ZOOM R8 by needsLITHIUM
The ZOOM R8 is a neat little device. It serves function in the following tasks: USB Recording Interface, USB DAW Control Surface, and Stand-Alone Portable Multitrack Recorder.
It has 2 inputs, that accept either XLR or TS 1/4" jacks. The left input may be switched between Hi-Z or Mic/Line. Both inputs may be switched between the built-in condenser microphones on the unit or the plugs, and have a gain knob. It has an LED Display, which shows different data at different times, but in USB I/F mode, it shows level/clip info for both input and output of the device and the DAW. In USB Audio Interface mode, it uses ASIO Drivers (meaning if you use ProTools, you will need ver. 10 or newer).
It has a built in chromatic tuner, as well as a metronome, and has a basic drum machine (the latter only available for use in stand alone mode), and built in EFX. The effects can only be used at a 44.1 kHz sample rate, but in USB interface mode, you can record in 96 kHz, 24-bit, full studio quality. It has separate outputs for for left and right monitors (TRS Balanced) and headphones (TRS Stereo). It also has compatibility with a footswitch for external input. It plays back the audio form your DAW, and monitors your input live from the unit.
The Control Surface mode is compliant with Mackie Emulation, meaning a whole host of DAW's support it, including, but not limited too, REAPER, Sonar, ProTools, and Cubase. For Windows, it has a 32 and 64-bit driver available, and in MacOS, you need no drivers. It does not support Linux. It supports use as an interface and control surface in Apple Logic, too. It has 5 assignable buttons, as well as solo capabilities, Play/Stop/Arm Record functions, and a few other neat buttons.
The device is simple enough to use as a USB recorder or control surface, but in stand alone mode, it is quite tricky. the manual for that function is separate, and is a rather large booklet/PDF. In stand alone mode, it can operate on AA Batteries, or a supplied USB charger. It records audio to a SD card. A 2 GB card is included, but it supports SDHC up to 32 GB. It can only record 2 tracks at once, but can play back up to 8 in stand alone mode.
At $299 USD, it isn't that expensive, nor is it necessarily cheap. It costs more than an M-Audio Fast-Track USB, but has more features and supports better sample rates, so this is to be expected. For the amount of features, and how good the audio quality is, it is quite the bargain.
Anyone short of a true professional studio would find this item invaluable, and be quite pleased with it. There are 2 higher models, the R16 and R24, that have more features and/or inputs, and can play back more tacks in stand alone mode, but they also require more money. The best deal is the subject of this review, but if you have more money, go with the higher models. You most likely won't be disappointed.