Poor sound using Zoom H1N as USB mic

I am running Windows 10 and Audacity 2.3.2. I bought a Zoom H1N recorder to use to record myself playing sound on mandolin and guitar (just for fun, not to publish). The sound is fine when recording to the H1N, but when I run it into Audacity as a USB mic, the sound is “tinny” and lacks any low end. Are there settings within Audacity that I need to check? Thanks in advance for any suggestions

Audacity won’t mess with the sound, but Windows sometimes can. Make sure [u]Windows “Enhancements”[/u] are turned off.

…The quality should be the same if everything is working properly, but in general a solid state recorder is going to be more reliable than a computer. There are more settings/options to mess-up on a computer and the multitasking operating system can “get in the way”.

You are the poster child for my opinion if you have constant problems recording on the computer, stop recording on the computer.

I took delivery of an H1n, walked into my quiet bedroom and using it stand-alone on a roll of paper towels, cranked out a voice track with audiobook technical quality.

If that’s the only problem you had, you got lucky. You can also have time sharing problems with other apps, System permission issues, USB quality failures, audio pathway collisions, virus warnings, monitor foldback distortion, etc.

You can also have stereo crossover problems. As far as I can tell, you can’t convince the H1n to making a mono recording. It’s always high quality stereo and the computer may have trouble with that.

You win big time because you know how to get a clean, good quality recording. You want to branch out into unknown realms.

Let us know how it goes.


Are you sure that Audacity is picking up the H1N and not your laptop’s built-in mic? Try gently tapping your fingernail on the microphone guard of the H1N - you should hear that very loudly in the recording if the H1N is picking up the sound.

Thanks for all the feedback. I understand there are more potential issues with recording direct to Audacity (with Windows in the way). I was just trying to avoid constantly reconnecting the mic to the computer to move files. I think I will experiment with different data rates just to see if that matter. I was using 44K/24-bit so maybe dialing it back will have an effect. Per Steve’s suggestion I will verify that I am really recording from that input

I sometimes use a Zoom H2 as a stand alone portable recorder, then take out the flash memory card and put it into the card reader on my laptop, where I can then copy the recorded files by dragging and dropping onto the hard drive.
If you use this approach, there’s a couple of things to avoid so as to not mess up the Zoom’s file management:

  1. Do not “move” the files - just copy them.
  2. Do not format the flash card on the computer (unless the H1N manual says that you can)
  3. Do not try to work in Audacity directly from the flash card - copy the files to the computer and then use the copies in Audacity.

I use the somewhat gentler scratch test.


You should find out from the computer instructions where it’s microphone is. This particular machine’s microphone is just left of the left-hand shift key.


Post back when you figure it out. You could try CD quality 44100, 16-bit as a test. Everybody supports that.


I tried altering the mic settings. I set it to 48K/24-bit and 44K/16-bit. I did not hear any difference. However, I am not sure those setting did anything because when I set the mic in USB mode, the H1N display changed to just “48K” with no indication of bit size. I am guessing there is only one rate/size allowed when in USB audio mode. If I import the WAV file into Audacity the audio quality is good, with no tinny sounds

The issue was not the mic at all, but the playback. When using Audacity I had the output audio set to “Microsoft Sound Mapper - Output”. When I switched the output to my audio card the sound was just fine. I am not sure why the same output issues did not exist with a .wav file but it didn’t