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.