Tascam Model 16 Vs. Zoom LiveTrak L 8: Reviewed & Compared

Choosing the right mixer when there are so many on the market these days isn't easy.
Especially when many of them are built for one specific need but being marketed as an all-rounder 🙄
But not to worry, I've got ya!
I have taken a deep dive into two beasts in the audio-mixing game and gone head to head with them: Tascam Model 16 vs. Zoom LiveTrak L 8.

We're looking at things like:
  • Sound Quality: This is the heart of the matter, right? How each mixer holds up in delivering crisp, clear audio. Are we talking about a mixer that makes your tracks sound like they're live from the garage, or are we hitting studio-quality sound?
  • Ease of Use: Nobody wants to spend hours figuring out which button does what. I’ll break down the user interface of both Tascam Model 16 and Zoom LiveTrak L 8. Are they plug-and-play easy, or will you need a PhD in mixology to use them?
  • Features and Functions: Ie. What's under the hood? Let's find out what sets them apart.
  • Durability: No matter your reason for buying, you want something that's gonna last, not fall apart after a few light sessions.
  • Price Point: Yep, money talks. When it comes to prices, we need to see which mixer gives us more bang for our buck. Is the higher price of one justified by its features, or is the other a hidden gem at a bargain price?
  • Customer Reviews and Feedback: What's the word on the street? Sometimes real-world use tells a different story than what the sales page says.

Tascam Model 16

I picked up one of these used to review for a few hundred. Here's the lowdown:

Initial Impressions

Right out of the box, the Tascam Model 16 felt like a good deal. Even though I got it ‘Used-Acceptable', it appeared brand new and functioned perfectly, saving me a significant amount. It's a testament to Tascam's build quality that a used unit can still perform like a fresh piece.

Usability and Versatility

The Model 16 is incredibly user-friendly. Its intuitive design blends low-tech ease with high-tech versatility. For someone who finds computer software a flow-breaker while recording, this Tascam is a dream. It allows recording directly to an internal SD card and then mixing on a computer, offering the best of both worlds.

Quality of Sound and Inputs

The sound quality is fantastic, making it perfect for both recording and live sound. However, I was initially taken aback by the “virtual” tracks 15/16 and the designated Bluetooth channel, limiting its effective input channels. It's a minor issue but something that should be clearer in the product description.

Recording and Playback Experience

When it comes to recording, the Model 16 shines. The process is straightforward, and playback quality is impressive. I especially appreciated the analog summing and HDDA preamps, which add a warm, rich tone to the recordings. The unit’s simplicity in recording makes it ideal for capturing live performances.

Software and Connectivity

A drawback is the mixer's limited software side. Unlike its smaller sibling, the Model 12, the 16 lacks MIDI connectivity, making time syncing with external gear a bit of a hassle. Additionally, the absence of FX return means using external effects requires sacrificing tracks, which can be limiting.

Overall Performance

Overall, the Tascam Model 16 is a solid performer with great sound and build quality. Its drawbacks are mostly in the finer details of software and input/output flexibility. It's a great piece of gear for those looking to record live performances or who want an easy-to-use interface for home recording. Despite its limitations, the Model 16 offers enough features and quality to justify its price.

Zoom LiveTrak L-8

Zoom LiveTrak L-8: The Portable Powerhouse

I got my hands on the Zoom LiveTrak L-8, and let me tell you, it's like having a field recorder on steroids. This thing's versatile and solid – despite some calling it cheap, my experience says otherwise. I've got two of these, and they've held up well.

Professional Features, Battery-Powered Convenience

The L-8 packs features you'd expect from a pro-level unit – backlighted buttons, effects, presets, recording options, and even a battery backup. After 12 months of use, not a single hiccup. It's got a very robust feel to it. Beginners, intermediates, pros – this mixer's a solid buy for all. David Shanhun on YouTube showcases its capabilities well, so check him out for some real-world usage.

Mac Compatibility and Customer Service Woes

Now, it's not all perfect. I've had issues with my Mac Mini M1 – the mixer doesn't always stay connected after a power cycle. Customer service hasn't been a great help either. Bypassing my USB hub with a direct connection seemed to improve things, though.

Pre-Amps and Recording Excellence

What really stands out are the six high-performance pre-amps, each with phantom power. It's tough finding a portable recorder with this quality. The board's layered menu-driven controls can be overwhelming at first, but they open up a world of great recording possibilities. Those 6 assignable Sound Pads with 13 preset sounds are a blast, adding an extra dimension, especially for podcasters.

Great for Podcasting and Mixing

It's not just for recording; the L-8 is a fantastic tool for podcasting and mixing. The phone integration is a nice touch too. As an audio interface, it's a winner – plug it into a USB power bank, and you're set for high-quality recordings anywhere.

