So let’s say you’re out and about and inspiration strikes . . .
How would you remember that beat or record that rap?
Yeah you can use your iPhone but you can’t record quality professional music on an iPhone. I use my iPhone just to record ideas (The voice recorder app) and in the last 5 years of doing this, I only used one or two of these countless ideas.
It’s not convenient at all and a pure hassle to say the least.
Who wants to connect the iPhone to a laptop and then try to recreate the idea using professional equipment and most importantly, noise-free?
As creative music artists and producers, we are not meant to worry about the technical mumbo jumbo to bring that idea to life.
Our job is to simply produce and create.
However, if we create something using the proper tools, there is a better chance of it going from a simple ‘inspiration’ to a full on track.
That’s the sole reason why portable digital multitrack recorders came into existence.
Now no matter where you go, you can record your ideas and even full on tracks at a professional level.
This way you’ll be more inclined to share what you’ve created.
Isn’t that the whole idea anyways? As an example, if you are a banjo player, you can simply connect a ribbon microphone through these recorders and “banjo” away.
Tascam Digital 8 Track Recorder DP 008 – Best Tascam Portastudio
- 8-track Portable Multi-track Recorder
- CD-Quality Recording (44.1kHz/16-bit)
- Built-in High-quality Stereo Condenser Microphone
- Two XLR mic/line with +48V Phantom Power
- 2G SD Card and AA Batteries Included
Tascam is a great brand (My audio interface is by Tascam as well) and this portable multitrack recorder is no exception. One of the entry level guys in Tascam’s Portastudio line up (Short for Portable studio),
This little wonder comes with two built in condenser microphones as well so whenever inspiration strikes, you an simply whip this out and spit your game on these.
The second condenser can be used to record a beat or an instrument like an acoustic guitar riff as well. It comes with a 4gb SD card so data transfer is quick.
The Tascam DP 008EX is definitely one of light ones out there so if you record a lot on the road, this digital multitrack recorder is a great for travelling. It come with two xlr inputs so even when on the fly, you can maintain the quality of your recordings. Like most digital multitrack, it doesn’t come with built in speakers but you can use your headphones or external speakers.
To be honest, having headphones is more than enough. You don’t need to connect these to studio monitors as that would kind of defeat the purpose. One downside is doesn’t come with an adapter, that is a separate purchase. You can run it on batteries though but I wish Tascam threw in the adapter as well, that would have made this a killer Tascam 8 track recorder package.
Overall, it’s still the best Tascam portable recorder around and in my opinion, the best home studio multitrack recorder.
Tascam Digital Portastudio DP 006
- 6-track Portable Multi-track Recorder
- CD-Quality Recording (44.1kHz/16-bit)
- 2G SD Card and AA Batteries included, record to SD/SDHC card up to 32GB
- Up to six tracks recording 2mono tracks+ 2mono/stereo switchable tracks
- Built-in high quality stereo condenser microphone, two mic/line inputs
This Tascam digital multitrack recorder is pretty much the same as the DP-008EX but with one key difference. It has only 6 channels.
I prefer 8 channels but most can get by with 6. It all depends on how you record your things. I know some artists have some really unique set ups that are totally unconventional.
At the end of the day, it’s not how you record but what you record. To be honest, if you’re having fun even the latter doesn’t matter.
That said, the Tascam DP 006 also comes with a nice little tripod so you don’t have to hold it in your hand all the time while you go back and forth with your music laptop (Transfering audio files, etc).
If 6 channels are good for you then this is the one of the best Tascam Portastudios around. Great entry level multi track recorder.
Tascam 8 Track Digital Multitrack Recorder DP-03sd
- Import WAV files from USB
- Built-in stereo condenser microphone
- Two XLR microphone inputs with phantom power
- Switchable instrument-level input for guitar/bass direct recording
- Track editing, auto punch and bounce features
Another Portastudio by Tascam. This one also has 8 tracks and it actually comes with its own power supply and an SD card. This model basically replaces the Portastudio DP 02cf (A legendary work horse). Jam packed with features but if you’re looking for a mixer to keep near your current music studio, this is more suitable for that.
It’s a larger Portastudio than Tascam’s DP series and definitely less portable. I would use this to record if I’m spending time in different music studios, but not while just running around.
Since it has more features than the DP series, there is a learning curve attached to it which could be a turn off. Especially if you hate anything ‘technical’ in music such as myself.
Also just because of what you are getting here (Size and features wise), most users later regret that they got an 8 channel instead of a 32. Guess it’s just one of those digital recorders that you either hate or love. These days, it’s all about computer based multitrack recording and this one fits the bill quite nicely.
Korg Multitrack Recorder D12
Korg has created a nice 12 track digital multitrack recorder as well and it goes by the name of D-12. Maybe Eminem’s crew stole this name but either way, it’s a great product.
This Korg multitrack recorder is a tad bit old compared to the new digital recorders (Like Tascam) but still solid as ever.
Record 4 tracks at the same time or playback all 12 at once, this Korg multitrack is a beast. You’ll be surprised to see how many people actually use this in their studios.
