Discover the Perfect Multitrack Recorder: In-Depth Analysis & Recommendations

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Last updatedLast updated: February 04, 2024
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Unleash your creativity and achieve impeccable audio quality with our top picks of the best multitrack recorders on the market.

As a musician, producer, or content creator, a reliable multitrack recorder is essential for capturing, mixing, and editing multiple audio tracks simultaneously, while providing a seamless recording experience. In this extensive guide, we have meticulously reviewed and compared leading multitrack recorders to help you make an informed decision tailored to your unique needs. So, without further ado, let’s delve into the world of multitrack recording and discover the ultimate devices that will empower you to capture high-quality audio with unparalleled precision and ease.

1.

Tascam DP-24SDEditor's Choice

Features

Features:

  • Simultaneous Rec Tracks: 8
  • Simultaneous Play Tracks: 24
  • Sample Rate: 44.1/48kHz
  • Bit Depth: 16-bit/24-bit
  • Weight: 13.67 lbs.

Other features: 24-channel Digital Portastudio Standalone Recorder with 8 Simultaneous Mic Pres/Line-level Inputs, Onboard Effects, Built-in Signal Processing, USB Connectivity, and 2GB SD Card

The TASCAM DP-24SD is a powerful 24-track digital Portastudio designed to provide a user-friendly recording experience for musicians and producers. Its stand-alone design and robust feature set make it an ideal choice for both home and professional studios.

Upon unboxing the TASCAM DP-24SD, we were impressed by its sturdy build quality and intuitive layout. The device’s controls are thoughtfully arranged, and its built-in color LCD screen makes navigation and track monitoring a breeze.

After testing the DP-24SD in various recording scenarios, we found that it consistently delivered high-quality audio capture at 24-bit/48 kHz resolution. Its 24 tracks allowed us to easily record complex arrangements, and its eight XLR/TRS combo inputs provided ample connectivity options for various microphones and instruments. The preamps were clean and transparent, contributing to the overall audio fidelity.

The TASCAM DP-24SD is ideal for musicians, producers, and podcasters who require a versatile, stand-alone recording solution. Its user-friendly interface and comprehensive feature set make it suitable for both beginners and experienced users.

The DP-24SD’s built-in color LCD screen and intuitive layout simplify the recording process, allowing users to focus on their creative work. The device also features a comprehensive suite of built-in effects, including EQ, compression, and reverb, enabling users to shape and refine their sound during recording sessions.

While the DP-24SD offers robust features, it lacks wireless connectivity options, such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, which could streamline file transfers and remote control capabilities.

What stands out?

  • Sturdy build quality and intuitive layout
  • 24-track recording capability
  • Eight XLR/TRS combo inputs
  • Comprehensive suite of built-in effects
  • High-quality preamps and 24-bit/48 kHz recording

What cons did we manage to find?

  • Lacks wireless connectivity options

2.

Zoom R20Best Portability

Features

Features:

  • Simultaneous Rec Tracks: 8
  • Simultaneous Play Tracks: 16
  • Sample Rate: 44.1kHz
  • Bit Depth: 24-bit
  • Weight: 2.93 lbs.

Other features: 24-channel Digital Portastudio Standalone Recorder with 8 Simultaneous Mic Pres/Line-level Inputs, Onboard Effects, Built-in Signal Processing, USB Connectivity, and 2GB SD Card

The Zoom R20 is a compact, portable 20-track recorder designed for musicians, producers, and podcasters who require a portable and versatile recording solution. Its compact design and built-in microphones make it ideal for on-the-go recording sessions, while its 20-track capability allows for the capture of complex arrangements and multilayered productions.

When we first received the Zoom R20, we were struck by its sleek design and lightweight build. The device is easy to transport and set up, making it perfect for on-the-go recording sessions. The built-in microphones appeared to be of high quality, and the device’s interface was intuitive and easy to navigate.

After extensively testing the Zoom R20 in various recording situations, we found that it consistently delivered high-quality audio capture, with its 20-track capability allowing us to easily record complex arrangements. The built-in stereo microphones provided impressive audio quality, and the six XLR/TRS combo inputs with phantom power allowed us to connect a wide range of microphones and instruments.

