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29 May 2011

Zoom R16 Home Recording Studio

I upgraded my home studio about a month ago by buying a Zoom R16. I agonised over the decision for ages before taking the plunge. Was it really going to be worth the money? Well, a month further on and I haven't looked back.

My problem so far is learning how to use the bloody thing... and remembering what I've learnt. I may start putting some of this stuff up on the blog. Let me know if you think it might be useful to you.

It's early days, but let's cover some of the reasons why I think the Zoom R16 is ace!

It's tiny!

The Zoom R16 is about the size of a laptop and far lighter. Very portable. You can run it on batteries, but I haven't tried this yet. I'm using the supplied power cable. The only thing I can think of mentioning here is that it doesn't have one of those plastic hooks on the back of the case to stop the cable being accidentally yanked out.

It's got lots of tracks!

There are 8 track sliders which can be switched to get to the full 16 tracks. And there are 8 inputs. This means that you can record 8 tracks at a time: 1 with Hi-Z, 2 with Phantom Power and 2 with built-in condenser mics. That's pretty much all that most home recording enthusiasts will need. And the in-built mics sound pretty good!

Here's a snippet from the instruction manual that talks a bit more about the "connectivity" options:

It connects to the PC!

This is a big thing for me. My previous studio was digital, but the only way I could get sounds on and off it was via a card reader and I had to resample the wav files to get it to work. What a b*ll-ache! This is a dream in comparison.

The Zoom uses a (now) standard SD card to hold the wav files (lots of room depending upon the capacity of your card). You can move files by swapping SD cards, but I've been using USB. It's easy enough: connect the cable, switch to USB Reader, and you can access the SD disk direct from your PC.

It sounds great!

The digital quality is pretty good. You have a few options here. Don't worry, I'm not going to bore you by regurgitating the technical spec; I'll let Zoom do this. Below is a snippet from the Tech Spec. Suffice to say: you have options and the upper end of the spec is very good. I'm using 44.1kHz 24bit WAV, and it sounds great!

It's easy to use!

Well it's easier to use than other home recording studios I've battled with in the past. This was something that worried me. I've played around with Zoom products before and they have typically been really difficult to use with one button doing about 3 million things depending on which mode you are in. It's a better experience with the R16 and this may simply be down to there being more knobs and dials at Zoom's disposal. I still think that it could be easier. I've recently been battling my way through getting the Insert/Send Effects to work and the pain I've suffered really highlights that more work can be done to improve usability. Zoom aren't the only culprits... Jesus, have you ever tried using a Yamaha AWE!

The final verdict

So I'll round this post off. You already know the verdict. On the Triple-B, I'm going to dust off my Hawaiian skirt and put down 9 tracks of ukulele for your listening pleasure. You get a hell of a lot for your money with this piece of kit! Buy! But don't tell the Mrs....

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