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Zoom R16 Multitrack SD Recorder Controller and Interface
- 16-channel playback, 8-channel simultaneous recording
- 48V phantom power available on 2 tracks
- The R16 comes preprogrammed with 135 types of digital effects for recording, mixing, and mastering
- Records on up to 32GB SDHC cards for maximum recording time
- Eight balanced XLR-1/4-Inch combination inputs
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From the manufacturer
In the box
- Operation manual
- AC adapter (Zoom AD-14)
- 2GB SD card
- USB cable
- Steinberg Cubase LE software
The Zoom R16 Multitrack Recorder
Recorder : Interface : Controller
The portable, battery-powered R16 instantly transforms any environment into a 16-track recording studio. It provides 8 inputs for connecting mics, instruments, and line-level devices, with built-in stereo microphones and 135 onboard effects. The R16 can also be used as a DAW control surface (with physical faders) and as an 8-input audio interface.
- 16-track playback, 8-track simultaneous recording to SD cards up to 32 GB
- 8 mic/line/instrument level inputs on XLR/TRS combo connectors and built-in stereo condenser microphones
- Two balanced output jacks and headphone output with dedicated volume control
- 135 onboard effects, as well as a metronome, chromatic tuner, and variable playback speed with or without pitch change
- Full control surface functionality (Mackie Control emulation), plus mixing and transport controls for Cubase, Logic, Ableton Live, and other DAWs
- 8-in/2-out USB interface functionality
- Operates off AA batteries or included power adapter
If you use DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) software but hate mixing with a mouse, the R16 provides the perfect solution. It can act as a full-featured control surface for popular DAWs such as Cubase, Logic, and GarageBand, adding real faders and transport/status buttons that streamline the process of creating the perfect mix.
Multitrack recording made easy
The R16 provides 16 tracks for recording and playback in full fidelity WAV format, making it ideal for both professional production and for use as a musical sketchpad. Battery operation allows for field recording and enables you to capture your musical ideas quickly. You can connect external microphones, instruments, or line-level sources directly to the R16, or use the built-in stereo mic pair for minimal setup. When your multitrack recording is complete, you can use the R16's internal mixer, complete with physical faders, equalization, panning, and built-in effects, to create a stereo mix with studio-quality sound.
The R16 provides 135 great-sounding DSP effects, including guitar amp, bass amp, and mic preamp models, plus mastering algorithms such as multi-band compression. Effects can be applied during recording and mixdown, or can be used for playback only.
In addition, the R16's USB port allows it to act as an 8-input/2-output interface for DAWs such as the included Cubase LE. You can even synchronize two R16’s via USB for 32 tracks of playback and 16 tracks of simultaneous recording.
|Maximum number of simultaneous recording tracks||2||8||8|
|Maximum number of simultaneous playback tracks||8||16||24|
|Phantom power (+24/+48V)||2 channel||2 channel||6 channel|
|Onboard rhythm machine||Y||N||Y|
|USB interface I/O||2-in/2-out||8-in/2-out||8-in/2-out|
|Dual unit synchronozation||N||Y||Y|
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|Item Dimensions||9.33 x 14.8 x 2.06 in||6.75 x 11.75 x 4 in||6 x 9 x 3 in||2.1 x 7 x 5.5 in|
Zoom R16 Multitrack SD Recorder Controller and Interface
The R16 Recorder/Interface/Control seamlessly combines multi-track recording, an audio interface, and control surface capability in a mobile production studio. Take your session anywhere.
Record 8 tracks simultaneously.
Audio interface with 8-in/2-out capability.
Control surface for all major DAW functions.
Built-in high-sensitivity stereo microphones.
Supports SDHC cards up to 32 GB.
Record 8 tracks simultaneously with 16-track playback
Capture audio in any setting, from live music performance, drums with multiple mics to music rehearsals and songwriting, even audio for film and video. The R16's simultaneous 8-track capability makes professionalism easy. Playback up to 16 tracks using its 16/24-bit linear WAV format and 44.1kHz sampling rate.
