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Zoom R24 vs Livetrak L12 for small group location recording
Old 9th March 2018
  #1
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ChrisFitzgerald's Avatar
Zoom R24 vs Livetrak L12 for small group location recording

First post in a while here. I have done a search and have learned a few things but would like to narrow things down. Hope I am in the right forum and apologies for the length of this post - just trying to be thorough.

I'm a professor at a music school in the midwest, actively involved in the jazz studies program as both instrumental faculty and classroom teacher. I am getting ready to propose an initiative to include more recording in the curriculum for our small jazz ensembles. We don't have a ton of resources and don't need totally professional results at this time but would like to include an ensemble recording requirement at the end of each semester.

The recordings would be made either in the current acoustically compromised rehearsal spaces or in a slightly drier space with no separation. The groups are usually 4-7 instruments. After they play their final concert, we would like to have them record themselves and review the recording both as a whole ensemble and as regards their individual parts of the whole.

We are looking at the Zoom R24 and Livetrack L12, thinking simultaneous 8 inputs max for what we want to do, and the ability to do a basic mix of levels. Everything would be acoustic and there would be a lot of bleed, and we accept that.

The question I have is this: the R24 seems to be a more basic user friendly unit that most of our students and faculty could - and would - easily use for this purpose. The Livetrak has a lot of neat features, but many of them are superfluous for what we are trying to do and the consensus is that it's way more complicated to learn. Given these things, what are the compelling reasons to choose the Livetrak over the R24?
Old 9th March 2018
  #2
Lives for gear
I bought the Livetrak, depite being wary of Zoom products (20 years ago I had bad experiences) I needed 10-12 recording channels and the options there are limited at the price range. So far it's been very good. It isn't difficult to learn and understand, not complicated really.

Its fundamentals are like those of bigger digital mixing desks, so a good introduction in that sense for students. Plus built in effects. Five independent headphone mixes. The SD card recording has been reliable. I like it.

I haven't used the other product you mention.
Old 9th March 2018
  #3
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ChrisFitzgerald's Avatar
Thank you - that is helpful. I have a friend who bought both and sent the Livetrack back because he didn't want to deal with reading a 96 page manual. He said that the R24 does what he needs, but his needs are pretty simple. If I were going to be the only person using the unit, i would probably just get the Livetrack and deal with the learning curve. But for the use described, whatever we get would have to be simple enough for the other faculty and grad students to use with their groups. My worry, based on experience, is that if we got something that was too complicated people would just decide not to use it at all.
Old 10th March 2018
  #4
Lives for gear
It really isn't too complicated. If they are students then I would expect their intelligence to be at least average, and it's straight forward enough imo. Although then again I've been involved in this kind of tech for quite a few years, so I dunno.

I previously had a Yamaha AW1600 and the manual was almost certainly written by a maniac. Even so, the unit itself was convoluted beyond belief. Got there in the end, but the Livetrak is a breeze in comparison. Your friend has no patience - the manual seems quite straight forward. Then again, if you're a total beginner who knows, hard for me to tell.
Old 10th March 2018
  #5
Here for the gear
 

I recently purchased the L12. I have participated in recording over the last 20 years, but, being a 'hack bass player' and never having owned any recording equipment I have zero experience with the recording/mixing process or general knob twiddling.

In less than one hour with this thing I was able to record a drummer on 4 tracks(kick, snare, 2xOH), 2 key, 2 bass and 2 guitar tracks. It was pure joy. There is a learning curve for a neophyte, but I found it to be intuitive... keeping in mind that I have no previous experience or expectations.

End result, I had a 30sec dub reggae 'demo' likely for use on our FB page in less than 45mins and in less than optimal conditions on my first try. Tomorrow I'm going back to the practice space to dig into "mixing" the track but I was satisfied with the prelim results as monitored out of the PA. I also intend to use this as a live mixer/recorder for my 3piece funk/reggae band(with backing tracks).

