Tascam DR-08 vs. Zoom H1 continued..

Tascam DR-08 vs. Zoom H1

First let's get into the right mindset about why i'm testing these two Ultra Portable recorders. If you're looking for the best audio recorder for your DSLR, then nothing beats bang for the buck than the Zoom H4n. That's not what this is about. The Zoom H4n is a great device that can support 90% of your audio needs, but there's going to be times when you can't go tethered and things have to be discreet. You'll have to go with a wireless setup and a LAV microphone. When it comes down to 'quality effective' wireless gear, you're looking at $600 dollars a pair. This is what 'this is' about.

These new Ultra portable recorders can act as a nice option instead of using a Wireless setup. For under $150 dollars you can have a truly effective source of audio that is not tethered to the camera operator, very discreet, and less prone to issues that can arise with wireless gear. I'm lovin' these things. Of course, these two products look like they are competitors in the same space and naturally everyone will wonder which way to go. Right now let's just talk strictly 'Form Factor' and size for use as a 'Body Pack'. I'm going to skip to the results and say in my book, Tascam is the clear winner.

They both record the same audio quality, so when used with a LAV microphone and thrown in a pocket, they are equally as effective. The Zoom is the winner for being cheaper, and having a tripod mount, possibly better microphone configuration, and a form factor designed to be used as a handheld microphone. If you're wondering about how you can mount a Tascam on your DSLR rig, a simple Cheap Shotgun Microphone Shock Mount would probably work well, and would be functional to dampen handling noise.


The Tascam DR-08 Portable Digital Audio Recorder is the winner for having a smaller profile which is more comfortable to be used as a 'body pack'. It will fit nicely in a pocket, or throw it into a cell phone case with a belt clip option. The Zoom H1, although can be used in the pocket, loses to the Tascam for this one feature. This is the one feature I'm looking for between these two items. So if your only plan is to use it as a 'body pack w/ LAV mic' go for the Tascam. Again, for the idea to replace a wireless body pack the audio is sufficient. Yes I know it doesn't compare to the Zoom H4n, but try sticking that in your pocket. For you Audiophiles, more audio tests and comparisons will be done soon.

[Update] Here's a video talking about the test, and the RAW files can be found in the links below. If you're wondering why one would be larger than the other, it's mainly because I started one recorder after the other, causing one file to run longer in time. You'll hear a bit of fumbling around as I get things setup, and clap several times for me to sync audio to the video. I did not want to cut, alter, convert, compress any of these files so as to keep things as original as possible for you to listen.

Download Tascam DR-08 RAW wav - file size 83MB
Download Zoom H1 RAW wav file - file size 77MB

Cheapest price BHPHOTOVIDEO.com: Tascam DR-08 Portable Digital Audio Recorder

42 thoughts on “Tascam DR-08 vs. Zoom H1 continued..

  1. Dan

    I have just purchase a DR-08 and stuck an 8 gig Micro SDHD into it and it works great. It is supposed to take up to 32 gig.

  2. Ken

    Another option, perhaps.

    I have had good luck with the Panasonic RR-xs410. It tops out at 16/48khz, but in classical live recordings it has made very acceptable recordings, and I am a trained musician.

    It is very small, about the same cost as the ones you are reviewing, and although it is marketed more as a voice recorder, it also does fine stereo music recordings and has many of the same features as these units, as well as having 4GB built in and coming with a rechargeable aaa.

    The only issue I have had is that you must set levels carefully manually with the RR-xs410 to avoid slight clipping, even with the limiter option. If the levels are set properly, then there is no problem.

  3. Vincent

    I got the same question as above. you did you mount the tascam as in the video?

    instead of any of these two, i bought the Sanyo Xacti XPS01M, because of it's size advantage. I hear the quality of this device is supposed to be at the same level or even a little btter than the two above.

    now, I bought an Olympus ME15 lav mic, which is also supposed to be around the same quality as the Audio Technica. However, these mics sound flat, canny and produce a lot of noise.

    can someone advice another mic that will work with these devices (not all mics work!) and isnt twice the price of this little thing. The Rode lavalier is 200... and then you even need a micon2 adapter, plus 20.

    the sennheiser ME2 or 4 has a screw, dont think that looks nice...

    so, does anyone have an idea for mounting the Sanyo? and in addition: any ideas on a windjammer for this tiny device?

    then another thing: instead of using a shotgun mic, why not mount one of these devices on the camera for audio? use another one with a lav on a talent and you're set. what am i missing? is the omnidirectional character of the zoom/tascam/sanyo too much so you cant use it as a shotgun?

  4. Rob

    The big disadvantage of this setup is that you can't monitor levels so sound can end up clipping or being too low at times. Also, the mini jack is a lousy mobile connector because of the static sound generated when the connection is moved. You really need an XLR input for mobile use.

  5. Emm

    Post author

    @WT - oddly when the Zoom H1 is in use, it lasts a long time. If you have a certain version, they say it will drain while powered off, but I believe they fixed that. You might run out of card space before you run out of battery. It uses a single AA and with an Eneloop it lasts and lasts...

