10 Best Digital Multitrack Recorders in 2018

Music
TASCAM DP-008EX Digital Portastudio 8-Track Portable Multi-Track Recorder
Following about 45 recording sessions we recorded some vocals and string instruments on various multitrack recorders. We ended up with a preference for the Tascam DP-008EX 8-track portable recorder.

That is because it recorded more cleanly and sounded more like similar tracks we made using a standard microphone and dedicated audio mixers. Its top quality Stereo Condenser Microphone is most impressive for picking up varied audio signals.

This very light recorder is also easier to use with a remarkably simpler interface than most of the recorders with comparable specifications we researched. When it comes to capturing ideas for a record outside a studio this model is the best multitrack recorder.

Comparison of the Top-Rated Multitrack Recorders

ProductPopularityQuality
TASCAM DP-24SD Portastudio5080
TASCAM DP-008EX7080
TASCAM DP-0067080
Zoom R16 Recorder Controller6080
Zoom F8 Multitrack Recorder1090
Zoom F4590
Zoom R86080
TASCAM DP-32SD5080
Korg D888 Digital Audio5100
Roland BR-802070
TASCAM DR-40 4-Track Handheld7080
Zoom R246080
Zoom H4N PRO10090
Tascam DP-03SD5080

TASCAM DP-24SD Portastudio Digital Multitrack Recorder w/ CD Burner

TASCAM DP-24SD

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Rec Tracks: Simultaneous 8-track recording.
Play Tracks: Simultaneous 24-track playback.
Virtual Tracks: 192 (8 virtual tracks per actual track).
Inputs: 8 x Combo XLR/TRS.
Microphone: External microphone required.
Outputs: Two 1/4″ balanced TRS, two RCA unbalanced, 1/4″ TRS headphone jack, 1/4″ TRS jack for effects send and USB.
Power Supply: AC.
Storage: SD/SDHC cards.

These are technically advanced digital multitrack recorders which come with built-in mastering tools and processor. There are as many as 18 track faders and a single master fader that enable one to handle any given track without choosing the faders.

The recording takes place in SD cards and the device can record even the softest tunes of guitar or drumbeat. It is a top-rated product to choose available at a reasonable cost.

The LCD screen measures 3.5 inches and has a self-illuminating feature, which enables you to track all your creative efforts.

LIKES:

  • Ease of use.  With 18 track faders and a single master fader to work with, you have instant access to any track without the need to select pages. The 3.5 inch LCD screen has a self-illuminating feature that makes tracking your creative efforts the easiest part of the job. Finally, the inbuilt multi-effects processor and mastering tools will help you to easily turn your demo into a finished product.
  • Affordability. This best multitrack recorder comes with a fairly reasonable cost.
  • Versatility. You have 10 effects processors to experiment with during the mixing process, e.g. compression, guitar amp modeling, delay, reverb, etc.

DISLIKES:

  • Warranty. This simple multitrack recorder comes with a one-year limited warranty. You have to pay an additional $14.77 for 3-Year Accident Protection or an additional $94.37 for 4-Year Accident Protection.

TASCAM DP-008EX Portable 8-Track Recorder: Great for Home Use

TASCAM DP-008EX

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Rec Tracks: 2.
Play Tracks: 8 mono tracks.
Virtual Tracks: 6.
Inputs: Two balanced XLR with 48v phantom power and two unbalanced mic/line/guitar.
Microphone: Two built-in omnidirectional condenser microphones.
Outputs: Two RCA line, 1 x 1/8″ stereo headphone, and USB.
Power Supply: AC power supply or four AA batteries (included).
Storage: SD/SDHC card (4GB card included).

This is an 8 track recorder and comes with a warranty. The stereo condenser microphone is incorporated in the gadget as an inbuilt feature and ensures you high-quality recording.

It supports two SD cards and has space for a couple of AA size batteries to power it up. Apart from these, the dedicated master track records stereo-quality sound and you can select the microphone sensitivity from two positions.

The system of importing and exporting files from other devices is fast and hassle-free. However, the price is a bit higher in comparison vs other gadgets.

LIKES:

  • Ease of use. Given its purpose is to make on-the-spot recording hassle-free, the interface is simple and user-friendly. Once you are done, you can easily transfer the audio files you recorded to your computer via USB.
  • Portability. The ultra-lightweight design will make it easy to carry around, ready to be used when inspiration strikes.
  • Affordability. It costs under $200 from Amazon.
  • Accessories. The four AA batteries it requires and a 4GB SD card are included.

