Zoom R20 is a tabletop solution for recording, editing, and mixing audio. It can record up to 16 tracks (8 tracks simultaneously) and features a touchscreen interface and color-coded controls for easy operation. Supporting SDXC memory cards up to 1TB, USB-C output, and headphone/line-out jack connectors for monitoring, the device is available now for $400.
In our industry, the Japanese audio company Zoom Corporation is mostly known for its audio recorders. When I think of portable field audio recorders, Zoom currently offers everything from the tiny Zoom F2 (announced back in November 2020) up to the ultra-capable 12-track recorder Zoom H8 (announced in July 2020). Although still quite portable, the recently unveiled Zoom R20 is a slightly different device. Let’s take a short look at it.
Zoom R20 multitrack recorder
As Zoom puts it, form-factor-wise, the R20 is a tabletop solution for recording, editing, and mixing audio. It combines a DAW-inspired (digital audio workstation) interface via a 4.3″ color touchscreen display with physical color-coded controls such as faders and gain-dials. It can record up to 16 audio tracks (8 tracks simultaneously). The R20 can serve as an 8×4 (8 input / 4 output) USB audio interface for virtually any audio production software.
According to Zoom Corporation, the R20 provides a relatively easy way to record and mix multiple audio tracks without the need for a computer. It is mostly aimed towards musicians and bands who can now easily produce songs, but I think it might provide a useful alternative to the Zoom H8 for users in our industry as well. Especially when a quick audio mixing directly on set is required.
Zoom R20 can record audio in up to 24-bit / 44.1 kHz resolution in BWF-compliant WAV format. The device includes eight preamps, channel strips, drum loops, synth sounds, and digital processing such as compression, EQ, gating, and more. There are six XLR inputs and two combo inputs.
The R20 records directly to SDHC or SDXC cards (up to 1TB capacity supported). The recorder also has a 1/4″ headphone jack for monitoring while recording and dedicated 1/4″ line outputs for mixing on audio monitors. The 48V phantom power is available on inputs 5-8, switchable on pairs of channels. The locking power adapter on the R20 prevents accidental unplugging.
Via the R20’s interface, you can cut, copy, combine and loop the recorded audio. Zoom claims the editing is intuitive. Other features such as rhythm patterns or built-in synth sounds are particularly aimed at musicians. Hi-Z (high impedance input) is available on input 1 for electric guitar and bass.
Zoom R20 control app
Using the Zoom BTA-1 Bluetooth adapter, which needs to be purchased separately, you will be able to control the R20 wirelessly from an iOS device running the R20 Control App (this will be available in 2022). Through VoiceOver and VoiceOver Gestures via the control app, the R20 allows accessibility for the visually impaired.
Price and availability
Zoom R20 is available now for $400 which is the exact same price as what the Zoom H8 sells for. The Zoom BTA-1 Bluetooth adapter costs $40.
Do you often need to record multiple audio tracks at once? Do you use audio recorders from Zoom? What do you think about their quality? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section underneath the article.