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Microphone Month

Zoom RT-223 Reviews

4.0 stars based on 18 customer reviews
  • Anthony Motisi
    from El Cajon, California December 1, 2015Music Background:
    Musician since mid 1960's Many bands and many insruments

    My Zoom RT-223

    The best drum machine I ever had......

    from FLORIDA October 2, 2014Music Background:


  • Walter Curtis
    from Livonia, MI July 15, 2014Music Background:

    The best $150 you'll ever spend

    I have never liked drum machines before. They sounded too fake, and they just didn't make me go "Wow". The Zoom RT-223 is a "Wow". It has tons of preset rhythms you can use, both with and without an accompanying bass track. You can create your own drum tracks, plus add your own bass track to it.

    For practicing and writing songs, the RT-223 is unbeatable. And if you just want a click track, this unit will make some of the most realistic click tracks you will hear. While I still prefer a real live drummer for recording songs and playing live, for everything else, the RT-223 is always there 24 hours a day, and it never shows up late, drunk, or full of excuses.

  • Bruce Stevenson
    from United States March 13, 2014Music Background:
    Playin' since the '60s and still at it.

    Portable package, Great options.

    Great for practice sessions, recording, speculation, portability, even live. It's a nice package to have available for any kind of rhythm application.

  • Mark
    from Midland, Tx. November 20, 2013Music Background:

    Zoom RT-223

    For my purposes I couldn't have found a better deal for both cost and performance. Not only that, your Technician is extremely helpful and knowledgeable.

  • joe pellegrino
    from Massachuetts, USA April 18, 2013Music Background:
    musician, and home studio

    Recent purchase

    Thanks again for your assitance. The product arrived faster then i expected it to. I am very fussy about the condition it would be in when i receive it due to transit. It was perfect. The product worked just fine.
    And you can't go wrong with the 2 year warranty. I already mentioned
    Sweetwater to my fellow musicians.Looking forward to purchasing
    more products from Sweetwater. How sweet it is alice.

  • Jay
    from Eatontown,NJ March 22, 2013Music Background:

    Zoom RT-223

    Love the sound,ease of use and compact size.Can't beat what you get for the price!

  • Bob Powell
    from Vacaville, CA February 1, 2013Music Background:
    Pro musician and owner of Mardell Productions recording studio

    A great sounding drum machine with a lot of features. Best one on the market for the price.

    I love this little bugger, I can sit in my recliner with headphones and program the songs I want to put together while I watch (not listen) to the news. I runs a long time on batteries and has very proffessional sounds that I actually use in many of my recordings. I think Zoom products are simply the best!

  • Customer
    from January 2, 2012

    Zoom RT-223

    Just plain bitchen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am adulated beyond belief.

  • John O'Connor
    from April 27, 2016

    Bang away

    Still playing around with it. So far it has been a blast

  • Steve Hardesty
    from Nashville November 28, 2012Music Background:

    Good machine

    I'd call it a great machine if it was easier to program and zoom wasn't so cheap and they'd include a darn AC adapter. For this price it's ridiculous to have to buy the adapter separately. Having said all that though. Even though it's not easy to program, it is still heads and shoulders above the others on the market. The others are a NIGHTMARE to try and program. It is a good drum machine and it sounds great!

  • Legacy96
    from Atlanta, GA February 6, 2012Music Background:
    Semi-pro guitarist

    Still the VW Beetle of drum machines

    I bought my first version of this drum machine in 1999 and have recently purchased the 2012 model. I have made countless demos and fleshed out many an original tune using the old machine. You can't beat this unit's bang-for-buck, user-friendly layout, useable sounds, and quick learning curve. You don't have to be an M.I.T. engineering graduate to learn how to use it. I call it the VW beetle of drum machines because the basic layout and function have not changed much since I bought my first one nearly 14 years ago, and I think that's because Zoom got it right the first time. There have been several excellent enhancements, but they do not affect the simplicity of use.

  • Pete Magsig
    from Ann Arbor, MI June 19, 2008Music Background:
    Amateur musician and recording engineer.

    Good basic machine - easy to program

    After wrestling with my old SR-16 for too long just trying to entry simple songs for my group to play against, I decided there must be something better out there. This is it. In less than an hour, I was putting together songs with my own patterns. Incredibly easier to use than the SR-16. The light-up pads make using it a lot easier to work with than trying to track what you've entered on some dinky display. The real-time modes allow you to put in stuff just like it was recording, and then play it back and put the stuff together.

    The pads trigger fairly easily with a reasonable amount of tap pressure. The drum sounds are pretty good, and it comes stocked with some solid drum kits.

    I highly recommend it.

  • Gabreil Patricci
    from Daytona Beach, fl February 12, 2011Music Background:
    30 yrs playing experience, Recording engineer, engineering technician, Masters Degree in Music, AAS in Electronic Engineer, BS in Media. no amateur.

    Not Bad Machine

    Well I think it is a decent machine, it needs to be more intuitive though, like a 12 bars pattern in A, should be a easy to program. not so with this. You have to go bar by bar, put turn arounds in which can be hard to find , a turn around maybe in a completely different area of the machine. It is very time consuming to program simple things. Like a simple 1, 3, 4 jazz pattern. But is it decent, the manual is really bad, its a joke for programming, you will need help to program a real song. It will take you several hours to program this for a simple blues pattern. it will sound decent but it aint going to replace a real band ever

  • ejm
    from April 29, 2016

    RT-223 Additional comments

    This is in addition to my other review of the RT-223.
    I'll mention some things that I forgot about.