DISLIKES:

  • Warranty. It comes with a one-year limited warranty. You have to pay an additional $4.58 for 2-Year Protection.

Related: 10  Top-Rated Audio Mixers for Home Studio

TASCAM DP-006

TASCAM DP-006

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Rec Tracks: 6-tracks.
Play Tracks: 6-tracks.
Inputs: 2.
Microphone: Two built-in high-quality stereo condenser microphones.
Outputs: 2.
Power Supply: Four AA batteries (included).
Storage: SD Card (4GB card included).

This multitrack audio recorder from Tascam can record six tracks simultaneously. The stereo condenser microphone comes with a built-in feature.

Considering the quality of sound, it comes at the best price. You can buy the gadget if you want to enjoy CD-grade recording. There are two lines for input in the device, and it supports two SD cards.

The track modes in the device are selectable and produce good quality stereophonic sound. This is a portable and highly recommended product for you, especially if you are traveling.

LIKES:

  • Ease of use. As with the TASCAM DP-008EX, the TASCAM DP-006 was designed to facilitate hassle-free on-the-spot recording. It comes with a simple and user-friendly interface. You can easily solve performance errors with the Undo and Redo functions, without worrying about deleting your previous recording take.
  • Portability. The ultra-lightweight design will make it easy to carry around in your bag, pocket, or suitcase, making it immediately at hand when inspiration strikes. It weighs only 1.83 pounds and measures at 9 x 6 x 3 inches.
  • Affordability. It costs just under $150 from Amazon.
  • Accessories. A tripod mount (for versatile set-up and placement), a 4GB SD card and four AA batteries are included.

DISLIKES:

  • Warranty. You have to pay an additional $4.71 for 3-Year Accident Protection or $2.97 for 2-Year Protection.

Zoom R16 Recorder Controller

Zoom R16 Multitrack SD Recorder Controller

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Rec Tracks: 8-tracks of simultaneous recording.
Play Tracks: 16 channel playback.
Virtual Tracks: Unlimited, depending on storage space.
Inputs: 8 balanced XLR-1/4-Inch combination inputs.
Microphone: Two built-in high-quality stereo condenser microphones.
Outputs: 2 x 1/4″ + USB.
Power Supply: AC adaptor or six AA/LR6 batteries.
Storage: SD Cards of up to 32GB (2GB card included).

Zoom r16 is a portable 8 channel digital recorder that is available at affordable price. You can do anything with the tracks, from editing to mastering and recording. It is a top-rated mixer with a USB audio interface.

It has a high recording capacity and can record up to 32 GB at a time. There are 8 combination inputs in the device and one can avail the phantom power over two tracks. It comes from one of the best brands with all the essential features, so the price is a bit higher than the other brands.

LIKES:

  • Ease of use. With 16 tracks for playback and recording in full fidelity WAV format, the Zoom R16 will fit the needs for both professional audio production and serve as a musical sounding board. You can connect instruments, external microphones, or line-level sources directly to the R16, or simply use the built-in stereo mic pair. After the recording process is complete, you can turn to its internal mixer (which comes with physical faders, equalization, panning, and built-in effects) to pull off that desired studio-quality sound.
  • Synchronicity. It comes with full control surface functionality (Mackie Control emulation). But if you rely on DAWs such as GarageBand, Logic, or Cubase, you can connect it to your computer and use it instead of a mouse (during the mixing and editing process, or if you want to enhance your track with drum machine sections).
  • Versatility. It comes preprogrammed with 135 types of digital effects for recording, mixing, and mastering (e.g. guitar amp, bass amp), a metronome, a chromatic tuner, variable playback speed (with or without pitch change), and mastering algorithms such as multi-band compression.
  • Affordability. It costs under $400 from Amazon.
  • Accessories. It comes with an operation manual, an AC adapter (Zoom AD-14), a 2GB SD card, an USB cable, and Steinberg Cubase LE 4 software.

DISLIKES:

  • Warranty. It comes with a one-year limited warranty. You have to pay an additional $13.82 for 3-Year Accident Protection or $85.11 for 4-Year Accident Protection.

Zoom F8

Zoom F8

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Rec Tracks: 8-tracks of simultaneous recording.
Play Tracks: 16 channel playback.
Inputs: 8 balanced XLR-1/4-Inch combination inputs.
Microphone: Two built-in high-quality stereo condenser microphones.
Outputs: Two.
Power Supply: AC adaptor or eight AA/LR6 batteries.
Storage: SD Cards of up to 64GB (2GB card included).

