Zoom H1 Vs Tascam Dr-05 – Zoom H1N Vs Tascam Dr 05

In the last 18 months Zoom and Tascam have released new versions of their popular Zoom H1 and Tascam DR-05 digital recorders. The Zoom H1n was released in early 2018, and the Tascam DR-05x became available in early 2019.

In this post we are going to compare the Zoom H1n to the Tascam DR-05x.


From Left: Tascam DR-05x and Zoom H1n

Now, I’m usually hesitant about these kinds of comparisons.

That’s because when it comes to voice recorders, it’s very hard to find two recorders that are similar.

Yes, you can find different versions of recorders that are alike, but they’re usually from the same manufacture – who are doing some hokey pokey price differentiation. A few examples, Sony BX140 and Sony PX240, Olympus WS-852 and Olympus WS-853 and so forth. And buying the higher priced model gives you additional features.

So most voice recorders have very little in common, for instance the Sony ux560 and the Zoom H1n –the 2 models I get asked to compare a lot, and you’d compare dissimilar items; not like for like.

But the Zoom H1n and the Tascam DR-05x are interesting in a number of ways. 1) Their marketing departments position them as direct competitors. They have a similar price point; I got DR-05x for $119, and the H1n for $119.99: a 99cents difference. And in their marketing brochures, the DR-05x wants to be the H1n; “the standard…handheld recorder.” Whilst the Zoom H1n is sold as the “creators” “take-anywhere recorder.”

Both are marketed as what they aspire to be, but are not. I’d argue that the Tascam DR-05x is the true entry level “creators” digital recorder. Not the Zoom H1n. And the Zoom is the “standard” “stereo handheld digital audio recorder,” not the DR-05x. I’m going to explain why below, but I want to first point out the main point of this post.

When you are looking to buy a digital recorder, you should begin with thinking about how you plan to use the recorder; function is king! For instance, if you are looking for a voice recorder for recording lectures, focus on recorders that are good at recording lectures. Don’t start looking at brands and models of digital recorders before you have a clear idea of what’s your main use scenario. Or the marketing and the hype is going to lead you astray.

And that’s the main reason I’m penning this post, to try and illustrate how the strengths and weaknesses of the Zoom H1n and Tascam DR-05x counter the marketing hype: you want to use Zoom H1n as a hand held recorder and the Tascam DR-05x as a “creators” recorder; packed with lots of features.

Now, for each recorder I’m going to share with you the one thing (just one) I hate and love. For a deeper look into each recorder, I have penned a detailed review of the Zoom H1n and Tascam DR-05x.

You are watching: Zoom h1 vs tascam dr-05


Fits snugly into your hand, best handheld recorderX-Y microphone configuration is great for recording a single sound source


Very easy to inadvertently change the gain inputLess features than the DR-05X


The Zoom H1n is a great handheld recorder, fits very well into your hand, and it’s smaller than the Tascam DR-05X.


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The Bad

When I first got the Zoom H1n, I was impressed with the ability to easily change the gain input – via the input volume dial aka the knob, but I didn’t realize this meant that it was also very easy to inadvertently change the gain input. And the volume dial is NOT locked by the Hold button.

I learnt this the hard way when I accidentally changed the gain setting whilst moving the Zoom H1n. And using auto levels is not an option; too much background noise.

My wish is that Zoom can fix this, either with a lock on the knob or enabling the hold button to lock the knob (via a firmware update?). Current workaround whilst I’m using the Zoom H1n is to use a foam windscreen (come with the accessory pack) that covers the knob, so that it’s not easily accessible. And I always have to pay attention to not touch the knob after I’ve monitored my recording levels.

But if you do plan to use the Zoom H1n with an external lav mic (probably the most common use scenario for the older H1), be aware there is a distinct possibility that that knob will move when you place it in a shirt pocket. So, tape it!

The Good

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Holding the Zoom H1n

What I really love about the Zoom H1n is the design. This is a digital recorder that is built like a microphone. It fits perfectly into my hand. And I don’t currently own another recorder that is as good as being a handheld microphone. It just feels very comfortable in your hand.

And for that reason, and the X-Y stereo configuration (good for recording at proximity and less phase issues), I consider the Zoom H1n to be the best handheld digital voice recorder.

If you plan to conduct interviews where you’ll need to holdup a digital recorder to your subject (in the field, on the go), then this isthe recorder you should get. And that’show I use it. But it’s also a great recorder when used as a USB microphone. Sopodcasting, Skype, screencasts, that’s what this microphone is good at.

Now, you do need to also buy the accessories pack (amazon link) to get the table stand (also comes with a windscreen, cable, and AC charger), but it’s definitely worth it if you plan to use this recorder as a desktop mic that connects to your computer or as a handheld recorder.

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