Zoom H1n vs Tascam DR-05x

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.

Zoom H1n vs 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.



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


  • Very easy to inadvertently change the gain input
  • Less 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.

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

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 hold up a digital recorder to your subject (in the field, on the go), then this is the recorder you should get.  And that’s how I use it. But it’s also a great recorder when used as a USB microphone. So podcasting, 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.


Tascam DR-05X Compared Zoom H1n : Tascam-DR-05X


  • Lots of recording features for creators
  • high fidelity microphones that are great for recording musical instruments


  • Well documented radio interference
  • The bulkiest voice recorder I own


The Tascam DR-05x comes with a lot of features that entry level music and video creators will find useful.

The Bad

I was really excited when the new Tascam DR-05x was released. I owned the older version Tascam DR-05, but I ended up getting rid of it, and getting the H1n, because it had one big issue: radio interference. My hope, Tascam would fix this well documented issue in the x-series.

They didn’t!

I still can’t fathom why. BTW, this is a known issue with DR-05, 07 and 40 models. Keep in mind, the radio in Radio Frequency Interference (RFI), does not simply refer to FM, AM – old school radio. In fact, radio waves are used in all forms of telecommunication. So, WiFi, 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G, Bluetooth, microwaves etc, are all radio waves. I can only foresee our recording locations getting more saturated with radio waves as more devices get connected. For instance, my camera now comes with WiFi and Bluetooth connection. 

Why does this mean for recording audio using Tascam DR-05x? It’s not going to get easier. And you are going to need to have more control of your recording environment. For instance, if you plan to use the Tascam DR-05x in a location where people are going to be using their phones, you are likely to get RFI in your recording. Truth be told, I’ve only had issues with RFI when place the Tascam DR-05x 3 feet or closer to my phone, router, laptop. My guess is I get RFI in my recordings when I’m further away from these devices, I just can’t hear it.

And I’ve seen suggestions that’s it’s an internal microphone issue (so use an external mic). It’s not. You also get RFI when using an external lav microphone. My guess is this is an issue with the internal circuits of these recorders, (maybe those separate “digital and analog circuit boards to manage noise performance”?). Regardless, this is a major issue with Tascam DR-05x recorder.

The Good

The good thing about the Tascam Dr-05x is its sheer number of features. These features make it a very powerful and versatile digital recorder for content creators. By that I mean, there’s a lot of things you can do with this recorder. I have highlighted the features that I like in my review of the Tascam Dr-05x. So I’ll just list them here: mono recording, overwrite function, microSDXC support, start a new file on the fly, overdub and monitor mix (which I’ve not used), self-timer, chromatic tuner, maximum file feature and even more features.

And that’s what makes this a great recorder for “creators.” People who want to record music and video. You have the auto tone function and ¼ inch screw hole for synching and attaching it to a DSLR. You have wide stereo, high fidelity microphones that are great for recording musical instruments. In these scenarios, you have a good control of your recording environment – you can easily ask your band members to switch off their phones or place them away from the recorder.

In conclusion

Irrespective of their similarities, the Zoom H1n and the Tascam DR-05x are great for different use scenarios. And not easily interchangeable. The Zoom H1n is a great handheld recorder, fits very well into your hand, the Tascam DR-05x does not – it’s bulky.  The Tascam DR-05x comes with a lot of features that entry level music and video creator will find useful. Here are Amazon links to the Tascam DR-05x and the Zoom H1n.


Isaac here. At Weloty, we provide bespoke academic transcription services to qualitative researchers. If you wish to hire us, get in touch. Please note that if you choose to buy the products we recommend as a result of our research and testing, we’ll get paid some money through an affiliate commission from the retailer when you make a purchase. You can find out more here.

11 responses to “Zoom H1n vs Tascam DR-05x”

  1. casey c Avatar
    casey c

    Holy cow, I just came across this article today cuz I just bought the Tascam DR-05X recorder. Sure enough, there is in fact loud interference when I place the Tascam within 1 or 2 feet of my home router or cell phone! I heard a very loud crackling and static noise. Does the Zoom H1N have this same RFI problem???

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Yeah, that’s a well documented issue with the DR series Tascams.
      They are good recorders but you need to keep them away from phones, routers, modems; any gadget that emits/receives radio waves.
      Thankfully, the Zoom H1n does not have similar RF interference issues.

  2. Matthias Avatar

    Thank you for your great comparison while taking a look at the use cases!

  3. sean Avatar

    RE: dr-05x interference
    Hi All,
    I’ve only noticed issues with the interference when I’m outside near a cell phone tower and in its line of sight. I thought it was a problem with the recorder, but after doing more testing, figured out the dr-05x seems to only have the RF noise when line of sight – even at a few hundred yards away.

    Question…is it possible to use the USB interface on an iphone? I’d like to record stereo onto a video and make the dr-05x the input to the video. I know there’s a Rode cable, but that’s, sadly and unfortunately only mono.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      Tried to use the USB input on my phone, didn’t work. So probably not.
      Suggestion, record the audio separately and sync in post…

      1. sean Avatar

        Hi Isaac,

        Thanks! You’ve saved me from buying the cable.

        1. Felipe DV Avatar
          Felipe DV

          I use it like an audio interface on my phone and works. The phone needs to be otg compatible in order to use it as a mic.

  4. Shah Avatar

    Hi and thanks for this article – it helped a lot.

    However, could you maybe provide an impression on how bad the RFI on the DR-05x really is?
    For example: Is it noticeable if a cell phone is within a meter of it? Two meters? In the same room?

    I am really torn.
    I prefer the DR-05x in all aspects – build quality, sound (from the samples i heard so far), UI, range of options, etc.
    But if it’s essentially useless as soon as a cell phone/router/radio is in the general vicinity, i will have to go with the otherwise less desirable option.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      From my experience, if you place the DR-05x within a couple of feet of your phone, then you’ll get a high pitched buzzing in your recording.
      The recorded buzzing is very similar to placing a phone next to a speaker.
      Now, this happens only with some cell phones. And it might only happen when you receive a call or message. So it’s intermittent.
      If I place the recorder withing a couple of feet of my wifi router – the buzzing is constant.
      And there are reports that this also happens if you are close to a radio/cell phone tower…
      That’s what so disappointing about the DR-05x, for important recordings in non-controlled locations, you’ll need to keep monitoring for RFI.

  5. James Avatar

    Yes, they could have figured out a way to make the gain dial harder to bump. Either recess it, put a lock on it. As it stands, you’d have to put tape on it.

    And the other issue for desktop musicians, you’ll have ground hum and interference issues if you try to charge this with a usb power hub.

    That means if you have lots of equipment that can take 5v, including this little H1n, and you don’t want to chase down AAA’s, you’ll end up with an entirely rubbish recording.

    1. Isaac Avatar

      I’ve not had issues with ground hum with my H1n as I power it with batteries or a power bank.
      Would connecting all the devices to the same power outlet solve the issue?

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