This is a good digital audio recorder and can deal with eight channels and ten tracks simultaneously. It features some of the latest characteristics like metadata entry, solid time codes and flawless accuracy.

It comes from a reputed brand and is a good multitrack recorder. The aluminum chassis is compact and light in weight. This makes it easy to carry.

If you long for a portable recording studio, this is something you can use. It reduces noise and masters the sound with the utmost accuracy.

LIKES:

  • Ease of use. With 16 tracks for playback and recording in full fidelity WAV format, the Zoom F8 will fit the needs for both professional audio production and serve as a musical sounding board.
  • Synchronicity. The model comes with full control surface functionality (Mackie Control emulation). But if you rely on DAWs such as GarageBand, Logic, or Cubase, you can connect it to your computer and use it instead of a mouse (during the mixing and editing process).
  • Advanced functionality. It comes preprogrammed with 135 types of digital effects for recording, mixing, and mastering (e.g. guitar amp, bass amp), a metronome, a chromatic tuner, variable playback speed (with or without pitch change), and mastering algorithms such as multi-band compression.
  • Accessories. It comes with an operation manual, an AC adapter, a 2GB SD card, a USB cable, and Steinberg Cubase LE 4 software.

DISLIKES:

  • Warranty. It comes with a one-year limited warranty. You have to pay an additional money for 3-Year Accident Protection.

Zoom F4

Zoom F4

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Rec Tracks: 8 tracks.
Play Tracks: 10 tracks.
Inputs: 8 locking Neutrik XLR/TRS combo input connectors.
Microphone: Two built-in high-quality stereo condenser microphones.
Outputs: One (standard BNC connector).
Power Supply: Use the external 9-16 volt DC battery packs, the supplied 12 volt AC adapter or 8 AA batteries.
Storage: Dual SD/SDHC/SDXC cards (up to 512GB each).

This USB multitrack recorder has a good overall review and the integrated mixer can handle as many as eight tracks at a time from six inputs. If you need a portable multitrack recorder, you can opt for this one as it weighs only two pounds.

It features a zoom microphone capsule input as well. This is a high-end product, priced around $650 and has all the essential features to master and edit the soundtracks well. This is one of the most popular products on the market and comes with a warranty.

LIKES:

  • Advanced features. The Zoom F4 provides state-of-the-art time coding, dual SD card recording, dual-channel recording, and a pre-record function that allows you to capture up to 6 seconds of audio before you press the ‘Record’ button.
  • Wireless Bluetooth control. Use the free F8 Control app to control functions – Record, Play, Stop, Fast-Forward, Rewind, etc. – with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch (5th Gen). You can also monitor input levels, battery status, and current time code.
  • Accessories. It comes with a camera mount adapter, a Zoom AD-19 12V AC Adapter, two TA3 to XLR cables, an operation manual, and Cubase LE and WaveLab LE download codes.

DISLIKES:

  • Affordability. It under $600 from Amazon, this is one of the more expensive multichannel recorders on this list.
  • Warranty. You have to pay an additional $17.44 for 3-Year Accident Protection or $163.45 for 4-Year Accident Protection.

Zoom R8

Zoom R8

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Rec Tracks: 2 simultaneous recording tracks.
Play Tracks: 8 simultaneous playback tracks.
Virtual Tracks: Unlimited, depending on remaining storage space.
Inputs: Two balanced XLR/TRS Combo Inputs.
Microphone: Built-in stereo condenser microphones.
Outputs: Two 1/4″ main out, stereo 1/4″ Headphone Jack and USB.
Power Supply: 4 AA batteries (included).
Storage: SDHC (up to 32 GB, 1GB SD card included).

If you have a low budget, you can avail a good quality recorder under $250. Zoom R8 is a 16 track playback recorder and supports linear recording in WAV format.

It comes with a 1 GB memory card and supports a maximum capacity of 32 GB. The secure digital memory allows it to play eight tracks simultaneously and the condenser microphone comes as a built-in feature.

This multi track audio recorder also supports phantom power across 2 channels and has two input lines. The consumer reports suggest that it is wise to buy the product.

LIKES:

  • Versatility. This compact and portable multichannel recorder’s full features make it compatible with travelers and for home studio too. It also has a pad sampler, 140 onboard DSP effects, a rhythm machine, and a loop-based sequencer. Furthermore, it can serve as a DAW control surface and audio interface.
  • Accessories. It comes with an operation manual, an AC adapter (Zoom AD-17), a 2GB SD card with drum machine loops (500MB of them), a USB cable, and Steinberg Cubase LE software.

