Zoom HD-16 Multitrack Recorder makes recording easy!

Zoom HD-16 Multitrack Recorder
Zoom HD-16 Multitrack Recorder

Lately I’ve been tackling used Multitrack recorders that people have been practically giving away to used music shops here in Nagano-city, Japan. One such recorder that I really found is the Zoom HD-16 Multitrack recorder. It’s a very cool little unit that does just about everything I want with a multitrack recorder. One catch though and that is the Zoom HD-16 depends on a factory recovery CD to restore the Hard Drive should it go bad and need replacement. Luckily with the unit I picked up, the recovery CD was included along with the case and manual for the Zoom HD-16. I know Zoom doesn’t offer the HD-16 recovery CD for download on it’s website, nor do I know if it’s still available via mail. When doing research on the Zoom HD-16, I found the recovery CD impossible to find unless someone offered to create an ISO. I actually just did that after acquiring the Zoom HD-16 and have a backup of the Recovery CD in ISO format.

The Zoom HD-16 is a fabulous Multitrack recorder that comes with full midi specs that syncs perfectly with other devices like a drum machine. The Zoom HD-16 MUST be the master, but that works out pretty well for me. The HD-16 also has a built in drum and bass machine. The bass sounds can be changed when using a special software editor which is available somewhere on the internet but I can’t remember where. ( I’ll update shortly with the location ). The drum machine can also load up custom samples that you import via USB connection. You can then use the pads to create patterns for playback guidance and recording. In addition, you can use recorded tracks to create seamless phrase loops which can then be exported into your DAW of choice. You can also import WAV files and sequence them on the Zoom HD-16 as well.

Overall, the Zoom HD-16 sounds great and is very easy to use. I really like the effects and the ability to transfer WAVs to and from the Zoom HD-16 with ease. I’ve read you can replace the Hard Drive with an SSD drive which I may do eventually. As it is now, there is practically no noise with the existing hard drive. The only achilles heel with the Zoom HD-16 is the fact that a factory made recovery CD is required to restore any storage device installed in the Zoom HD-16. You could of course swap out a working drive and create an image file, but you’d better do that before the Hard Drive crashes of course. I have also heard Zoom is pretty good about sending a replacement recovery CD, but as time goes by, it may become harder to acquire. I’ve made several ISO backups of the Recovery CD just in case anything happens.

One of my main uses for the Zoom HD-16 is to record tracks such as guitar, vocals, and bass guitar using a guide track recorded from a synth or keyboard. I then sync the recording to a sequencer and then play over that with a lead synth. All of that can then be recorded live and burned using the built in CD from a master track. The overall sound is really good. Thus the Zoom HD-16 is a great way to add guitar, vocal, and percussion tracks to your synth setup. Midi sync is rock solid at least with my unit.

The Zoom HD-16 can be found at a great price on the second hand market. The newer Zoom R24, R16, and R8 models have been released of which I also recently acquired the Zoom R8 for keyboard recording. I’ll talk about the Zoom R8 in a future article.

Here is a great video showing the Zoom HD-16 in action with keyboards. My setup is very similar.

38 thoughts on “Zoom HD-16 Multitrack Recorder makes recording easy!

  1. Swen

    Hey Jim, great deal once again ;-). When the HD-16 came out 2007/8 I’ve been after it for a while, but prices didn’t drop to the end of sale. You can still buy some NOS-Units in Germany but for the irrealistic price of about 700€. It isn’t the case the HD-16 wasn’t worth the money, but I own bass-synths and drummachines over and over, and also MIDI-controlers by the score, and for the pure recorder (which I would use only casually, given the fact that most of my money and energy went into the recording path of my studio and recording on the Zoom would be a downgrade. But before I got most my stuff, it was really a hot deal to me. Absolute superb for starters who want to start at a certain level, and not from ground level, with a Onboard-Soundcard and a DAW.
    Here a some links you might find interesting, there is a special software for it, which lets you do anything from the computer. http://www.soundside.de/shop/hdpatterneditor.htm
    I’m not from or with that company, it’s just a suggestion of mine to have a look at it.

    1. Hi Swen! Thanks for the feedback and info. Much appreciated.

      My first experience with any sort of recording gear was back in high school during the mid 80’s. In my bedroom I’d overdub using a tape to tape machine that was real crap. It worked to get something on tape for my friends at school I remember. I’d spend all day long recording tracks on top of each other. I think the popular deal at the time was a Tascam 4 track porta studio which the bass player in a band I was in had. It was quite cool when I borrowed it for a weekend one time.

      It’s very likely I’ll either never acquire a PRO studio mainly because I get so distracted with getting new synths, effects, and drum machines. I guess I just love to play and test new instruments that I “may” lack the discipline to get acclimated with a real pro studio. It’s also very expensive I’m sure as well. The best I’ll probably get to is a something like the Zoom, Roland, or other portable like studio. Again compared to the junk tape to tape dubbing machine I used back in the 80’s, today’s technology is a dream. I didn’t even have a computer or a cell phone back then in the 80’s….laugh.

      I also must say that when it comes to recording I’m really lacking in the knowledge or know-how department. I don’t want to sell myself short, but I do understand recording is quite a skill in itself. I admire those who produce and record musicians professionally. Kudos to your experience and knowledge in studio field. I think it’s fantastic you’ve acquired the gear to make some really great recordings. That’s really cool!!

