Zoom have been flying the flag for standalone multitrack recorders for years now, most notably with their LiveTrack range of digital mixers with SD card recording. While those devices are great for capturing live performances, though, they lack the editing and arranging abilities of old favourites like the Roland VS series and Yamaha's AW range.
Enter: the Zoom R20. A complete 16-track production station, the R20 boasts eight mic preamps, of which one can act as a high-Z instrument input and a further four can deliver phantom power to capacitor microphones. Recordings are stored on SDHC or SDXC cards (up to 1TB in capacity), and almost all of its functions are accessed through a 4.3-inch colour touchscreen. All eight of its physical inputs can be recorded simultaneously, making it possible to track a full band either in one go, or with multiple drum mics on the first pass and overdubs thereafter. Arrangement and editing is taken care of via an intuitive DAW-like touch interface, where all the usual swiping and pinching gestures apply.
In addition to its extensive audio credentials, the R20 also houses an internal sound module, containing no fewer than 18 different instrument sounds, plus a drum kit. Connect a MIDI keyboard/controller to the R20's USB-C port, and you can play all of those sounds directly, recording the performances alongside your audio. The R20 can also import and play back standard MIDI files from the SD card slot.
With the optional Zoom BTA-1 Bluetooth adaptor fitted, it's also possible to control the R20 wirelessly from your iOS device. Commendably, Zoom have also seen fit to add voice control to the accompanying control app, with the aim of making the device accessible to the visually impaired.
The Zoom R20 is due to go on sale early in 2022, priced at £418.80 including VAT. Check out the video below to see and hear it in action.