Zoom R16: All-RounderDAW systems are good but you don't always have a computer by when you feel the rush to record music. Mini studios were created for that purpose: they are practical solutions but not very comprehensive nor ergonomic. That's why Zoom launched the R16, an hybrid tool you can use as digital audio interface, controller and standalone mini studio. Let's take a look at the result... Read more…
I bought this to replace a faulty Tascam DP-24 Portastudio (6 months old. dont get me started on the lack of warranty on Tascam). I was resistant to purchasing this earlier, when I purchased the DP-24 because it felt like a toy.
I needed the 8 inputs that it offered and it was at my price range so I got it after the disaster with the DP-24.
I was able to start recording right away and have been very pleased with the results.
Zoom products have a clear, warm sound that I tend to appreciate. Not as clean, bright as a DAW interface but, the ease of use, reliablity, portability make it my recording device of choice. At least until I purchase an interface that fits my needs as well as the R-16 does.
The recording on this couldn't be easier. The effects are a bit more challanging to engage but, if your familiar with menu selections you won't have any problems with it.
I use this for direct plug in recording then transfer it to REAPER or GARAGEBAND for editing and adding effects, EQ, pan, synth sounds, etc...
I've used the USB transfer and it works well without latency and configuration issues (after installing the download from ZOOM) but I prefer the simplicity of using the SD card for transfer to MAC.
I've hauled this to gigs, live shows, bathrooms, and my home studio. It works anywhere you do. The onboard mics are really nice though I dont use them as much as I should. They are clean and warm with plenty of headroom/volume.
I've used Tascam Portastudios for years and decided to replace it with the ZOOM because of the bad experience with the NEW DP-24 Portastudio.
The Tascam products tend to record a bit brighter then the Zoom products I've had (H4n, R16, H2), which tend to have a warmer sound that I prefer.
I recently started using the Zoom R16 as an audio interface (after returning a Presonus 44VSL after a week of adjusting, configuring to end up with latency problems) and have been very pleased with the results of the R16's interface capabilities. (You must install the interface software from ZOOM before connecting or it will not work properly.)
I've gone through a few audio interfaces (Presonus, Tascam) and I'm still looking for something that is that much better than the R-16 to justify the purchase.
The R16 has held up over 2 years of use and it's been, surprisingly, portable and road worthy. I've hauled it to practices, gigs, and it always works flawlessly. True plug and play. It was a real life saver when my Tascam US-1200 drivers wouldn't kick in on a live recording of a singer that was only available on that afternoon, at her location. If I hadn't thrown the R-16 into the case for extra measure I would have been SOL. The R-16 saved the day. Plugged it in, plugged in a mic and guitar, armed the tracks, hit record and I was good to go. Everything was recorded onto the SD Card.
Transfering WAV files into the unit is a bit tricky, as is mixing but, can be done with persistance and use of the manual. I have setup a bit of reverb to record with the R-16 and it stays in memory until I change it. The best use for this unit, at least for me, has been direct, multi track recording with transferal to DAW (REAPEAR and GARAGEBAND) with the SD card and recently as an audio interface for DAW. I can't believe how well it works as an interface. A few months ago I decided to try DAW recording after my guitar instructor presuaded me to try it again. I gave up on it 10 years ago because of the setup problems and latency issues. I've tried and returned a Presonus 44VSL and I'm selling a TASCAM US-1200. The US-1200 records well with very little latency but, it is a bit on the large side. Not very portable.
I love this little recorder and will probably replace it when it dies.
Here are samples of what I've done with the R-16 (excluding the first song, this was done with the Zoom H4n) https://www.reverbnation.com/control_room/artist/3289004/songs
I've had the R16 for 2 years and use it in my home studio, as a multi-track field recorder (radio deck, conferences) and a soundcard. That's its main strength: It's a multi-task device that allows you to work without a PC.
I think it complements perfectly a pocket recorder, like the microtrack II.
While it's very light, it's also very fragile. I think there's not much to add regarding its usability and functions.
