Tascam Portacapture X8 is considered to be a portable handheld audio recorder that offers built-in condenser microphones while the Zoom F6 is more like a sturdy sound bag that requires you to use external mics to work.
Dimension-wise, even though the Zoom F6 is not as portable as the new Tascam Portacapture X8, they don’t have significant differences in sizes and weights. According to the official specs, the external dimension of the Zoom F6 is 100 (W) x 119.8 (D) x 62.9 (H) while the Tascam Portacapture X8 is 83 (W) × 205.6 (H) × 41.5 (D) mm. And the Zoom F6 field recorder is slightly heavier than the Tascam Portacapture X8: The Zoom F6 weighs 520g and the Portacapture X8 weighs 472g.
The way you operate these recorders and manage your recordings are different, too. Interestingly, this newly launched Tascam Portacapture X8 comes with a large-sized touch screen and you have multiple presets for recording conveniently without changing settings. The Portacapture X8 remains a few basic physical buttons including Record, Play/Pause, Home, Mark. The Zoom F6, like most traditional recorders, has all the navigation buttons and knobs on the front panel. And you will only get a small screen display, but it is not a touchscreen.
Having a responsive touchscreen is certainly better when you need to adjust the settings or check out the files frequently. But you might need to take good care of the screen when recording outdoor, and a large touchscreen does not work well if your fingers have stains. The Zoom F6 is more rugged and robust than the Portacapture X8, and you don’t have to worry about the mics and screen as long as you store it properly.
Tascam Portacapture X8 vs Zoom F6 – Inputs & Outputs
Both Tascam Portacapture X8 and Zoom F6 record up to eight tracks, but the Zoom F6 comes with 6 XLR mic inputs plus a stereo mix and the Tascam Portacapture X8 has 4 XLR mic inputs and two large 14.6mm diameter XY condenser mics plus a stereo mix. And their Phantom power settings can be set to 24 or 48 Volts.
Compared to the Zoom F6, the Tascam Portacapture X8 has a camera jack, which is designed for monitoring audio recorded on your DSLR camera and it also allows you to use the audio input of wireless microphones.
A big advantage that the Zoom F6 has is that it features a built-in timecode in/out jack, which is helpful when shooting or recording with other devices. Although the X8 is an upscale portable recorder, it doesn’t have any timecode in or out at the moment. And we are currently not sure if they will implement a timecode feature in the future.
Tascam Portacapture X8 and Zoom F6 are both equipped with excellent s/n ratio preamps and 32-bit float recording technology for more headroom. They support WAV files in the BWF format up to 192 kHz and you can also record in MP3 format as well.
Tascam Portacapture X8 Recording Format
44.1k/48k/96k/192kHz, 16/24-bit, 32-bit float
Zoom F6 Recording Format
44.1/47.952/48/48.048/88.2/96/192 kHz, 16/24-bit/32-bit float,
mono/stereo/2-8ch poly, BWF/iXML
128/192/320 kbps, 44.1/48 kHz, ID3v1 tags
Although the 192 kHz does not give you much practical use in reality due to your mic’s maximum SPL and human hearing. It can be necessary when you need to add effects or edit the recordings, and your recordings will have more Anti-aliasing ability, less distortion, and more accuracy.
You can record dual format with both the Portacapture X8 and Zoom F6, which means that you can record in different audio resolutions and sample frequencies simultaneously.
If you are looking for an audio recorder that has a better wireless operation, the Portacapture X8 has the upper hand. Although you can add a BTA‑1 Bluetooth adapter to the Zoom F6 to control the recorder, they currently only support iOS devices. However, the Tascam Portacapture X8 allows you to make all of the same changes on your phone (iPhone and Android) as you can on the touchscreen.
Battery & Power
Both recorders from Tascam and Zoom require 4 AA batteries without a power adapter, and the recording time can vary due to different settings and recording formats. Here’s the image of their continuous recording time, and the Tascam Portacapture X8 certainly has an advantage when the POWER SAVE MODE is on.
Zoom F6 Battery Life
Tascam Portacapture X8 Battery Life
Even though Portacapture X8 and Zoom F6 are just prosumer gear, they are not something that you should purchase without considering.
The price of the Zoom F6 on their site is $749.99 while you may have some discounts on platforms like Amazon.
Since the Portacapture X8 is a fairly new product, I did not see there’s no deal available to get and it costs $499 on tascam.com with no shipping fee.
Summary – I Still Like The Zoom F6 Better
There’s nothing to complain about when it comes to their recording performance and quality considering their target market.
I just think the Tascam Portacapture X8 is trying to be too versatile – It’s a portable handheld recorder, but it is not that small with the large touch screen that you need to protect. If you mount it with your DSLR camera, it’s not that easy to operate as it is too heavy on top. And the two built-in mics inevitably have noise from your handling, and they won’t make the most of 32-bit float.
The Zoom F6 sits in your sound bag safely and firmly. If you don’t need to move around or carry the recorder on a daily basis, it is still a nice choice in 2022. It might be slightly less cost-effective when comparing it to the Tascam Portacapture X8, it is definitely worth the money since it has reliable performance and does not sacrifice the mobility on the tripod.