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Xogium edited this page on 13 Jun 2023

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Zoom F3

This guide is exclusively used for the F3 field recorder from Zoom, and is not applicable to any other models, not even in the same F series.

This documentation is based on firmware version 2.0 of the F3. Make sure to run the same version in case the interfaces changes. Should it change in the future, this documentation will be updated to reflect such changes.


Any menu in this recorder wraps around. Meaning that if for example you press the menu button, then go up once, you move all the way to system instead of remaining on finder. It is hence very important to exactly keep track of how many times you go up or down.

However dialogs that ask you a question of execute/cancel type do not wrap around. The up button moves to execute, the down button moves to cancel. Every time such a dialog is shown, you will be positioned on the cancel option.

After you have done something in a menu, the recorder remembers at what position you were on until you power it off. For example, if you are on the input 1 source and select mic+48v, it will put you on the menu item to select the source if you reopen the input 1 settings.

Since there is a limited number of buttons, what each of them does depends on the currently active screen.

Buttons and connectors

Hold the recorder so that the row of 4 buttons is closest to you, right below the lcd display.

Left side, top to bottom

  • play/pause button
  • stop button
  • menu button
  • USB-C connector
  • micro sd slot behind protective cover


  • 2x XLR input connectors

right side

  • record / stop record / hold switch
  • bluetooth dongle connector, covered
  • power button

back, left to right

  • 3.5mm jack line out connector
  • 3.5 mm jack headphone connector
  • headphone volume buttons, left is lower, right is higher

top of the recorder, left to right

  • back button
  • up button
  • down button
  • enter button

List of actions performed by the buttons

  • back button
    • When on the home screen, this button controls the magnification settings for the first input.
    • When the magnification settings for the first input are displayed, this button lowers it.
    • When in a menu of some kind, it goes back to the previous menu.
    • When playing a file it does 3 things:
      • Moves to the previous file.
      • When held, it moves backward in the same file.
      • Moves to the previous mark in a file, should it have any.
  • up button
    • On the home screen, this button opens the settings for the first input.
    • In a menu or a dialog, this button moves up.
    • When the magnification settings for the first input are displayed, this button raises it.
  • down button
    • On the home screen, this button controls the magnification settings for the second input.
    • In a menu or dialog, it moves down one item.
    • When the magnification settings for the second input are displayed, this button lowers it.
    • When a file is playing or paused, press it once to select the delete option.
  • enter button
    • On the home screen, this button opens the settings of the second input.
    • When in a menu or dialog, use it to confirm your selection.
    • When playing a file, it does 3 things:
      • Moves to the next file.
      • When held, it moves forward in the same file.
      • Moves to the next mark in a file, should it have any.
  • play/pause button
    • This plays the currently selected file or pauses it, if it is already playing.
    • When in the line out volume management menu, pressing this button once will play back a tone into the line out port so you can adjust the level appropriately. Press it again to stop the tonality.
  • finder (skipped, not very useful to blind people)
  • recording
    • rec file name (check box menu)
      • date
      • user defined name (skipped, but doable through the use of the bluetooth app and adapter)
    • sample rate (check box menu)
      • 44.1khz
      • 48khz
      • 88.2khz
      • 96khz
      • 192khz
    • file format (check box menu)
      • mono
      • stereo
    • pre rec (check box menu)
      • off
      • on (6, 3 or 2 seconds depending on sample rate)
    • sound marker (check box menu)
      • off
      • on
    • rec counter
      • elapsed time
      • remaining time
  • output
    • hp alert vol
      • -20dbFS , up = increments towards 0, down = decrements, steps of 1
    • line out level
      • -1dbFS , up = increments towards 0, down = decrements, steps of 1
      • down all the way is mute
      • up once from mute is -48db
      • maxes at +24db
      • saves maybe when going back?
    • line out limiter
      • off
      • on
    • line out delay
      • 0ms , up = increments, down = decrements, steps of 1ms
      • clamp to 0
  • usb audio (see below)
  • file transfer (see below)
  • system
    • language (check box menu
      • english
      • francais
      • deutsch
      • italiano
      • espanol
      • chinese
      • japanese
    • date/time (skipped, very difficult to adjust without sighted assistance, only possible way is through the bluetooth adapter)
    • lcd
      • backlight (check box menu)
        • off
        • on
        • 1 min
      • contrast
        • ranges from 1 to 10, default is 5. Does not wrap around
    • power
      • battery type (check box menu)
        • alcaline
        • ni-mh
        • lithium
      • auto power off (check box menu)
        • off
        • 10 minutes
        • 60 minutes
        • note: does not apply when the recorder is powered over usb-C.
    • sd card
      • format
      • quick test
      • full test (can be very long, 27 minutes for a 16 GB micro sd)
    • bluetooth function
      • F3 control
      • timecode
    • timecode settings
      • information
      • home time display (check box menu)
        • rec & timecode
        • timecode
        • rec time
    • versions
      • displays the firmware version of the F3
    • factory reset
      • execute/cancel dialog

Input settings

The following settings apply to the inputs and can be accessed with their respective buttons from the home screen.