Zoom R16 Multitrack Recorder
- 16-channel playback, 8-channel simultaneous recording
- 48V phantom power available on 2 tracks
- The R16 comes preprogrammed with 135 types of digital effects for recording, mixing, and mastering
- Records on up to 32GB SDHC cards for maximum recording time
- Eight balanced XLR-1/4-Inch combination inputs
I consider the Zoom R16 multitrack recorder as my main multitrack recorder which is not my main recorder.
I guess if you completely despise “techy” stuff in music (Welcome to the club) but still want to make professional music, this multitrack recorder is for you. No drama, no learning curve just plug and play.
As far as ‘ease of use’ goes, this one is the best in the business. Works great with batteries though some do report that the quality of their adapter can be a lot better.
Tascam Portastudio DP 24
- Eighteen track faders and one master fader allows instant access to any track without selecting pages or banks of faders.
- 3.5" LCD screen and select, self-illuminated buttons - make it easy to keep an eye on your entire creative process.
- Records to SD/SDHC cards to provide fast, secure and reliable capture of every vocal line, guitar lick and drum hit.
- Built-in multi effects processor and mastering tools make it easy to go from demo to finished product.
- Remote connector for optional RC-3F footswitch. OS :Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Mac OS X Snow Leopard(V10.6), OS X Lion(V10.7), OS X Mountain Lion(V10.8), OS X Mavericks(V10.9)
Here is the big boss of them all. Tascam Dp-24SD has (You guessed it) 24 tracks for you to get completely lost in recording music. This is basically a music studio in a box.
It comes with a nice slick 3.5” LCD screen so you access all of it’s features. I wouldn’t recommend this to any beginners but if you are looking to go to the next level or have the budget for it, then this is it.
You can literally bang out professional quality tracks on this thanks to the built in effects processor and the multiple mastering tools it comes preloaded with.
I personally love the option of having 8 XLR inputs. Comes loaded with features but just as easy to use as a Tascam handheld recorder. Considering the size, I would label this the easiest digital multitrack recorder.
The engineers here made sure that things don’t get too complicated with this one. That is always a plus in my book. All hail the Tascam DP 24 – The best 24 track digital portastudio yet. One downside is it’s not portable enough for you to carry around but I don’t think it’s meant for that.
Zoom LiveTrak L-12 Multitrack Recorder
- 12 discrete channels (8 mono plus 2 stereo) with XLR or 1/4-inch connectivity
- Frequency characteristics 44.1 kHz:-1.0 dB: 20 Hz - 20 kHz,96 kHz: -3.0 dB: 20 Hz - 40 kHz.14 -track Simultaneous recording, 12-track playback
- 5 powered headphone outputs, each with a customizable and savable mix
- 14 -in/4-out USB audio interface connectivity
- Scene saving function, up to 9 scenes saved at a time
This Zoom multitrack recording studio is great for bands. The reason for that is it allows you to record about to 14 tracks simultaneously. Which is the most out of all the multitrack recorders featured here.
It also comes with 5 headphone outputs so you know this is meant for a nice group session or something along those lines. The Zoom L-12 also comes with a proper power source (An adapter) and a USB cable.
If you are somewhat familiar with your current DAW, you’ll really enjoy the connectivity with this multitrack recorder.
I would pick this over the big Tascam multitrack recorders just because it is really that easy to connect with your current home studio (Logic, Ableton, etc). Plug and play all the way. One of the best Zoom multitrack recorders in the market today. However, just like everything in life, there is one tiny bit of a downside, you must provide your own SD card. Ouch . . .
Korg D1200 Multitrack Recorder
This is the newer revamped version of the Korg D12. The Korg D1200 has all the same features as the Korg D12 but it’s a whole lot more easier to use.
So if you enjoyed the Korg D12, this would be your natural upgrade. As the D12 this one is also great for guitarists.
Now the question of the day is if you had a choice between the D12 and the D1200, which one should you pick? Well obviously the D1200 is more up to date but you can definitely get away with the D12 as well.
Let me put it this way . . . If you like the old school classic feel, try to get a D12 and if you just want to keep moving into the future, go with the D1200.
Overall, it’s the same multi recorder essentially.
Zoom H4N PRO Digital Multitrack Recorder
- Four-channel recording up to 24-bit, 96 kHz
- Built-in stereo X/Y microphones, up to 140 dB SPL
- 2 XLR/TRS inputs with locking connectors. Records directly to SD/SDHC cards up to 32 GB
- 4-in/2-out USB audio interface. Monaural speaker: 400 mW 8 Ω
- Line/phone-LINE Output load impedance- 10 kΩ or more. LINE rated output level: -10 dBu. PHONE- 20 mW + 20 mW (into 32Ω load)
The smallest and probably the most coolest looking digital multitrack recorder I’ve ever seen.
Looks like something from those Alien movies but don’t let the fancy look foo you, this thing is a beast.
It’s a 4 track recorder and if your genre of music is rap, 4 track should be more then enough. One for the bass, one for the beat, and you can add a loop on the third. On the last one . . . spit your game playa.
