Zoom H1 battery & sound problem – Samson we have a problem here

I’ve recently noticed that my Zoom H1 drains the battery, even when it’s not turned on. But I just figured it was me, and worked around the problem by only putting batteries into the unit when I needed to use it. Then, this weekend, I was doing some sound tests, and inadvertently discovered an even more serious problem with my Zoom H1. As I was recording, I was listening very carefully to the noise floor of the device, and noticed a strange pulsing sound. It was worst with an external mic (like my Tram TR50 lav used to record the sample below). But in fact, I couldn’t get a clean recording out of it no matter what I tried, even with the built-in mics.

Here’s what it sounds like (pay close attention to the silence at beginning and end of clip).

Sounds like a helicopter hovering in the distance, with the woop-woop-woop of rotor blades cutting through what should be silence.

That was enough to send me to Google in search of an answer, and sure enough, I found a few conversations about the issue, but nothing definitive. So I emailed Samson, the maker of the Zoom H1, and and this morning, I got back this definitive email:

We are aware of an issue affecting a limited number of H1’s. If you are within the United States, please call customer service at 1-800-372-6766, 9am-5pm M-F EST.

They will issue a return authorization number and arrange to have a new, tested replacement sent to you.

This kind of customer service rocks: not only do they acknowledge the problem, but they immediately arrange for a swift resolution. Go Samson.

19 thoughts on “Zoom H1 battery & sound problem – Samson we have a problem here

  1. Dan McComb

    UPDATE: I haven’t heard from Samson since I sent my H1 to them for repair. And that was 6 weeks ago. Seems like I should have at least received an email that they received my H1, no? Getting worried that the swift resolution I blogged about may not be so swift after all.

    1. Dan McComb

      I have heard nothing but silence also. Maybe Samson has a thing against customers whose name begins with the letters D-A-N. Or maybe their customer service sucks no matter what you’re name is?

  2. Daniel Nguyen

    I’ve sent mine in on May 22 for the battery issue and the power switch falling off. I haven’t heard or seen a peep of a replacement recorder. It sucks being almost 6 weeks without it.

  3. Gordon C

    Did either of you ever get this resolved?
    I finally got annoyed enough with my H1 battery drain that I finally searched for it, and you popped up!

    1. Dan McComb

      Hi Gordon,
      Actually, no. I sent my H1 to Samson as directed above by the company after calling. So far so good. But after that, I heard nothing. Forever. They lost my recorder and lost track of my problem. Unfortunately, I didn’t use registered postal mail, or I’d at least have that to go on in following up with them. But as it is, $99 is too small an amount of money for me to spend time chasing after them to replace it. I needed a recorder one day and simply bought a new one. It works great, so apparently the problem has been corrected in newer versions of the recorder.

  4. santiago

    Hi Dan,
    great blog!
    i have the same issue!! is really annoying is like some electronic heart beat pumping all the time!!! i dont want to send it to them or i will loose it! but to be honest whats the point in having a recorder that do not does the job properly….
    this is bugging me out…
    perhaps a firmware update?
    im gonna check it out and get back to you as probably many people will encounter this amazing blog post when they get disappointed by the Zoom H1!
    take care

    1. Dan McComb

      It’s not a firmware thing – it’s a hardware problem. The person I spoke with at Samson told me it could only be resolved by sending it in for repair.

      Let me know if you have better luck than I did when you return it. Be sure to get delivery confirmation.

  5. Gordon C

    After seeing this and realizing I might be out of time since I purchased it when they first came out, I shot an email to Omnimedia (Zoom’s distributor in Canada) and this is what I got..:

    From: Gord Clement
    Sent: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 12:08 AM
    To: client@omnimedia.ca
    Subject: the battery problem on Zoom H1 units

    I have one of the Zoom H1 units (serial 00021xxx) that is having the known battery drain problem.
    Please let me know how you can fix this for me at your charge.

    Thank you.
    – JGC

    Hello Gord,
    You may return this to the following address for warranty replacement. Please include an explanation of the problem and your contact information.

    Thank you,
    Wayne Vallis
    1875-55th Avenue
    Dorval, QC
    H9P 2W3

    I just sent the unit, and a description of the problem, no receipt… and within the week.. I got a new, perfectly functioning proper.. unit. No bonus cards or anything.

    I might have just got lucky!

  6. Peter Hyatt


    Any resolution of your H1 from Samson?

    I sent my with tracking and called them 2 weeks after it arrived and they said it would be another 2 weeks, but that it was an easy problem. They said “diode” repair, and normal turn around time was 4-5 weeks.

    It’s going on 8+ weeks and still nothing.

    Had I known it was going to be this long, I would not have sent it until I knew I had no other recording commitments. Not great service.

    1. Dan McComb

      Nope. Never got it back. If it had been a more expensive recorder I would have raised hell about it, but I figured the time it would take to track it down would mean I’d pay more than it was worth in my time. So I just bought a new one.

  7. Mark from France

    Thank you Dan for having made this website.
    I am one of the lucky ones living in France AND speaking also English. So that makes internet a lot bigger for me than other French foks I living in the some country with.
    I have an H1 too and was so done with the heart beat (and the draining the battery) that I looked it up on the big internet. I was looking for new firmware too, but I can stop looking as I read.
    I will try de lowcut to the on position (never used this feature)
    The batery issu I have solved a long time ago by putting a litte plastic in between the batery when not in use. Problem is to think about is. Ones you forget, in three days of not using it, the batery is drained. An extra batery is always taped to the side of the mic.
    If lowcut ON will solve the heart beat I will not do anything, but if it don’t I like to try to get a new one too. But how to to that if you live in France?
    Greatings and good filming and audio recording!

    1. Dan McComb Post author

      It won’t solve the problem, because the problem is the pre-amp. You can try sending it back to Samson for replacement, but mine was never returned. Bottom line is you need a new recorder.


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