  • on/off (enable or disables the input, wraps around)
  • source (check box menu)
    • mic
    • mic +24 or 48v, depending on phantom power voltage setting
    • line
    • line +24 or 48v, depending on phantom power voltage setting
  • phantom power voltage (check box menu)
    • 24v
    • 48v
  • hpf (does not wrap around)
    • from off to 240 hz, increments in steps of 10 hz
  • invert phase (check box menu)
    • off
    • on
  • delay ( does not wrap around)
    • 0.0 ms default
    • increments of 0.1 ms

How to connect the recorder in file transfer mode

If you wish to access the micro sd card directly from the zoom, connect an usb type C to usb type A cable or usb-C to usb-C cable to your computer, then do the following:

  • Press the menu button.
  • Go up 2 times until you reach file transfer then validate with the confirm button.
  • When you are done, press the back button to get back to the menu, then menu to go back to the home screen.

USB audio interface mode

To enable the F3 to act as an audio interface, proceeed as follows:

  • Open the menu using the menu button.
  • Go down 3 times to select USB IF, and confirm with enter.
  • This opens up a dialog box asking you to which device you wish to connect the interface to, pc/mac, or phone/tablet. Pc/mac will rely on usb-C as a power source, while phone/tablet will rely on battery power. Make your selection with up or down button then confirm with enter.
  • Once done, you have the choice between 32 bit float or 24 bit linear. Press up or down to move around, and enter to confirm.

After these actions have been performed, you get back to the home screen with the recorder now acting as a sound card for whichever device you connected it to. Pressing the menu button will offer you a few options:

  • Exit USB interface: use this to exit this mode. Confirm with enter, move up to select execute, then press enter again.
  • Loopback mode: this opens a submenu with on/off.
  • Mono mix: this also opens a submenu with on/off.
  • Direct monitoring: also opens a submenu with on/off.

Using the optional bluetooth adapter

Zoom sells the BTA-1 dongle which allows you to control the recorder using the F3 Control Android and iOS apps.

This app makes using the unit a little bit easier for blind people, as you can then modify the source for the inputs, modify the sample rate, the file format and so on. It doesn't let you adjust settings like backlight and etc., so for those, you do have to tweak them directly on the recorder.

Here's a list of what you can do using this app:

  • Play recordings (through the F3 itself !)
  • Move to previous/next file.
  • Pause/stop playback.
  • Record a new file.
  • Add marks into your recording (so-called media cues).
  • Disable and enable inputs.
  • Configure each input (source, phase, delay, high pass filter).
  • Configure magnification of the waveform.
  • Access the menu to set various parameters.
    • Finder displays the content of the micro sd, remaining free space, total used space.
    • Recording settings (sample rate, file format, pre-record function ...)
    • Date/time settings (set date and time, set date and time format).
    • Versions (displays the version of the F3 firmware and F3 Control app).

When setting the date and time, it can be a little confusing because when you get asked for confirmation if you wish to do this, you might expect to land on a dialog box with day, month, year, etc. Instead, the bluetooth app somehow sends the current date and time of your phone over bluetooth to the recorder, which sets its date and time settings based on this information.

How to connect

  • Remove the bluetooth dongle cover entirely and gently insert the dongle into the slot until you hear it click into place. No need for force, be very gentle.
  • Power up the unit. If you have headphones plugged in, you'll notice that unlike before, it doesn't give you instant monitoring, because of the menu that pops up.
  • This menu will show up every time you boot up the unit, as long as the dongle is plugged in, and the selection will not be remembered. meaning you will always be on the first item by default.
    • bluetooth function
      • off
      • F3 Control
      • Timecode

Android app

Note: if at all possible, I would recommend to not use the Android app, instead use the iOS one.

The accessibility of the Android app is so-so, you sometimes get stuck in menus, the way to use the hpf menu is unclear and unintuitive at least when you're blind. You have to be quite precise when tapping on icons even with talkback active, and you have absolutely no feedback on the activation of any icon, by sound or vibration. This makes it relatively difficult to use, given you can't know for sure if you have successfully inserted a mark in a file, for example.

So, it is possible to use it, but I wouldn't rely on it.

iOS app

Unlike the Android app, I've not found one single issue with the iOS one. Every item is easy to tap and doesn't require precision, you get feedback about them, both vibration and sounds if you enabled them, and the hpf menu is easy to set, since it is a potentiometer. I'd rate this app's accessibility as perfect.

Magnification of the waveform

The F3 lets you change the magnification of the waveform before or during a recording. What this means is that you have actually some very minimal control over the input gain in a sense, although it recording in 32 bit float means that the input gain ultimately doesn't matter. But this can imply potentially 3 things:

  • It makes the wave form that is displayed on the recorder and on your phone if you use the bluetooth adapter larger or smaller.
  • It raises or lowers the volume at the headphone jack.
  • If done before starting the recording, it will affect the gain used for it. If done during a recording, only the output and the waveform size will be affected.

To adjust magnification, do the following:

  • For the first input, press the back button.
    • If you wish to lower it, press the back button again.
    • If you wish to raise it, press the up button.
  • The same applies for the second input, but with the down and confirm buttons, respectively.

Note that the magnification screen isn't displayed very long, so you must act quickly to adjust the setting, or it will disappear and you will wonder why it didn't work and risk altering input settings instead.

Deleting files

If you wish to delete a file, proceed as follows:

  • Start the playback of the desired file.
  • While it is playing or paused, press the down button to select delete, then enter to confirm.
  • Move with the up or down button to select execute and confirm with enter.