Live Streaming and Solo Acts

For church livestreaming or solo acts, it's a breeze to use. It's got way more features than I've tapped into yet, but it's been smooth sailing so far. The effects are usable, unlike many other mixers I've encountered, which is a major plus for live performances.

Recording and Interface Capabilities

As an audio interface, it's top-notch. You can record at 48/32, which is a step up from most interfaces offering a fixed 24-bit rate. The digital recorder is simple to use – just record your gig, pop the SD card into your computer, and drag and drop the audio files into your DAW.
Final Verdict

This mixer is a dream device for podcasters and small bands. It combines mixing and recording in a portable package that runs on batteries or power banks. The preamps sound amazing, making mics like the Shure Beta 58 sound fuller and richer. The only downside? You can use only one effect for all tracks, so no combining effects or using different ones on different tracks. But overall, highly recommended!

Head 2 Head: Tascam Model 16 or Zoom LiveTrak L 8

Audiophile Alert: Tascam Model 16

So, I stumbled upon this gem of an audio mixer called the Tascam Model 16. I wasn't expecting much, especially since I snagged it used, but boy did it surprise me. This bad boy looked fresh out of the factory and performed like a seasoned pro right off the bat. Talk about getting more bang for your buck!

Usability and Versatility

The Tascam Model 16 is a perfect blend of old school simplicity and modern versatility. It's as user-friendly as they come – even if you're someone who gets easily entangled in software while recording. This digital mixer allows you to record directly onto an SD card and then mix on your computer. So, you get the best of both worlds without any fuss.

Sound Quality and Inputs

Now, let's talk sound quality – it's fantastic! Whether you're into recording or live sound, this multitrack recorder won't disappoint. But here's where things get a little tricky – there are “virtual” tracks 15/16 and a designated Bluetooth channel that effectively limit its input channels. It's not a dealbreaker, but something to keep in mind.

Recording and Playback Experience

When it comes to recording, the Tascam Model 16 truly shines. The process is straightforward, and playback quality is top-notch. With analog summing and HDDA preamps adding a warm tone to your recordings, this soundboard makes capturing live performances feel like a cakewalk.

Software Limitations

However, every rose has its thorns – its software side is somewhat lacking compared to other studio mixers. Unlike the Model 12, this one lacks MIDI connectivity, making syncing with external gear a bit of a chore. Plus, there's no FX return, so if you're into using external effects, be prepared to sacrifice a few tracks.

Overall Performance

All things considered, the Tascam Model 16 is a solid bet. It's got great sound and build quality that more than make up for its software limitations. If you're into live performances or looking for an easy-to-use home recording interface, this audio mixer can be your trusty sidekick.

Now Meet: Zoom LiveTrak L-8

Next up on my review list is the Zoom LiveTrak L-8. Picture your standard field recorder on steroids – that's the L-8 for you. This digital mixer is robust and packed with professional features that deliver in spades.

Professional Features and Battery Convenience

The Zoom LiveTrak L-8 comes with backlit buttons, effects, presets – you name it! Even better? It has a battery backup feature. After a year of use, it hasn't given me any trouble – proving its worth as an investment. Whether you're a beginner or pro, this audio interface will serve you well.

Mac Compatibility and Customer Service Issues

But here’s the rub – it doesn't always play nice with my Mac Mini M1 after power cycling. And don't even get me started on customer service – not exactly helpful when troubleshooting issues. But hey! Directly connecting to my USB hub seemed to do the trick.

Pre-Amps and Recording Excellence

What sets this multitrack recorder apart are its six high-performance pre-amps, each with phantom power. That's a rare find in a portable recorder! It also comes with 6 assignable Sound Pads and 13 preset sounds that add an extra dimension to your recording, especially for podcasters.

Podcasting and Mixing

Speaking of podcasting, the L-8 is an absolute beast in this department. It's also great for mixing, thanks to its phone integration feature. Plug it into a USB power bank, and you're good to go for high-quality recordings anywhere.

Live Streaming and Solo Acts

For solo acts or church live streaming, this soundboard is a dream come true. The effects are actually usable (unlike many others I've tried), which is a huge plus for live performances.

Recording and Interface Capabilities

As an audio interface, the L-8 goes above and beyond. You can record at 48/32 – a step up from the standard 24-bit rate. The digital recorder is straightforward to use – just record your gig, pop the SD card into your computer, and drag the files into your DAW.

And the Winner Is…

After all said and done, I have to give it up for the Zoom LiveTrak L-8. This studio mixer offers superior versatility in a portable package that runs on batteries or power banks – making it ideal for podcasters and small bands alike. Its preamps are nothing short of amazing, giving mics like the Shure Beta 58 a fuller, richer sound. Sure, you can't mix up effects or use different ones on different tracks – but overall? It's a small price to pay for such a powerhouse of a recording console.