Tag Archives: mic

Best Portable Audio Recording? Zoom H1 Review

The Techshift team and I are slowly progressing into the world of video making for YouTube. (More of that come of course!) During this journey we have noticed that our sound equipment, none besides the onboard mic of our dslr, just was not cutting it. Upon doing some research I originally sought to buy the Zoom H4N. It ended up out of my price range. Needless to say from there I searched for a budget, but quality, mic and what I found was the Zoom h1. What was advertised as your perfect walk around audio recorder, came to be the perfectВ supplementВ to aВ DSLR. The purchase came out to be about 100 bucks. Yeah! were not rich yet! В While some people would not even consider an external microphone, the Techhift team and I feel as though sound is just as important, if not more, than the video. В So let us get right down to it! Here is the full review of the Zoom H1.

 

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Build

Before actually owning the zoom h1, I did do my own research on the product. Everyone’s conclusion was that it felt like a cheap toy. However, I feel as though, while it is all plastic, it still feels sturdy.  I have dropped this mic before and it has yet to crack. (I hope it doesn’t of course!)  And upside to it being all plastic is that it is very light. The build itself is a very small mic intended for on the go usage. It might just be me, but there is something satisfying when you can buy an a product for use, and not have to worry about it getting scuffed up. Coming in an all plastic and cheap form actually makes me want to bring it around more. I toss it into my bag and go. And I think thats a very important factor when considering this type of product to buy. Just dont expect a tank when your buying this product. Keep in mind the satisfying buying price of it and you wont have any complaints.

 

Sound

To be blunt the sound is fantastic.  With an onboard mic that you get with your typical DSLR, you’ll notice the sound levels are not equal. Every now and then I would record a conversation with two people, and while they are at the same exact distance from the camera, every now and then one voice would be extremely high while the other would be low. Not with the zoom h1. If I aim the mic correctly, the audio is not only equal, but it is also accurate.Another problem that I had before using the Zoom h1 was the fact that my onboard mic picked up a certain humming noise in the background. The h1, as im sure many if not all external mics, fix this problem.  The Zoom h1 mic also removed the audio echo that I received with many other cameras. (Especially webcams)

As far as the amount of audio you want to capture goes, you can easily control it. You can set it so you are capturing sounds closer to you, or sounds further away with the input level. Ive been testing the extent of the mic and I once pointed the mic towards my kitchen, while being 2 rooms away, and I swear I heard the conversation my mother and father were having! While we are on the subject of direction. I have noticed that if you move this mic a little off of your subject, the audio that you pick up will be loads different. And no, that does not mean the zoom h1 will not pick up audio, or will have bad audio if you don’t have it directly on the subject. It just sounds much more crisp when you have it directly on your subject oposed to 3 inches off.  So definetly keep in mind, if you are recording something importatnt to have someone overhearing it it through headphones. Once you adjust the input level correct and youve aimed the mic correctly, your 100 dollar equipment surely pays off.

I do not have a wind filter, as it does not come with one, but I have noticed, to no surprised, that in semi-windy condition, without a wind filter, it does pick up a lot of wind noise.  A LOT. Not a negative thing, that’s typical, but don’t be put off by it and buy a wind filter. (If you intend to work in windy conditions)

 

KEEP IN MIND

The Zoom H1 does cannot be directly connected into your camera. You must manually sync you audio. It could be a major pain, and it is something you definitely want to consider. I believe in the new Final Cut Pro X there is a way to automatically sync the audio, but even then, I would of course rather just have the audio recorded right into our DSLR. If this is a problem, you might want to consider the Zoom H1s big brother: the Zoom H4n.

 

Controls

It is a very simple microphone that one can just pick up and use.  Right on the front of the mic is a large record button. Ergonoimically speaking, this mic feels perfect for an on the go use. To the left of the mic you have your volume up and down button which controls both the volume of the speaker and the amount of sound you are capturing.  You have your on and off switch. Trash button to delete any files. Your play/ pause botton along with rewinding and fast forwarding. I found these buttons to be a little unresponsive. Time to time I will try to listen to my audio through the mic and I will fastforward or rewind.  While holding onto the button to rewind or fastforward the button will become unresponsive and it’ll consider my press a single click thus having it skip to the next track. I’ve tried this many times with a firm grip of course haha.  You have your line in and out. Your volume control and finally your input level to adjust the amount of sound your mic picks up. It also has a little screen to view your tracks. Nothing too fancy here. Just the basics, which again, is why I love this mic. The simplicity to use it quickly on the go!

 

Other

The zoom consumes only one AA battery, but I still wish it had a charging feature. В It also does haveВ  tripod screw in so if you have an extra tripod you can mount it equally to your camera.

As a walk around mic, it’s perfect. I mainly bought it to compliment my dslr. But I have had times where I brought out this mic to record commentary or record audio as a joke. And with the size and simplicity it gets the job done right for that.

 

All in all

For a budget mic, I think it is a great product. В I do envy the Zoom H4n, but considering the price this product it is going for, I cant complain much. Its a mic, that I use to supplement everything, my DSLR, my webcam, and sometimes even my phone. The only downside I would have to say is, again, you have to manually sync the audio in post production. So do I recommend this mic? Yes, yes I do!

