I have to say that impressive would be an understatement in describing the Zoom R16.
Once getting this out of the box, it was difficult to be impressed by the low profile Zoom R16 at first glance. I found, however, the more I looked it over and read through the manual, the more I found myself saying, “Oh wow, that’s pretty cool.”
After reading about what the R16 was capable of, I just had to see it for myself. I first pulled out my acoustic and started recording through the built-in condenser microphones. To be honest, I was skeptical of these mics being, at best, sub-par. After testing levels, I threw on my Extreme EX-29 headphones, set the metronome and hit record. I belted it out pretty loud and figured I’d test out how high of a tolerance they had. Wow, they held up nicely and they are incredibly sensitive! At one point between takes, I heard my neighbor approaching my door and thought it was something that I tracked by mistake. At another time, I could hear the slow drip of run-off after a short rain, which happened to be in time with my metronome and thought my headphones bled into the mix.
Next, I tried running a bass guitar and an electric direct in to test the Hi-Z inputs and played around with the built-in effects. I was surprised to find the number of effects available for a unit such as this. It’s not a modeler or anything extravagant. But it does have simple effects-based signal processing that modifies the tone and allows you to get a rough idea with on-the-fly recording to determine what the finished product could sound like. I had fun playing around with the various bass and guitar effects as well as the vocal delays and reverbs. Plus the built-in tuner and metronome saved me from having to search out additional hardware and makes life more convenient if I’m wanting to do field recording or have an idea I need to get down quick.
I found it real simple to be able to mix down, master and bounce tracks to audio and import them into a DAW on my computer. A lot of the controls are pretty intuitive, which is nice for someone like myself who might not get as far as opening the manual before getting so anxious that I have to put it down and get to work.
So, you have all of this, plus, you can use it as an audio interface through USB in any DAW. While doing this it can also function as a control surface. Having the ability to multi-track directly into the unit is pretty awesome as it is but this is an added value in consolidating a lot of gear into a single device, which is great for anyone just breaking into the idea of starting a studio.
With all that this is capable of, I have to say that impressive would be an understatement in describing the Zoom R16. You have a multi-track recorder, audio interface and control surface all in one little device about the size of your average laptop computer. What more could you ask for?