For such a small, lightweight, and inexpensive portable device, the Zoom H5 Handy Recorder delivers a full set of professional-level I/O. First up, there's the H5's modular expansion port, which lets you connect the same amazing modular capsules Zoom introduced with the H6. You can read all about them in our Zoom Capsule Buying Guide. What's more, the Zoom H5 comes with an XYH-5 capsule, which is an awesome shockmounted XY microphone that's great for stereo recording. This capsule also includes an 1/8" stereo input, but the H5 itself comes equipped with a pair of impressive combo jack inputs, each with its own volume dial and switchable -20dB pad. These inputs let you connect anything from phantom-powered condenser microphones to extremely hot line-level sources. And when it comes to monitoring, the Zoom H5 offers you both a line and a headphone output plus a built-in speaker.
There's something inherently unpredictable about field recording, which makes it unnervingly easy to miss critical takes. Zoom equipped their H5 Handy Recorder with three powerful recording modes to spare you the stress of a lost or ruined recording opportunity: Pre-record, Backup-record, and Auto-record. With Pre-record, the Zoom H5 is continuously buffering the last two seconds of audio, which it includes with every recording. So, even if you hit record late, you're still likely to capture the sound you thought you missed. Along a similar line of thinking is Zoom H5's Backup-record function, which records a separate stereo mix at 12dB down from your current settings (44.1/48kHz only). That way, if a sudden audio spike causes your input to clip, you still have a clean backup to work with. Finally, there's Auto-record, which starts recording when the volume passes a certain threshold.