The Zoom R20 is best suited for musicians, producers, and podcasters who require a portable and versatile recording solution. Its compact design and built-in microphones make it ideal for on-the-go recording sessions, while its 20-track capability allows for the capture of complex arrangements and multilayered productions.

The Zoom R20 features an easy-to-navigate interface with a clear LCD screen and intuitive controls. Its built-in stereo microphones provide high-quality audio capture without the need for additional equipment, making it perfect for recording in various environments. The device also includes a built-in effects processor, offering a range of EQ, compression, and reverb options for shaping your sound during recording sessions.

While the Zoom R20 offers an impressive feature set, it lacks some advanced editing capabilities found in higher-end multitrack recorders. Additionally, the device’s onboard storage capacity could be improved for longer recording sessions without the need for external storage.

What makes it stand out?

  • Compact, portable design
  • 20-track recording capability
  • Built-in high-quality stereo microphones
  • Six XLR/TRS combo inputs with phantom power
  • Built-in effects processor

Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?

  • Limited advanced editing capabilities
  • Limited onboard storage capacity

3.

Zoom LiveTrak L-12Best for Live Performance

Features

Features:

  • Channels: 12
  • Inputs – Mic Preamps: 8 x XLR-1/4″ combo (mic/line)
  • Phantom Power: 8 channels (1-4,5-8)
  • Inputs – Line: 4 x 1/4″ (2 x stereo channels), 2 x Dual RCA Stereo
  • Weight: 5.58 lbs.

Other features: 12-channel Digital Mixer with 24-bit/96kHz 12-track Recorder, 5 Monitor Outputs, 3-band EQ, 16 Built-in Effects, and 14-in/4-out USB Audio Interface – Mac/PC/iOS

The Zoom LiveTrak L-12 is a versatile 12-track digital mixer and recorder designed for both live performances and studio recording. Its comprehensive feature set, including a built-in audio interface, onboard effects, and 5 custom headphone mixes, make it an ideal choice for a wide range of applications.

Upon unboxing the Zoom LiveTrak L-12, we were impressed by its robust build quality and well-organized layout. The device’s controls are clearly labeled and easy to access, and its bright LCD screen provides clear visual feedback during recording and mixing sessions.

During our testing of the LiveTrak L-12, we found that it consistently delivered high-quality audio capture at 24-bit/96 kHz resolution. Its 12-track capability allowed us to record and mix a variety of instruments and vocals simultaneously, while its eight XLR/TRS combo inputs provided ample connectivity options for various microphones and instruments. The device’s built-in audio interface allowed for seamless integration with our favorite DAW software, and its onboard effects processor offered a range of high-quality reverb, delay, and modulation options.

The Zoom LiveTrak L-12 is ideal for musicians, producers, and podcasters who require a versatile recording and mixing solution for both live performances and studio recording. Its comprehensive feature set and user-friendly interface make it suitable for users of all skill levels.

The LiveTrak L-12’s unique combination of a digital mixer, multitrack recorder, and audio interface sets it apart from other devices on the market. Its 5 custom headphone mixes allow for individual monitoring during live performances or recording sessions, while its onboard effects processor provides a range of high-quality sound-shaping tools.

While the LiveTrak L-12 offers an impressive range of features, its 12-track capability may be limiting for some users who require more extensive recording and mixing options.

Why are we impressed?

  • Robust build quality and well-organized layout
  • 12-track recording and mixing capability
  • Eight XLR/TRS combo inputs
  • Built-in audio interface and onboard effects processor
  • 5 custom headphone mixes

What negatives must you be aware of?

  • Limited track count compared to some competitors

4.

PreSonus StudioLive AR16cBest Connectivity

Features

Features:

  • Simultaneous Rec Tracks: 18
  • Sample Rate: 96kHz
  • Bit Depth: 24-bit
  • Weight: 14.1 lbs.

