Zoom R8 8-Track Multitrack Digital Recorder - DAW Controller - Audio Interface
Although the Zoom R8 is used by some filmmakers, it was designed primarily with musicians in mind because it works as a multitrack recorder, USB audio interface, sampler and a control surface for DAWs.
It comes bundled with Cubase LE so it provides both hardware and software recording and mixing options making it well suited to musicians who are just starting in multitrack recording and music production.
It has a built-in stereo condenser mic which makes it well suited to portable recording or quickly capturing ideas without having to set up external microphones. It lets you program punch in/out points and it also has a control input allowing you to use a footswitch (not included) for this as well as using it to start, stop, rewind, and patch up/down.
- Simultaneous recording tracks: 2
- Tracks playback/mix simultaneously: 8
- Virtual tracks: Unlimited (actually limited by storage space)
- Inputs: 2 x Balanced XLR/TRS Combo Inputs
- Outputs: 2 x 1/4" main out, Stereo 1/4" Headphone Jack + USB
- Sample rate: 44.1/48kHz for recording, up to 96kHz when used as a USB audio interface
- Bit rate: 16/24-bit
- On-board effects: 150+ DSP effects which include amp modeling and mastering effects
- Effects send: Internal
- USB audio interface: 2 channels
- Storage medium: SD/SDHC card - up to 32GB
- Export tracks to computer: Yes
The most common references in positive reviews are about the quality and clarity of the recorded sound along with the interface being easy to learn and use. In the discussions about using it as a DAW controller, the consensus is that it works quite well in this regard, both for transport control and assigning faders. In his Sound on Sound review, Tom Flint said, "The sequencer and sampler will enable those interested in hip-hop, dance music, and other assorted electronica to emulate the basic production techniques they are hearing, and the recording facilities will introduce newcomers to the wonders of multitracking and mixing in the most straightforward manner."
When the amp and cabinet modeling features are discussed there is some disagreement - some people say they sound great while others say they're fairly average. One thing that several reviewers complained about is that when you use the onboard rhythm patterns or use it as a sampler you have to assign them to tracks - so if you use 2 tracks for this purpose you only have 6 of the 8 playback tracks left to use.
The Zoom R8 receives the most number of positive comments for versatility for an 8 track recorder - mainly because it's portable, records well, and is a respectable USB audio interface.
Although this was previously on our recommended list, there are now more highly rated options available which you can see in our guide to The Best Multitrack Recorders.