Submitted February 8, 2010 by a customer from charter.net
"Affordable powerhouse for musicians on the go"
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I'll keep the R-16 as a musical sketch pad and DAW controller, until ZOOM releases the $1500 professional model: ZOOM R-16-PRO.
The sound quality of the R-16 depends on the quality of the input source of course. Since the built-in preamps are only marginal and the short faders don't allow much control, the gain settings are crucial for a successful recording. Considered that the R-16 tries to do everything at a bargain price, the overall quality is acceptable for home use and as a sketch pad for musical ideas. Recording acoustic guitar yielded exceptional results, and convinced me to keep the unit. One major advantage over my older multitrack recorder is the absence of any kind of interference noise. My previous Zoom multitrack was quite noisy due to it's built-in hard drive and this was the main reason for the recent R-16 upgrade: SD cards are absolutely silent.
If there was ever a feature-laden digital multitrack recorder, the R-16 takes the cake. Honestly: I wish it had less features, but more built-in quality instead. With all the insert effects and connectivity, I wish Zoom had left the simple drum machines of the previous recorder generation in the R-16. And perhaps a footswitch I/O for start/stop and punch-in/out. In my opinion the R-16 is an excellent practice tool for musicians. Once you've made sense of the instructions manual, you can lay down lots of tracks and play with the insert effects until the cows come home. I haven't used the DAW controls yet, but believe that this is the icing on the cake. I'm looking forward to writing my songs on the R-16 and at least have some decent demos to start with.
Ease of Use
Ease-of-use has often eluded the brilliant engineers at ZOOM. The R-16 is no exception: The unit has too many features that one could possibly figure it out without reading the manual. And this manual also seems to be organized written by someone who is an electronics whiz-kid. The interface and the organization of the controls is not immediately intuitive and subsequently hard to figure out -at first. You'll be clicking repeatedly through severals level of menus --at least there's a way to get back to the top menu level by holding down the "Exit" button for couple of seconds. Bottom-line: lots of bells and whistles in this Swiss Army knife of multitracks.
The quality of the case and the controls are adequate for the price. In other words: The plastic housing and buttons are not exactly awe-inspiring, but do their job. The pre-amps are again not of the best quality. Imagine an R-16 with professional pre-amps, metal case, long faders, extra ins-and outs and you would have to pay a couple of grands for such a versatile unit. You get a lot for the bargain price, but you will have to be a little extra careful not to break this baby.
I am abolutely stunned to get this fragile gem for $400. You get a lot for your money. Zoom has always provided affordable entry-level products for cash-strapped musicians. Excellent value!
I've only visited the Zoom website for the R-16, never spoke to a Zoom person, although I have also owned a hard-drive based muZOOM multitrack before. Never needed any support beyond the well-organized website.
The Wow Factor
The ZOOM R-16 is a killer product. It has a ton of features at an unheard of price. The unit looks handsome and professional.
Classic Rock, Blues, Acoustic
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