I didn't have the stuck plugs problem, but I did have the one regarding tracks that produce loud noises (hiss) at the input. The problem goes more or less away if you let the unit warm up.
Apparently, it's a problem with the electronic components of the preamp.
I had to take into to the shop twice (under warranty the first time and then for a manufacturing problem, so I got a free replacement and only had to pay shipping and handling). I'm crossing my fingers now...
I'm not a big fan of the control surface function, which is somewhat of a trifle.
It's perfect to record a public conference: Up to 8 speakers simultaneously and you can mix live to send it to the stereo master and the PA via the jack outputs.
Another good point is that it supports SDHC cards of up to 32GB, so there are no recording capacity issues, even with 8 tracks.
The drivers are up to date for windows 8.1, so it's still a relevant product in 2014. However, there's no news for Linux, the hardware isn't generic, so it isn't recognized as a sound card (however the R16 is perfectly recognized as a player, so you can import your recordings and mix them with Ardour).
As a multi-track soundcard, it works fine with Cubase 6LE (included) and also with my old Sonar 5, while Audacity and RadioDJ recognize it as a 2-track soundcard.
In short, it's a good value for money, but be careful if you get it secondhand, first check that everything works fine.
I don't think I'd buy it again now: I think I'd go for a more modern unit (and not the R24, which doesn't add many things). Nevertheless, a secondhand R16 in good shape is a good deal.
I've been using it for one year now and haven't had any hardware problems.
After having tested the H2, H2N and H4N models, I opted for the r16.
What I like best about this product is its portability and what I like least is its non-portability. It is in fact very limited in terms of capacity but it works fine as a backup recorder or as a soundcard. However, as a backup recorder, an H4 is much more practical. My R16 doesn't fit in my pocket and takes up the same space as a computer. Its main advantage is that it's a cheap multi-input soundcard.
In terms of value for money, I have no complaints. As I wrote above, not-expensive multi-inputs, it's a given.
In my experience, I don't think I'd buy it again. I'd buy a non-portable (but transportable) audio interface and a really portable H4.
The product is very good, but it's somewhere in the middle of the road, so you'll need to know what you want to do with it and for how long before you need something bigger or smaller.
I've been using it for 4 months in the following three setups (with a band):
Firstly, I have the same jack issues as some fellow reviewers, namely, the XLR/jack connectors that "eat" the plug. They are so hard that if you connect a poor quality plug (I had the problem with a 50 cent jack/RCA adapter), the tip will remain stuck in the R16 and you will have one jack less on your R16. And getting it out is not a walk in the park nor is it exempt of risks, since the cables are excessively short. I haven't had this issue with good plugs, though.
Soundcard: Not bad, low latency, good performance. The recording quality is all right, no noise. The dynamic range and headroom are not as good. It's not a Mackie, but it's not the same price either. At this price point, I'm not sure there are many products that can record 8 tracks via USB, apart from Behringer's Xenyx, which would make for an interesting comparison.
It's easy to set it up with a DAW (Mackie Control mode). I use it with Reason and have no issues with it. When you move the faders, the software faders move, too, but since you can't use it live with your DAW (awful sound, you are force to monitor it), personally, it isn't very useful, but it's amusing. (I'm sure the sound is okay with 2 or 3 tracks, I've tried it with 8 only).
Mixer: It can be used for emergencies. Bad accessibility to the EQ and effect controls. The reverb is not bad , the delay is okay, but the rest is to be used only in an emergency. The EQ is okay.
Recorder: Great. Personally, I think it's very easy to use and that the sound is perfectly in sync, without any latency or compensation. You stick in an SD card, create your program, record, take the card out, put it into the PC, and import the tracks (WAV) into your DAW, easy as that.
In short, for the price, it's a good recorder to make demos. It may also be used as a mixer but not for live gigs, although if you don't have other options, it does the job, but don't expect to be able to do much in terms of settings and also consider that the outputs are very limited. It's a pity it doesn't support MIDI.
Would I buy it again? At this price, sure, although next time I'll surely get a Mackie Onyx.