Zoom LiveTrak L 12 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: Zoom LiveTrak L 12 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 Zoom LiveTrak L 12 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.

Zoom LiveTrak L-12

Zoom LiveTrak L-12: A Multifaceted Digital Mixer

Practical Design, Impressive Functionality

After spending three months with the Zoom LiveTrak L-12, I've found it to be an invaluable tool for a musician, offering versatility in numerous situations. Its compact size belies its powerful capabilities, making it ideal for various settings from practice to live performances.

Rehearsal and Practice Sessions Elevated

Integrated Metronome and Recording Ease

The L-12 excels in practice environments. Its ability to connect multiple devices, such as a computer via USB for playing along with Spotify, is highly convenient. The built-in metronome and easy recording to SD cards are perfect for pinpointing and working on challenging sections. The recording feature is intuitive, simply arm the desired tracks, and you're set.

Rehearsal Powerhouse

Individual Monitoring and Built-in Effects

In low-volume rehearsals, particularly where everyone uses headphones, the L-12 is a game-changer. With five independent aux sends to 1/4″ headphone jacks, it offers personalized monitoring for each musician. The built-in effects, like reverb for vocals, add to the mix's quality.

Writing and Recording Made Simple

Instant Recording and DAW Integration

Capturing spontaneous musical ideas is effortless with the L-12. Its standalone recording capability, combined with the metronome, allows for quickly laying down initial ideas and building upon them. The seamless integration with DAWs for further editing is a significant advantage.

Live Performances and Mixing

Flexible Output Options for Shows

Though more suited as a sub-mixer, the L-12 can handle a full show, especially when using in-ear monitors. It offers up to five different mixes for in-ear monitoring and has both XLR and balanced 1/4″ outputs for speakers. Recording live shows for later mixing is a breeze.

Adaptable for Socially Distanced Rehearsals

Effective for Diverse Rehearsal Setups

The current pandemic has made music rehearsals challenging, but the L-12 adapts well to different scenarios. Whether it's playing in separate rooms or outdoors, it allows for effective mic setups and clear monitoring of all instruments. The ability to quickly transfer recordings to a DAW like Logic Pro X is highly convenient.

Areas for Improvement

Minor Setbacks, But Still a Top Choice

Despite its many strengths, the L-12 has a few areas that could be improved:
1. The compression always writes to the recording and isn’t of the highest quality.
2. The preamps are adequate but not exceptional.
3. The file naming system, while functional, can be cumbersome to navigate.
4. The lack of motorized faders means manual adjustments are necessary when switching mixes.
5. There's no option for individual stereo or mono pairs for monitor outputs in live situations.
Despite these minor issues, the Zoom LiveTrak L-12 stands out for its versatility and comprehensive features at its price point.

Final Verdict

A Robust, Versatile Mixer for Various Needs

Concluding, the Zoom LiveTrak L-12 is an excellent choice for musicians and sound engineers looking for a versatile, all-in-one mixer and recorder. Its strengths in various environments, from studio to stage, make it a valuable asset. While it has some limitations, its advantages far outweigh them, making it a highly recommended tool in the music and recording industry.

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: Zoom LiveTrak L 12 or Zoom LiveTrak L 8

Zoom LiveTrak L-12: The Musical Maestro

This multitrack recording device is a musician's best friend, packed with an impressive array of features. You'd think you've got your hands on a zoom livetrak l-20 or l-16, but nope, it's the good old L-12. Its compact size belies its power, making it a perfect fit for everything from jam sessions to live gigs.

Practice Makes Perfect

The L-12's ability to connect to your computer via USB for those Spotify jam sessions is like having your own personal DJ. The built-in metronome and SD card recording make it the perfect tool for mastering those tricky guitar solos. It's like having a personal trainer in the form of a digital audio recorder.

Your Rehearsal Assistant

The L-12 could give some live sound mixers a run for their money with its five independent aux sends to 1/4″ headphone jacks. It's like everyone gets their own personalized audio engineer. Throw in some built-in effects and boom! You're all set for an epic rehearsal.

The Songwriter’s Muse

Laying down tracks on this portable mixer and recorder is as easy as strumming your favorite chord. And let's not forget about the seamless integration with DAWs; it’s like having your very own zoom r24 or r16 at hand.

The Stage Star

While it may not be the first choice as a live sound mixer, the L-12 can hold its own in live performances. It’s got flexible output options that would make even a zoom h6 blush.

Socially Distanced Jamming? No Problem!

The L-12 is like a Swiss Army knife in the era of social distancing. Whether you're jamming in separate rooms or belting out tunes outdoors, it's got your back.

Not Quite Perfect, But Close

It's only a couple of steps away from being the zoom livetrak l-20 we all dream of. The compression could be better, and the preamps could use a little boost. Also, navigating through its file naming system feels like being lost in a maze sometimes. And the lack of motorized faders? A bit of a letdown. But hey, nobody's perfect, right?

Zoom LiveTrak L-8: Small but Mighty

The L-8 is like that small kid on the playground who can surprisingly hold his own against the big guys. It's got professional-level features packed in a portable body that runs on batteries.

Pro-Level Features with On-The-Go Convenience

This little dynamo has more to offer than meets the eye – effects, presets, recording options – it's like carrying around your very own zoom r24.

Mac Compatibility Issues and Customer Service Blues

Yeah, there are some quirks with Mac Mini M1 compatibility. And customer service might give you grey hairs sometimes.

Premium Pre-Amps and Recording Options

The six high-performance preamps with phantom power can give any zoom h6 a run for its money. And if you ever felt like adding some extra flair to your podcasts or recordings, those 13 preset sounds will come in handy.

A Podcaster’s Dream and Mixing Marvel

Podcasters and small bands alike would find this device to be an absolute gem. Phone integration? Check! Audio interface capabilities? Check! High-quality recordings anywhere? Double check!

Live Streaming and Solo Acts Simplified

Whether you're live streaming your Sunday service or going solo at the local bar, the L-8 has got your back.

Recording and Interface Capabilities

As an audio interface, it's top-notch. 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. And The Winner Is… Both Zoom LiveTrak L-12 and L-8 are exceptional devices in their own right. But if I had to choose one (and I do), I'd have to crown the Zoom LiveTrak L-12 as the winner. It's versatility in various settings, from practice to live performances makes it a standout. Its limitations are minor in comparison to its strengths. So, whether you're a musician or a sound engineer on the lookout for a comprehensive and versatile mixer-recorder, the L-12 is definitely worth considering.