Zoom H1 Review

Zoom H1 Review

Straight to the point: If you’re considering getting a digital recorder and your needs are simple, seriously consider this one.

The sound is quite phenomenal for a recorder this size and asking price. (Zoom claims the H1 has the same frequency and SPL handing as their popular H2.)

Button/switch placement is intuitive and couldn’t be simpler. Need the lo-cut filter? Slide the switch in the back (and the LCD will tell you it’s on). When you’re ready to record, simply press the big red button on the front. When done recording, press it again. If you want to hear what you’ve just recorded (via the built-in speaker or the line out jack), simply push the play button on the side of the unit.

There are several functions that will prove useful including adjusting the input level manually (from 1 to 100; *really* useful for loud situations like a rock concert) and being able to actually monitor audio during recording via the line out jack.

The unit records in MP3 and Broadcast WAV formats, in many bit-depths and sample rates. (Max for WAV is 24-bit/96 kHz and 320 kbps for MP3.) Broadcast WAV functions just like any other WAV with the addition of having metadata (like time and date) stamped into the file, which is great for identifying WAVs in audio editors that support the format. The H1 allows you to place markers into WAVs during recording for easy transport/identification during playback in audio editors as well. (The H1 will also jump to these markers while in playback mode should you push the “<<” or “>>” buttons during playback.)

I have not tried the newly-added function of being able to use the H1 as a USB audio interface, mostly because I did not get the H1 for that purpose, though it’s very nice to know that such a feature is available to me should I need it. ASIO drivers are available at Zoom’s website.

File transfer to your computer is quite fast. (For comparison’s sake, the H1 uses Hi-speed USB 2.0 versus the H2’s Full-speed USB 2.0. In layman’s terms, the H1 is quicker than the H2 file-transfer wise.) The unit is firmware-upgradable and version 2.00 is available at Zoom’s website. (Mine came with version 1.02 initially and now runs 2.00.) When you connect to the computer using a (Mini-B to Standard-A) USB cable using version 2.00 of the firmware, the H1 will ask if you want to use the H1 as a card reader or an audio interface. It will eventually default as a card reader if you do not do anything. Otherwise, you simply choose what you want the H1 to do with the record button.

I knew that the H1 was small but I wasn’t exactly prepared for how small. If you were to lay your hand flat, the H1 would fit inside it with room to spare. (I have average-sized hands.)

The H1 is so light even with one AA battery that it feels delicate. I wouldn’t suggest banging it around. There’s a connector for a wrist strap at the bottom of the unit (near the speaker) so if you’re concerned about dropping the H1, it might be worth your while to connect a strap.

The cover to the microSD card slot can come open with just a nudge which might annoy you while handing the H1. (I should also note the cover is made of a hard plastic but looks like it might come off and break with enough force; just be careful as you open it.) The tripod mounting joint is also made of plastic so you might not want to overtighten when mounting the H1. Like most recorders, the H1’s sensitive mics are prone to handling noise.

There doesn’t seem to be any way of recording in mono; it would have to be done post-production.

Get the H1 Accessory Pack as well but also get a RedHead windscreen (or similar) to boot; the included windscreen in the Accessory Pack is great for voice/plosives and all but horrible for wind noise (which is not surprising since it’s a foam windscreen). One needs more to baffle the wind only a “dead cat” type windscreen can provide.

I know I forgot things but I wanted to make this as concise as possible, pros and cons. It’s simply a great recorder and I was not disappointed.

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