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ZOOM H1 Handy Portable Digital Recorder Consumer Review

Zoom H1 Handy Portable Digital Recorder On Sale!

I preordered ZOOM H1 Handy Recorder more than 1 month ago. Finally got it this afternoon.

Zoom H1 Handy Recorder

ZOOM H1 Handy Recorder, click to see more

It comes with a 2GB microSD memory card. Nice!

I put my 8GB microSDHC memory card in it. Works fine. Great!

This recorder is very light. It takes only one AA battery.

The handhold part looks too plastic for me. The battery cover feels cheap!


Later on, I find out some problem in the recording test.


1. Use Windows XP to format a 8GB microSDHC memory card as FAT32.

2. Put this card into ZOOM H1. Then power ON.

3. Takes almost 1 minute to start up. The screen says “card access” and can NOT save a recording file.


1.  Hold the “delete” button. Then power ON to format the card by ZOOM H1.

2. Turn OFF and turn ON again. Everything works as it should be.


Always use ZOOM H1 to format the microSD card. (Hold the “delete” button to power ON)

Read the little yellow paper in the packing. It says,

To ensure optimum performance, be sure to format the SD card in the ZOOM product.


There is no error handling on ZOOM H1. Even if there is no memory card in it, it still shows recording “correctly.”

  • Make sure to format the micoSD card using ZOOM H1.
  • Check if the microSD card is in ZOOM H1 every time before use it.


Despite the little bug. ZOOM H1 performs really well in terms of acoustic guitar music recording.

Very clear sound.

No background noise.

Long battery life.


2 road side sound samples recorded in  WAV original file, 44KHz/16bit.

ZOOM0005.WAV 2,339,072 bytes

ZOOM0006.WAV 4,242,176 bytes

Music recording: classical guitar duet. Input level: 60; WAV: 44KHz/16bit.

Siciliano_ duet_2_ZOOM0009.WAV 36,850,432 bytes

See the video reference of this recording.


How about comparing ZOOM H1 to big daddy Rode NT4?

Handy Zoom H1 & big daddy Rode NT4, click to see more

Handy ZOOM H1 & big daddy Rode NT4, click to see more

Here is an example: use ZOOM H1 as a digital recorder and line in Rode NT4 as microphone.

Rode NT4 + ZOOM H1 + Samsung TL350/WB2000, Classical Guitar Music Recording Test


62 comments to ZOOM H1 Handy Portable Digital Recorder Consumer Review

  • Andrew

    Thanks for relating the experience of having to format the card with the Zoom H1. Unfortunately I learned the hard way:

    If you format the card *incorrectly* by using a Mac or Windows (even if you use FAT32) the Zoom doesn’t like it. Takes forever to start up. WORSE though, is that for me, it appeared to be recording — the red light goes on, the counter goes up, and all appears well. Pop that card into your computer, though, and all the files are zero length. Grrr. Screwed up an important recording.

    To me that’s a bug. If the Zoom H1 indicates with red light and counter that it’s recording, it should be recording. If the filesystem is screwed up and it’s not writing to file, it should not show the light and count up.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Andrew.

      Yes, I think that’s a bug. They forget to write a short error handling code for this.

      This happened to me again when I forgot to plug in the microSD card. When I pressed the recording button, it appeared like normal recording and counting seconds. But nothing was written down. Damn!~

  • Alexis L

    I got one month ago. It work fine in recording. However, I find that when I turn off the unit, the unit still use up the battery. This mean when I turn off the unit, and put it aside, after a day, the battery indicator will show empty, and I need replace the battery.

    Is this normal?

  • tiggjj

    The type of battery may be the issue. Lithiums will last much longer than alkaline.

  • juls

    I downloaded files onto my computer, and yet it reads as card full, and I cannot record. Any suggestions?

    • I don’t use USB cable to download files from ZOOM H1. I take out and read the micro SD card instead. It’s simple. Just cut and paste those audio files out of the card.
      If you are sure that you have all files downloaded, you can just reformat your micro SD card.
      Do the following,
      Hold the “delete” button. Then power ON to format the card by ZOOM H1.

  • Hi. Purchased one a few days back to record wedding vows (to go with video)
    Very happy with some simple tests so far (not used in wedding yet!). I found the battery supplied did not last long (may its shelf life was short). I found deleting a .wav file on my PC with microSD, the zoom would not start on moving microSD to it; saying card access and shutting off straightaway.
    Stuck a new AA battery in and all OK. I can only presume battery condition can be a factor in its behaviour.
    I think always use new batteries for anything important.

    • Jason

      Dave, how did the wedding audio turn out? i too am recording (audio & video) a wedding for a friend of mine this weekend. Its in a large church and I’m not able to get close to the bride and groom. I was hoping to setup my zoom h1 near by but out of site (maybe 10-15 feet away) but i am concerned that the audio will not be great. do you have any advice for me? THANKS!

  • T

    I have had the same experience as Dave (hey, he posted on my birthday, which was the day that I got this mic!), I found that the battery that came with the product had only provided me about an hour of recording time before dying. I haven’t found a replacement battery yet, and I’m hoping that a brand new and stronger battery will last me much longer.

