How Does the $100 Zoom H1 Mic Hold Up Against the $1,000 Sennheiser MKH 416 Mic?

We all know the importance of high-quality audio for every video production. But, does it always mean that you have to spend a fortune to be able to record decent audio on set? Well, Armando Ferreira puts the $100 entry-level Zoom H1 audio recorder and the $1,000 Sennheiser MKH416 to the test to find the answer.

Apparently, the price difference is quite obvious, but how about the audio quality both units could bring to the table? You’ll be able to decide for yourself after listening to the real-world samples included in the video below.

First and foremost, we should point out that the Zoom H1 is a complete solution that will allow you to record audio without any other extra add-ons. The simple interface provides 1-button recording and offers physical controls for playback functions, input and volume levels, low cut filter, and auto level control, eliminating the need for additional devices.

The Sennheiser MKH416 condenser mic, on the other hand, is a professional shotgun mic that has been the industry standard for almost half a century. It will need a proper XLR input as well as an external recorder with a phantom power to be able to work which means that its price is going to be even higher than $1,000. Nevertheless, both devices seem to be quite capable of capturing high-quality audio, especially when used indoors.

When you take them outside, however, the differences become a lot more apparent. In those situations, it’s clear the Zoom H1 picks a lot more ambient noise mainly due to its omnidirectional characteristics, whereas the Sennheiser MKH 416 with its hyper-cardioid polar pattern is still capable of isolating the talent’s voice while reducing the unwanted external sounds significantly.

Overall, both microphones have some excellent characteristics when it comes to frequency response and signal-to-noise ratio so it really depends on what is your budget and whether you can spend $1,000 dollar just to get the MKH-416.

The Zoom H1 will be perfect for those of you who predominantly produce videos for the web as the audio quality it’s capable of is perfectly suitable for such applications whether you’ll be recording indoors or outdoors. Plus, it will cost you just $100 or even less, so it certainly can deliver great value for the price.

For more serious and professional projects with a bigger budget, professional crew and a dedicated boom operator, the Sennheiser MKH 416 is obviously the most convenient choice. Nevertheless, both units are capable of capturing professional high-quality audio regardless of the massive price difference so it’s totally up to you to decide which one of the two will fit your daily workflow and project requirements better.

[source: Armando Ferreira]

B&H Order Links:

Zoom H1 Ultra-Portable Digital Audio Recorder (Black)

Sennheiser MKH-416 – Short Shotgun Interference Tube Microphone

Amazon US Order Links:

Zoom H1 Ultra-Portable Digital Audio Recorder (Black)

Sennheiser MKH-416 – Short Shotgun Interference Tube Microphone

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  • Shane McGill

    nonsensical articles really shouldn’t be published.

  • Steve Oakley

    Seriously? First the 416 is a 30+ year old design. It’s overly bright because in part that’s to over come hf loss in the analog tape world from where it came. Second is that you don’t use a shotgun in a live interior because it picks up more of the reflections. Cheap gear gives you what you pay for, not just in sound quality but also durability and reliability…..

    • Vlady Radev

      The 416 has been around since 1975 which makes it 40+ year old. As for the sound quality, samples in the video clearly show the difference.

  • Thure Wikberg

    How can you compare two different systems? What about the noise levels in Zoom H1?