I heard about the Zoom H1 before they were available in Australia and decided I would probably purchase one fairly soon after they became available. I have used various Zoom recorders for some years I and still consider them one of the best units you can buy in their price range and beyond their price range. I knew the H1 used the same built in microphones as the H4N and having used the H4N extensively I knew the H1 would be useful.
Initially the unit was very much as I expected it. It is a very small, easily portable device. It is not as robust as the H4N which was disappointing, but for the price this is not entirely unexpected. Zoom have done a very good job of creating a small unit that has only the features it needs and this has one very welcome consequence. The larger units such as the H4 and H4N have a series of features that allow users to capture sounds in different ways as well as adding effects and file management functions. As a result the bootup sequence for these untis is longer than I would prefer. I often have to wait up to 30 seconds from switching on the H4N before I am able to record soemthing, and I have missed recording opertunites in the past because of this delay. The H1 by comparison is a very simple unit and I timed it at under 5 seconds between switching it one and being able to record. This is exactly what I need from a device that I carry everyday in case of unexpected recording opportunities.
The H1 functions in similar ways to other Zoom recorders. It utilises micro SD cards which make files transferring very easy. It is capable of using SD cards up to 32Gb and a single AA battery will last for well over 5 hours. This allows for considerable recording time even at the highest sample rate of 96KHz/24bit.
The Microphones themselves are comparable to the H4N in record quality, but they seem to be more susceptible to outdoor wind noise on this unit. I would always recommend using wind protection whenever recording out doors, but with this unit ia wind jammer is a must have accessory.
Because of the limited functionality of the H1, once switched on it is already in preview mode and the input levels are displayed. This allows for one touch recording which also adds to the ease of capturing unexpected sounds. It would have been nice if they had included a pre-record feature, which would have been possible as this unit does have some on boa5rd memory. I am not sure if such a feature would have increased the boot-up sequence, but it would have made this the perfect unit for capturing surprise sounds
The low price of this unit also makes it ideal for students or beginners who want something to experiment with and do some simple sound recording.
In the Real World
For me the H1 works very well as a device that can be used for unusual situations. Being able to place an entire unit in a small space and know that it can recording continuously for many hours can be extremely useful. It is also small enough that I can carry one with me everywhere more conveniently than its big sister the H4N.
One of the main uses I have had for the H1 since I purchased one is for capturing the sounds of aircraft from within the cockpit while they are flying. This unit is so small that the Pilots I work with can simple place it in a leg pocket and forget it is there. While it will not ever record at the same quality as a more expensive unit being used with high end microphones, the reality is I would never be able to get a larger unit into many of the aircraft that I have recorded, so from that point of view it has become a situation of the H1 or nothing. That is a very simple decision to make.
The following is a recording of a World War 2 Mustang Fighter plane recorded from inside the cockpit during take-off using the H1
Simple to Use
Quick to get recording
Very susceptible to wind noise
Not very durable