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Zoom H1 records stereo for $99

The Zoom H1 hand-held audio recorder delivers 24-bit/96kHz stereo recordings perfect for music, interviews, lectures, recitals, band practice and more.

Photo of the Zoom H1 portable stereo audio recorder
The Zoom H1 portable stereo audio recorder makes great sound easy. Samson

A few months ago, my wife asked to borrow a portable audio recorder to interview people for a school project. Unfortunately, most of the devices I have around the house are overkill--the kind of hulking professional recorders that most people would mistake for radiation detectors or face-melting phasers. Eventually, we settled on her using the least intimidating device in my arsenal: a $200 Zoom H2 Handy Recorder. She wasn't thrilled that it looked like a cheap electric razor, but at least it wouldn't scare anyone.

Today, Samson announced a portable audio recorder that would have been perfect for my wife's interviews. It is understated, has an elegant design, and it is affordable ($99). The Zoom H1 delivers quality stereo recording with a minimum of fuss.

The front end of the H1 sports a pair of condenser mics arranged in an X/Y stereo pattern, protected behind an oval-shaped mic cage. Samson includes a 1/8-inch mic input on the Zoom H1. Below the built-in mics is a small, backlit LCD for communicating all the basic track and duration details.

My favorite feature of the H1 lays smack in the middle of the device: a solid, red, uncluttered record button. For audio recorders--especially for documenting important interviews--nothing is more reassuring than an easy-to-locate record button.

Unlike your microcassette recorder from back in the day, the Zoom H1 records pristine audio at up to 24-bit/96kHz resolution. There are options for either WAV and MP3 encoding, and a 48Kbps MP3 recording setting for maximum for maximum recording time (10 hours using a single AA battery).

The H1 records to an included 2GB microSD card, but can accept media as large as 32GB. After you're done, you can review your audio using headphones or the built-in speaker, or transfer recordings back to your computer using the built-in USB 2.0 port, or a microSD card reader. A windscreen, power adapter, USB cable, carrying case, tripod, and mic clip are available separately for $24.99.

Samson expects to ship the H1 on July 30.