Other features: 16-channel Analog Mixer with 24-bit/96kHz 18-track Recorder, 3-band EQ, Built-in Effects, and 18-in/4-out USB Audio Interface

The PreSonus StudioLive AR16c is a versatile 18-channel hybrid mixer and multitrack recorder designed for live performances, studio recording, and podcasting. Its comprehensive feature set includes an onboard SD card recorder, a built-in audio interface, and a range of effects, making it a powerful all-in-one solution for various audio applications.

Upon unboxing the PreSonus StudioLive AR16c, we were impressed by its solid build quality and well-organized layout. The device’s controls are clearly labeled, and its bright LED meters provide clear visual feedback during recording and mixing sessions.

During our testing of the StudioLive AR16c, we found that it consistently delivered high-quality audio capture at up to 24-bit/96 kHz resolution. Its 18-channel capability allowed us to record and mix a variety of instruments and vocals simultaneously, while its 12 XLR inputs provided ample connectivity options for various microphones and instruments. The device’s built-in audio interface allowed for seamless integration with our favorite DAW software, and its onboard effects processor offered a range of high-quality reverb, delay, and modulation options.

The PreSonus StudioLive AR16c is ideal for musicians, producers, and podcasters who require a versatile recording and mixing solution for both live performances and studio recording. Its comprehensive feature set and user-friendly interface make it suitable for users of all skill levels.

The StudioLive AR16c’s unique combination of a hybrid mixer, multitrack recorder, and audio interface sets it apart from other devices on the market. Its onboard SD card recorder allows for stand-alone recording without the need for a computer, while its built-in effects processor provides a range of high-quality sound-shaping tools.

While the StudioLive AR16c offers an impressive range of features, its 18-channel capability may be limiting for some users who require more extensive recording and mixing options.

Why did it make our list?

  • Solid build quality and well-organized layout
  • 18-channel recording and mixing capability
  • 12 XLR inputs
  • Built-in audio interface and onboard effects processor
  • Onboard SD card recorder for stand-alone recording

What is not ideal about it?

  • Limited track count compared to some competitors

5.

Boss BR-800Best Mobility

Features

Features:

  • Simultaneous Rec Tracks: 4
  • Simultaneous Play Tracks: 8
  • Sample Rate: 44.1 kHz
  • Bit Depth: 24-bit
  • Weight: 3 lbs

Other features: 4-track simultaneous recording, 8-track simultaneous playback, Song Sketch recording, Built-in advanced drum machine

The Boss BR-800 is a compact, portable 8-track digital recorder designed for musicians and producers who require a user-friendly, all-in-one recording solution. Its lightweight design, built-in effects, and intuitive touch sensor controls make it an ideal choice for recording on the go.

When we first received the Boss BR-800, we were impressed by its sleek design and lightweight build. The device’s touch sensor controls and bright LCD screen make navigation and track monitoring easy, while its built-in stereo microphones provide high-quality audio capture.

After testing the Boss BR-800 in various recording scenarios, we found that it consistently delivered high-quality audio capture at 24-bit/44.1 kHz resolution. Its 8-track capability allowed us to record and mix a variety of instruments and vocals simultaneously, while its four XLR/TRS combo inputs provided ample connectivity options for various microphones and instruments. The device also features a built-in effects processor, offering a range of EQ, compression, and reverb options for shaping your sound during recording sessions.

The Boss BR-800 is best suited for musicians, producers, and podcasters requiring a portable, user-friendly recording solution. Its compact design, built-in microphones, and intuitive touch sensor controls make it ideal for on-the-go recording sessions, while its 8-track capability allows for the capture of various instruments and vocals simultaneously.

The Boss BR-800’s compact design and built-in stereo microphones set it apart from other digital recorders on the market. Its touch sensor controls provide a modern and user-friendly interface, simplifying the recording process. The device also includes a built-in rhythm machine and a range of high-quality effects, such as EQ, compression, and reverb, for further sound customization.

While the Boss BR-800 offers a solid set of features for a portable digital recorder, its 8-track capability and 24-bit/44.1 kHz recording resolution may be limiting for some users who require higher track counts and resolutions. Additionally, the device’s onboard storage capacity could be improved for longer recording sessions without the need for external storage.

What are our favorite features?

