Although most musicians are using a computer to make music in their own home studios, there are many reasons why you should choose a classic standalone multitrack recorder for your projects. First, it provides that analog feel that’s hard to duplicate with a computer or a laptop. Second, it offers a portability and ease of use. Third, compared to making music with a software like Reason or Cubase, you will actually feel the buttons and the knobs, and you will add a “touch of real” on your recordings. Nothing beats that, right? And the fourth reason for choosing a standalone recorder for your home studio is the budget. Why pay $299 just for the software , when you can have the complete recording package for the same price?
Zoom R8 Multitrack SD Recorder Controller and Interface
While I was trying to suggest a list of stand alone multritrack recorders for a friend, I found the Zoom R8, a simplified version of their 24-track R24 digital recorder. I was familiar with the manufacturer, since I’ve already reviewed their Handy portable advanced recorders in the past and I know that they have a long history in creating outstanding pieces of hardware for musicians all over the world. So, while I was going through the reviews of Zoom R8, I discovered a device with features that are perfect for someone who wants a complete portable recording studio on a tight budget. And when I say tight budget, I mean it: the R8 is an all-in-one device like no other. You can create your instrumentals with it, you can record your vocals and you can export the complete songs in an MP3 format. Everything for under $300.
Zoom R8: The body
The device is not as large as you may think, but it is made of high quality materials. With dimensions of 10.1 x 7.5 x 2 inches and weight 2.7 pounds, it will easily fit in your backpack or your bag and it can be used at any time, since it’s powered by 4 AA batteries. The main side of the R8 has various hardware knows, buttons and levels for various options, controls and functions. There is also a basic display in the center that allows the user to perform complex tasks and functions like creating music patterns or sampling various sounds.
Zoom R8: Audio quality, audio effects
This digital recorder allows you to playback up to 8 track simultaneous and record using 2 channels at the same time. The device can record audio files at 24-bit and a sample rate of 48KHz, but if you are using it as an audio interface for a computer (yes, it can be used in that manner!) you can record at a sample rate of 96 KHz. When it’s used in standalone mode, the audio files are recorded on the SD card you choose to use (it supports SD cards up to 32GB). Another cool feature that’s present on-board is the possibility to add various effects (pan, reverb, EQ) during or after the recording.
Zoom R8: Inputs and outputs
You can use the built-in stereo microphones to record your vocals or you can use one of the two XLR inputs with Phantom Power support to connect a condenser microphone. Also, you can use one of those inputs to connect a guitar. You can use the USB port to connect the device to a computer and use it as an audio interface. Also, there is an jack output for headphones and one for the studio monitors / speakers.
Zoom R8: The price
As I said, the R8 is far from expensive. You will find it on Amazon for $299. If that price is not convincing enough then you should know that the package includes the Steinberg Cubase LE DAW recording software.
It will take me forever to explain the functionality of every button and know that’s present on the board, but if you do get this device you don’t have to worry about that. YouTube is packed with tutorials on how to use the R8 when you create a song. If you are not convinced yet, just check the following video with a short introduction to this digital recorder.