Friday Video: Dave Jones tears down a Zoom H1 audio recorder. You learn more about system design.

Australia’s Dave Jones records many videos for his Web site,, and every Tuesday he tears down another electronic product for educational purposes (and for fun). This week, he’s torn down a product I actually own: a Zoom H1 handheld stereo audio recorder. This device is a very nice $100 audio recorder with built-in, high-quality stereo electret microphones. It records WAV or MP3 files on a Micro SD card and it’s an amazing product for the money. It does an excellent job of recording wild (in-the-field) audio and is a great accessory for recording superior audio versus the audio recording built into most camcorders.

Jones tears this product down much farther than I would and he therefore learns more. There are two circuit boards packed into this tiny device—an audio board with dc/dc converter to boost the lone AA battery’s output voltage from 1.5V to 3V and a digital board with DSP, LCD driver, RAM, and Flash EPROM. All for $100 retail.

I know from experience that the Zoom H1 can download firmware code from the SD card and save it internally for firmware updates. The manufacturer recently issued a firmware update that shortened device boot time (great idea!) and added a key feature: the ability to use the Zoom H1 as a USB microphone. That firmware-update capability is a nifty feature to put in any product and especially in something that costs as little as a Zoom H1. All it cost was a bit of firmware to read the Micro SD card and then store the data in the on-board Flash EPROM.

It might have been possible to reduce the digital board on this product to one chip, but in this case the manufacturer chose not to do that.

Want to see what parts were used? Here’s the video:


About sleibson2

EDA360 Evangelist and Marketing Director at Cadence Design Systems (blog at
This entry was posted in EDA360, System Realization, Texas instruments and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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