    Apart from this initial issue, I’ve been happy with the recording quality of this product. I’m also looking forward to possibly using it to record cassette tapes through the line-in…!

  • Muhammad

    Thank you so much for putting your solution to the issue you had. I had the same problem, and couldn’t figure out what to do until I read your piece!

    Thanks! :-)

  • Joanna

    I have no problem recording, or transferring files to the computer using my USB cable, however, I find that once I have listened to them on my PC then they are no longer on the H1 Handy Recorder and I sometimes want to listen to older sessions from my recorder. Are they not automatically saved if I didn’t delete them?

  • I did an unboxing/review video on it, if anyone is interested

    The only thing I don’t like is the body quality. Plastic body doesn’t feel durable, and it makes noise when you scrape it against your clothes or tap on it.

  • Zoom H1 will record with no memory card fitted, but only for around 25 seconds.
    Main issue I see is making an effective fluffy wind muffle. I will not spend £15 – £40 on commercial one, because all they are is a bag made of very light haired faux fur. I see this type of material endlessly in children’s toys, gloves, scarves in every charity shop. I shall but some unfortunate soft toy animal and disembowel it for a new life as wind muffler.

  • Triames

    You saved my life with the delete+power trick, THANK YOU!!!

  • if you are finding the battery life is short- particularly if the battery seems to run down without it being switched on, then you have probably got one of the h1′s with a fault- i think it is something to do with a capacitor-and you should return it and ask for a replacement-this has been a fairly common fault with a particular batch of h1′s – thankfully mine seems ok.

    • Hi Rich,

      Thanks for your input. The battery life is good on my ZOOM H1. I keep a battery in it all the time. It doesn’t seem like loosing power. I guess I’ve got a lucky one.


  • Sergey

    Hello guys! Please help! MY PC cannot find ZOOM H1 recorder, so no possible to connected it to pc via usb 2.0

    Any ideas why the problem?
    Please writte me on my e-mail



    • Hi Sergey,
      There are a number of ways you can try.
      The easiest way is to try other USB ports. You might have a defected USB port.
      Change a USB cable. It might be caused by connection problems.
      If it still doesn’t work, take out your Micro-SD card, use a card reader to connect your PC.
      Hope it works.

  • JDuffy

    As a sound engineer I was wondering can you use a H1 as a USB Mic for multitracking on a laptop like the H2?

  • James

    When I turn on my Zoom H1 looks normal, when I try and record or access files on the card I get a message HOLD. What causes this error msg?


  • John

    I’m having the same issue with the H1 Zoom. New recorder. Worked the first time, then I mistakenly deleted the files from the card on the computer. Tried the DELETE button Power On try. Did not work. The msg constantly says “Card Access” blinking. Keep trying, nothing snaps it out of that mode–it appears to be ok but you get a 0Kb file if you try recording. No H1 software downloads. Cannot reformat in the H1. Any ideas? Emailed US Zoom tech support. No response. I know that the H1 records nicely–but this is ridiculous. Thanks.

    • If you still can’t format the SD card, try
      1. take out the card and format it from your computer,
      2. then put it back to ZOOM H1,
      3. hold the “delete” button and power ON ZOOM H1.
      I think this will clear any file system corruptions.

  • How pocket sized is this unit? I want a unit to carry for every day work. The item has been described as the size of an Average TV remote control. Is it really that big? I need a good pocket sized unit so don’t know if this is right for me. Can anybody give me real life measurements please? It would be very helpful before I purchase something that may not be a “fit” for me.

    Thanks, Thomas

  • Cal

    Has anyone here ever successfully recovered a deleted file from the zoom H1? I gave phoenix recovery software a try out but with no luck

    • If you recorded something else after you deleted the file from ZOOM H1, the deleted file data part could be overwritten by the new recording files. If this is the case, you might have no luck on recovering the deleted file.

  • We can recover deleted files from it using a Disk Doctors Recovery Tools.They are fabulous.They can recover data even from formatted memory or SD cards.Isn’t it cool?I recommend u must try this.

  • HI

    I am using my H1 Zoom to record broadcast radio and the sound is good. I have one problem though, the recorder seems to turn itself off during recording. How can I stop this?

    Josephine from Radio Gorgeous x

  • Candysong

    Suddenly I cannot delete any files from my unit. Whats up with that?

  • Kate

    I tried the delete power trick to format card but still doesn’t work. All files read 0 when I try bring them into computer. It’s killing me!

  • Kate

    I accidently deleted a really really really really important recording of a song. Can anyone please help. I need a quick, free and easy way. Please help! I dont know what to do as I need this recording desperatly!!!

  • Chris

    The format issue is not a fault of the device, it’s a fault of the user. Rtfm.

  • USB power – I have seen some vague references to powering the H1 via USB, however, when I plug it into my PC, the display says USb and I cannot turn the device on to record. Is the “USB Power” limited to using it as a SD Card reader? or is there some special startup sequence that can be used to power off USB?

