Coming in hot for this new year, Zoom has an announced a brand new little package of a few of their products, the Zoom F1-LP. Coming with both a very effective field recorder in the F1 and a nice and easy lavalier microphone in the LMF-1, we have a perfect solution if you need some high-end recording for stationary environments, interviews, speeches, presentations, podcasts, sermons, and more. There are of course a lot of lavalier microphones out there in the world, but paired up with a Zoom recorder for a decent price for a nice bundle? Let’s see what exactly the Zoom F1-LP has to offer and if it’s worth the money.
Features of the Zoom F1-LP
- Low profile design
- Comes with buckle attachment
- Records to a microSD card (up to 32GB)
- One-touch controls
- Easyt-to-read display
- USB connectivity
- Auto-lock features
- No chance of overload
- Powered with two AAA batteries (or power supply sold separately)
- Record in WAV or MP3
- Recorder is also compatible with other Zoom capsules
The F1-LP’s sound and quality
For audio quality, we loved what we heard at the convention. Despite the loud noise around, we could hear the audio of the Zoom F1-LP quite clearly. To get technical, let’s look into the resolution. If recorded in WAV, you’re attaining 44.1 kHz/16-bit maximum, or with MP3 up to 320 kbps. Of course, we do not recommend ever recording in MP3. Stick with recording in WAV since it’s less compressed and will give you more flexibility in post-prod (yes, it’s a bit larger in size but it’s worth it). The lavalier mic itself connects via a 3.5 mm stereo mini (screw lock) and the input gain is -12 dB or +36 dB — quite feasible considering it’s size and power (and price). Like all lav mics, you have an omnidirectional polar pattern for focusing on what’s right in front of it (the speaker or even instrument you decide to clip it on). The cable length is of a decent 160 cm (about 63 inches, or about 5 feet), so it’ll reach even if you put it on somebody’s pants (although we’re not sure who would do that — perhaps you want to clip to a shirt and keep the recorder on a table instead? — it’ll reach pretty far).
The lavalier microphone itself is considered “standard” (but not cheap). It isn’t necessarily a Countryman or anything (professional lav mics that alone cost almost a grand), but for smaller purposes, semi-professional work or even pros who aren’t completely concerned with audio for a real movie, documentary or film, it will at least give us better quality than an on-board mic of a video camera. Go with a boom mic or even post-production voice-overs for more professional work.
Using the Zoom F1-LP recorder and lav mic
Of course, this isn’t camera attachable as we have seen in shotgun mic combos, so you’ll have to sync up your audio once you’re in the office. When it comes to actually using the Zoom F1-LP, sometimes a recorder and microphone combo can be a bit tricky; however, they included some nice features that we really like to ensure its usability. For one, the field recorder has a nifty 1.25″ monochrome LCD with one-touch buttons on the actual unit to adjust quite a few settings on the fly: start recording, stop, play and pause, recording format, lo-cut, limiter and recording levels.
You can also use their auto lock features in the Record Hold function or Hold Switch to prevent whoever is speaking from accidentally hitting buttons in the middle of speaking. There’s even a safety on-board limiter and auto-level control built-in to the recorder itself make sure your levels don’t spike in case of a louder volume incident.
The recorder of the Zoom F1-LP itself weights 120 grams without batteries, so in terms of being a hassle aside from perhaps sticking out on your side (who cares, you look more official anyways!). In regards to recording time, the Zoom F1-LP is going to last about 10 hours of battery time with Alkaline, 9 hours with NiMH, and 16 hours with Lithium. You can always use their power adapter for even more power, but that’s sold separately and doesn’t come in the box (they do give us two AAA with the package, however). Or perhaps you have some rechargeable batteries lying around, you can use those as well.
For transferring data, we’re always fans of MicroSD, but just in case you can also plug it directly into your computer via USB (microUSB) and merely drag it into a folder and you’re to go for editing.
What’s in the Zoom F1-LP box?
- Field Recorder (F1)
- Lavalier microphone (LMF-1)
- Windscreen (WSL-1)
- Mic clip (MCL-1)
- Belt clip (BCF-1)
- Two AAA batteries
- Quick guide
In conclusion of the Zoom F1-LP recorder and lavalier
We’d definitely recommend the Zoom F1-LP package for somebody who’s in need of a lavalier solution and isn’t into recording directly into the camera they’re using. To answer one of the biggest questions we’ve heard of this particular type of product — yes, the audio-quality is going to be a lot better than sticking a lavalier mic straight into the camera’s audio out jack. Not only are you getting a closer recording of the source itself, but the Zoom field recorder actually processes audio a lot better than cameras as well (which makes sense, cameras are cameras and don’t have the specific built-in processors for this since it focuses on picture instead).
Unfortunately, you can’t hook up two lavs at once, so that’ll be a problem if you intend on having multiple sources. You’ll have to switch off the lav, or perhaps just buy two of these to accommodate? Or maybe your intended use will actually call for needing a shotgun microphone instead? This we would only recommend if you aren’t concerned with clarity of an actual speaker but the space you’re videoing instead.
They have a new package on top of this one they’ve just released we’ve also written about — read our Zoom F1-SP review for some more information. You can also look int our best lavalier microphones guide if you wanted some alternatives, but there aren’t as many recorder and lav combos out there like this one, so you’ll be getting something very specific here if you think it suits your needs — recording one speaker at a time in a setting that will entail them being able to attach a recorder to their side and clipping a lavalier mic on their shirt (or somewhere close). You must also be OK with syncing audio and tweaking some settings in post-production (doesn’t everybody?).
Recommended uses here would be, but not limited to (in our opinion), the following: vlogging, podcasts (there are better alternatives, however), interviews, speeches and presentations, and more. All in all, we do love the Zoom F1-LP recorder and lav mic — it isn’t low quality whatsoever. Zoom is on top of their game as always and have a reputation in the portable audio recorder as well as smaller microphone capsule game for a reason. We highly recommend it if you have the cash and think it’ll fit with your needs and in your recording toolbox.