ZOOM H1 Recorder for line-in recording

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by brimuchmuze, Aug 17, 2017.

  1. brimuchmuze

    brimuchmuze Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Have you used the ZOOM H1 portable recorder for line-in recordings such as needledrops?

    Did you like the results and how did it handle typical line-in? (any overload?)
     
  2. JohnO

    JohnO Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    Yes. Yes. Pure overload. The "Mic In/Line In" input is not, it is a Mic In. You need an attenuator to use it as a Line In. The cheapest is just a passive headphone volume control cable, $2 from China on ebay (what I have of course) or $10-15 retail boxed elsewhere. That reduces the input signal level and makes the H1 input function effectively as a Line In.

    The H1 with such a cable is fine for quick and dirty analog needledrops to digital files. I bought it to make live recordings cheap, and it is great for that for the price. I've also used it to record direct from the band's soundboard, through the $2 volume control cable!

    There is a similar priced unit from Teac which has the same "Mic In/Line In" which is really only a Mic In. I believe the H1 is better.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2017
  3. brimuchmuze

    brimuchmuze Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Thanks.

    Are there any portables that absolutely don't require an attenuator?
     
  4. guyanthonybrown

    guyanthonybrown Forum Resident

    I use a Zoom H4N (not the H1) for needledrops and it seems to work very well.
    The Line In is truly a bit hot. I don't employ any special cables like the one suggested above.
    But setting the Zoom H4N input at 1db (>1db and it amplifies up) seems to leave it about flat and perfectly matches the line out of the preamp that receives my turntable phono output.
    I generally avoid any form of post processing in the digital domain, if I can possibly avoid it, and just live with the fact that some needledrops (say a record side that runs >25 mins) come across a few dbs below 0db peak optimum.
    Move the WAV files (44.1 / 16 bit) into Sony Sound Forge, drop the markers in to mark the start of tracks, and at the end of side one. Convert the markers to regions. Delete the region that spans end of side one/beginning of side 2. Save the WAV. Open it in Sony CD Architect and the add all the regions: ready to burn a red book CD.
     
  5. davmar77

    davmar77 I'd rather be drummin'...

    Location:
    clifton park,ny
  6. ulf_kurt

    ulf_kurt Forum Resident

    Location:
    Umeå, sweden
    I have used a H1 to make a couple of needledrops. To come round the "to hot"-problem I've recorded through my Rega headphone amp. Taking the signal from the headphone jack allows me to adjust the level with the volume pot on the amp.
     
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  7. JohnO

    JohnO Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    Sure. It does depend on how much you can spend. At higher prices they are more likely to have a real dedicated Line In input. The next model up of Zoom, the Zoom H2 (original version) does. I have one of these but I misplaced it a few years ago - I bought the H1 while I hope the H2 turns up (I know it is here somewhere). The H2 has separate Mic In and Line In jacks and those work as labeled. Any of the higher Zooms with separate dedicated jacks like that will not require an attenuator. Note my original H2 model was replaced with the H2N, and that has only the single jack which will require an attenuator cable (or another workaround as noted above). For any brand if there is only a single input jack, expect it to be mostly a Mic In jack no matter how it is labeled or what they claim.

    Portable Recorders | Sweetwater

    I see what I called the Teac is a Tascam. When I was (slightly) disappointed with the H1 not having a real Line In, I checked the Tascam (or maybe it was labeled Teac then) at a GC and it had the same condition of input. Teac and Tascam are the same company. I do like the H1 better. People like the Roland R-05 too, but it is double the price of the H1.

    I can recommend the H1 and the original H2, because I own them. I do not find using the cable to be much problem, although technically, attenuating then going through the Mic input increases noise a little, from the Mic preamp not the passive cable.. It still records with much more S/N than you even have from a needledrop or recording live.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2017
  8. Krzych

    Krzych The one who listens

    Location:
    Singapore
    I’m using Zoom H1 for my needle drops and it works really well. You can adjust input level (unless you’re on AUTO mode), so no overloads or clipping here.

    IMO It’s and excellent ADC without any colouring or cut-offs on higher frequencies (which was the problem with my previous ADC).

    [​IMG]
     
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  9. Sterling Cooper

    Sterling Cooper Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Fort Myers, FL
    This is from another thread here about Tascam Digital recorders:

    "The problem with the DR-05 and H1 is, when connected to a line level source, you can set the level and it looks fine on the LCD meter. When you play it back, you actually recorded pure digital clipping, because the mic preamp was overloaded. But the level setting control still looked like it worked."

    I do not have the technical ability to understand this. Can anyone elaborate?
     
  10. DRM

    DRM Forum Resident

    When I upload files from the H1 into my computer to process via Audacity, if I've recorded at a low enough (but reasonable) level, it's not clipping at all.

    Per Audacity.

    I was reading recently that there's drawbacks to recording at too low of levels.

    But I would rather record at too low of a level than too high.

    It gives me more room to work with, so to speak.
     
  11. Sterling Cooper

    Sterling Cooper Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Fort Myers, FL
    Did you use any kind of attenuating cable?
     
  12. DRM

    DRM Forum Resident

    No.
     
  13. Sterling Cooper

    Sterling Cooper Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Fort Myers, FL
    Thank you for the info.
     
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  14. JohnO

    JohnO Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    I wrote what you quoted there, so let me explain a little more. The level control of the H1 or the DR-05 comes after the mic preamp.

    The input socket on the H1 or DR-05 is labeled "Mic In/Line In" or has icons to indicate that. That is actually a lie against terms that have been used for 70 years - it is a MIC IN input only. Very technically it may not be a "lie", you do connect your Line In to that socket, but the signal can't be at too high a level.

    Internally the H1 or DR-05 works something like this:

    Line Out signal -> "Mic In/Line In" socket -> H1 mic preamp -> H1 recording level control -> recording amp and processing -> SD card file.

    If the Line Out signal you are recording is strong, it overloads the mic preamp, producing horrific clipping distortion. Then you are setting the recording level based on what came out of the mic preamp, and you are setting levels on already distorted audio. The level looks ok, but you make a recording of good levels (you think) of horribly distorted sound.

    A real Line In input socket would be wired between the mic preamp and the recording level control.

    I understand that some people are getting OK results in certain situations without an attenuator, setting the input level very low. But with a line level output that sends out a higher level - a signal level that gives no problem with anything that has a real Line In input - the H1 or DR-05 will overload in the mic preamp. Guaranteed. All over the net on other forums people find this out sadly too late, like I did, when recording a live performance that can't just be recued to play again. Search "H1 overload" or "DR-05 overload".

    An attenuator reduces the level of the line out signal of whatever you are recording to a level the H1/DR-05 can accept without problem. You can buy one for $40 (or more), or you can just get a "headphone volume control" in a store for $10, or $5, or from ebay from China for $2. With this, you can always be certain you won't have an overload due to the wrong design and wrong labeling on the H1/DR-05. To use the headphone volume control this way with these units, you turn the recorder's level all the way up, and control the input level only with the headphone volume control. The H1/DR-05 won't be overloaded because the signal is reduced before it even gets in to the recorder.

    If you want a Zoom H1, or a Tascam DR-05, that's fine, they are great quality for the price - except for the so-called "Mic In/Line In" input, and you can work around that for 2 bucks.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2017
  15. Sterling Cooper

    Sterling Cooper Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Fort Myers, FL
    Okay, that makes sense to me. It’s a shame they didn’t make a it with a real line-in, especially since it already has built-in mikes.
     

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