Despite having a number of modern and computerized equipment for music production, most people still opt for the old school multitrack recorders. They are not only simple and straightforward but also offer the best value for money. The device is still being widely used in the music industry, whether it is songwriters, music producers or singers, all swear by this device.
A multi-track recorder allows its users to record more than one audio channel at a time and also has the ability to mix them. Making it ideal for DJs as well. People who like to experiment with their music mostly go for a multitrack recorder since it gives the user a lot of control and brings versatility to their table.
Usually, music producers, while recording music for bands have a hard time dealing with different tracks however, it becomes super easy when you have a multitrack recorder. Even though these devices don’t have the plethora of effects we see in digital devices nowadays and take up more space, their convenience and comfort are unmatched which is why we still see so many of these in all kinds of recording studios.
In this article, we have listed down the seven best multitrack recorders and a brief buying guide to understand how things work and what you need when you are looking for a good yet reasonable multitrack recorder.
If you go to the market to buy a multitrack recorder unprepared, you might come back home empty-handed and confused, hence, it is better to do your homework, understand the device and then go ahead with the purchase.
Top 7 Best Multitrack Recorders in 2020 [Guide & Reviews]
In this article, we have listed down the seven best multitrack recorders for home studios. We will be mostly talking about Tascam and Zoom products since both the companies deal with relatively smaller recorders, that too, at a price that will not dent your pocket.
1. Tascam DP-03SD 8-Track Digital Portastudio Multi-Track Audio Recorder
This simple and affordable multitrack recorder is ideal for home studio recorder since it was designed with the motto “making recording simple and affordable”. It is an eight-track digital portastudio which comes in a compact and lightweight body and only weighs four pounds, hence moving it here and there will not be an issue. It comes with both, SD card and SDHC card compatibility on top of the ability to import WAV files from USB. The pair of stereo microphone condensers built into the front panel helps during rehearsals, live concerts, and songwriting ideas. It also features top-notch microphone preamps.
For tight soundtracking, the multitrack recorder comes with a built-in metronome and tuner as well. Both have a dedicated button as well which enables quick access. The users, with the bouncing option, will also be able to bounce all the all eight tracks to one or two tracks. The multitrack recorder features Two XLR microphone inputs with phantom power and quarter-inch stereo inputs as well. It provides CD-quality recordings via the affordable SD and SDHC memory options. This also gives you the liberty of increasing the memory space as you please.
2. Zoom R16 Multitrack SD Recorder Controller and Interface
This portable battery-powered multitrack recorder comes as a 16-channel recorder but at one time, eight channels can be recorded simultaneously. It comes with 8 inputs to connect mic, instruments, and some line leveled devices. The multitrack recorder has a lot of features, it brings a stereo microphone and a total of 135 onboard effects to the user’s table. Apart from this, we have a pair of balanced output jacks as well as a headphone output that comes with its own volume control. The 135 onboard effects include a metronome, variable playback speed, chromatic tuner, etc. The manufacturers have used Mackie control emulation in the system providing full control surface functionality along with transport and mixing controls for DAWs including Logic, Ableton Live, Cubase, etc.
Thanks to the 16 recording channels including on the multitrack recorder and its small size. Hence the recorder is ideal for professional use as well as use in the home studio. The user can also use a musical sketchpad in combination with this recorder. Apart from this, the users also have the liberty to connect external microphones and instruments. The recorder’s built-in mixing studio is one of the best. You can use it for effects like physical faders, equalization, panning, etc.
3. Zoom R24 Multitrack Recorder Digital
Users looking for a professional-grade multitrack recorder, there is no better option then this monster here. It has all the necessities to help you make a professional studio quality recording. With a total of 24 tracks, the recorder also features a top-notch pad sampler, a DAW control surface, a rhythm machine, and a computer audio interface. This model is basically an upgrade to the previously discussed Zoom R16. The upgrade features a sampler and a drum machine as well. Along with eight additional tracks and six channels with phantom power. This versatile device combines four production tools into one making it ideal for all kinds of recordings.
