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Audio & Recording

Best Multitrack Recorder

Multitrack recording is the foundation for nearly all forms of recorded music. But what was once a process that was solely relegated to tape and immersive recording studios has now entered a world that almost exclusively occupies the digital realm, and can be done with a device that can easily sit in a car’s passenger seat. There are many different types of multitrack recorders that exist today that occupy a very wide price range, so all of the items listed here have been selected keeping in mind that individual consumers have varying budgets that they are working with. Nonetheless, here are the best multitrack recorders you can get today, with each one listed here equipped with USB connectivity, making it easy to transfer files and use the recorder with a computer, they can record multiple tracks at once which makes them great for live recordings, and lastly they contain onboard faders or knobs to give you the ability mix your audio live on the spot.

TASCAM DP-32SD 32-Track Digital Portastudio

Tascam’s DP-32SD multitrack recorder features 8 mono tracks and 12 stereo tracks to cover any needs you might have in recording live bands. 32 tracks can then be played back, with eight inputs dedicated for monitoring and mixing. Up to eight tracks can be recorded live at once, which is another reason why the DP-32SD is an ideal fit for those who track live bands. This unit also contains handy recording features built-in, such as a metronome and chromatic tuner. Also included are a range of equalizers, compressors, and limiters, along with an onboard guitar/amp simulator that can introduce effects such as reverb, chorus, and more.

Boss BR-800 Digital Multitrack Recorder

The BOSS BR-800 is a great tool for the musician or producer who wants to flesh out song ideas with a device that can easily sit in their own lap. You can record up to four tracks at the same time, and a total of eight tracks are able to be played back. In addition, there is also a dedicated stereo rhythm track that is powered by a built-in advanced drum machine that comes with its own editor software. Speaking of software, it’s easy to connect the BR-800 to a computer via USB, at which point it can transform into an audio interface and DAW control surface. As one might expect from a product stemming from the BOSS family tree, the BR-800 is also equipped with a slew of guitar, bass, and vocal effects that can be found in many of the company’s other effects pedals.

JoeCo BBR1-B Blackbox Recorder - Multi-Track Recorder for Live Applications

JoeCo BBR1-B Blackbox Recorder - Multi-Track Recorder for Live Applications

The JoeCo Blackbox MADI multitrack recorder supports up to 64 channels of input, all of which are selectable between balanced analog and MADI digital formats. This makes this recorder a great choice for those who are recording performances or rehearsals that extend beyond the traditional band configuration, such as orchestras, big bands, and more. A USB 2.0 connection makes it easy to connect to a DAW and file transfer. The Black Box’s digital I/O offers a crystal-clear audio signal, employing high-quality balancing receivers and transmitters. The unit also provides numerous ways to keep audio in sync, including the ability to lock to clock data.

Zoom R16 Multitrack SD Recorder Controller and Interface

The Zoom R16 multitrack recorder writes directly to SD cards, making it a perfect tool for those looking to record on the go. There are 16 channels here, and true to that traveller’s spirit, there are a few options you have to choose from when tracking. There are eight XLR/line inputs to connect instruments or microphones, but there are also built-in stereo condenser microphones to record using the device itself. The R16 easily connects to computer via USB for file transfer or for recording directly to the computer. Over 100 built-in studio effects are also contained in this unit, including reverb, distortion, delay, and more. And because the R16 also doubles as a control surface, you can mix down tracks solely with the device.

Roland R 88 8 Channel Recorder and Mixer

The Roland R-88 multitrack recorder can record up to eight microphones at once, and can also support SMPTE I/O, which is ideal for video sync purposes. A multi-channel touch display makes mixing events live a breeze, and the onboard 3-band EQ that is applied to each channel can greatly aid in the process of making everything sound balanced. The R-88 is also an audio interface once hooked up to a computer via USB. This device also supports metadata such as SCENE, TAKE, TIMECODE_RATE, and other forms of BWF and iXML, making it an obvious choice for professionals who are using the R-88 is part of a larger setup that includes editing systems like Pro Tools or Final Cut Pro.

Sean Kramer
I'm a guitarist/music producer with 18 years of experience playing on-stage, in the studio, and everywhere in between. I have toured and recorded on projects both independent and major, in styles such as rock, pop, funk, hip hop, electronic, and more. My axe of choice is probably always going to be the Fender Stratocaster, but I've been known to pick up other guitars when the music calls for it. I'm a big fan of using a multitude of effects (both hardware and software-driven) to manipulate the sound and atmosphere of an instrument. In addition to playing on records, I have also contributed to the score/soundtrack for shows and spots on MTV and ESPN, as well as for a variety of independent films, web series, and television shows.
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