Audio interface with 8-in/2-out capability
The R16 functions as an audio interface enabling direct input of sound to a computer. Support for high quality 24-bit/96kHz encoding ensures great sound. Eight input channels and two output channels can be used simultaneously. If you use the sampling rate of 44.1kHz, the internal DSP effects of the R16 are also usable on your computer tracks. A dedicated control lets you adjust the mixing balance between the DAW playback sound and the direct sound for monitoring.
Control surface for all major DAW functions
Transport and mixing operations of the DAW software can be controlled using the R16. This gives you greater control and a better feel for mixing. In Mackie Control emulation mode, major DAW applications such as Cubase, Logic, and Sonar are supported.
Sync two R16s for 16 tracks of simultaneous recording
The R16 is the first recorder that incorporates the ability to generate a synchronization signal based on USB data transfer timing*. By connecting two R16 units via USB, you can designate one to function as a USB host and the other as a USB slave, allowing synchronized transport operation. This lets you record on up to 16 tracks simultaneously to competently handle a live performance.
* Synchronization accuracy has a tolerance of about 1 to 2 milliseconds.
Built-in high-sensitivity stereo microphones
When you want to quickly record anything from songwriting ideas to ambient room audio, the R16's built-in set of stereo mics will come in handy. Vocals and acoustic instruments can be captured with excellent clarity.
Supports SDHC cards up to 32 GB
Because the R16 utilizes compact and readily available SD and SDHC memory cards as its recording media, there is no motor that can cause noise as with tape or discs. And you never need to worry about problems caused by external vibrations that can crash hard drives.
Versatile inputs for guitars, mics, and line sources
Its eight combination mic/line input jacks can handle mics or line-level signals. Phantom power is provided on channels 5 and 6 for use with condenser mics, and the Hi-Z switch for channel 1 accommodates a guitar or bass. The R16 is ready for any kind of input source.
Use master track for final mix
A dedicated master track lets you do the final mixdown right on the R16 without a separate master recorder. With sequence play, several projects can be mastered together and played automatically. And you can create playlists for finished songs in any order.
135 DSP effects including guitar amp simulations
The R16 comes preprogrammed with 135 types of digital effects for recording, mixing, and mastering. The insert effect has seven modules with algorithms optimized for guitar, bass and vocals. In addition, two send/return effects are also available, so that you can use up to three effects simultaneously. The R16 also comes with models of 18 different guitar amps such as Fender, Marshall, Vox and Mesa Boogie, and 6 bass amps such as Ampeg, Bassman and Hartke. A compressor and equalizer effect that handles 8 channels simultaneously provides further flexibility.
Tuner and metronome onboard
The R16's built-in tuner is great for quickly tuning an instrument or checking the pitch of vocals. During recording, the metronome provides a click track for your drummer and is also handy for practice. The metronome sound can be sent to the headphones, letting you use a previously recorded backing track on stage during a performance.
Locate function makes editing easy
Set up to 100 marker points and directly locate them whenever you want. Other convenient functions for editing include A-B repeat playback and auto punch-in/out, making it easy to re-track part of the recording. The R16 can be powered from the supplied AC adaptor or six AA/LR6 batteries. A set of batteries will last for about four and a half hours, and because they are standard batteries, changing them is always easy and convenient. The audio interface and control surface functions can also be operated on USB bus power, providing another power option.
The R16 can be powered from the supplied AC adaptor or six AA/LR6 batteries. A set of batteries will last for about four and a half hours, and because they are standard batteries, changing them is always easy and convenient. The audio interface and control surface functions can also be operated on USB bus power, providing another power option.
USB 2.0 hi-speed mode for fast file transfer
Because the R16 has a USB 2.0 Hi-Speed compatible port, file transfer to a computer is quick and painless. Computer-based tasks such as editing with DAW software, burning your original CDs and importing WAV files are integrated smoothly into your workflow.