DISLIKES:

  • Warranty. You have to pay an additional $11.51 for 3-Year Accident Protection or $64.07 for 4-Year Accident Protection.

Great Read:  10 Best Vocal Effects Processors For Live Performance

TASCAM DP-32SD

TASCAM DP-32SD

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Rec Tracks: Simultaneous 8 track recording.
Play Tracks: 32 simultaneous playback tracks.
Virtual tracks: 256 (8 virtual tracks for each track).
Inputs: 8 combination XLR and 1⁄4” combo jacks.
Microphone: External microphone is required.
Outputs: Two 1/4″ balanced TRS, two RCA unbalanced, 1/4″ TRS headphone jack, 2x 1/4″ unbalanced jack for effects send and USB.
Power Supply: AC adaptor.
Storage: SD/SDHC.

This device has a good rating and is capable of playing 32 tracks at a time. You can customize the choice of stereo and mono tracks, as it enables the user to play 8 mono-tracks and 12 mono or stereo tracks, as per the choice.

It weighs around 13.7 pounds and comes with an audio interface. The voice recorder is technically sophisticated and minimizes excess noise. However, it does not support automatic mixing and one needs to hand-mix it while the master recording is in the process.

LIKES:

  • Ease of use. Despite having so many tracks, it is one of the most user-friendly models available today. You have 20 track-faders and one master fader to eliminate layer structuring. The 3.5″ LCD screen and select self-illuminated buttons make it easy to keep track of your creative process. Use the convenient 12 rotary knobs to adjust EQ, Effect Send and other features.
  • Accessories. It comes with a camera mount adapter, a Zoom AD-19 12V AC Adapter, two TA3 to XLR cables, an operation manual, and Cubase LE and WaveLab LE download codes.

DISLIKES:

  • Affordability. It under $600 from Amazon, this is one of the more expensive multichannel recorders on this list.
  • Warranty. It comes with a one-year limited warranty. You have to pay an additional $15.73 for 3-Year Accident Protection or $103.64 for 4-Year Accident Protection.

Korg D888 Digital Audio

Korg D888 Digital Audio

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Rec Tracks: 8 tracks.
Play Tracks: 8 tracks.
Inputs: XLR and a jack socket.
Microphone: External microphone is required.
Outputs: USB 2.0.
Power Supply: AC.
Storage: This hard disk recorder comes with a 40GB internal hard drive.

Korg brings you a stand-alone multitrack recorder at a reasonable price. It features 48-volt phantom power and can simultaneously record 8 tracks while playing the same.

It supports USB interface and the microphone preamps are known for their high performance. The customer reviews suggest that the recorder is ideal for any sort of mixing, recording or editing of the soundtracks.

It receives the soundtracks from eight sources at a time and produces an enriched stereophonic sound quality when mastered. The digital recorder comes with a hard-disk recorder.

LIKES:

  • User-friendly. It comes with an easy-to-use layout, with a solid chassis and connectors.
  • Affordability. The price makes this hard disk recorder one of the more affordable multichannel recorders on this list.

DISLIKES:

  • Limited versatility. It provides no S/PDIF input, no EQ bypass, a narrow range of onboard effects options, limited digital editing options, and only basic MIDI spec.

Roland BR-80

Roland BR-80

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Rec Tracks: 8 tracks (2 simultaneous recording tracks) in MTR Mode, 2 stereo tracks (2 simultaneous recording tracks). in eBand Mode, 2 stereo tracks (2 simultaneous recording tracks) in LIVE REC Mode.
Inputs: Two (guitar/mic and line-in).
Microphone: An external microphone is required.
Outputs: One.
Power Supply: 2 AA batteries or a power adapter are required.
Storage: SD/SDHC memory card (up to 32 GB).

This product from Roland is a cheap multitrack recorder, priced under $250. There are various inbuilt features, along with the SONAR X1 LE software.

It comes with the eBand function and is backed by a library of rhythm patterns. There are as many as three modes or recording in the gadget.

The stereophonic sound quality is enriched and highly rated. It supports eight playback tracks simultaneously and can capture 64 V-tracks at a time.

It is a good product and delivers fine mastering of the tracks. It is super-light, weighing just around one pound. So, you will find it easy to carry.

LIKES:

  • Easy to use. It comes with three modes (MTR, eBand, LIVE REC) that you can use seamlessly to create, record, and perform your music.
  • Affordability. At under $250 from Amazon, this makes for an affordable handheld multitrack recorder.