  • Compact, portable design
  • 8-track recording capability
  • Built-in high-quality stereo microphones
  • Intuitive touch sensor controls
  • Built-in rhythm machine and effects processor

What could be better?

  • Limited track count and recording resolution compared to some competitors
  • Limited onboard storage capacity

Things to Consider

In this buying guide, we’ll explore the most important factors to consider when choosing the best multitrack recorder for your needs. From recording quality and track count to built-in effects and connectivity options, we’ll provide you with the knowledge you need to make an informed decision.

Track Count and Recording Capability

When it comes to selecting a multitrack recorder, one of the most critical factors to consider is the number of tracks it can handle. Devices like the TASCAM DP-24SD and Zoom LiveTrak L-12 boast a higher track count, making them the go-to options for more intricate recording sessions with multiple instruments and vocals. On the flip side, if you’re looking for something more compact and portable, the Zoom R20 and Boss BR-800 provide a lower track count, perfect for smaller projects and on-the-go recording sessions.

Input and Output Options

Multitrack recorders need to offer a variety of input and output options to accommodate various instruments, microphones, and audio interfaces. Devices like the PreSonus StudioLive AR16c and Zoom LiveTrak L-12 stand out due to their extensive connectivity options, including multiple XLR inputs, line inputs, and built-in audio interfaces. These versatile devices cater to a wide range of recording scenarios, from live performances to studio sessions.

Recording Resolution and Audio Quality

When it comes to recording, audio quality is of utmost importance. Higher recording resolutions, such as 24-bit/96 kHz, provide better audio fidelity and dynamic range. While most devices on our list offer high-quality audio capture, the PreSonus StudioLive AR16c and Zoom LiveTrak L-12 provide superior recording resolutions compared to some of the more portable options like the Boss BR-800.

Portability and Ease of Use

Depending on your requirements, portability and ease of use may be significant factors to take into account. The Zoom R20 and Boss BR-800 are compact and lightweight, making them perfect companions for on-the-go recording sessions. Their user-friendly interfaces, with touch sensor controls on the Boss BR-800, simplify the recording and editing process, even for those just starting in the world of multitrack recording. In contrast, devices like the TASCAM DP-24SD and PreSonus StudioLive AR16c are more suited for stationary setups due to their size and weight.

Built-In Effects and Additional Functions

Multitrack recorders that come equipped with built-in effects and additional functions, such as onboard rhythm machines, can add that extra touch to your recordings and make your workflow more efficient. The Boss BR-800, for example, features a built-in rhythm machine and a range of high-quality effects like EQ, compression, and reverb. The PreSonus StudioLive AR16c also includes an onboard effects processor with various sound-shaping tools, while the Zoom LiveTrak L-12 offers an impressive array of built-in effects and routing options for live performances.

Additional Features and Functions to Keep in Mind

  • Onboard Microphones: Devices like the Zoom R20 and Boss BR-800 feature built-in stereo microphones, allowing for quick and easy recording without the need for external microphones. These can be particularly useful for impromptu recording sessions or capturing ambient sounds on the fly.
  • Stand-alone Recording: Some multitrack recorders, such as the TASCAM DP-24SD and Zoom LiveTrak L-12, offer stand-alone recording capabilities, enabling you to record directly onto an SD card or other storage media. This feature can be particularly beneficial for those who need a reliable and straightforward solution for capturing live performances, podcast recordings, or jam sessions without the need for a computer.
  • Touchscreen or Touch Controls: Modern multitrack recorders, such as the Boss BR-800, come equipped with touch sensor controls or touchscreen interfaces, providing an intuitive and user-friendly experience. These innovative controls simplify navigation, allowing you to easily access various functions, particularly for those who may be new to the world of multitrack recording.
  • Bundled Software and Support: Many multitrack recorders include bundled software, such as Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs), plug-ins, or sample libraries, to help you kickstart your recording projects. For example, the PreSonus StudioLive AR16c comes with the Studio One Artist DAW software and an extensive library of plug-ins and loops. Having access to these valuable resources can enhance your recording setup and help you save on additional costs.
  • Expandability and Compatibility: When selecting a multitrack recorder, it’s essential to consider whether it offers expandability options and is compatible with other devices in your audio setup. Devices like the Zoom LiveTrak L-12 and PreSonus StudioLive AR16c boast multiple input/output options, USB connectivity, and compatibility with a wide range of audio interfaces. These features make them suitable for various audio setups and applications, ensuring that your chosen recorder will seamlessly integrate into your existing workflow.
  • Price and Value: Finally, consider your budget and the overall value you’ll get from your chosen multitrack recorder. While devices like the TASCAM DP-24SD and PreSonus StudioLive AR16c may come with a higher price tag, their extensive features and capabilities can justify the investment. On the other hand, more affordable options like the Zoom R20 and Boss BR-800 offer excellent value for their price, particularly for those who prioritize portability and ease of use.