USB host capability for connecting USB memory
A USB flash drive or large-capacity external hard disk can be plugged into the USB port of the R16. This lets you quickly distribute a recording to band members after a rehearsal session or make a backup of your recordings even when you're not near a computer.
Bundled with Cubase LE 4
Cubase LE 4 is a powerful music production system that can handle recording, editing, and mixing tasks both for audio and for MIDI. It incorporates the same audio engine as the multi-award winning, higher-level version Cubase 4, and is ideal as an entry into computer-based music production.
What's in the Box
Zoom R16 Multitrack SD Recorder Controller and Interface, AC Adapter, 1GB SD Memory Card, USB Cable, Cubase LE Install Disc, User's Manual
Top Customer Reviews
But let's start with the bad, before we get to the good. The Bad:
- The preamp quality is not that great. I want to be careful not to over-state this too much: they are certainly not BAD preamps, and they are certainly competitive with other preamps that can be bought eight at a whack for $300, but they are not fast-response, high-headroom, ultra-clean studio preamps. They are more like the preamps on a decent portastudio (duh). They have a bit of a tendency to flab out on DI bass tracks, and can turn a bit crunchy/hashy at the top with difficult program material such as cymbals or detailed condensers. Backing off the input gain and recording at lower levels helps but does not completely solve these issues. And ribbon mics are pretty much right out: there's just not enough clean gain to drive low-output mics while preserving sound quality. But they are perfectly adequate for midrangey, high-output dynamic live mics, such as Shure SM57s and 58s, and considering the price point and what you're buying, they are actually quite capable: VASTLY better than the 1/8" mic/line input on a typical consumer soundcard, and comparable with a typical budget/prosumer mixer or live console.
- Phantom power on only two channels. I imagine this is a limitation of using USB/battery power, and it's frankly kind of amazing that they can deliver 48V at all. But it is still a limitation. If you want to use this box for full-blown studio recording, for this reason and the above, you'll probably want to have some outboard preamps or a mixing console or some such (soundcraft makes some inexpensive mixers with pretty good preamps).
- Zero midi anything. I'm not sure if this is a "bad", so much as just something to be aware of. Inclusion of a simple GM synth or drum machine, or even the ability to record MIDI would have expanded the usefulness of this box, but also would have added a lot of complexity to the little menu-based LCD interface. Overall I think it was a better decision to leave it out, and keep the device easier to use, but it's worth being aware of: if you want to record midi instruments with this box, you will be recording the output as audio.
- Usability/latency problems as a computer audio interface. I found this box to be unsatisfying as a laptop audio interface using early 2010 drivers. USB audio interfaces can be iffy compared with firewire or PCI, and this was no exception. I experienced intermittent problems with crackly audio, dropouts and skips, and had to frequently adjust latency settings and/or restart the hardware. Such problems were intermittent, but even occasional meltdowns can make such a device almost unusable. It's easier to simply record standalone to the Zoom R16 and then dump the files into computer via USB for editing and mixing in your favorite DAW software. Bear in mind that every computer is a bit different, so YMMV, and future firmware or driver updates may help the situation. But for now I cannot recommend it as a primary multitrack audio interface for computer-based recording (although I certainly recommend it as a portable multitrack recorder that can integrate with a computer setup).
So much for the bad. The good:
- IT RUNS ON FRIGGEN BATTERIES. If you are new to recording, it may not be clear what a revolutionary thing this is, to have a complete, legitimate recording studio that you can leave on the coffee table or stick in a backpack and take a full project from recording, through mixing, with effects, and run the whole thing on six AA batteries. Battery-powered recorders are obviously not new, but this box is genuinely a fully-capable recording studio that achieves the magic number of 8 simultaneous inputs, with effects and mixing. And battery life is actually quite good. The more tracks and more processing and effects you're using, the faster they deplete, but even at full load you're changing batteries maybe every two hours, more than enough time to re-charge a spare set of rechargeables.
