Zoom r8 multitrack recorder reviews
The latest machine in the series, the R8, puts all this in a smaller and more affordable package, offering a set of four production tools – an eight-track recorder, an audio interface, a DAW control surface and a sampler complete with drum pads and a rhythm machine. The R8 is powered from a supplied mains adaptor, or by batteries if you want to use it out and about – something that should be easy as it is has a footprint smaller than an A4 sheet of paper and sports a pair of built-in mics.
Recording is done to SD cards and you can record one or a pair of tracks at once, either through the onboard mics, external mics or instruments connected to the two inputs, one of which can be switched to Hi-Z to take a direct guitar or bass signal. There are insert effects that can be recorded with the signal, including 18 guitar amp models and six amps.
A metronome is provided to help timing, but if you want something more advanced the R8’s rhythm machine allows you to program your own beats with a set of pads or use the onboard preset patterns.
An eight-voice sampler also utilises the pads and allows you to loop audio data on any track. As an audio interface, the R8 supports two inputs and two outputs to your computer and, as a copy of Steinberg’s Cubase LE software is included with the package, you have a computer-recording option straight out of the box. The R8 can also control transport functions for your recording software as well as mixing functions via its faders.
One rhythm and one lead. Did you need any external effects or amps? The R8 has all that built-in. After than you pop in batteries and take the R8 to the singer’s house. Can that singer plug right in? Record the vocal tracks, done. Did the singer forget or break his mic? No problem. Use the R8’s internal microphones instead for a quick fix. After that, run over to the bass player’s house, have him plug in, same thing.
Record and done, done, done. And yeah, the R8 remembers where you set the faders for each project saved. It’s also a can’t-go-wrong environment, because the moment you turn if off, even if accidentally, it auto-saves what you were doing. If the batteries run low, no problem.
The R8 detects when the batteries are low, will auto-save, then power off with a warning of course. The only real problem with it other than the “bad” stuff I mentioned above is that yes, you will have to dig through menus to get certain things done usually with setting effects.
But other than that, the R8 is as good as it gets for what it is. Every time I try something new with the R8 I’m just amazed at what it can do in such a small size. Yes, but only if the tracks were recorded separately. And that’s only because the R8 has just two inputs, so it can only record 2 simultaneous tracks at a time. If you want a unit that can record up to 8 simultaneous tracks, you get an R That thing can absolutely record a full band live with no problem at all.
But like I said, if the band doesn’t mind recording their tracks individually, yes the R8 can definitely record a whole band, and easily. The R8 is primarily marketed as an interface rather than a multi-track recording unit. But it can also totally hold its own as a standalone multi-track recording unit as well. Put simply, you get the best of both worlds. The R8 acts as a proper controller for DAW use, and as a proper standalone recorder.
DAWs are meant to be used in controlled environment and have a tough time being used portable-style. The R8 on the other hand can easily flip-flop between being used in a controlled environment or in any other location. In the band rehearsal spot, using a DAW would totally suck, and anyone who says otherwise is wrong. The fictional gigging musician that I suspect Zoom’s designers originally had in mind would kick things off by building a drum guide-track using the sequencer and rhythm sounds, and would then plug in an instrument and create some material for looping if none of the MB of supplied loops are to taste , this time using the sampler functions.
Even if lacking a microphone, the musician could capture a vocal or acoustic performance with the on-board pair of mics, which can be seen on either side, flanking the drum pads and data wheel. The combo sockets also accept quarter-inch jack plugs, so if our musician plays guitar or bass, they’ll be able to connect their instrument to the channel that is armed with a high-impedance switch, tune up using the on-board chromatic tuner, and then process their guitar overdubs with the amp-modelling insert effects.
On the trip back to the studio, Zoom’s musician could don their engineer hat, and start laying down a few test mixes; setting pan and EQ positions, adding reverbs and other send effects and then calling up various mastering processors to polish the results. A ‘lite’ version of Cubase is included for anyone not already in possession of suitable software. Finally, to make the task of mixing a little more ‘hands-on’, they can set the R8 to works as a hardware control surface, using its faders, buttons and transport controls to operate the software’s main transport functions and certain mix parameters.