  6. Cwow

    Hey Emm,

    Thanks for your response.

    So now that you like the H1 as the winner for ambient audio do you still think the Tascam is the winner for the on-person recording.

    Does it make sense to have 2 different brand recorders?

    What would you do if you had to buy 1 ambient recorder and 1 on-person w/lav recorder?

    Thanks so much let me know as i will be making purchases today.

  7. Emm

    Post author

    The Zoom H1 wins. I put an 8GB MicroSD and only the Zoom H1 can see it. The Tascam can't see the 8GB card, and I need a couple of hours recording time.

  8. Emm

    Post author

    Depends on the Audio quality. You can change it. Bad news though, the Zoom H1 takes an 8GB MicroSD no problem. The Tascam can't see it.

  9. Cwow

    I was also wondering.

    What is the recording size of the files for the Tascam Dr-08. For example how many hours can fit on a 2gb card? Or how many gigs per out etc.


  10. Cwow

    It looks like the Tascam Dr-08 is the winner with regard to any sort of on-person type recording to fit in there pocket etc.

    But which recorder does better with recording just ambient sound?

    Also i am interested in getting a direct feed from a DJ at events. Can i get an XLR out to go into the 3.5mm jack and if so which recorder would hold up best for this type of direct recording from the DJ?

    Also has anyone figured out how to mount the tascam Dr-08 onto a tripod. I see that in the above video it is mounted but don't see how the actual connection is made.

    I also followed the link to the microphone shock mount but don't understand how the tascam would mount to it. Would the tascam slide through the middle of it?

    thanks for any of your help

  11. Won

    Thank you. It is a great article for people who hesitate to choose between DR-08 and H1 like me.
    For me, a compact size is more important factor, thus DR-08 is absolute winner. However, I am worried about the battery drain(?) or consumption of DR-08 because there are several customer complains about short battery life of DR-08 in customer review and even some people said it lasted only 30mins while recording 96kHz/24bit quality so changed battery every 30mins.
    Does anyone have the same battery problem as I mentioned above?
    Thank you.

  12. Marcello

    The H1 recording sounds with a lot of more basses - is it maybe due to the position of the recorders ?

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  14. MB

    After Amazon delayed my H1 order for a full two and a half months, I canceled it and ordered the Tascam DR-08.

    Loving the DR-08 so far, and nice that I actually have it. Unfortunately there's no screw mount or anything built into it, so I'm not sure how I'll attach it to a DSLR dual rig. But its really small so shouldn't be much trouble to figure out.

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  18. Emm thanks. They both got powered inputs though, so the lav mic doesn't even have to be self-powered right?

    I'm curious if you find that when the two mic's are closed together, does it act in a similar way as a shotgun mic?

    From the manual:


    Set this way, recording is possible in a relatively narrow field and is useful for interviews and similar situations. - just wondering if that's true, if so, it'll probably be able to do the job.

    Seems like a really versatile device. I like that the H1 is strictly buttons and no menu's. But I think I like even more, that the DR-08 has all those extra options.

  19. Thanks Emm. I'm interested in getting one of these, but really need a shotgun mic more (for run and gunning where you don't want a lot of out of frame sound). Which of the two devices is (or can be, with workarounds) most directional? Or is there any shotgun type alternatives to these two devices?

  20. Emm

    Post author

    No heat, and you can always find a belt clip to make it exactly like a real wireless body pack. There won't be any 'Monitoring' of Audio like a wireless setup, but in my experience you can't stop a ceremony to say "hang on, I gotta fix the audio". Like any situation you always have a good backup plan, these portable recorders should work great if not better (and much cheaper).

  21. PaulP

    ...as in the pocket of a groom at a wedding in a to tight tux on a chubby guy- it seems the ZOOM head would just bulge to much to work. Also do either of these generate any heat? I would think not but just checking. I am addicted to your site and totally appreciate your interest in sharing- what's up with the new mystery product by the way?

  22. Emm

    Post author

    Thanks for the input, but in my first sentence I was trying to explain this is not an audio showdown with other recorders outside of the UltraPortable pocketing type. Yes there are many many many options for portable audio recorders along the larger ones. I'm only looking at the ones you will place into someones pocket with a LAV mic and under $150 dollars.

  23. Can't wait for the corrected audio test. The Tascam sounded flat and dull in the previous test, as compared to the Zoom -- but it was compressed. If the sound is identical at high quality, I'm totally jumping for two of the Tascams.

  24. I've compared these portable recorders (excluding the H1) and I find that the Marantz PD661 is a standout in terms of audio quality. It is bulkier and pricier. I especially like the fact that the level knob is at the bottom. So when it hangs off your shoulder, you can easily adjust it.

  25. Gambitrocks

    If I get 2 H1 Zooms could I get binaural sound? If you have never heard binaural sound go on Google and type virtual barbershop and listen to the audio with earphones.

  26. Emm can you compare them on how they operate in your pocket in terms of disabling the buttons so the recording does not stop when you slip them in to a tight pocket?

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