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OT: Zoom MRS-1608 digital recorder


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Hey folks,


If anyone here is looking for a all-in-one type digital recorder, I'd strongly suggest you check out the Zoom MRS-1608. I bought one of these several months ago, and although I certainly haven't used it to it's full potential yet, I find every time I do something with it that it's...well...just easy to do. This recorder gets high marks from me in terms of useability. There's a dedicated button for most high-level functions, and everything pretty much makes sense from there.


In terms of sound quality, it sounds as good as any of the units roughly in the $1K or so price range. Nowadays, there's generally little difference in terms of sound quality...but there's big differences in terms of functionality. This guy can be bought without the CD burner for $800. You can then buy a compatible CD-RW drive and install it easily (they used Lite-On drives, which are about $40-50 or less...much better than the $200 markup to buy it with the CD-burner, or the $300 Zoom charges for the add-on CD-burner kit, which is essentially the $40 Lite-On CD-RW drive).


This recorder has 16 physical tracks (8 mono and 4 stereo), plus 16 virtual tracks for each physical track, plus a dedicated stereo master track, can record up to 8 tracks simultaneously (good for live band recordings), can bounce tracks in digital (from mono to stereo and vice versa as well). It has two dedicated loop effects processors built in, plus a stack of insert processors that can be used for tracking or mastering. The presets are surprisingly good, especially the insert mastering presets. These insert processors include multi-band compressor, sonic maximizer-type deal, etc. Running the tracks to master through the mastering insert effect presets yields some really good sounding final (or sub-final) masters.


It also has a built-in drum machine, built in bass tracks (who needs that, right?), and phrase looping functionality. It can import WAV files to tracks from the CD drive, and can also digitally import tracks from audio CD's. It can burn audio CD's, and dump tracks to WAV files on CD. There's an optional USB card to hook it up to your computer, but with all this functionality via the CD-RW, I'm not sure it's really needed (it's $80 additional..the card goes in the recorder).


Before I bought this I carefully compared it with the Fostex VF-16 and did a quick comparison with the Tascam 1688. It certainly beats the Fostex in terms of features, and even the Tascam in some areas. Given that Zoom's bass effects certainly leave much to be desired, I was a bit skeptical about how good the quality would be on this recorder, but so far I'm very impressed. It has and continues to far exceed my expectations. I sold a Yamaha MD-8 and a Roland VS-840EX and replaced them both with this guy...it does pretty much everything both of them combined could do, plus some. So far, I really haven't found anything that I really dislike about it or that's really irritating.


If you're looking to setup a professional recording studio, look at high-end machines...but if you're looking for something for a home studio, project studio, etc., this is definitely worth a look, especially for the price.


Anyway, I hope someone finds this useful. Enjoy!


Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006


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