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Rating and Reviews: Zoom H1 Portable Recorder

With an X/Y stereo pair of microphones perfect for capturing rehearsals and shows, Zoom's H1 handheld portable recorder runs for 10 hours on an AA battery.

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"Easily one of the most useful $100 I've ever spent." submitted September 1, 2011

By a customer from wildblue.net
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Musical Background: professional
Music Style: many
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Sound: Great sound - modern technology has been very good to musicians. But it does have very high handling noise, so beware. Feature: Minimal, in a good way, with this one major exception: you cannot mark (split) tracks after recording. I have no idea why Zoom wouldn't incorporate this as a feature. Well, I guess I understand this, but I wish they would give you that option for maybe an extra $25. (Don't tell marketing, but I'd probably pay even more.) If you record a three hour show, for example, be prepared to either edit this first on the computer or an external recorder before you can easily evaluate what you have. The search function works relatively well - after holding the button down for maybe 10 seconds, it really starts to move fast through the recording. However, I've found that sometimes it will just jump to the next track, which can be pretty annoying. (Control buttons, other than the record button, are pretty darn tiny.) Put in a track marking feature and I would up the 5 rating to 10, no problem. BTW, get the accessory pack, the case is worth the additional money by itself - you can use the double zipper to protect the unit completely while listening, with just enough room for the headphone cable to exit the case. Also, the screw-in plastic handle is useful when recording and you want to tape the unit to a light stand or something. (Even with the tripod, you need to isolate the unit from vibration.) The external speaker is good for verifying that your recording worked - you'll just need to hold it up to your ear to hear it, and even then it can't be in a noisy environment. Ease of Use: I originally bought a Tascam unit similar to the Zoom, but returned it because, even with reading glasses and in ideal light conditions I couldn't read the display. The engineers over there must all be related to eagles. No problem here with the Zoom. But the main thing I LOVE about this recorder is the button driven controls. Turn it on, push the big red button twice, and you get a great recording. Really, this unit is designed to make a great and easy field recording with no prep time, through the mics or through the board, and then dumped into a computer or external recorder for identifying and organizing files. It is NOT designed, in any way, shape or form, to edit or review files from the recorder. With a 4 gig card (came with 2 gig) you can record a 4 hr show on one battery at the high sample rate, no problem. But I have to give a 6 here for the lack of track marking after recording. Would go to 10 if it had it. Quality: I'm writing this review mainly to discuss quality. Some have mentioned the cheap, light plastic feel. OK, so here's my experience with quality: about a week ago, this recorder got thrown, as hard as possible, into the side of a metal file cabinet from the distance of two feet while it was playing. (Don't ask.) The recording kept playing, there wasn't a scratch on the unit, and I don't think even the battery cover came off. But of course I figured the mics had to be a gonner. A few days later, I checked them and, well, this thing still records perfectly. So yeah, I'd say the quality is there..... Manufacturer Support: haven't had any experience The Wow Factor: I was prepared to go out and buy another one after it ran into my file cabinet at high speed. I have a ton of gadgets, and although my minidisc recorders are still probably the best technology I've ever seen when it comes to flexibility, this recorder is at the top of the list for usefulness in the real world. Overall: Needs track marking after recording!
65 of 67 people (97.01%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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Zoom H1 Portable Recorder Customer Review submitted February 21, 2011

By a customer from hotmail.com
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Musical Background: hobbyist, songwriter
Music Style: pop, country
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Sound: This little digital recorder was a great value for the money especially for recording sonwriting sessions to capture fresh ideas. it records very clearly and its directional mics capture what is in front of the mics not behind. Also sounded great when plugged into the direct feed from the sound system. I preferred to use the manual level adjust rather than the auto levels adjust. Feature: I also purchaed the accessory package which came with an essential travel case to protect the lightweight recorder when travelling and also a very handy mini tripod which I use when recording songwriting sessions. Ease of Use: Very east to use controls that are self explanatory. Can record in both wav or mp3 format at the switch of a button and levels can be set automatically with the flip of a switch. Very easy. Quality: Appears to be a very well built unit especially considering its extremely light weight due to the fact that is all plastic. Value: I thought that this was by far the best digital recorder value for recording both songwriting sessions and live performance audio. The Wow Factor: Very cool looking little device with its exposed yet protected xy pattern mics at the top of the recording device. extremely portable as well. Overall: I would expect this product will be my main songwriting session and travelling idea recording device for years to come.
25 of 26 people (96.15%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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"Concert grabber." submitted April 9, 2011

