I recently wanted to start recording sound in a maybe not professional but at
least somewhat decent way that does not sound horrible. That of course requires
a microphone. Unfortunately decent microphones can run quite expensive (just
like apparently every single one of my hobbies) so I decided to check for
Microphones usually come in either USB or (better) XLR versions so you can
either plug them into a computer directly or connect them to a sound board and
then connect that to a computer. While I am sure this would provide by far the
best sound I looked around for more universal and cheaper alternatives which do
not involve buying half a music store.
One of the most common recommendations was the
which is not only a microphone but also a recorder and is kinda like a
dictation machine. It can
record from its built-in microphones or record from any other 3.5mm jack audio
source. Recordings go to its internal microSD card or it can even be used as a USB
microphone starting with the 2.0 firmware. Pricewise the H1 runs for roughly 100€ new
(that’s roughly 100 american for you).
Since I am a cheapass I got it off eBay for roughly 65€ which also explains
why it is in this silver colour. Oh and by the way if you click the images
you’ll see them in ridiculous (original) size. Yes my table is broken but you
can try to pretend it’s lightning striking the devices in a dramatic manner.
It has a number of settings in the back and also a battery compartment to put
in a single AA battery. Part of the battery compartment is broken off (yours
should not look like this), but it records just fine. H1’es are famous for
having shoddy build quality and this one is no exception. Came pre-broken so I
didn’t have to break it.
This thing eats through batteries so I recommend putting in a decent battery.
For example the Amazon Basics-branded eneloop. I ended up ordering some eneloop
pros (not pictured since not yet arrived) but most quality batteries should do
Turn it on and see some friendly greeting message (Zoom is a japanese
corporation so the device says “hi” when starting and “goodbye” when you turn
it off again) followed by the expected capacity for recording. This is nearly
19 hours of 192kbps MP3 on the 2GB card it shipped with, less with WAV. It can
take up to 32 GB microSDHC cards which would probably last longer than my life
This is also a great time to upgrade the firmware if you haven’t yet. You can
see the version when it boots up, above the greeting. The most important update
is version 2.0, since that adds USB microphone functionality. I quite like the
fact that Zoom shipped such a useful feature to a device already on the market.
The update to 2.1 adds… nothing but fixes issues connecting the USB 2.0 H1 to
USB 3 ports on computers (the changelog says USB 3 support but let me assure
you, the firmware can’t update the hardware).
Trying it out worked pretty well though unfortunately there is quite some
breathing noise because I have lungs and occasionally exhale which is very much
audible on the recording. The usual recommendation is to get a popping filter
which also filters out popping noises of letters like “P”.
I went for something more stylish and slighly more universal: a dead cat. Or
rather dead kitten. The fur of these dead critters, when put on the microphone
filters out strong air movements like my titanic breath or the wind outside so
in case I ever decide to leave my appartment I can use it outside. After
searching the floor for dead or alive cats and only finding empty whisky
bottles and sentient dust bunnies I turned to online shopping which netted me
They sell the dead kittens ready to use:
Oh look, it’s the British foreign minister!
Shock mount assembly
Cool, the breathing noise is gone, I don’t have to hold my breath for 10
minutes when recording. But I’m always dissatisfied and now it’s the
handling noise, because the microphones pick up all button presses and
movements of the Zoom H1 so my recordings sound like I’m dragging that poor
device through hell.
What I need is a shock mount! I
could certainly buy one but why pay for something decent when you can 3D print
something… less decent but cheap! Here’s a
Zoom H1 shock mount 3D model. Put
it in the 3D printer, print for 4 hours and add some 1€-store rubber bands:
I got a lot of rubber bands; let’s make this a cheerful piece of art that
smells of latex (just like my hands):
Also needed some scotch tape and since I’m in Germany it’s of course Tesa
(pronounced Teh-Za); add that to our art installation:
Tape the rubber bands on so they don’t bugger off. Could’ve used gaffer tape
for more nerd-cred but Tesa’s easier to handle.
I printed it in three parts which had to be assembled somehow using the clip
mechanism. Unfortunately it ended up being too imprecise for nice joining.
