Best Portable Audio Recording? Zoom H1 Review

zoom h1

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 perfect supplement to a DSLR. The purchase came out to be about 100 bucks. –Yeah! we’re not rich yet!  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.  So let us get right down to it! Here is the full review of the Zoom H1.


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 that’s a very important factor when considering this type of product to buy. Just don’t expect a tank when your buying this product. Keep in mind the satisfying buying price of it and you won’t have any complaints.


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. I’ve 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 you’ve 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)


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 H1′s big brother: the Zoom H4n.


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!


The zoom consumes only one AA battery, but I still wish it had a charging feature.  It also does have  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.  I do envy the Zoom H4n, but considering the price this product it is going for, I can’t complain much. It’s 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?

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