If you are looking for an interface that records the sound at very high quality at a fair price, the Zoom R16 is what you are looking for. The huge asset that this interface comes with is that it supports an internal SDHC that can go up to 32 GB on which you can store the recording. Why is this an asset?
Well, imagine that you are recording a track on your computer. You have a fan working, the storing part of the computer might have vibrations, and all these inconveniences are recorded as sound. If you want to produce great sound, you might have a little problem with these unwanted noises.
The SD in the Zoom R16 does not have any vibrations, it is very stable and the interface does not make any additional sounds that can interfere with your recording. The fact that it even has an SD is great because you can take it anywhere and record high-quality sound without having to take your computer with you.
Many products that have similar recording features do not have any internal storage options, this is why the Zoom R16 makes such a big difference in terms of sound. It is not the best sound quality, as you can imagine, but considering the price that this interface comes at, it can fairly compete with the pricier ones.
The main drawback that this interface has is that it has a phantom power button on only two channels which means that you will be able to use only two condenser microphones. This might not be a problem for some users, it all depends on how you use it. However, for people who want to use more condenser microphones to enhance their input sound, this is a minus.
The ideal interface would have a phantom button for every channel because a condenser mic has to draw power from the interface and the phantom button power allows it to do so. However, you can still add a device that has a phantom button to enhance sound quality for the other channels as well, just keep in mind that if you need this feature, you have to add it.
Main features explained
As a musician, you know that owning the right tools is important and an option is to have every tool separately in order to provide high quality. However, having many options inside one gadget is also essential especially if you have to use it for different purposes and in different environments.
The Zoom R16 Interface offers you the possibility of using it as a recorder, as a controller, and as an interface. This means that it has all the features to allow you to perform all of these three actions at a high-quality level without the need of taking all your tools with you every time you want to record your rehearsals, for example.
A great thing is that you don’t even have to connect it to an electrical outlet because it uses 6 batteries that allow you to use it without plugging it in for 4 hours and a half. Pretty amazing, right? You will be able to use it for rehearsals and for live performances in a small club.
Additionally, you will be able to record tracks and we are going to talk about that later on, but the important thing is that after that you can even mix the track you have recorded.
So the sequence can go like this: you have an idea and you record the demo using the inbuilt mics. You play with it and you meet the band and brainstorm on how you want the song to be, recording your ideas. Maybe you even start mixing.
You arrive at your computer, you build the song’s timeline, meet the band again and record it properly, transfer the recording to your computer and mix it using a DAW. After that, when you play the song live, you can use the same interface and we are going to later talk about how it can help you. So, there you have it, the perfect flow using just one interface.
Recording with the Zoom R16
Even though the name, Zoom R16, lets you know that the interface provides 16 channels for playback, for recording it provides only 8. This is not necessarily a bad thing, because, usually, that is all you need for recording a decent track. Even if you want to record drums using microphones, a drum requires a minimum of 8 microphones, so the interface covers it.
A great feature that this product has is that you can buy 2 of them and sync them to record up to 16 channels simultaneously. Also, the first channel is designed with a Hi-Z switch on channel 1 which is great for guitars, especially acoustic ones.
The great thing about the input sockets is that they support both XLR and TRS, which is great if you think of versatility. The phantom power is available only on channels 5 and 6, which limits the quality of the sound you want to record. However, there are musicians who rely on the high quality of condenser mics only for the voice input, so 2 can be enough.
It also has two incorporated mics which are positioned on the left and on the right of the interface so that you can also record stereo sound. Their quality is not so great but you can always record an idea of a song very quickly without having to plug in a mic and it can also record acoustic instruments.
It has an incorporated metronome, but the downside to it is that it can only be outputted through the headphone output, which is only one. If you want to record your band and all of you need a metronome, this is a little bit limiting.
The output, however, is so good that you don’t need a 20-decibel switch to enhance the volume.
Mixing using the Zoom R16
The manufacturers are very proud of the fact that they have managed to incorporate this feature into this interface. This is actually a big thing because there are not many products on the market that have the option of recording, mixing, and adding effects. Actually, this was, at some point, the first product designed to do all these things.
However, most musicians will not use this interface for mixing because it only has 16 channels. This might seem like a lot, but there is computer software that can mix up to 1000 channels, so 16 channels are a little bit limiting and you are not able to do much with only 16 channels. That is if you want to produce really complex tracks.
The small LCD screen is also an impediment and for people who have used a mixing computer software before it might seem like having to light a fire using rocks instead of lighting it up with matches. The recording part, on the other hand, is great and comes with great quality.
However, if you decide to use the mixing feature just to play around and make a draft of your idea, this feature comes in pretty handy especially if you want to record your band and try a little bit of brainstorming on how your final track should sound like. It is also useful for people who have never mixed before to learn the basics.
The package also includes Cubase, and for those of you who have never heard of Cubase, you would know that it is a widely used DAW that comes in really handy in combination with the Zoom R16. It can take your mixing to another level and, combined with the accurate recording offered by this interface, you will be able to produce high-quality music.
Variable playback speed
Despite the fact that this product is very versatile and can be used for recording and mixing, it can become a drummer’s best friend and this is because of the variable playback speed. As you know, the drummer is the one who keeps the tempo, and drummers have to practice a lot in order to be able to have a high-quality performance.
When they practice it is really easy for them to listen to the track in their headphones. They can also use this feature instead of the metronome in the studio or in live performances. It is very useful for songs that change their BPM somewhere in the middle because it is sometimes hard for drummers to keep up with it just by using a metronome.
Practicing BPM changes is an essential part of a good drummer’s practice because the more a drummer practices, the more proficient the performance will be and the fact that the playback speed is variable is also useful for recordings. The Zoom R16 can also be used by drummers before studio recordings to practice in advance.
You might want to record tracks at a lower BPM in order to perform this action more accurately and then increase the tempo to the speed you want. It is a very helpful tool for recording your rehearsals and analyzing them afterward. If you want to improve your performance it is important to analyze the recordings at a lower speed and spot mistakes.
Reducing or enhancing speed is also useful if you want to analyze how the effects work. If you feel that something does not sound well, you can always decrease the tempo and see where the problem is. This feature will help a lot in terms of how you can improve and analyze your work effectively.