I thought very carefully before laying out £319 on this little beauty. The trouble with buying something new, meaning a new product to the market, is that it hasn't been truly tested. Anyway I 'bit the bullet' and ordered it.
At first I just wanted to open the box and start playing without looking at the manual (so like a man I can hear the women saying) and because I am new to multitrack recorders, I gave in and picked up the book. The instructions were (mostly) clear and easy (easy-ish) to follow and I was up and running after just a few minutes.
I've had it now for just over a week and to be honest, I am liking it more and more. I did have a few problems loading Cubase LE4, but after I realised that the mistake was entirely mine, Cubase was up and running on my laptop. Again I needed to look into the instructions, this time not the manual that came with it, but seperate instructions that are to be found on the disc containing the driver for the R16. Once I had sorted all that out, magic!
On the plus side: Small, but not too small, portable, works on 6 AA batteries that seem to last for ages, loads of effects (although I will probably never use them as the effects on LE4 are amazing), clear screen, 8 tracks recordable at once (although I would never use 8 at a time), works well with LE4 as a controller, silent operation, records onto SDHC cards which have greatly come down in price recently, on board mikes if necessary and it looks good too.
On the minus side: Can be fiddly to use/get used to, the preamps are OK, but only OK (I use an external preamp for recording voice, an ART Tube MP, which is brilliant with it). Apart from that, no other niggles really.
I am not very experienced when it comes to multitracks and I need to learn the basics, but using the Zoom R16 can be quite straight forward SO LONG AS YOU READ THE MANUALS - why do we men do that? I have read the manual that comes in the box and the disc based instructions which I printed out, both many times now, and I am itching to put all my new knowledge to good use.
When I first looked at the possibility of buying a multitrack recorder quite a few years ago, it was a cassette tape version with 4 track recording. This unit is so far removed from that first 'Portastudio' that you cannot even begin to compare the two. For a little over £300 you get:
1 A 16 track digital recorder
2 8 inputs including Hi-Z for guitar and 48v phantom power (on 2 channels)
3 A portable silent recorder using batteries and SDHC cards
4 An interface to connect microphones etc direct to computer
5 A DAW software controller complete with Cubase LE4
6 Hundreds of effects built in
There must be more, but I have only had this unit for 10 days.
Bottom line then - this is simply AMAZING, it's not perfect, it won't take the place of professional equipment, but believe me, it comes close. If you are reading this, then I assume you are interested in buying it - so go ahead, buy it and enjoy it.