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Product Review: Zoom H1n portable recorder

Product Review: Zoom H1n portable recorder

Features

The Zoom H1n is loaded with features accessible to both beginners and professionals. The clever design of the unit means that most of the controls you’ll need are instantly to hand. Recording, playback, and format options are all available without having to dig through countless menus. It’s an instantly accessible device, taking a minimum of setup to get to grips with. It provides a microUSB port for easy file transfer to PC or Mac, or the option to playback recordings via a built-in speaker. Auto-record, pre-record, and self-time functions are a useful tool for home demo recordings, as is the overdub function. This lets you make layered recordings, ideal for musicians who want flexibility in rehearsal. A playback speed control is also convenient for transcribing interviews, letting you play back without pitch changing. Finally, the impressive 10-hour battery life means it will last for a day’s worth of shooting and recording in the field. All in all, Zoom H1n boasts a well-stocked and enviable feature set given its reasonable price point.

Sound quality

A pair of stereo condenser mics atop the unit provides the H1n with a wide stereo image and excellent sound quality. Bass can be rolled off by a customisable low-cut filter, and the H1n can handle up to 120dB SPL. Recording a band live in a studio works well, with the unit’s in-built limiter preventing any clipping. There’s an excellent signal-to-noise ratio when recording inside, but a windscreen is recommended for outdoor use. High-quality audio formats up to 24-bit / 96 kHz WAV are supported, as well as a range of MP3 options. For such a small unit, the H1n is versatile enough to handle a wide range of recording scenarios, from live recording to interviews.

Durability

The mics are protected by a mic enclosure, enmeshed around the top of the unit. It’s made of solid plastic and is sturdy enough to protect the delicate mics inside. Weighing in around 60g, the Zoom H1n is light for travelling around with, but solidly built to ensure it won’t break in your bag.

Cost

For an affordable price point, the H1n offers so many features that’s it’s hard to complain. If you’re looking for something with multiple XLR inputs and a more robust audio interface, something like the Zoom H4n Pro may be more suitable. Compared to its competitors like the Tascam DR-05x (which adds mono recording options, microSDXC support, in a slightly bulkier form factor), it more than holds its own.

Final Verdict

The Zoom H1n covers a broad range of uses, from recording interviews in the field to recording musical ideas or band rehearsals. With an excellent choice of features, affordable price point, and high-quality audio inputs, it’s a valuable addition to your field recording toolkit. The ability to overdub recordings and a long battery life make it a useful creative tool for musicians and songwriters in need of a lightweight, portable recorder.

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