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Lifewire / Jeff Dojillo
Advanced audio controls
USB power capabilities
24-bit/96 kHz WAV format recording
Made of plastic
Limited to 32GB of storage
The Zoom H1n Handy Recorder is an amazing compact device that allows users to capture high-quality audio for interviews and video projects as well as for music recording on the go.
For musicians, content creators and moviemakers alike, audio is a very important factor in their work. Zoom is a reputable company with an excellent reputation for digital voice recorders, and the H1n Handy Recorder is the most recent update to their previous model, the H1 Zoom.
We were able to get our hands on one to test its updated features and new user layout and see if this digital audio recorder fits the needs of today’s users.
Measuring 2 x 5.4 x 1.3 inches, the Zoom H1n sits perfectly in your hand. It has a smooth black matte finish, which feels sleek but can be prone to scratching. The button layout is logical and always within reach, so we were able to easily start and stop recording as well as maneuver through the menu when changing settings and recording options.
The 1.25-inch monochrome LCD display is bright and easily visible even in direct sunlight. The menus are easy to navigate, and any first-time user can get the hang of with a little bit of practice. Just above the LCD display is an analog input volume knob to control recording levels, which is an excellent feature—instead of using buttons to control volume, the knob is a nice silent way to adjust on the fly while recording is in progress.
To monitor audio, the Zoom H1n Handy Recorder has a 1/8-inch output jack with dedicated volume controls. This gave us the ability to plug in some headphones and monitor the sound in real time while we were recording.
The Zoom H1n also has a microSD slot, power button, trash button, and a USB port. The back houses the AAA battery compartment and screw mount for a tripod, microphone stand, or boom arm for various recording configurations.
The Zoom H1n’s stereo X/Y microphones are the real star of the show. They can handle 120dB and record directly to microSD and microSDHC cards up to 32GB in size.
The Zoom H1n’s stereo X/Y microphones are the real star of the show.
The microphones are housed in a large plastic enclosure that resembles a basket, leaving the microphones exposed for unimpeded recording. It also has a 1/8-inch mic/input port, which means you can connect it to a lapel mic for interviews or a phantom powered shotgun microphone.
The Zoom H1n Handy Recorder comes with two AAA batteries. We put the batteries in, powered up the recorder, set the date and time, and then we were ready to record.
It’s a very simple process to get the Zoom H1n Handy Recorder ready to work—just press the “Audio” button to select various recording formats like MP3 or 24-bit WAV.
To reduce the low frequency in your recordings, set your preferences using the “Low Cut” button. The “Limiter” and “Auto Level” buttons give the user further control over the quality of sound being recorded. The "Limiter" button will limit the audio signal to a specific threshold, making sure the audio that you record remains undistorted. The "Auto Level" button keeps the audio signal consistent by increasing or decreasing the audio gain.
When held down, the “Stop” button reveals a secondary menu with features like “Auto Record,” “Pre-Record,” “Self Timer” and “Sound Mark.” The sound mark feature sends an audio tone from the output jack to your camera to help synchronize sound for filmmakers.
The Zoom H1n Handy Recorder has a large 1.25-inch monochrome LCD screen that is visible even in direct sunlight. The user interface on the device is simple, clear, and easy to navigate for first-time users, and the screen has great contrast for optimal visibility.
The Zoom H1n Handy Recorder is a great device. Its ability to record high-quality audio is phenomenal, especially at 24-bit. 24-bit audio recording is better than CD quality, meaning you get clearer audio and the ability to hear the finer details in the sound. Depending on the way this little machine is used, its microphones will outperform the majority of microphones on a cellphone, point-and-shoot camera, computer, or DSLR.
Using the Zoom H1n with condenser mics, lapel mics, or shotgun mics changes the dynamic of the audio file it captures. This opens up a world of possibilities and uses for the Handy Recorder. This Handy Recorder can be useful for people making independent films, producing YouTube shows, recording interviews, and even capturing sound effects.
Its ability to record high-quality audio is phenomenal, especially at 24-bit.
When testing the X/Y microphones, we noticed that the audio would distort when speaking too close to the device. We also took the device outside when there was a moderate amount of wind, and our recordings were dominated by wind noise.
The Zoom H1n Handy Recorder’s newest features really set it apart from its predecessor. The Audio Limiter prevents distortion when recording musical instruments, voices, and outdoors. There’s also a Pre-Record feature that allows you to capture sound a few seconds before hitting the record button, which helps with recording retakes.
The Zoom H1n Handy Recorder can be directly connected to a laptop or desktop computer and used as an external microphone for vlogging and podcasts.
This is a great feature for today’s content creators—in a matter of seconds, the Zoom H1n can turn your workstation into a powerful tool with the ability to broadcast from home or the office, or while traveling.
It can be directly connected to a laptop or desktop computer and used as an external microphone.
Zoom claims that the H1n can run for about 10 hours on fresh batteries (which is great for creators that are on the go) or it can be powered by your own external battery pack connected to its USB port.
We think it would be wise to invest in rechargeable batteries or an external battery pack if you plan to use the Zoom H1n Handy Recorder for long periods of time. It’ll also save you money on disposable batteries.
The Zoom H1n Handy Recorder usually sells for about $120, which is about $20 more than the previous model. The updates and the new user interface are worth the price increase.
Even though it’s a little more expensive, the H1n Handy Recorder is still competitively priced. Higher-end digital recorders with more advanced features and controls such, like the Zoom H6 Six Track Recorder, sell for closer to $400.
Sony PCM-A10: The Sony PCM-A10 is a smaller hand-held recording device that sells for around $230. And while this is a big jump in price, its extra features validate the cost.
Both the Zoom H1n Handy Recorder and Sony PCM-A10 have the ability to record audio to a microSD card, but the Sony PCM-A10 has the advantage of 16GB of internal storage space and a rechargeable battery with an estimated life of 15 hours. In the long run, the PCM-A10’s internal battery and data storage will save you some hard-earned money.
Both devices have X/Y style microphones that record up to 24-bit audio files. The PCM-A10’s microphones are adjustable for fine-tuning your audio recording whereas the Zoom H1n’s microphones are non-adjustable.
The Sony PCM-A10 also has Bluetooth capabilities and a recording app, which just about warrant the price on their own. Bluetooth gives you the ability to monitor your audio recording through wireless headphones, so you can place the recorder as close to the subject as possible without being physically connected to the device. And with the Sony REC Remote app, you can control and monitor the audio recorder from as far as 60 feet away.
Sony ICD-UX560: Usually selling for less than $100, the Sony ICD-UX560 is an affordable voice recorder and a great option for those who don’t need to capture super high-quality audio. If you simply need to record lectures, interviews, or voice notes—basically anything that’s being transcribed or simply used for reference—then the ICD-UX560 is a more basic device that will do what you need for a lot less money than the Zoom H1n.
The ICD-UX560 can only record 16-bit audio files and has 4GB of internal storage. It has both input and output jacks next to small microphones that cannot be fine-tuned or adjusted. Compared to the Zoom H1n Handy Recorder, the Sony ICD-UX560’s user interface is simple (if harder to read on a smaller OLED screen).
The ICD-UX560 also has a lithium battery that is rated at 27 hours depending on the style of recording and playback, which is considerably longer than the Zoom H1n.
A tried-and-true audio recorder that’s great for creatives.
In this price range, the Zoom H1n Handy Recorder is one of the most popular recording devices for content creators. Though its battery life isn’t the best and it lacks convenient perks like Bluetooth capability, the H1n’s versatility, high-quality recording capabilities, and user-friendly interface make it a solid purchase for vloggers, podcasters, videographers, and more.