Zoom to Grammy Awards with the R24?
My review of the new Zoom R24 Multi Track Digital Audio Recorder -
I can now officially proclaim to the world that I am the new "Quincy Jones" of the music making biz! Well not exactly, I'm not quite sure, but I think one of the prerequisites to placing that crown upon my head is to actually write and record a blockbuster song! So needless to say, I may be a little premature with my exuberant proclamation. But nevertheless, I whole heartedly believe I possess the natural talent to top the charts, so a few weeks ago, shortly after reading about the new stringent credit card laws enacted by congress, I decided to pull a piece of plastic out of the safe deposit box, dust it off, and place an online order. Then about a week ago, the UPS truck delivered my product in a medium sized "top secret" package. This package that endured a 2,000 mile journey across the country just might contain the final ingredient to help me achieve my rather lofty goal of strutting up to the podium like Axl Rose or Katy Perry at the next MTV Music Awards Show, and collecting my bronze plated mounted astronaut statute from the presiding host. Then, with this stellar achievement in the proverbial books, it's on to the Grammy's to continue my whirlwind accolade collecting tour? I'll keep you posted on my progress....
Now, back to the UPS package which was delivered to my door step about a week ago. I opened it up with great anticipation and there, snuggly between a cushion of soft protective material slept a multi functional, all in one home studio production console made by Zoom. The R24, a 24 track digital audio recorder which appears to be a new and improved version of their earlier model the R16. The R24 is a small, compact, all in one multi functional portable digital audio recording unit. It contains 8 inputs for both high and low impedance sources, 8 corresponding sliding volume controls with each married to its own individual gain knob which from my experience, work seamlessly together for precise adjustments. An easy to read LCD display to monitor all functions plus 2 built in stereo condenser mics to capture that "live" or "studio" quality sound. A headphone jack with volume control for playback just in case your creative musical juices begin to flow like the mighty Colorado at say 3 in the morning. Just about all other essentials to get started are included as well, an AC adaptor power supply ( It can also run on batteries for several hours of field recording, just in case your new Grammy winning song includes backup vocals by 3 seagulls & a lonely pelican ), a USB cable for connecting the unit to other sources such as a PC to export raw tracks for mixing & mastering your first ( or next ) chart topping hit, and a 1GB sound card and 2GB card containing hundreds of pre-recorded drum tracks. The unit also contains a drum sampler so you can manually play along with or add personal touch accents to the hundreds of pre-recorded drum rhythms.
After using it for one week, I find the most useful tool contained within this unit is the multitude of pre-programmed effects. For example, if you own just one electric guitar it's possible to dial up any number of pre-programmed simulated amplifier sounds, including the mother of all decibel busters, the Marshall. So if you are limited on equipment, you can still simulate several different sounds with that one guitar ( It also has an acoustic guitar simulator effect which I think needs improvement, maybe on their next model ). The same versatility applies to the built in duel stereo mics which are located on each corner of the unit, several effects from doubling to delay and just about everything in between can be conjured up with the push or rotating of a button. The R24 also comes bundled with Cubase LE 5, a mixing and mastering software, so once you record all the raw tracks for your next award winning masterpiece, you have two options, you can either mix & master using the Zoom R24 unit itself, or you can download the Cubase or any other virtual studio software to your computer then export the recorded raw tracks to your PC and enjoy an even wider variety of tools to fine tune and finish your post production. A little larger than the average laptop computer, the R24 is basically 4 devises in one, a recorder, controller, interface, and sampler.
All this being said, after several weeks of ownership, I'm still in the experimental phase and learning how to use many of the R24 features. So far I'm extremely happy with both the R24 and R16 recorders however, I have found a few minor issues which are either due to the units design or error on my part. For instance, if you plug your electric guitar directly into any one of the inputs, unless your guitar has humbucking pickups, you may experience a very faint buzzing sound depending on how high you turn the gain knob, but you can still record with the gain knob turned lower so how big an issue this is would be up to the individual user, everyone has their own unique recording style. I've experienced the same buzzing with other Digital Recorders made by other manufacturers as well and subtle, minor adjustments usually minimize or eliminate this annoying artifact. In Addition, the unit itself seems very lightweight which is a good thing for portability, but it lends to the appearance of fragility, true or not, it's just an observation. The drum sampler pads are small but work great with several different kit sounds to choose from.
Overall, after several weeks of experimentation and navigating that learning curve, I would rank the sound quality as very good to excellent, and the price seems very reasonable for what you get. As always, the preceding contains my initial Zoom R24 review, observations and opinions. As I become more educated and familiar with the R24, I may write and publish a follow up article in the future to share more of my personal observations.
Zoom R16 Stand-Alone Multitrack Recorder Bundle #1
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