By a customer from juno.com
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Musical Background: hobbyist
Music Style: etc.
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Sound: I'm using this to grab concerts. The sound is good but somewhat congested with 200+ singers on stage. I am hand-holding the H1 which isn't a problem until you move that hand. Ease of Use: Very simple to use. I finally did get around to reading the instructions. Quality: It is light plastic but adequate for the job. The first thing I did was put in a 8gb micro-SD card. I don't plan on opening that door again. Still operating on the original battery. Do take care transporting. Value: Well worth what it cost. The Wow Factor: It doesn't vibrate. Overall: Should the H1 get eaten by the dog I would get another.
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"Excellent inexpensive handy recorder" submitted January 31, 2012

By Ken Y in Chapel Hill, NC
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Musical Background: Playing music for 45 years
Music Style: Country, depression era blues, classic rock
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Overall: I managed to catch this on sale, and for the money it's a real deal. It's very straight forward to use, very intuitive, and the recording quality is really good. I've used it for recording conversations, which it does very well. I've also used it to record live music from stage, which it also handled really well. I'm not a big fan of microSD cards, but aside from that this recorder to me is an excellent product and excellent buy.
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"Quick to setup, easy to use, good sound quality" submitted January 12, 2011

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Sound: I got the Zoom H1 a few weeks ago and have recorded 6 hours already. It is really easy to use. I use mine to record band practices and it requires minimal post processing to get a good sounding recording. I recommend a wind screen but you don't need to buy their accessory kit if you don't want to. Feature: I like not having to dig through menus. Everything is activated by a buttons on the outside of the device. Ease of Use: Very easy. Just try a few practice recordings to make sure you have it aimed the right direction and set to the right volume for what you are recoding and press the big red button. Value: Great value thus far for me. Trying to record on a laptop computer or digital video camera don't even come close to comparing with the ease and quality of this recording. Manufacturer Support: I am a little worried about how long this product will last. It has a lot of plastic pieces so I would recommend a case if you will be traveling with it. Overall: This product does what I want, quickly and easily. More expensive recorders will have better sound quality, multiple tracks, more features but the H1 works excellent for me!
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"john p." submitted May 28, 2014

By john p in pittsfield, MA
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Musical Background: drummer for 30 years,lead guitar for 1 year
Music Style: classic and new rock
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Overall: this recorder is awesome!!! i use it to record our band practices and actually used it at a gig,it picks up everything!!! the best part is i dont have to mic everything in...just set your input level (auto mode sound goes up and down) and your ready to go!!! my band plays loud with big marshall and bugera amps,so i set my input level at 25 and it works great no distorted recordings!!! save hours of time using this instead of some software with a laptop...
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"Nifty little recorder that eats batteries." submitted November 27, 2010

By a customer from hotmail.com
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Musical Background: Hobbyist
Music Style: Blues/Rock
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Sound: The sound is very good for such a small unit. Feature: I put a 4 gig micro card in and it seemingly records forever. It should come with a power cord, though. If you just use batteries, don't leave them in. Even turned off this little guy eats batteries. After my first use I turned it off and the next morning the batteries were dead. I went through a second set before I figured out that the built in memory burned through them in about eight hours even when turned off. You have to get the power cord (sold separately in the $25 accessory pack) or remove the batteries between usages. Ease of Use: Quite user-friendly. Quality: It is well made, no flaws or defects. It is very light weight which is a double edged sword. Easy to carry in a pocket, but I wouldn't expose it to harsh use. If you don't want to have to keep pulling the batteries or be tied to a power outlet, get something else. Value: Good for the price compared to other like recorders, but with the battery problem it should come with a power cord. Manufacturer Support: I emailed them about the battery problem and never got a response. The Wow Factor: It's a cool little recorder that I use for recording practice sessions, primarily, so I could live without it. Overall: If it died or was lost or stolen I'd look at other units of this type for one that either doesn't burn up batteries or comes with a power cord.
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"Great unit except for.............." submitted February 6, 2011