 

Zoom H1

The Zoom H1, your portable audio recorder now the perfect supplement to any DSLR or video recording device. Small and affordable, but what does all of that sacrifice?

Rating by Len Thou: 4.0 stars

5 Reasons Why You Shouldnt Overlook Sound On YouTube

Mic Check

Mic check! Wait a second. This isВ YouTube. Why should I care about sound quality? After all, isnt video quality what the Tube is all about? Most people know sound quality is important but they still tend to focus more onВ HD videos. Technically, YouTube is all about video but dont overlook the importance of sound. There are plenty of reasons why you shouldnt pass on sound quality, especially if you are making or thinking about making videos. We are so spoiled byВ 1080pВ videos that sound quality is an afterthought. We dont usually place an importance on sound but there are plenty of reason why it shouldnt be overlooked. You may not know it, but audio quality can determine whether you finish watching a video or whether you click somewhere else. Im going to list 5 of them. Ill bet my money that if you visit YouTube daily, you will relate to all of these reasons. Lets get to it.

 

1. Clarity

This one is easy to understand. When audio is clear, you dont have to work to understand or decipher it. A good microphone will eliminate background hums and white noise. These noises are stressful and distracting. When you are watching a bad or distracting video, its easier to minimize or look away compared to muting or lowering the volume. If youve ever worked a third shift job, you will understand the significance of background noise and the effects it has on your body. Noise is louder during the day than at night. This may not seem like a big deal to those with normal schedule, but these noises can result in low-quality sleep and added stress. This is the same reason houses near highways are generally cheaper to rent/own. While you probably wont lose sleep over a YouTube video, background noise will annoy you. Keep background noise down with a good mic. No one want to hear hums and hisses. Think about this. When you are watching a YouTube video and you can barely hear the person speaking, what do you do? Most people will turn up the volume. What if background noise is present? Most people will just leave the video. Having clear, accurate audio is just as important as having clear video. Some would argue more so.

 

2. Alt-Tabbers

When I am on YouTube, I often have multiple tabs opened. Having multiple tabs open helps with multi-tasking. Lets sayВ I am looking for a headphone review. I would have one tab opened on YouTube and another on Google or Bing looking for written reviews. While I am listening to a video, I would read or skim through a written review. This goes for research too. I would look for information on YouTube while browsing through Wikipedia. Unfortunately, others do this too. In fact, I would bet that you have done this at one point or another. An engaging video becomes a podcast and the HD video quality becomes a nonissue. Now, you only have sound to connect to the video. Good video quality helps engage viewers and good sound quality helps engage listeners.

 

3. Music When Youre Doing It Right/Wrong

Everyone loves music but not everyone loves your music. If you like country and thinking about adding music to a video, dont count on your viewers having the same taste as you. A common mistake people make when they are making videos is adding over-played or annoying music. One great example is 009 Sound System Dreamscape. This song is un-officially known as the YouTube National Anthem because so many people use it for their videos. Its a bad joke that wont die like Chuck Norris and In Russia jokes. There is a time and place to add music. Dont put up skateboarding compilations using Drowning Pool Bodies. Bad music will make viewer leave in 3 seconds. Good music will have people asking Whats the name of the song? Another thing to consider when adding music is correcting the levels. Dont blast the music in the background if you want to talk. No one will hear you. If you hurt your viewers ears, you will get a big red bar of dislikes.

 

4. Entertainment

People are on YouTube for many reasons. To get information, to learn, to connect with others, and to be entertained. Sometimes, a good, well animated voice will be enough to get you subscribers. Even if you have a great voice, you may be shooting yourself in the foot with a crappy mic. A bad mic can make you sound monotone and boring. A good voice is something you cant really help but you can at least get a good mic to keep your voice clear and your viewer engaged. Its strange at first but you have to pretend like you are talking to real people. You cant talk like youre reading a script. Thats boring and people can instantly tell. When you have guests over, do you talk to them like a robot? No, so why would you do that in a video? Good audio quality creates a more personal experience with your viewers. This will help increase comments and activity. Maybe even more likes and favorites. People love to be entertained and poor sound quality ruins the mood.

 

5. Patience

The last reason why you shouldnt overlook sound quality is patience or rather, the lack-of. People are impatient. Most people will decide to watch the rest of your video after the first 5 seconds. Long pauses or spikes in sound levels test this patience. It is easy to find clues of this. Throughout YouTube, you will see top rated comments saying 3:12 to skip the boring part or You wasted 45 seconds of my life. People have busy lives. They dont want to be bothered with crap and although this is not solely a sound issue, if a viewer watches your video and has to work to hear you, youre in trouble. No one wants to increase the volume when they dont have to. No one wants to hear background noise. And no one wants to listen to head-banging music on a video review. Dont test a viewers patient. More often than not, you will lose.

 

So thats it. These are 5 quick reasons why you shouldnt overlook sound on YouTube, especially if you are making videos. Clarity is about reproducing your sounds accurately. Audio quality becomes most important to Alt-Tabbers who turn from viewers to listeners. Music can make or break your video. Entertaining voices can keep viewers. And finally, everyone is impatient. Probably the simplest way to improve your videos audio quality is investing in a good mic. Usually, the stock microphones that come with digital cameras suck. Most people would rather watch through a video with good sound and bad video quality than one with good video quality and bad audio quality.