Here is my review of the new large diaphragm ZDM-1 dynamic microphone from Zoom with a supercardioid pickup pattern. This new microphone is available standalone (with an included mount and an attached windscreen) for ≈US$80 or as part of a kit which includes a pair of closed headphones (and a few more things), where the total costs ≈US$120. When properly positioned, the ZDM-1 microphone sounds very good for human voice recordings at its ≈US$80 price point, but just as the saying says that a still photo is worth 1000 words, a 48-kHz audio recording is worth 48 thousand samples per second. Ahead you’ll hear my voice recorded with this microphone and my other comments about it.
There is always a lot less to write about analog-only, XLR-only dynamic microphones, especially those which don’t have any built-in switches, buttons or headphone jacks. However, their simplicity doesn’t mean that these pure microphones are uninteresting or not good. They are just more simple to describe. I actually favor microphones which lack an On/Off switch (since those that do have them tend to be Off by mistake when we really need them to be On). For human voice recordings, is also practical to have a microphone whose natural frequency curve already has a low cut (aka high pass) filter always active. This is the case with the ZDM-1 microphone, which lacks any switches… and its natural frequency response is 50 Hz to 18 kHz, so it naturally cuts rumble (undesired low frequency noise).
Another nice thing about the ZDM-1 microphone is that it has a higher output level than many other popular dynamic microphones. The ZDI-1 has a rated sensitivity of -54 dBV/Pa so whichever preamp is attached will have less work to do, whether it be a standalone preamp, an interface with built-in A-to-D (analog-to-digital) converter, an audio mixer, recorder or even a camera with an XLR audio input.
Although to my knowledge, Zoom doesn’t publish any illustration of the frequency response or supercardioid pattern, I like the way it sounds with my voice (and the voices of colleagues who have also tested it), when addressing the end —quite closely— at a 45-degree angle. When addressing it straight on, the included windscreen was not completely immune to plosives the way the Shure A81WS windscreen (covered in many past articles) is. However, addressing the ZDM-1 with its windscreen at a 45-degree angle fortunately resolves it.
The included mount with thread adapter allows you to attach the ZDM-1 to your favorite mic stand or boom arm, whether it uses 3/8″-16 or the larger 5/8″-2, like my PL-2T from Heil.
Regarding the supercardioid pickup pattern
Unlike most other microphones I review (which have standard cardioid or heart-shaped pickup pattern), the ZDM-1 has a supercardioid pickup pattern. This means that its pattern is tighter in the front (top), which means it can reject background sounds more specifically when the individual speaking is properly in front of it (although at a 45-degree angle to avoid those plosives that slip by the included thick windscreen). However, because of its supercardioid pattern, its spot of greatest rejection is not 180 degrees from the top but at about 127 degrees. As a result, if there is another person speaking or other sound you are trying to avoid, you should aim the ZDM-1 so that the 127 degree part is aimed toward that source and then adjust the person speaking accordingly.
Below you’ll be able to hear three versions of the same recording. The original recording was made at 48-kHz sampling frequency (see 48kHzAlliance.com) and at 24-bit into an uncompressed WAV file. However the published versions have been trimmed, normalized and exported at 48 kHz 16-bit WAV. Please listen with unmetered data.
Above, flat version.
Above, with Hindenburg Journalist Pro’s mild noise reduction.
Above, with Hindenburg Journalist Pro’s mild noise reduction and mild dynamic compression.
Electromagnetic interference in the ZDM-1
A built-in humbucking circuit in the ZDM-1 rejects electromagnetic interference caused by power lines, computer monitors, mobile phones and other devices.
Does the ZDM-1 need an external shockmount?
Although Zoom says that the ZDM-1 has a built-in internal shockmount, for best results it would be good to use an external one, which would substitute for the ZDM-1’s included mount.
Although I didn’t test it myself, my colleague Darrel Darnell used the ZRAMO TH106 shockmount (shown above), which currently costs about US$12. Later Jim C. made the same recommendation. Even though the ZRAMO TH106’s range of capable size is a bit beyond the diameter of the ZDM-1, the TH106 can apparently stretch enough to hold the ZDM-1.
Buy the kit or the standalone microphone?
The ≈US$120 kit includes a table stand, an XLR cable and a pair of Zoom headphones. The standalone ZDM-1 is now available for ≈US$80. Although I really like the sound quality of the ZDM-1 for its ≈US$80 price, I dislike the table stand included with the kit since it is so short (even at maximum height) and I dislike the XLR cable included in the kit because from an esthetic (“aesthetic”) perspective, if I have a fully black microphone like the ZDM-1, I like not only the cable to be black but also the XLR connectors to be black. Sadly, the XLR cable that Zoom is currently including with the ZDM-1 kit is black but has silver-colored XLR connectors.
Having said that, if you would like a decent pair of closed-back headphones and really don’t want to spend more than ≈US$40 for it, the included one is good in the package price of ≈US$120 even if you never use the included XLR cable (or use it only to extend a different, purely black one) and never use the included table stand. On the other hand, if you already own headphones or prefer a different model, then the standalone ZDM-1 microphone can be yours for ≈US$80.
Looks and build quality
Sound quality for human voice, with proper positioning, in its ≈US$80 price
Plosive resistance with included windscreen
Follow my instructions to avoid plosives, earlier in this article.
In its ≈US$80 price range standalone, the ZDM-1 large-diaphragm dynamic microphone sounds very good for the human voice and looks great too. It is a good fit if you plan to connect it to an XLR interface, mixer, recorder or camera and therefore don’t need a direct USB connection. You may even consider the ≈US$120 kit (FilmTools link) if you also happen to need inexpensive headphones. Please read the full article for all of my opinions and to hear the test recording.
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Zoom sent the ZDM-1 to Allan Tépper for review. No manufacturer is specifically paying Allan Tépper or TecnoTur LLC to write this article. Some of the other manufacturers listed above have contracted Tépper and/or TecnoTur LLC to carry out consulting and/or translations/localizations/transcreations. Many of the manufacturers listed above have sent Allan Tépper review units. So far, none of the manufacturers listed above is/are sponsors of the TecnoTur , BeyondPodcasting CapicúaFM or TuSaludSecreta programs, although they are welcome to do so, and some are, may be (or may have been) sponsors of ProVideo Coalition magazine. Some links to third parties listed in this article and/or on this web page may indirectly benefit TecnoTur LLC via affiliate programs. Allan Tépper’s opinions are his own. Allan Tépper is not liable for misuse or misunderstanding of information he shares.
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