After forcing the 3 parts together with nearly deadly force, they’ll probably
never come apart again. Maybe not the best if you want to stash it for travel
A nice detail of this shock mount is the fact that it has a hole for a ¼”
screw, just like the Zoom H1 itself. It can be used to mount this mount (yo
dawg) on a lot of things.
Unlike the Zoom H1 this hole has no threading but when you attempt to screw in
a metal screw (don’t use plastic ones, and by the way, where did you even get
plastic screws from?) it will create threads in the plastic. Neat. The pen
may be stronger than the sword but still a metal screw beats PLA plastic.
Autobots assemble! What a great matching set of colours! The shock mount is
ready but now it lays around sadly on the desk. Let’s put it on something.
Mounting on tripod
Since I am an great photographer (shut up, I am! cough) I have a tripod
available so what better place to put it on than there. I started with the
premise of a cheap stand, you say, and now I’m introducing an semi-expensive
tripod? Oops. To my defense, recording stands can be inexpensively ordered and
the contraption we build should attach to one just fine.
First I need a plate. Since I already use one for my camera I’d need a second
one. Looked up on Amazon, 20-25€ for this small piece of metal? Gotta be
kidding me! Back to the 3D printer,
we have some more extruding to do.
It’s plastic but neither the Zoom H1 nor the shock mount are heavy therefore
some 100% infill plastic thing will be sufficiently durable. The model linked
works kinda alright for my tripod but it’s not great: one orientation is fine,
in the other one it slips out of the release unless I fasten it. Still pretty
good for a random find on the Internet that cost me zero minutes of my life
time to design.
While I wait on the mounting screw to arrive from eBay I’ll continue with the
legit tripod mount. Screw it into the mounting hole of the mount potentially
cutting threads into the mount. First time is the most painful, as they say
(albeit about a different screwing activity).
Grab your trusty tripod. I got this one. It’s not great but it’s mine.
For maximal professional look, you definitely need some headphones. Not only
does it look super pro to have headphones on (even if you don’t plug them in
anywhere), but if you plug them into the H1 you can listen to yourself being
recorded. I love listening to myself mansplaining so that’s perfect.
Therefore another piece of the kit: Creative Fatal1ty hyper-cool gaming headset
I had laying around. Because I’m a pro-gamer. As you can see I use them all
the time which explains the massive layer of dust. But any headphones will do,
they only need a 3.5mm jack. This headset also comes with a microphone that I
could plug into the H1 and record from the headset microphone. Though probably
this mono microphone is worse than the XY-microphone array of the H1.
Put the shock mount on the tripod, set it to a reasonable height that works for
you and you’re done. It kinda looks like a rocket launcher array. Don’t use it
for launching rockets though, it most likely won’t work and you might hurt yourself.
I prefer to stand while recording but the tripod can also tilt so I could also
sit down if my legs give way. It’s also possible to flip the tripod so
recording from the floor could work as well. Or maybe from the bed if I don’t
feel like getting up.
The whole thing all set up. The headphones are connected to line-out to work
as monitor and can even be put on the H1 when not in use. Marvel at the
Creative logo! You are a creative now!
Mounting on a camera
Bonus content time! Since the shock mount comes with a ¼” screw you can also
mount it on things that are not tripods. Like drills but that would be really
pointless. Maybe better on something like a camera for vlogging or
filmographing. The bonus images are in ridonculous resolution, in case you feel
like inspecting every speck of dust on my table. They all have IPv6.
You need this little guy, a ¼” screw to hotshoe adapter. Easily attainable for
peanuts from eBay by transporting it around the whole planet from China with
Attach it to the same place where the tripod adapter was. You need to take off
the adapter first though.
Attach the whole contraption to the hotshoe of your DSLR (or SLR or
mirrorless), et voila! If you want, you can connect the Zoom’s line-out to your
camera’s line-in (if available) to synchronize sound to your video. Or don’t.
I’m not judging you.
Thanks to @learlyman for fixing up my english.
All remaining errors are caused by my inability to follow simple directions.