Believe it or not, the H4N has been around for about 10 years and the folks at Zoom just keep improving them.
Zoom really out did it self and almost created a new niche of micro portable digital multitrack recorders with this one.
Tascam DP-32sd Digital 32-Track Portastudio
- Simultaneous 32 track playback
- 8 mono tracks + 12 mono/stereo selectable tracks
- Integrated 40-input mixer to mix down the 32 playback tracks with the 8 inputs or for bouncing
- Simultaneous 8 track recording. Automatic punch in/out
- 16 or 24 -bit, 44.1 or 48kHz recording
So we saved the baddest one of them all at the end. If you are tired of the 8 Tracks and the 24 tracks, this is Tascam’s giant 32 track digital portastudio.
This is literally a full on studio. Besides the regular reverb and other effects, you can use compression and a limiter on this one here as well. Most likely, you don’t know what those two things are but once you do learn compression and limiting, that’s basically saying that know how to master music.
Needless to say, the Tascam 32 track recorder is literally a portable studio. So besides being a total powerhouse, what else makes this portastudio stand out? Well try the “color” LCD monitor for example.
Unlike some complex multitrack recorders here, I actually do recommed this one fo the the beginners out there. Reason is although when starting out, you might not need all those channels but it is easy to use. If you’re feeling like getting the best than it doesn’t get any better than the Tascam DP-32SD.
Best Digital Multitrack Recorder Brands
When it comes to multitrack recorders, Tascam takes the cake in my book. Yes they have a fair bit of history in advancing music production in general (They invented the R-Dat Recorder after all), but when it comes to audio interfaces and digital multitrack recorders, I feel they are literally the best.
Their products are sturdy, and the output quality is professional. At the moment, when it comes to portable recording, they are definitely the leaders.
My other favorite, Korg (I’m sure you’ve heard of them) as already established itself as one of the prominent leaders when it comes to making professional music equipment. At the very least, a Korg multitrack recorder represents the brand accordingly as well.
The only reason I’m going to make these guys my second pick is because Tascam seems like they are more interested in making multitrack recorders and are definitely more relevant.
If you can find a multitrack recorder that’s right for you from these two brands, most likely you’ll be in good hands.
Anatomy of a Digital Multitrack Recorder
Each multitrack comes with it it’s own special features but all you need to know is the following:
It will help you control the volume of the instrument, vocal or sound sample that you just loaded. Each “track” (8, 12, 24, Whatever . . .) is controlled by this Fader.
So the whole idea is to play around with the faders and see which formation sounds the best.
Controls the combined volume of all the faders.
If you can understand this basic concept, then you can figure out how to use any multitrack recorder in the world.
What is a digital multitrack recorder and what does it do?
Well let me make this really easy . . . Have you ever seen this? It’s known as a audio mixing board.
Most likely you probably saw it in a movie or perhaps on Google somewhere. However, if you were really lucky, you got a chance to see it in real life and started drooling immediately. At least that’s what happened to me when I went to enroll in a music school some eons ago.
Imagine a machine that condenses all of that in a little box that you can either carry with you or place it next to your home studio. That’s what a digital multitrack recorder is. In a nutshell, you record each instrument on each of the tracks (One sound per track) and then play around with it or ‘mix’ it till it sounds professional.
That’s what a multitrack recorder does.
Do I need a multitrack recorder?
If you make music when you are not using your home studio (Making loops on your iPhone or recording ideas on a voice recorder) then it’s better to get a multitrack recorder.
Reason is you’ll save tremendous amount of time and will actually put out finished tracks much faster.
Some of your favorite songs were just spur of the moment things and if they weren’t captured properly, you and I would have never heard them.
That’s what the sole purpose of a multi-track recorder is.
Taking inspiration and helping you get it out there asap in the easiest way possible. With a multitrack recorder, you don’t have to worry about sound quality, noise reduction, etc. Basically, if you’re a serious music producer, you need it. If you are a hobbyist (Someone who doesn’t think about making music once you’re done spending time on your home studio), don’t worry about it.
How to use a multitrack recorder?
Although each multitrack recorders comes with it’s own bells and whistles, the main idea is to upload or record each individual sound on a single track and then use the mixing controls or board to mix it properly. A multitrack recorder is more or less the ‘hardware’ version of a daw.
This simple process is called multitrack recording.
Who invented multitrack recording?
The process was created by a man named Ross Snyder who later sold it to Les Paul (Yes the famous guitar company). In 1957, Les Paul made it into the world’s first 8 track recorder and the rest as they say is history.
How to hook up a mixer to a multitrack recorder?
You don’t need to as a multitrack recorder has a built in mixer (Remember the mixing board example above). An 8 track multitrack recorder means you can mix 8 tracks together and so on. However, you can use the input feature of a multitrack recorder to add an additional mixer to it.
How do I use multitrack to record in a DAW?
Of course it depends on your DAW but you can literally connect your multitrack recorder to any of of the popular DAWs such as Logic Pro X, Audacity, Garageband, Adobe audition or Ableton.
Last update on 2018-07-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API