DISLIKES:

  • Warranty. You have to pay an additional $55.14 for 4-Year Accident Protection or an additional $10.26 for 3-Year Accident Protection.
  • Accessories. It comes with SONAR X1 LE software, a sizable library of built-in backing and rhythm patterns, an SD Memory Card, a USB Cable (mini-B type), two AA batteries, and an owner’s manual – but you will have to buy a power adapter separately.

TASCAM DR-40 4-Track Handheld

TASCAM DR-40

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Rec Tracks: 4 tracks.
Play Tracks: 2 channels (stereo).
Inputs: XLR or 1/4″ line inputs.
Microphone: Built-in omnidirectional stereo microphones.
Outputs: USB 2.0 jack.
Power Supply: 3 AA batteries (included).
Storage: SD or SDHC cards (up to 32GB, 2GB card is included).

This new handheld multitrack recorder is one of the most portable (it weighs 1.2 pounds, and measures at 5.5 x 3.5 x 8 inches) and affordable devices (under $180 from Amazon) you can find on the market today.

With it, you can have a quality 4-track digital recorder wherever you go. It comes with a dual mode recording functionality, automatic level adjustment, and a built-in limiter that will allow you to capture quality audio anywhere, anytime.

LIKES:

  • Versatility. The adjustable unidirectional microphones can record in the A-B and X-Y position. This placing flexibility helps you get a better stereo sound with less phase difference.
  • Functionality. You can access a wide range of features with its user-friendly interface: overdub mode, variable speed playback, limiting and low cut filter, speaker and chromatic tuner, peak reduction.
  • Affordability. This is the cheapest handheld multitrack recorder on this list.
  • Accessories. This 4-track digital recorder comes with a 2GB card and 3 AAA batteries.
  • Warranty. This 4-track digital recorder with a limited one-year warranty.

DISLIKES:

  • Capacity. This 4-track digital recorder will have you working in very limited conditions.

Zoom R24

Zoom R24

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Zoom H4N PRO

Zoom H4N PRO

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Tascam DP-03SD

Tascam DP-03SD

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Things to Consider before Buying a Multitrack Recorder

As mentioned previously, purchasing a multitrack recorder can be highly confusing when there is such a wide range of functionality at hand. It is easy to get sidetracked by flashy high tech features during the process. To make the right decision (that you will not regret later), do consider the following factors when making your purchase:

Categories

These devices come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. You have small handheld models (aka pocketstudios), larger ones that are about the size of a laptop, and even larger ones that have less portability.

In general, the larger options come with additional features and functions at the expense of compactness. Be clear about how you mainly intend to your multitrack recorder, and then narrow your selection down accordingly.

Track Types

Unlike tape machines, these devices only allow you to record on a limited number of tracks simultaneously. It also limits the number of tracks you can mix. Additional virtual tracks will give you more room to mix and edit without deleting previous recordings.

Compatibility with DAW

Most options easily allow you to export your audio files to your computer for further editing, mixing, or to share with others. There are some models that work even more seamlessly with specific DAWs – this can be a bonus if you intend to use both systems together.

Additional features

Unlike DAWs, multi-track recorders are incompatible with plugins. Make a list of all the effects that you might want to incorporate and check to ensure that the recorder of your choice has them.

Budget

The prices of the recorders on this list range from under $200 to under $750. Make a list of the features that you strictly require and then look for the best bargain among the recorders that fit your criteria.

FAQ

Can you import files into a multitrack recorder?

Yes, you can connect most of them to your computer via a USB cable and transfer them that way. The other alternative would be to copy them into the SD card.

Do the handheld models come with speakers?

They usually do, but they are often fairly soft and not of good quality. You can use them to check that you have recorded what you intended to capture, but you will need to connect them to an actual speaker to listen to it properly.

Why do some musicians prefer to work with recorders over DAWs?
Some musicians prefer working with multitrack recorders because (1) they are not as distracted by emails, computer viruses, social media, or the internet in general as they work; (2) they prefer to rely on their ears as they record their music – instead of looking at the digital sound waves that appear on the screen of their DAW.

Of course, you can have the best of both worlds by having a multitrack recorder and DAW at your disposal. (Some people prefer to have it as a stand-alone recording and mixing device). Recording and mixing remain incomplete without the use of multitrack recorders. You can manipulate any sound and edit it to blend with other tracks. Altogether, you can get a great symphony in the end when the mixing is complete.

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