Zoom Adopts Modular Functionality in Tiny New F1 Recorder
Zoom's pocket-sized recorder is for filmmakers in need of a compact design with robust features.
The F1 recorder is a new audio tool from Zoom that packs a fairly big punch in the feature department. Think of it as a souped-up H1 that can be used in different workflows because of its modular design. The unit is small and thin–roughly a 2.5" square–allowing interchangeable mic capsules to be attached to its proprietary 10-pin connector. Zoom has six options including a stereo and mono shotgun, two stereo X/Y capsules, a mid-side mic, and a dual XLR/TRS input capsule, which is nice if you're running multiple booms or wireless into the recorder.
Zoom could have stopped there, but smartly, it didn't, including a stereo mic/line level input for a lavalier or a mic needing plug-in power (this is different from Phantom, typically under 5 volts of DC—aka cheaper condenser mics). The connector is a locking 3.5mm (1/8") which is what we'd find on the Sennheiser G3 series. There's an audio output for headphones or to send audio to camera/another device. It, too, is a 3.5mm (1/8") screw lock connector.
The unit is a two channel recorder that supports up to 24bit/96 kHz audio in Broadcast Wave Format (BWF) and MP3 formats up to 320 kpbs. Audio is recorded on Class 4 or higher microSD/microSDHC cards with 32GB max storage. Convenient one-touch control buttons provide options for recording, playback, low cut filter, limiter, level, and format. A USB input allows for file drag and drop, a hold feature keeps settings locked during record mode and the monochrome LCD illustrates record time, levels and menu functions. Zoom added a tone generator for calibrating audio levels on a camera without the need for an attenuation cable. Other advanced features include a pre-record function and sound markers that output a quick tone for audio syncing in post. We do want to point out that the F1 is a standalone recorder and does not transmit any audio wirelessly.
It powers off two AAA batteries, and depending on the battery type, Zoom says it can run up to 10 hours on alkaline, 9 for NiMH and 16 for lithium. Powering via AC adapter is an option.
For the $199 price tag Zoom includes the F1, a LMF-1 lav mic, a windscreen, a mic/belt clip and batteries. Out of the box, you're getting a lav setup, but it costs an additional $129 to add the SGH-6 mono shotgun capsule. So $330 gets you a recorder, boom and lav. Depending on the demand, it's a possibility Zoom will offer a boom/lav package in the future. Tascam has similar options in the DR-10 line, but you would need to buy separate lav (DR-10L) and shotgun (DR-10SG) recorders to get the same functionality as the Zoom F1.
- Two channel recorder
- Connects to optional Zoom capsules
- Mic/line level input
- Audio out
- Records BWF/MP3
In the Box
- F1 Field Recorder
- LMF-1 Lavalier microphone
- WSL-1 Windscreen
- MCL-1 Mic clip
- BCF-1 Belt clip
- 2 AAA batteries
- Quick guide