My post today was made while searching the net for others with experience using this gear. No, I dont know what I'm doing!
Old 25th March 2018
  #6
Here for the gear
 

Name says it x Livetrack is mainly for mixing live performances. R24 less so

I’ve been researching both products all day, I just finished reading the manuals though

Here’s my comparison of the 2

The R24 R16 and R8 are typical portastudios in the old Roland VS style

Extras:
Perfect for layered recordings, each track separately and with several takes. Auto punch/in and out, AB looping of a single passage to do retakes etc.
production features in the unit itself: you can bounce tracks to combine them. Pick and choose from different takes for each track. Bounce tracks with onboard effects to record the wet sound ...
Battery powered if you want
Builtin effects for typical guitar, bass and drum sound shaping, not just a single FX send

Lacking:
Only 1 headphone out, and thus only 1 monitor mix
No aux sends

On the other hand, The L-12 is a primarily a live digital mixer, with an extra recorder output added to it. It dumps wav files for each track’s dry signal, and for the master stereo out, but that’s rather rudimentary

Extras: up to five fully individual headphone output straight from the board
Inline compressor on each channel
Better knob layout with distinct rotary knobs, so much more convenient for live mixing as you don’t have to dig into the menu on the tiny screen all the time
Less effects, and only the kind your PA sound engineer would be adding to your stage signal.. less clutter and less useless gimmicky junk which nobody wants.

Lacking:
Any form of editing post-recording: your tracks can be played afterwards, and you can overwrite them, but this will just result in new wave files for each track to go onto the SD card, and you’ll need your DAW in he computer to do all the further work.
Guitars will need their own preamp and pedalboard if you want something fancy

My conclusion
To record a live performance with multiple performers and capture it for later postproduction, or just for amplification, I’d pick the Livetrak, mainly for its multiple headphone mixes.

In a home studio where you build up a project from scratch with individual takes, or for a 1 man project, the R16 series will be more convenient only if you prefer not to work on computer, or if you do not have other fx gear already at your disposal. Plus it can be had for a lot cheaper, especially second hand.
Old 26th March 2018
  #7
Gear Maniac
 

If you haven't found a solution yet, consider this.

Look around your school for an analog mixing board. If you find one, you can connect a ZOOM H4N PRO to the stereo outputs of the mixer, and record a high resolution stereo track.

The benefits are:
1. It will be very easy and intuitive to mix your levels.
2. Much lower cost
3. Much higher audio quality
4. You can also use the H4N Pro's built in stereo mics to record your group.

I was in the exact same situation. This worked out much better for me.
Old 14th June 2018
  #8
Bumping this thread...
How is the L-12 shaping up for those using it in terms of functionality and sound quality?
Looking at the L-12 for multi track recording. Others Im considering: A&H Mixwizard wz4, Soundcraft MTK12.
Old 19th June 2018
  #9
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DirkP's Avatar
The mic-pres on the L12 are a step better than on the older recorders and it has more features. I have to say although I can afford more expensive stuff and do so, the Zoom units are incredible good for the money.
I own the U44 - incredible for the money - and the old R8 multitrack. The R8 is very intuitive.

This said: wouldn't it make more sense in the situation you describe to invest into good microphones and simply record the entire sessions with two good micros? If all the instruments are accoustic and you don't record in a studio, you need good mics anyway. It will be hard to mix and you can forget overdubs.
In my experience and being the amateur I am: most of the times a live recording in a halfway decent room with good mics sounds almost alway better than an amateurish multitrack recording (at least if I am the multitracker:-).
Old 21st December 2018
  #10
Here for the gear
Hello DirkP

right now I am also in the decision which product to buy. I need it as an interface for home-recording with Logic X as well as for mixing a small band in live situation.

I had the Zoom R16 but was very unhappy with the Mic Pre amps. Especially with condenser microphons the gain was difficult to control and headroom was limited. Has this been improved on the Livetrak?

Otherwise Í would rather go for a Soundcraft Signature MTK or a Presonus Studiolive AR.