- SD storage. Using SD cards as the storage medium means cheap and easy storage, but even better, no fans, no motors, no whirring/clicking hard disk... this box is *silent*. It also means that it records like tape: there is no saving, no file-management... just hit record or play, turn power on and off whenever you want-- no worries, and no inspiration-killing hassle.
- Ease of use is really good. Text- and menu-based LCD windows can be a nightmare to deal with, as anyone who was recording in the early days of digital knows. But if you're familiar with multi-track recording generally, this device is easy to use right out of the box. Reading the (pretty good) manual is not required to start recording and mixing, but it does reveal a LOT of deep functionality. If you are new to recording, this is a pretty easy way to get started: it doesn't have the graphical point-and-click simplicity of a computer-based interface, but it also skips over all the issues of latencies, drivers, file-management, and various computer-related headaches. The R16's true 8-input recording and 16-track playback allow it to skip/simplify internal routing, bussing, etc, making it very straightforward to use: every physical channel is a track, and there is a bank up/down key to determine whether you're working with tracks 1-8, or 9-16. Couldn't be simpler. Each channel has a play/mute/record toggle button with a color-changing LED to tell you what state it's in, and the transport controls work just like a tape machine. The menus for effects, project selection, track swapping, etc are all straightforward and well-thought-out, with clearly-labelled buttons for each menu. Connections are extremely simple and obvious. Each channel has a gain/trim knob and a mix fader with a 4-LED meter that automatically switches from record level to playback level depending on the track status, and channels with switchable input status use separate physical switches to flip between phantom power on/off, built-in vs external mics, or instrument/mic inputs. Easy-peasy, with no obscure or hidden settings or parameters to drive you nuts.
- The built-in mics are an outstanding feature. They are your basic electret omni mics, which means they are quiet, accurate, and have good dynamic response with both low- and high-volume material. Just flip the switch and set them to record and you can track all your rehearsals, live shows, living-room practice, whatever. You can make full multitrack demos using just this box and a pair of headphones.
- Built-in effects are comprehensive, quite good, and very well-thought out. The presets are very usefully-constructed for a box of this type, designed to minimize menu-based tweaking. The main "default" effects configuration is set up for semi-automatic per-channel eq/compression, a master reverb/delay with per-track send, and a full suite of guitar and bass effects on the hi-Z "guitar channel". Digging into the menus further allows you to assign any effect to any track, to change whether insert effects are "hard-coded" onto the incoming audio, or just applied as a bus effect (for example, if you wanted to hear the effect during tracking and playback, but keep the underlying audio "clean" for later processing in a computer DAW or whatever). There are also a host of nifty extras including preamp modellers, guitar and bass amp emulators, wah/modulation/etc "special effects", acoustic guitar and bass simulators, and so on. Not 10 years ago, this box would have been worth the price as a single-channel multi-effects processor alone. Some of the settings are a little weird, and I'd much rather do a full mixdown using hardware processors or computer plugins than using menu-based text inputs, but the effects are all real-time, and you can hear your changes as you make them, so it's certainly possible to do a full record with this box alone, and effects quality is comparable to other digital hardware processors.
- Overall sound quality is quite good. Even factoring in the preamp reservations above, 15 years ago you could have spent 10 or 15 thousand dollars EASILY and still not had the sound quality and capability of this little box (plus you would have needed 20 electrical outlets and a room to store it all in, not to mention hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of racks and cables). It probably won't replace your RME interface or Apogee converters, and it certainly won't replace a collection of API and Telefunken mic preamps, and you'll probably want to hang onto to your UAD card if you have one, but good luck sticking all that in a laptop bag and taking it to the beach.