Of course, most potential customers will already have other gear, whether it’s a MIDI controller, sequencer, effects processor, audio interface or microphone, and therefore won’t use the R8 so ‘completely’, but being able to carry one thing around, rather than lots of separate bits of kit, is an attractive prospect.
Studying the R8’s features a little more closely, it is the rhythm and sampling tools that look like the ones most users will find the hardest to get to grips with, as they require the most editing and forethought. Just like an old-fashioned drum machine, the rhythm sequencer has preset rhythm patterns of them which can be edited, saved and arranged to create backings for songs. Sequencing is done either by creating drum hits in the on-screen timing grid using the control wheel, arrow keys and Enter button, or by playing the touch-sensitive pads situated below the faders, letting ‘quantisation’ move errant beats into place.
Of course, simply selecting preset patterns and arranging them is another option. The sampler is designed to work alongside the rhythm sequencer as an alternative method of developing backing tracks. Although it is possible to record original audio and trim it into loops for triggering there is a waveform display to help with this , the R8’s 2GB SD card comes pre-loaded with two Big Fish Audio sample library collections — Elemental Studio Percussion and LA Drum Sessions 2 — thereby providing a ready-made selection of high-quality sample loops.
What is most significant is that there is no dedicated track for the sequencer or sampler, so each individual loop or pattern has to be assigned to its own track, at which point they can be triggered either by using the associated soft pads or the sequencer. The problem with this arrangement is that if a number of different patterns are being used, the eight tracks soon get eaten up. In order to free up the tracks for instrument and vocal lines, it’s necessary to bounce the patterns and loops to a stereo pair, or even a mono track, effectively fixing the backing arrangement as a continuous audio file.
Of course, this means that certain decisions regarding the rhythm have to be made early on. Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to drag and drop loops and patterns into place — as many of us are now used to doing with computer software — so setting up rhythm tracks quickly and efficiently takes practice.
For some, it will seem like performing keyhole surgery, but having grown up using hardware sequencers fitted with even more basic displays, I know that familiarity does eventually breed speed and efficiency. When reviewing the R24, I eventually gave up trying — even though there is a Sonar-specific plug-in option in the Driver Installation.
Hoping for better luck with the R8, I was disappointed when I experienced the same problems. The R8 records up to two tracks simultaneously and provides a maximum of eight tracks. The unit also functions as a high-speed USB 2. The sampler section provides eight pads for triggering up to eight samples, including drum sounds provided on the included 2GB SD card. The R8 can be powered from an electrical outlet, via USB when connected to a computer or with four AA batteries to let you make music anywhere you go.
Zoom r8 multitrack recorder reviews
The unit is as portable as a binder for a college class and with a memory card it holds quite a bit of data. Battery life is surprisingly good when not plugged. The R8 packs a lot of functionality into a small affordable package, but suffers from the same malady inherent to many DAWs: poor input audio quality. Load a.
Zoom R8 review | MusicRadar.
Very versatile piece of multipurpose equipment. Has many useful features, but also a few limitations. Both inputs may be switched between the built-in condenser microphones on the unit or the plugs, and have a gain knob. It has a built in chromatic tuner, as well as a metronome, and has a basic drum machine the latter only available for use in stand alone mode , and built in EFX.
The effects can only be used at a It also has compatibility with a footswitch for external input. It plays back the audio form your DAW, and monitors your input live from the unit. For Windows, it has a 32 and bit driver available, and in MacOS, you need no drivers. It does not support Linux. It supports use as an interface and control surface in Apple Logic, too. The device is simple enough to use as a USB recorder or control surface, but in stand alone mode, it is quite tricky.
It records audio to a SD card. It can only record 2 tracks at once, but can play back up to 8 in stand alone mode. For the amount of features, and how good the audio quality is, it is quite the bargain. Anyone short of a true professional studio would find this item invaluable, and be quite pleased with it.
The best deal is the subject of this review, but if you have more money, go with the higher models. You most likely won’t be disappointed. Remember Me? The No. Today’s Posts competitions support us FAQ advertise our advertisers newsletter.
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