Thank you,
Jet
Old 5 days ago
  #11
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ChrisFitzgerald's Avatar
Revisiting this thread as I have been using either a Zoom H6 for hybrid projects or just recording our school's ensembles live in stereo up to this point. I'm going to make a proposal to buy some new gear soon and wanted to get people's opinions of the Tascam Model 24 as a standalone recorder and mixer where i could do the entire recording and mixing process inside the unit. I'm not looking so much for professional recordings, but more for a way to record jazz concerts and recitals with some control over individual instruments in the final mix. Sort of a midpoint between just recording a live stereo mix of the ensembles and having complete control over everything.

The purpose of the proposal for our area of the school would be twofold:
1) To give students a better idea of what they actually sound like when they perform
2) To be able to provide easy to create audio mixes to sync to video fo those occasions where there is video of performances.

What I would like would be the ability to sit in the audience with phones on and mix live to 2 track. If I get the mix right live, that's the goal. But if I don't catch something, I would like to be able to go back and adjust levels and create a revised 2 track mix. it seems like that Model 24 not only can do that, but that it is also basically designed for that. Can anyone with experience weigh in on whether it would be a good choice for this purpose? It looks better built than the Zoom Livetrak, and I am more familiar with analog boards than digital ones.
Old 4 days ago
  #12
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisFitzgerald View Post
Revisiting this thread as I have been using either a Zoom H6 for hybrid projects or just recording our school's ensembles live in stereo up to this point. I'm going to make a proposal to buy some new gear soon and wanted to get people's opinions of the Tascam Model 24 as a standalone recorder and mixer where i could do the entire recording and mixing process inside the unit. I'm not looking so much for professional recordings, but more for a way to record jazz concerts and recitals with some control over individual instruments in the final mix. Sort of a midpoint between just recording a live stereo mix of the ensembles and having complete control over everything.

The purpose of the proposal for our area of the school would be twofold:
1) To give students a better idea of what they actually sound like when they perform
2) To be able to provide easy to create audio mixes to sync to video fo those occasions where there is video of performances.

What I would like would be the ability to sit in the audience with phones on and mix live to 2 track. If I get the mix right live, that's the goal. But if I don't catch something, I would like to be able to go back and adjust levels and create a revised 2 track mix. it seems like that Model 24 not only can do that, but that it is also basically designed for that. Can anyone with experience weigh in on whether it would be a good choice for this purpose? It looks better built than the Zoom Livetrak, and I am more familiar with analog boards than digital ones.
Take some time to read this detailed review from UK publication Sound on Sound: https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/tascam-model-24

It seems to confirm that it's ideally made for your intended purpose. If you're going to be recording (I mean monitoring) in the same room as the performers, best to get yourself a pair of good sealing ear-cup (ie not open backed) headphones, so you can better judge what's "going onto tape" rather than what's simply being amplified within the room...it's very important to be able to differentiate between the 2 sets of sounds !

From the description it seems you could either mix live to 2 track as the performance occurs, or do so afterwards using the recorded tracks from the SD card. Be sure to check the caveats about SD card type mentioned in the review...but it looks tailor-made for your purpose !

If you don't warm to the pressure of the live to stereo mix, just ensure all individual mic inputs are of conservative level, record in 24 bit and mix afterwards. You can also (destructively) do punch in/out overdub repairs...which will give your students a look-in to standard studio recording procedure....
Old 4 days ago
  #13
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ChrisFitzgerald's Avatar
@ studer58 - Thanks for the reply. According to the SoS review, it looks like it can do what i need pretty easily. The one thing that the L20 has that this doesn't have is more metering on the input channels, which would be useful for setting levels on the fly. I am assuming the Tascam would be more durable and reliable while the Zoom would be more portable. Still looking at both of them at this point.
Old 4 days ago
  #14
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DirkP's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisFitzgerald View Post
@ studer58 - Thanks for the reply. According to the SoS review, it looks like it can do what i need pretty easily. The one thing that the L20 has that this doesn't have is more metering on the input channels, which would be useful for setting levels on the fly. I am assuming the Tascam would be more durable and reliable while the Zoom would be more portable. Still looking at both of them at this point.
Another advantage of the Zoom is the amount of independent headphone/monitor outputs even the smaller L12 offers: 5!. Really outstanding for this kind of unit. But if you don't need them...
I haven't heard both units and have good experiences with Zoom gear, but in this case I kind of would like to like the Tascam more.
Old 3 days ago
  #15
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ChrisFitzgerald's Avatar
The headphone submixes mean nothing to me, but I can see how they could be really cool for others.

