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Wait, Zoom’s new R12 multitrack recorder is also an FM synth!?

Zoom knows more about making standalone multitrack recorders than most, so the launch of the new R12 isn’t exactly a surprise. However, what will cause eyebrows to raise - and perhaps even the odd jaw to hit the floor - is the news that this portable device also contains an FM synth.

18 FM sounds are included, and you can play and record them by plugging in a MIDI keyboard via the USB-C port. Alternatively, synth parts can be programmed via the touchscreen, which can also be used for track editing purposes.

The inclusion of these sounds makes the R12 a very intriguing one-box mobile studio, promising everything you need to record and mix songs without a computer.

There are two XLR/TRS inputs (both have phantom power, while input 1 has a Hi-Z option) and room for eight tracks of audio. A send effects channel offers reverb, chorus and delay and a dedicated return fader, while effects from Zoom’s Guitar Lab are here, too.

Each channel also includes pan and 3-band EQ controls, and inputs 1 and 2 both feature a compressor.

We mentioned that the R12 is a mobile studio; its portability is made possible by the fact that it can run for up to five hours on four AA batteries. Other power options include the supplied AD-17 mains adapter or a USB battery pack.

To help you get a song started, the R12 comes preloaded with 150 drum loops that are spread across a variety of genres, and you can also import your own audio files.

If you’d rather start by playing to a click track, you’ll be pleased to know that you get one of these, too - you can balance the level of this against your playback audio and route it to your headphones or the main outputs.

The 12 will also play nice with your computer, serving as an audio interface and controller for your DAW.

While, on the surface, the R12 looks to be a trimmed-down version of Zoom’s R20, its unique feature set almost seems to put it in a category of its own. We don’t have a price or release date just yet, but it’s expected to start shipping later this year.

Find out more on the Zoom (opens in new tab) website.

I’m the Group Content Manager for MusicRadar, specialising in all things tech. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 20 of which I’ve also spent writing about music technology. 

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