    Good stuff:
    User patterns = over 400. YAY!!!!!!!!
    I really like this. Note that you can erase the pre-programmed patterns and replace them with your own if you want. A master reset of the machine will return everything to the stock configuration.

    Song Position Pointer:
    I think this is what it's called. Remember that sync clock skipping issue in my other review?
    Well, this makes it a little easier to work with in my application. (If you are syncing this machine live, you are still out of luck.) You can start your Master device at any point in the song, and the RT-223 somehow knows where to go and starts at the right location.
    Strangely, unless I missed it, this feature is not highlighted or pointed out anywhere in the documentation.

    Bad stuff:

    Song composing, copying and deleting patterns/measures/steps in the song:
    In a song, you can set a start and stop point of patterns/measures/steps that you want to copy, then select a point to copy them to. In other words, you can copy a group of patterns/measures/steps.
    However, you CANNOT delete a group of patterns/measures/steps. You can only delete them one at a time. This is a minor inconvenience, but I thought that I'd mention it.

    Back up of patterns/songs to an external device:
    There isn't a way. You're on your own to figure out your own methods for doing it.
    To be fair, most drum machines I've seen also don't have this, and it is a great mystery why.
    The Alesis SR-16 (and maybe SR-18) are the only ones that I know of that have a data dump. And I should mention that the old discontinued Zoom RT-323 has a dump/store feature to an external SD card.

    Pads light up when playing in pattern mode, but NOT in song mode:
    I can't figure out who thought that this was good idea or why. It sure would have been nice if the pads always were lit up as the sounds are produced.
    Strangely, my old Zoom RT-123 doesn't have this issue (the pads light up no matter which mode you're in). When you're playing a song, you can always see what sounds are being hit/produced as they happen. This makes it easier to edit things later.

    When in song mode, if you hit one of the pads it doesn't sound.
    Instead, it goes to some other mode of operation. Another, at least for me, bizarre design decision.
    On my old RT-123, if I have a song playing, and there is a section where I want to add handclaps (for example), I can just hit the pad while the song is playing. I don't need to create another pattern like the one being used, and add handclaps to it. Not so with the RT-223.

    In short, IMO, Zoom must have had the “B” team working on the design of the RT-223.
    Or they must have not been aiming this at people who want to replace a real drummer with a realistic simulation.

  • ejm
    from USA March 22, 2016Music Background:
    Guitar-bass-drums for 40+ years

    Be forewarned: RT-223 has MIDI Sync issues

    22 March 2016

    This has been a very frustrating experience, using it the way that I do, and I cannot rate this piece low enough.
    I'll try to sum it up for you.

    If you are using this machine to jam along with and practice, and are not using the MIDI SYNC Clock, it will be fine.
    I like the sounds, features, programmability, and the fact that it has roughly 400 user pattern slots.
    HOWEVER, if you are using this machine with the MIDI Sync Clock, BE FOREWARNED. It most likely will not work correctly. It will drift out of time with other instruments that are also sync'ed.

    I used to do recordings where, listening back, the timing between the drums and other instruments would seem out of sync on some days but not others. I used to think it was me. Then one day, out of the blue, I heard the drum machine drift out of sync, almost like it missed a clock or something. AHA!!!!!

    By that time my machine was out of warranty. I contacted Zoom customer service, and the guy that I dealt with was super helpful and very fair. He exchanged my machine with another one to try (basically for free, but not exactly). Alas, it had the same problem.

    I ultimately did WAY more testing/troubleshooting on this problem than I should have. (Zoom should pay me for looking into this.) I tried different drum machines, different clock sources, etc etc etc. At the end of the day, it always points back to one item: the Zoom RT-223.

    I then wrote to Zoom Engineering about this problem over a year ago. I have heard back from...........No One.
    I don't know if they ever looked into it, or if they did and didn't verify the problem, or if they did and actually verified the problem, or whatever. In any event, I essentially did their job for them. If there is not a problem, I would assume that they would have notified me.

    This MIDI sync circuitry/function has been in existence in the industry for over 30 years. It is a standard interface. Their old ancient dinosaur RT-123 machines worked fine. How this newer “improved” RT-223 got this basic circuit messed up is a head scratcher. If there was an update or exchange program with a fix I'd jump all over it.

    Once again:
    If you are using this machine to jam along with and practice, and are not using the MIDI SYNC Clock, it will be fine.
    However, if you are using this machine with the MIDI Sync Clock, BE FOREWARNED. It most likely will not work correctly. I have come to find out that this drum machine seems to miss a clock fairly frequently, for lack of a better term. If you are using it as a slave and driving/syncing/sequencing it with a clock from another master, it most likely will not work correctly.
    I have posted about this on the Zoom forums and other places, and over time it looks like other people have had similar issues.

    This is a shame.
    This machine is perfect for what I need, with the minor detail that it won't keep accurate time (if that is important to you).

  • Eghosa Ugboma
    from Miami, Florida February 21, 2011Music Background:
    Sax Player

    Difficulty to Program songs' Patterns

    This is an instrument with difficulty in creating patterns for song. Deleting patterns after copying them to create songs will also delete the patterns from the songs. Copying suppose to create duplicate of the originals. The manual is not very helpful - very confusing and lack much of the explanatory steps. The instrument need an instructional video for patterns and songs creating, users of the instrument will actually see how songs and patterns are properly put together. I was a bit disappointed when I tried to follow the manual to create songs.

  • Charles Schofield
    from March 1, 2005


    this is the the best drum machine
    i have had so for and the frist.
    u can make your own rhythm and is comes with some rhythm.

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