Zoom H1 Review

Updated April 30, 2014
Zoom H1
Bottom Line

The Samson Zoom H1 digital voice recorder is a solid choice for those looking for impressive performance at a mid-level price point. Judging from reviews, this recorder delivers great sound quality that rivals more expensive models, does a good job of minimizing background noise, and offers a simple physical interface.


Great sound for the money, but with caveats. The Samson Zoom H1 digital voice recorder hosts two external X/Y condenser mics, which reviewers say provide great sound quality as well as an impressive stereo image, and it can record in MP3 and lossless Broadcast WAV (supports metadata and track markers) formats. While most owners posting at Amazon.com claim that the Zoom H1 works great for casual use, some go as far as to say it works well for certain professional settings, such as recording live music or even voice-over work for films. The low-cut/high-pass filter, according to owner feedback, does a good job of minimizing background noise. The external mics are very sensitive, however, and reports of high handling noise are common among user reviews; a windscreen is not included.

  • Great sound quality
  • Easy-to-use buttons and switches
  • Effective low-cut filter
  • Poor battery economy
  • Reports of high handling noise
  • Questionable build quality

Ease of use

Basic isn't always bad. Reviewers love the Samson Zoom H1's big record/playback button, saying it makes impromptu recording easy and accessible. There's a built-in speaker for playback, though users say its volume is mediocre at best. There's a USB 2.0 port for transferring audio files to a PC or Mac, which users say is a simple process, and the folder architecture is basic yet intuitive. There's a 3.5 mm line input for an external microphone or audio source such as an MP3 player, though you don't find any XLR or quarter-inch inputs typically found on the most expensive voice recorders.


Solid value if sound quality is key. The Samson Zoom H1 digital voice recorder presents a good value if you want above-average sound quality without shelling out lots of cash. It's not going to offer the pro-grade performance found on the most expensive models with powerful preamps or dedicated XLR or 1/4 inch inputs, such as the Best Reviewed Samson Zoom H4n (Est. $270), but reviewers say the H1 sounds great. There aren't many fancy features like native multitracking capabilities, but the low-cut filter is a nice touch. We spotted some caveats, however: For one, a handful of users report very low battery economy, and two, many say the plastic chassis isn't very durable and should be handled with extreme care.

Buy from Amazon

Our Sources

1. TheWirecutter.com

The Best Voice Recorder, Bryan Gardiner, Aug. 15, 2013

Bryan Gardiner reviews several digital voice recorders in this comprehensive roundup at TheWirecutter.com. The Samson Zoom H1 earns notable praise here -- Gardiner says he is "regularly amazed by the quality recordings" he gets. He notes, however, that handling noise can be a problem.

2. Amazon.com

Zoom H1 Handy Portable Digital Recorder, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of April 2014

More than 370 owners weigh in on the Samson Zoom H1 at Amazon.com, where the digital voice recorder earns an overall score of 4.2 stars out of 5. Feedback here is generally positive, especially in regard to sound quality, but many report getting defective products that drain batteries extra fast.

3. BHPhotoVideo.com

Zoom H1 Ultra-Portable Digital Audio Recorder, Contributors to BHPhotoVideo.com, As of April 2014

The Samson Zoom H1 amasses more than 350 reviews at BHPhotoVideo.com, where it receives an overall rating of 4.3 stars out of 5. Feedback here isn't as in-depth as at Amazon.com, but the site is still a great companion source of user reviews. Listed pros and cons are also useful.