The 10 Best Multitrack Recorders
This wiki has been updated 16 times since it was first published in February of 2019. Whether you're looking to lay down some tracks with your band in the garage or pick up the quiet voices of actors on a film set, you're going to want a high-quality, multitrack recorder. The models on our list have been designed with purposes like these in mind, and we've ranked them by their audio fidelity, available effects, data storage capacity, and overall durability. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 11, 2020:
This time around we were able to refresh our list with several new options, and further diversify our selections in order to better suit different groups of users. For instance, podcasters have become one of the main consumers of standalone multitrack recorders over the past several years, however it was only recently that devices that cater directly to them, such as the Zoom PodTrak P4, have been released. It was not uncommon at one time for people to use the Zoom H4N Pro for such an application, and the Zoom PodTrak P4 basically builds off of the features that made that device well suited to that use while ditching things podcasters probably don't need, such as a built-in omnidirectional microphone. One of its most convenient additions is the integrated headphone mixer, which gives hosts and guests the ability to set the volume of their own pair of headphones to their liking. Other specialized abilities that make it particularly useful for this type of recording are programmable pads that can be used to trigger intros or sound effects, and an automatic mix-minus function which will help to reduce feedback and echo during call-in interviews.
The Zoom H8 also provides similar dedicated podcasting controls, however it is not as explicitly geared towards that situation. The beauty of a handheld recorder like this is its versatility, as it is equally at home on a film set as it is on a music stage or in a podcasting studio. The major benefits of this device compared to a simpler model like the Zoom H4N Pro are its touchscreen interface, which provides distinct modes for each of the aforementioned use cases, and a far larger amount of inputs. It comes with 6 microphone inputs in its default configuration, but you can actually expand this number to 10 inputs by swapping out the included stereo microphone attachment with the company's Zoom EXH-8 XLR module. While 4 of the integrated inputs are XLR only, 2 of them are actually XLR/TRS combo jacks that feature Hi-Z, meaning this device can even support direct input from instruments like electric guitars. All in all it's shockingly capable for something that fits in your hand.
We replaced the Sound Devices MixPre-10 with the Sound Devices MixPre-10 II, which is its direct successor, and this is still one of the best options for recording audio on a professional film set from sources like shotgun or lavalier microphones. It's hard to beat the quality of its preamps and overall build, however the Zoom F6 is a close second that offers many of the same capabilities at a reduced price. Both can record 32-bit float audio files, which has become the new standard in this arena due do its superior handling of volume and dynamic range, and the Zoom F6 also boasts dual analog-to-digital converters that further improve its performance in these areas.
Despite being a bit older we decided to keep devices like the Tascam DP-008EX 8-Track and the Marantz Professional PMD-706 on the list since they are still some of the best choices in their price range, so budget conscious readers will definitely want to give these options a look. The Zoom H4N Pro has also kept its spot on our list, not only because of its price, but also because it remains immensely popular for the simple fact that it adequately meets the needs of many users. If you're just recording audio for a DSLR or otherwise only need two microphone inputs it's hard to go wrong with this model.
After selecting the best recorder for your needs check out our articles on high-capacity SD cards and SD card readers, as all of the entries on our list use this type of media for standalone recording.
March 08, 2019:
While the sheer number of channels and effects was a primary factor in the initial layout of this selection, certain models rose above their mere capacity by offering things like portability and a high signal to noise ratio. Both of those things are what skyrocketed the Zoom H4N toward the top of the list, in addition to the fact that it's one of the most commonly used audio recorders on low budget film sets. Our top pick is also oriented toward film and field applications, and it offers the best sound quality of the bunch. Among console-style options, Tascam creates a lot of great devices, but their Model 24 marries a deep, hands-on interface with vintage styling and incredible flexibility.