i also notice that they have announced the Model 16 to be released soon, and that might be an even better choice for me. Since I haven't had my hands on either of these units, there are a couple of questions I have about how they operate in standalone mode:
1) When doing a stereo mix down in the machine, are changes in the faders recorded to the stereo mix down? This seems like a total no brainer, but I have heard some talk/complaints about this not being the case and can't tell if that complaint relates to standalone mix downs or only interfacing with a DAW. I won't be doing the latter.
2) Can the two stereo channels at the right hand side of the board, marked "Line" be used for internally powered stereo mics like the AT 2022? If they could be used for that type of mic, it would be super useful. I kind of doubt that's the case, but it's worth asking.
Old 2 days ago
  #16
The Zoom R24 is basically a bit bigger R16, which is a *DECADE OLD*!

The Zoom L12 is almost more or less the same price as the R24, and is Zoom's latest and best product in this niche.

So why not get the best? It still is more than easy enough to learn, *especially* if you're working/studying in this field as you and your students are. It should be a breeze.

Go for the Zoom L12, you might not need absolutely everything it does right *now* but you'll be glad it is there for the day you do want it, or just simply have an eager/exceptional student who wants to extend themselves with something not as basic as the R24.
Old 2 days ago
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by dontsimon View Post
I bought the Livetrak, depite being wary of Zoom products (20 years ago I had bad experiences) I needed 10-12 recording channels and the options there are limited at the price range. So far it's been very good. It isn't difficult to learn and understand, not complicated really.

Its fundamentals are like those of bigger digital mixing desks, so a good introduction in that sense for students. Plus built in effects. Five independent headphone mixes. The SD card recording has been reliable. I like it.
Zoom unfortunately still has a bad reputation based on its products from a zillion years ago (such as ugghhh... their awful Zoom H4n!!), however since the Zoom F series with the F8 (and also their Zoom L series, which has built upon their work with the Zoom F series) then Zoom has taken massive massive leaps forward with their game, in bringing out high quality audio and advanced features down to a very low price point!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisFitzgerald View Post
The one thing that the L20 has that this doesn't have is more metering on the input channels, which would be useful for setting levels on the fly. I am assuming the Tascam would be more durable and reliable while the Zoom would be more portable. Still looking at both of them at this point.
The Zoom L & F series are very durable and reliable.
Old 2 days ago
  #18
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DirkP's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by IronFilm View Post
Zoom unfortunately still has a bad reputation based on its products from a zillion years ago (such as ugghhh... their awful Zoom H4n!!), however since the Zoom F series with the F8 (and also their Zoom L series, which has built upon their work with the Zoom F series) then Zoom has taken massive massive leaps forward with their game, in bringing out high quality audio and advanced features down to a very low price point!



The Zoom L & F series are very durable and reliable.
Agree with you. Among the companies that produce budget gear, Zoom is maybe the best. The L-Series preamps seem to be the same as used in the H6. Very good, but not as good as the ones used in the F series. Although Zoom claims: "LiveTrak is equipped with the quietest and most advanced preamps we’ve ever made".
They have 60 db gain like the ones in the H6. The ones used in the F series have 75 db gain.
Old 2 days ago
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by DirkP View Post
Agree with you. Among the companies that produce budget gear, Zoom is maybe the best. The L-Series preamps seem to be the same as used in the H6. Very good, but not as good as the ones used in the F series. Although Zoom claims: "LiveTrak is equipped with the quietest and most advanced preamps we’ve ever made".
They have 60 db gain like the ones in the H6. The ones used in the F series have 75 db gain.
Interesting... as I'd have assumed they'd be the same preamps as in the Zoom F series (which are excellent! Especially for their price. A leap forward over the H Series).

Should try out a head to head comparison with a L Series vs F Series
Old 2 days ago
  #20
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The L series pre are stated as -128 dbu EIN vs the F series -127 dbu EIN
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