By a customer from hotmail.com
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Musical Background: Active pro musician
Music Style: Trad -Folk
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Sound: Sounds good for my purposes. Feature: Simple to operate.Great mics for the money. Ease of Use: Minimal learning curve, great manual. Quality: Very flimsy build, especially the lid to the battery compartment which has tiny thin tabs to hold it closed, which broke on the first battery change. The plastic overall could be made thicker very cheaply, improving this unit 100%, why did Zoom not catch this problem in the development phase of this product? Value: Not quite. Manufacturer Support: Product was replaced by retailer. The Wow Factor: Its good, small, slim, and ergonomic, just needs a better designed casing that isn,t so prone to breaking. Zoom should address this as I,m sure I,m not the only one experiencing this problem. Overall: I,ve got it, I,ll be handling it very carefully especially when changing battery's. I chose this for it,s simplicity of use, and its sound quality. It compares very favorably to other similar products, except for the flimsy plastic casing . I like its ease of use. I really dislike the thin plastic build. I wouldn,t buy anther one unless Zoom upgrades the casing. I,d replace it with a more robust unit such as the Zoom H4n.
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"Zoom H1 is really rather good." submitted February 9, 2011

By a customer from gmail.com
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Sound
Features
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Musical Background: Active musician, home recordist.
Music Style: Rock and ambient. Jazz and blues.
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Sound: Onboard mics are not true condensors, they are electret, but very nice quality. Look up the difference between condensor microphones and electret microphones on wikipedia. However they sound a lot better than cheap lapel mics sold for use with camcorders. Battery drain issue is a fault, several users have found excessive battery drainage, if so the unit needs replacing. Usually a battery will last a couple of weeks or more if the Zoom H1 is not being heavily used. Any wind in outside conditions effects the microphones extremely, an overall furry muffler is essential. The foam muffler in the accessory pack is only 50% effective. Zoom H1 can not be used as a USB microphone (as the Zoom H2 can) however if a line out (headphone socket) is connected to, say, your PC mic input, recording can be done into something like Audacity. Feature: The accessory pack is way over priced. The foam muffler is only 50% effective. The mini stand is flimsy and the legs drop out. The microphone stand adaptor is useful but careful with the screw thread in the Zoom H1 it is only plastic. The mini USB to USB connector is something most people will already have because they come with other items such as digital cameras and mobile phones. Ease of Use: Zoom H1 is very simple to use. The auto level control is not good, over reacting and pushing up to a hiss for quiet sounds. Recording with manual levels is very good as long as no clipping is allowed, so it takes experience to know what level to set the recording at to get a good signal but avoid peaks which distort. Handling the Zoom H1 while recording is noisy so use a mount and place the Zoom H1 at a distance from the sound source which makes the best sound, for narration by a single voice keep within a foot of the microphones to get a close, human speech sound Quality: Zoom H1 needs a good hard case because it will be carried around most of the time. Proprietory cases are really expensive, I use a small tupperware box and a thick rubber-like pencil case, for a water-proof and shock resistant case that cost me £4. Value: Zoom H1 is worth the price, it is a third to half less than most other similar digital recorders. Manufacturer Support: The battery drain issue does not seem to have been addressed by the manufacturers, ie. there has been no announcement of a problem with a few Zoom H1s, but if you have one with this problem return it and get a replacement. It is not a feature of the Zoom H1 which should be taken as normal.
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"Zoom H-1" submitted January 16, 2012

By Paul Wilson
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Music Style: Christian
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Overall: Surprising sound from such a small recorder. Used mainly for recording rehearsals but can easily be transferred to CD!
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