This plus something like a Tivoli Audio iSongBook (or even a pair of headphones) makes a complete, battery-powered multitrack studio that fits in a backpack or laptop bag, with room left over to hold spare batteries plus a couple of mic cables and SM57s, if you want them. Laptop-based mobile DAWs have always seemed like an awesome idea, but in practice things like boot times, dongles, limited mobile interface options, mixing and control via mousepad, short battery life, self-noise, computer-related reliability and stability issues, etc have always tended to keep it a good "idea" as opposed to a truly mobile "on your lap" studio. This is perfect and easy to take on the road, record in the tour bus, in the rehearsal space, in the hotel room, at a picnic table, a house party, wherever.
I bought this recorder because I was just tired of using my computer for music production. I don't have a great computer, so I experienced many problems right off the bat trying to use my computer to record. I experienced latency while recording, which set off the timing off all my tracks. My sound card was a piece of crap. I also suffer from severe OCD, and really wanted something simple and clean to organize all of my recordings on.
This did all of that and more.
The recorder itself will do exactly what most of you what: record from a connected condenser microphone, and allow you to mix and pan all of the tracks. You can also connect various other hardware such as synthesizers, drum machines, and more. But there are SO MANY cool features on this device that expand beyond that including:
- A built in guitar effects processor. You can plug your electric guitar directly into the device and it has digital amp settings in there with loads of effects you can play around with. You know those digital pedalboards by companies such as Digitech? It's very similar to something like that.
- Mixing... the mixer and mixing capabilities on this device are amazing. You can of course do simple edits to adjust the panning, adjust EQ... but there are tons of other really amazing things on here, such as the "effects" section. There are "mastering" effects on here, which are presets that will automatically make your mix sound professional and incredible. If you record vocals and an acoustic guitar track, and then turn on the "warm" or "live" mastering preset, the difference is night and day.
- Sampler. I haven't gotten into this feature as much as I'd like, but this device functions as a sampler. My favorite part about recording with this recorder at first was how easy it is to loop tracks. You can play a simple riff on guitar and loop it on one track, and use the other tracks to record tracks over in real time. But you can use this principle to use this as a sampler in live performance situations. I can take an MP3 of a song, load it onto the recorder, chop the part of the sample I want to use all ON the recorder, set it to loop, connect my drum machine, and play the drums live with the sample. If you have a very cheap, basic drum machine, you can effectively turn it into an MPC style device just by attaching it to this recorder.
The one issue that stopped this product from being the absolute best purchase I've made in recent years is the drum machine. It includes a built in drum machine with drum pads along the bottom... but the included drum kits SUCK. It doesn't include drum samples you can just mix and match to make awesome drum kits. It includes a handful of really digital sounding, crappy kits that sound very un-even and stand out in the mix. In theory you "can" make your own drum kits by saving drum sounds onto the SD card and programming them to the pads as "samples", but it sounds and plays like s***. You can look up videos online of people trying to do this, it's a lot of hassle and doesn't work.
It's nice that they included the drum machine, however. There are maybe one or two kits that are usable. But it's a great feature to have when writing songs and brainstorming. If you're already working out guitar parts on the recorder, it's so easy to just record a hi-hat rhythm with a kick and snare that will be perfectly synced up to your recording in a matter of seconds.
I am extremely tired and feel like I'm rambling on, but this device is so much more than just something that will record and playback what you send through it.
It's truly a home studio in a box.
So far, I've been working in Garage Band, but it comes with Cubase LE 6. So far, the first suits my needs. If you aren't familiar with Cubase, it may take longer to get going. Also, if you don't have a 3.5 mm to 1/4 headphone jack, you'll need one, or a set of headphones that has 1/4 plug. I got a chord to extend the headphones as well, which has been helpful while walking between instruments.
Before buying, I wasn't sure if I would have time to record in addition to playing/practicing or if it would be difficult to get started. Looking back, I should have bought this sooner. It's a regular part of my practice routine and it's encouraged me to play more. For an entry-level recording interface, it does what you would expect fairly easily. Overall, can't recommend this product enough.