By carefully considering these factors and understanding the unique features and strengths of each multitrack recorder on our list, you can make an informed decision that best suits your needs and enhances your recording experience. Whether you’re a professional musician, a podcast creator, or an aspiring producer, the perfect multitrack recorder is out there waiting for you. With the right device in hand, you’ll be well on your way to creating high-quality recordings that capture your creativity and bring your projects to life.

FAQ

 
 

Yes, many multitrack recorders, such as the Zoom LiveTrak L-12 and PreSonus StudioLive AR16c, are designed to handle live performances. They offer multiple input/output options, built-in effects, and routing capabilities that make them suitable for capturing live audio and mixing it in real-time.

Most multitrack recorders provide a range of input options, including XLR and 1/4-inch inputs, to accommodate various instruments and microphones. To connect your devices, simply plug your instrument or microphone cable into the appropriate input on the recorder, and adjust the input level accordingly.

Some multitrack recorders, like the Zoom LiveTrak L-12 and PreSonus StudioLive AR16c, can also function as audio interfaces. They typically feature USB connectivity, allowing you to connect them directly to your computer and use them as an input/output device for your DAW or other recording software.

A multitrack recorder is a standalone device designed for recording, editing, and mixing multiple audio tracks simultaneously. In contrast, a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) is software installed on a computer that serves a similar purpose but relies on the computer’s processing power and additional hardware, such as an audio interface, for input and output.

Yes, multitrack recorders are an excellent option for podcasting. They allow you to record multiple sources, such as voices and sound effects, simultaneously and provide editing and mixing capabilities to fine-tune your podcast. Devices like the Zoom LiveTrak L-12 and PreSonus StudioLive AR16c are particularly well-suited for podcasting due to their extensive input/output options and built-in effects.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, selecting the best multitrack recorder for your needs is crucial to ensure a seamless recording experience and achieve high-quality audio results. Our top picks, including the TASCAM DP-24SD, Zoom R20, Zoom LiveTrak L-12, PreSonus StudioLive AR16c, and Boss BR-800, offer a diverse range of features and capabilities to suit various applications, from professional studio recordings to live performances and podcasting. By carefully considering factors such as track count, input/output options, recording resolution, portability, and additional features, you can make an informed decision that enhances your creative process and helps you bring your projects to life.

Our Editor’s Choice, the TASCAM DP-24SD, stands out for its exceptional performance, ease of use, and versatility, making it a top contender for anyone looking to invest in a reliable multitrack recorder. With the right device in hand, you’ll be well-equipped to capture and create high-quality audio recordings that showcase your creativity and talent. No matter your recording goals, there’s a multitrack recorder out there that’s perfectly suited to help you achieve them.

5 Comments
  1. The Zoom R20 is a 16 track recorder only, not 20 and it doesn’t have built in mics. I think your cutting and pasting got away from you. Thanks for trying 😊

  2. It is not a 24 track recorder either. 😊

  3. The Zoom R 20 does not have built in microphones

  4. The Zoom R 20 can only record up to 16 tracks in the unit.

  5. The Zoom R 20 does not have built-in microphones. It can only record up to 16 tracks not 20. It also has 8 inputs, two of which are combo jacks. There is no internal storage, it uses SD cards for storage. You are only limited to the size of the SD you use.

    Hope that helps.

    😊

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