When the digital recording revolution first got it’s legs back in the early 80’s I believe, it was the multitrack recorder that we used and not the computer-based recording studio that is perhaps more popular today. From the first 4 track cassette’s from around 1980 to the latest feature packed 24-bit / 44.1kHz sampling rate one from Zoom.
As the computer became front and center in our digital recording studios some might have wondered if the multitrack machines would become extinct. Not only did that not happen but they’ve become as intricate and advanced as any computer-based recording system.
If you are into recording at home you basically have 2 choices for how to set up your home studio: computer-based recording system or a multitrack recorder. Both have their pro’s and con’s but in this short article I want to focus on the advantages of going with the portable recording studio also known as the multitrack recorder.
The Benefits of a Multitrack Recorder:
Portability – Pick it up and take it to your next session, where ever that may be.
All-In-One – Basically bring it home and you can literally be recording right away. This probably won’t happen so easily with a computer-based studio setup.
Stability – Also, unlike a computer you won’t need to worry about different operating system compatibility or stability issues.
Expandable – As complete as they are to get recording right away, you can still go a little nuts and add onto the multitrack studio with monitors, various microphones, even outboard gear like effects processors and compression.
When talking about multitrack recorders I must admit I’m a little biased towards the Tascam ones since that was what got me started back in the early 80’s with the Tascam 4 Track Cassette Recorder.
Being primarily a saxophonist my fun with experimenting sometimes went on forever! I could be a horn section or a sax quartet… not only was it a blast but working this way with a multitrack recorder taught me a lot about harmony, chords, what worked for certain things and what didn’t.
We are fortunate to have so many companies putting out so many good models with cutting edge features as compared to that old 4 track cassette I used back in the 80’s. As companies like Tascam and Fostex continue to improve and develop their recording machines it’s great to see new ones like Zoom come along and still take the multitrack recorder to new levels.
As the computer digital recording world grows it was only a matter of time before a multitrack recorder would come along and be able to integrate so well with the computer recording system. The Zoom R16 is an example of this. With all the benefits of the traditional portastudio it can also integrate with a computer in ways a multitrack recorder never did before.
With this new breed you can lay all 8 tracks simultaneously and then use it as an audio interface for your computer’s DAW. So, now you can really have the best of both worlds… a multitrack recording studio that’s totally portable and when you bring it home it becomes the audio interface for your computer recording system. It can be used one way or the other or both, making this possibly the most versatile piece of gear in the multitrack category… up to now anyway.