The computer interface included in this multitrack recorder is via a MicroUSB 2.0 along with jack outputs to send signals to the speaker system. With the well-specified internal effect processor installed, the recorder also features insert and send effects. You can do the recordings 41.1 or 48kHz, at either 16 or 24bit. If you have a simultaneous device sync-ed with the help of master/slave USB connection, you will be able to do 16 simultaneous track recordings. The sample rates can be shot up to 9 kHz is the recorder is used as an eight-in and two-out interface.
4. Tascam DP-32SD 32-Track Digital Portastudio Multi-Track Audio Recorder
The building of this compact, solid and reliable multitrack recorder by Tascam is based on the Portastudio concept. It is an amalgam of old concepts and latest technology in order to maximize the scale, performance, and robustness of the device. This latest edition has a lot in common with the previously launched DP 24. The multitrack recorder comes with support for SD card and SDHC memory card for the audio data storage. For mastering and data transfer it also comes with a CD-R and a USB port. Apart from this, by default, the multitrack recorder comes with a total of eight mono and 12 stereo tracks. You can also set the latter to mono.
The control panel includes physical rotatory knobs for tracking the EQ, along with panning and send effects. This multitrack recorder comes with eight inputs on jack combi and XLR connectors, these connectors are equipped with phantom powers. These inputs can also handle guitar sources which are high impedance. The input channels included in this multitrack recorder are all freely routed. You can use them with any of the tracks or with stereo outputs. Hence, this multitrack audio comes with 40 channels at mixdown out of which 12 will be stereo.
5. BOSS BR-800 Portable Digital Recorder
This is the only BOSS multitrack audio recorder in our list of best multitrack audio recorders. This particular multitrack recorder is a new edition to the BR series after a whole four years. So is why it brings a number of top-notch features to the table. It is easy to operate and is portable. It also has a number of onboard programs and effects that you can record just like the audio signal. This also includes bass amp sims and guitars. It runs on batteries and supports recordings on SD cards and SDHC. With external microphones, you can use this multitrack recorder to record a multi-mic drum kit as well.
It features a four-track simultaneous recording and an eight-track simultaneous playback plus, which at this reasonable price is commendable. The onboard rhythm generator can help you build up a backing track from the scratch with the help of 327 rhythm patterns. It has no bass programming. However, a few tweaks with the guitar effect will give you the bass guitar sound. The user, along with all the above-mentioned features, also can get phrase-training, half-speed playback, center canceling and pitch change.
6. Tascam DP-008EX Multi-Track Digital 8-Track Pocketstudio Audio Recorder
Another one of Tascam’s creations that made it to the list is this ideal music sketch pad. It contains top-notch stereo condenser microphones. These help the users record multiple tracks at any time and anywhere. Thanks to the portable nature of this multitrack recorder. Since this recorder has a specific design for people on the go, it is extremely easy to use. The ergonomic design helps in maximizing convenience and comfort. Hence, all you have to do is press a total of two buttons and the recording will start. It has support for both, SD cards and SDHC cards like all other multitrack recorders. You can transfer the data to any personal computer via USB.
The interface, unlike most multitrack recorders out there, is extremely simple. Tascam has ditched the complicated interfaces by removing all the unnecessary knobs and buttons. The multitrack recorder features two analog inputs for line-level devices, external microphones, and electric acoustic guitars. Apart from this, we also have +48V phantom power XLR inputs. A total of eight channels with a number of onboard effects are provided for high-quality recordings.
7. Tascam Model 24 Multi-Track Live Recording Console
This multitrack recorder is a full package in itself. It has a set of EQ and auxiliary knobs allowing the users to access each and every feature easily. This makes way for the input and output channels; hence all are channels are available for easy access on the surface. This Tascam multitrack recorder features a total of 16 high-grade line inputs including mic preamps and stereo line inputs. It provides the best out of the box studio recording quality. Also, it has the ability to record 24 tracks at a time at a 24 bit and 48 kHz resolution. These recordings are directly done on an SD card or an SDHC card.
