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Zoom H1 Portable Recorder

ZOOM H1 Handy Recorder - Matte Black

3.75 3.75 out of 5, based on 2 Reviews

Cheap and cheerful budget portable recorder, with better than expected sound quality.

2nd February 2012

ZOOM H1 Handy Recorder - Matte Black by msl

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Zoom H1 Portable Recorder

I picked one of these little guys some months ago. Considering its price I think its a good option for those of us on a budget and who don't need xlr inputs.

In the little time that I have used it, I'm very impressed with the quality of the recordings, the inbuilt mics are more than acceptable, generally the recordings are very low noise. Its very sensitive and really picks up details. It also has great stereo imaging, really wide and very impressive. The mics are very susceptible to wind noise as to be expected so you need a proper outdoor mic screen, but indoors its fine. I haven't tried using another mic yet, though it has a 1/8in jack. The size is very handy too, fits very nicely in my hand or in my jacket pocket so I can easily bring it everywhere with me. It truly is portable.

The only gripe I have is the build quality, its very plastic and light weight this causes a fair amount of handling noise, you have to hold it pretty much completely still and not touch anything while recording or you'll get audible artifacts. Changing the volume or using any of the buttons for example causes noise. Bit of a shame, but then again I guess thats why its only €95. For example the battery cover on mine was a little loose so I had to put a little piece of cardboard in the battery bay to keep it from making noise every time I held the unit.

The samples below are just me walking in the local park recording some birds, they were about 10-15ft away, you can hear the local tram going by in the background, thats about 100ft away. The second sample is me just walking in the street, you can hear the stereo image from the cars passing by, I used a Furryhead mic screen btw.

Audio samples here:

21st March 2012

ZOOM H1 Handy Recorder - Matte Black by zgraf

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 1 out of 5
  • Features 3 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 3
Zoom H1 Portable Recorder

I bought this Zoom H1 on ebay, after hearing and seeing some impressive reviews on They compared the Zoom H1 with the Zoom H4 and some other recorders, and the H1 audio sounded great.

It records OK, but I don't really like using it. It's just not intuitive to use. The red button on the front lets you record and stop, but that's about it. The rest of the controls are on the right side of the unit--not very convenient. Would love it if the PLAY, FF, REV, and PAUSE buttons were all on the front.

Then there's the auto-level. I was recording a talk in church, and the thing changed levels three times over the course of 30 minutes, each time lowering the volume level. I had to use a WAV editor in my DAW and "even-out" the levels.

As far as pulling WAV or MP3 files from it via the USB interface, I've not had any problems. One can record in a number of different modes. They let you select the sample rate and bit depth -- 44.1/16, 44.1/24, etc. Naturally, higher rates / bit depths give you less recording time.

The built-in speaker is woefully inadequate for listening or reviewing recordings. One can barely hear the audio, even with the volume turned all the way up. The thing runs on a single AA battery (which is actually convenient), so I guess I shouldn't complain too much or expect much power from its built-in amp.

Bottom line: it's not the most convenient thing to use, but it's still dirt cheap and is capable of making good audio recordings.

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