Zoom H1n As Only Recorder

In late 2021 we took a trip to my wife’s childhood home of Miami, Florida. We spent several days see some sites, visiting some folks, and spending time with her mother.

After the trip to Maine earlier that year where I brought the MixPre6ii and multiple mics, I decided to try the other end of the spectrum. I brought only my Zoom H1n.

For wind protection I brought a foam I’d bought online, and over that the Zoom furry from my H2n. I’d figured it would be enough. Only half right. It worked ok for mild breezes, but the 10mph on the beach required the high pass filter and even then wind was audible.

Sitting in the 3rd row of a minivan trying to catch banter between the driver and front row passenger doesn’t work very well, but noise reduction helps – more on that in another post.

Handling noise is not so great. It’s pretty intrusive to the recordings vs. a normal handheld mic. The noise can be avoided with careful handling, but any movement between hand and recorder is noisy.

Startup time is a problem with large memory cards, and with smaller (4GB) cards its down to 4 seconds.

Sound quality is good enough for clear intelligibility, I didn’t really have an issue with the sound quality while listening back. With music it might be different but the combination of voice and general sounds came through ok. The MixPre6 has less noise, and it paired with a ‘real’ microphone sounds better, but not game-changing better.

The level control is a bit fiddly – between 5 and 7 it doesn’t seem to have much effect based on the meter, but above 7 it ramps up quickly – so I just left it at 5-6 and that worked for most everything. I did not use the limiter, but did use the high pass filter sometimes.

Setting the filename to be the date & time made post processing pretty easy. It would be better if I could add meta data to the recording while it was in the recorder, like the MixPre. I missed the bluetooth functionality a bit.

I started out using nimh rechargeable batteries, but picked up lithiums during the trip.

Warning: If you set the battery type to lithium you will not be able to use nimh batteries until you get it set back. This may require a fresh set of lithiums to get the battery level high enough to allow the recorder to run

Battery life with lithiums was enough for most of not all the trip. I will definitely use those going forward.

I like that the H1n is small enough that it doesn’t attract much attention. It can be set down on a bench or thigh, or even tucked into a shirt pocket (with substantial risk of noise when moving) for hands-free operation.

I don’t like the wind protection. It obscures the level control, and isn’t strong enough in anything more than a stiff breeze. I’ve purchased a Rycote windhover, which seems to be more effective.

Would I take it again or is there a better alternative?

While the H1n is small enough that it’s not much bother to take along, I think there may be better options that would have me very tempted:

Tascam DR-10x

Bigger package, omni mic, better wind protection, mono only.

Zoom H2n

Better wind protection, front and back stereo could be mixed to mono, has pre-record

MixPre + regular mic

Best sound quality, very big package, better metadata and longer pre-record.

Author: Steve

Over thinking geeksturbator in the Bluegrass.

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