Once you complete the recording, you can playback and mix all tracks. For easy integration, the recorder can act as an audio interface and can connect to any DAW of your choice. The best part is, it has a specific design for users on the go. Hence, it is lightweight and portable.
If you want to record on the road, take a look at the best portable audio recorders on the market.
Like all other products in the market, many manufacturers deal with multitrack recorders. If you take a look at the market, you will find a huge number of different types and models of multitrack recorders. As a newbie or a beginner, it is only natural to get confused trying to figure out which one to buy. Hence, to help you understand multitrack recorders, we have come up with this brief buying guide.
What is a multitrack recorder?
A multitrack recorder, as you would have guessed by now, is a piece of hardware that lets you record numerous tracks sequentially for a proper music lineup and to create the ideal concoction. When it comes to mixing sounds of different instruments, the multitrack recorder was always the best option before digital media came into being. Today, most of the hardcore musicians opt for these multitrack recorders as opposed to the digital ones flooding the market. The main reason behind this is the convenience, control, and versatility a multitrack recorder brings to your table.
Types of multitrack recorders
Even though all multitrack recorders are constructed for the same purpose, there are four main multitrack recorders available on the market. These are:
- Portable recorders: as the name suggests, these multitrack recorders are small in size and are designed for musicians who are always on the go. This type of multitrack recorder is ideal for interviews, concerts, field recordings, etc.
- Small format: designed for home studios, these multitrack recorders are budget-friendly and are ideal for beginners.
- Large format: designed for big studios, these multitrack recorders are known for their amazing sound quality, high efficiency, and a large number of connectivity options.
- Field track: as hinted by the name, these are designed for outdoor recordings to deliver top-notch sound quality, that too, at a reasonable price.
What to consider when buying a multitrack recorder?
The size of your multitrack recorder depends on your needs. Usually, multitrack recorders for home studios are smaller than multitrack recorders for professional studios. Of course, the portable multitrack recorders are even smaller and so they are easy to carry around. The size of a multitrack recorder you need mainly depends on the specifics of your needs. For individuals’ musicians, the comparatively smaller recorders designed for home studios work best, however, for band recordings and for professional recordings, the heavier and larger multitrack recorders are mostly used.
This can also be termed as the number of features you need in your multitrack recorder i.e. what exactly you require from your multitrack recorder. Some people just want the basic recording features while others want a plethora of orchestra like features in their recorders. Different recorders in different price brackets come with different features and hence versatility. If you don’t want to use extra plug-in but need different effects, you need to invest a device that will handle the workload. Vice versa if you are not looking for something fancy-schmancy a simple basic multitrack recorder will do.
The amount of memory you need for your recordings solely depends on your requirements. For a home studio and an individual musician, a 32 GB memory is more than enough, however, for larger studios with more recordings or for musicians who are always on the move and need to record at different places, the 32 GB memory might not be enough. However, we advise you to always go for a memory higher than you think you need since with time, you will need more memory, and running out of memory in between a recording session is the last thing you need.
Again, the number of tracks you need depends on your requirements. If you have a professional studio, the greater the number of tracks, the better, however, for a home studio, a smaller number of tracks work fine as well. Most of the time, multitrack recorders offer 6, 8, 16, 24, or 32 tracks. Now, this is up to the user, he or she needs to understand the requirements of his/her recording studio and invest in a multitrack recorder accordingly.
- Battery life:
The larger the battery the better. Getting a low battery signal among your recording sessions is the worst thing ever. Since the device takes some time to charge. Hence, a recorder with an extended battery life works well in all situations whether it is in a home studio, in a professional studio, or during longer tripe. However, with a larger battery comes a larger price, thus, you might have to strike a balance between the cost and the battery.
Check out how to build a home recording studio for under $600, and start music production today!
This article was all about helping you find the best multitrack recorder for your home studio. Currently, Tascam is leading the market and has a really good yet reasonable multitrack recorder option. All the recorders mentioned in this article are reasonable, high quality, lightweight, and portable.
Before you go take a look at the best free audio recording and music-making software.
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