  • Tobias Stortz

    Oh wow i got the zoom H1 for christmas :)) , quality is pretty awesome and i havent had any problems with it so far except that it wont let me delete recordings on the device itsself even tho theres a button for just that… now if only i could play anything worth recording haha

  • Chad Dyle

    So if I see a file that says “Zoom0001″ with a 0kb file size, is there any chance of recovery? We used the same H1 the night before and it worked fine.

  • Hey all.. just bought the H1 and worked great for my frst video. transferred the files to my laptop by copy and paste from the sd card… worked great. second time around, i transferred via the usb. I can play the wav clips with Mindows media player, but when I try to use them in Studio Pinnacle, the software thinks they are of 0.0 duration? Can it be the USB transfer? any idea?


  • Ashley

    I had been using a friend’s Zoom and decided to purchase one for myself…as I thought it worked awesome for my blog videos. I did the first few perfect and then all of the sudden there was format errors, it saying no card, even though the card was in there and then finally did a recording to only find out the file size was zero. Ughh. Somehow if you dump the files using your computer it messes up the format of the card to be used by the recorder.

    I think I figured out the solution. Make sure to upgrade the firmware. My H1 seems to be working perfect since I upgraded the firmware to 2.0. Just turn the recorder off, plug it into your computer, copy the (.bin) file directly in the root directory, with “STEREO” folder (not in the stereo folder) then disconnect it from the computer. Next hold down the play/pause button while you turn it on and press the record button when it prompts. I think you have to press the record button one more time to start upgrade. A screen will come up saying it was completed. Here is the site for downloading the firmware…the top section.

    Good luck & hope this helps. ♥♥♥

  • mononoke

    Thanks a lot!!! I had no clue how to make it work again!

  • Eloi

    I do the delete trick but unfortunately it doesn´t work .
    Can somebody help ?


  • Wood

    I bought the card a while ago (November-ish) and it worked fine, although the battery would run out even when it was switched off – but i solved that problem by taking the battery out when it wasn’t being used.

    The only thing wrong now is I seem to have lost the bigger SD card (the one which you slot the micro SD in). I can’t think of any other way to transfer files to my computer though. SO can you tell me if there is another way, and if there isn’t can you tell me what the bigger SD card is called so I can purchase a new one?

    • If you bought this H1 recently, I should be able to ask for an exchange because the battery should not run out fast while switched off.
      I think you can Use a USB cable to copy the files out to a computer. Try it first! Google “SD card adapter” to find buy one online.

  • Annette

    I am having trouble deleting my zoom h1 handy recorder. I am also having trouble with the thing not recording when it says that it is recording. I hate to waste my time with it. I am accumulating stuff I don’t want and need to delete, but I don’t know how. It’s all just practice getting to know the machine, but it’s none of my music. In the mean time I have a growing need to use the thing. Y’all had a lot to say about these things, but I didn’t understand a word of it. I don’t know how to format it. You’re all talking over my head.

    • If you want to learn the operation of your ZOOM H1 recorder, put your micro-SD card into your computer and delete files in your operating system.
      If you just want to erase everything on your SD card,
      1, take off your ZOOM H1 recorder
      2, hold down the delete button
      3, turn on your ZOOM H1 recorder

  • Adam

    Any info about how to stop the garbling sound I’m getting through my tracks? It didn’t do it at first, but it’s there now. It sounds like an old speak and spell with low batteries, but even with a full battery I seem to get it still. I’m not 100% sure because the noise is hit or miss. So I just reformatted the SD card and updated the firmware to 2.0, hoping that fixed it. Have you encountered this problem yet? Thanks so much for your time

  • KenB

    Huge problem:

    I just got my H1 and it just basically has a boot up time of forever. When you pop the battery in and switch it on it’ll briefly ask for the date and show a “00:00:00″ but then immediately after that it’ll say ‘card access’ and then show a looping rectangular animation that just goes on forever. Like I’ve let it go on for 30mins once and it still showed the same animation. Sigh.

    I managed to upgrade the firmware to 2.0 but the problem still persists.

    Delete button + power on also results in the exact same looping graphic.

    ANY help would be very much appreciated! :)

    • I can’t think of any other ways to solve your problem if you already re-format your micro-SD card on your ZOOM H1. My suggestion is that, try another SD card. And good luck!

  • Max

    Hi there,

    I’ve had my H1 for about two years. Recently I pulled it out to do some work and had trouble copying files off the card (to empty it before hitting the streets). Eventually I formatted the SD card using Windows – I know now that this was a mistake. No worries, I tried formatting the card on the Zoom itself and it looked like it was working. However I’ll push record and it will record for 6-10 seconds before flashing “Card Full”. Is there any other means to format this card and is there a safe bet that buying a new SD card will work? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Also, I started to notice the static that users have mentioned above – a very sharp white noise that cuts in and out, even on old files that I know recorded cleanly at the time. My battery life has always been extremely poor – until I read this page, I didn’t realise it was a known issue in some devices. I remove the battery each time and have to enter the date manually… kinda painful :)

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