      Thanks again.

      Take it easy Swen!

  2. Hi everyone,

    I’m just now starting to hear about a problem that seems to be popping up on the Zoom HD-16 with the 9/10 panning knob. On my unit when I rotate the knob left or right, it automatically shuts down the Zoom HD-16 and reboots the system. The 9/10 knob is basically useless because of this power or short issue. Has anyone heard of or experienced this problem?

    I am currently using the latest Zoom HD16 System Version 1.12.

    It looks like the Potentiometer Knob is causing a short somewhere on the circuit board. Perhaps the Potentiometer Knob needs to be replaced or maybe some solder has cracked. I’ve worked on Synths before soldering all sorts of stuff, but was surprised to see that this one knob on the HD-16 would shut down the entire system cold!!

    I have done some searching on the internet and have found a few other people with a similar problem so maybe this could be an achilles heel with the Zoom HD-16 if not now, eventually. Buyer beware and check the knobs!!

    I definitely recommend to be extremely careful with the knobs if you already have an HD-16. They seem to be hard wired into the power supply somehow or at least the 9/10 knob is. Any slight touch of that knob and the HD-16 reboots. Crazy!!



    1. Hi Steve, did you have to find a recovery CD yet? Yes, I have one in ISO format, but will need to upload it first. Please let me know if you are still looking. Thanks!

  3. Ive been looking all over for the zoom hdd 8/16 iso i lost mine and need it super bad my hdd is giving me an error and i need to recover the whole system.

  4. Mark

    Hi Jim, I am having a bit of errors on my hd16 also, got it second hand with all accessories except the recovery cd, can you help? Thanks

    1. Hello Mark!

      Please send me your email address and I’ll send you a link to download the recovery CD for the HD16. I have it zipped up in ISO format. My address is as follows:

      Jim Atwood in Japan



  5. Allen Jones

    Hi Jim,
    Maybe you can save me a lot of time. I’m putting an “album” together of my jazz/blues duet ‘All Night Long’. Here’s the question, can I adjust the volumes of master tracks to control track to track volume as I piece together the sequence list? ,,,,,, or do I have to control it by iterating the master track by ear and rerecording it if it is louder or softer than the track I place it next to?

    Thanx in advance

    Allen Jones in coastal North Carolina

  6. Marcos

    Hello Jim,
    I too love this machine. it is sturdy and has been reliable, but i do not have a recovery disc. can I send you an email for a link as well. Thank you.

  7. Marco

    Hi Jim, thats a really cool blog you created here. I found it by looking for some
    repair hints for my Casio CZ101. After browsing a bit I found this article here.
    I got a HD16 last week. Works well so far, but its lacking the recovery CD.
    There indeed is no other place I could find on the web to download it.
    Would you mind sending me the dl-link aswell? Keep it up mate, great stuff!

  8. jeremy pinel

    Jim I too cannot find the recovery disk and would greatly appreciate u sending me the link to download it. Thanks jeremy

  9. Ray Hare

    Hi Jim I am a singer in a chorus and always building my repotoire with the use of my Zoom HD16. I find it invalable I have set up each project with mainly 3 tracks of 1 instrumental backing 2 the song backing with a cover and of course my recording track.
    But I find using the usb to load the wave files and the HD of the zoom takes forever to do this so I would like to try and change the hardrive with a faster one so I may need the recovery files could you allow me to download them cheers Ray

  10. John

    Hello Jim,
    I too love this machine. it is sturdy and has been reliable, but i do not have a recovery disc. can I send you an email for a link as well. Thank you.

  11. Daron Edie

    Hello Jim,
    I’m also in the same situation as several others, second hand HD8 with no recover CD, if it isn’t too much trouble could you also allow me to download your ISO? If it’s too much trouble though don’t worry about it as the units seem to run fine after a full initialise anyway.

    Cheers and thank you for a very informative blog 🙂

  12. Nikola Ristovski

    Hi Jim,

    My HD16s harddrive broke sometime between using it last and today. I’ve had to order a new harddrive and need the recover CD/iso as I bought this one of a friend and hence it didnt come with the box/cd/etc. I’d really appreciate your help!


  13. Hey 😀
    Glad finding this blog.
    Great introduction in the hd16.
    I’m downsizing from a uad Apollo quad and would like to be portable with my recordings.

    Hope the knob won’t cause me trouble.

    Anyway. Cheers again

  14. Angelo

    Hi Jim i just picked up a used Zoom HD16CD it came without a recovery disk,as i look online and see that people are some not all having issues that require the use of a recovery disk. I,m new to this and hope it is possible if you still have the iso copy available. Thank You.

  15. Jogeir slettevold

    Hi Jim, I’m helping out a band with getting their HD16 up and run… It looks like we need the recovery-cd… do you still provide a ISO-download for it, we would be ever so thankful if you did! 🙂

  16. deanmarcocoggins

    Hello, how are you? I’ve just bought one of these beauties from eBay. No hard drive. Could you send me your link to the ISO file?


  17. Manny Asuncion

    Hello, Jim. I’ve just bought one of this unit at OLX. Could you send me your link to the ISO file? Just in case I encounter a problem with the HDD in the future.

    Thank you and best regards,


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