Zoom HD16 Review and Walk Through

Zoom HD16

Multi-Track Digital Recorder

I actually wanted to get the Zoom MRS 1608. I suppose like some of you out there, I was reading about it and wanting to get it, but the price always had it on the wish list. Then I finally was ready to purchase it, and it became obsolete because of the Zoom HD16. Electronics and technology moves by so fast that, ya know what? This is now obsolete by the R16 and R24, but I think I’ll keep mine.

Zoom products, for as long as I can remember, have always been a quality product with more features than a man or woman can use. When I was looking for a home studio recorder  I naturally looked at prices. Their price initially drew me in, but after checking out the features, I was sold on it even if it would have cost more.

Like the MRS 1608, this is a workhorse. I must admit that if you have never used a multi-track recorder before, there is a bit of a learning curve to getting all of the operations down. And that is why I started this series. Not only will you learn how to use the Zoom HD16, but you will also learn how to use a multi-track recorder in general. They truly are easy to use once you know what to do and how to do it.

Before we go through the features, here are the links to the walk-through videos that I have made. Just in case you already read the review and want to get to recording. It will be an ongoing project so bear with me, there’s a lot in there.

 Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Panning Drums

Removing Dead Space Between Songs

Using the Bounce Feature

Punch In/Out


Now, let’s take a look at the HD16, and HD8 since they are similar:

Both the HD8 and HD16 have an impressive 80GB hard disk. That’s approximately 240 hours of recording time. They use a 16-bit/44.1 kHz sampling in WAV format.

Each track has ten virtual tracks, so you can record multiple takes without losing any one of them.

The HD16 allows recording on (up to) 8 tracks simultaneously to capture a live performance. Or you can record a complete drum kit, all on separate tracks! You can record live or in your home studio on multiple tracks with multiple takes. How convenient is that?

It has a “Bounce” feature. Once you have captured individual tracks, push the mix-down key to bounce your tracks to a stereo track. In addition to your audio tracks, you can also include rhythm tracks and effects. This feature frees up tracks so you can record additional instrumental or vocal tracks. Even large ensembles that exceed the default number of tracks can be managed this way. And you don’t need an external master recorder for the final mix.

Both the HD8 and HD16 have fantastic editing capabilities. In addition to standard copy, move, and erase functions, you can also trim the length of the recorded data, adjust the tempo with time stretch, create precision fade-ins and fade-outs, and even reverse the contents of a track. With tools such as pitch correction and a harmonized pitch shifter, your vocal tracks will sound like you recorded in a Professional  Recording Studio.

You can access any point on any track using up to 100 specified markers.

A-B repeat makes repeated playback or recording of a specific sequence quick and easy.

Auto punch “in/out” ensures that you get the exactly what you want and where you want it.

You can build tracks from looped material using the phrase loop function. You can build a full-fledged loop track simply by lining up audio phrases, whether they are vocals, bass, guitar, keyboard, or drums.

By specifying the playing sequence and repetition count, you can create the backing for an entire song with just a few keystrokes, . Use parts of recorded data or WAV/AIFF files as loop material, or you can get sources from a computer via USB or from the CD-R/RW drive. The HD8 and HD16 both come with 96 ready-to-use preset loops that containing drums, bass, and guitar phrases that you can use to build your song around.

You probably think that this is a pretty fantastic recorder, huh? But we’re just getting started! There’s a lot more that comes with the Zoom HD16!

The HD8 and HD16’s faders, control knobs, and level meters are arranged like mixing consoles that are found in the best studios. Each track has a rotary encoder that quickly adjusts parameters like,  3-band LOW / MID / HIGH EQ, two effect send actions, and panning. There is a solo function called “Scene Memory” where you can save your recording settings to be called up manually or automatically, to save time with the mixing process. You can save up to 100 of these “Scenes”  for quick recall.

The input lines are combination XLR-1/4″ line inputs that connect to an internal preamp with phantom power to provide flexibility for your recording set-up. This means that you can plug in a 1/4″ guitar cord , or a microphone’s  XLR cord in the same plug. So if you use one more than the other, it’s no problem. The HD8 has two and the HD16 has eight of these connectors. Because the HD16 features individual phantom power on/off switches, you can configure a multi-mic environment with a combination of up to eight dynamic and condenser mics. A high-impedance switch allows a direct connection of sources such as guitars, basses, and keyboards. Master outputs are also available as analog RCA jacks or an S/PDIF optical output.

Two headphones jacks are provided so a performer and an engineer can separately monitor the recording and playback. The HD16 even lets you create a monitor mix that is separate from the master output.

This powerhouse has 529 drum sound sources.The HD8 and HD16 has percussion options that are truly amazing. It has from rock, funk, and jazz drums, to pretty much every kind of acoustic and electronic drum sound you can imagine. Not only that, but they have 21 pre-assembled drum kits with 27 sounds each (3 banks × 9 pads) that are on-board. Both the HD8 and HD16 include vintage drum machine sounds with numerous auxiliary percussion and special effects sounds.

There is a 66 second sampler that lets you assign any part of an audio track, or an imported WAV/AIFF file, to the on-board pads; allowing you to build as many as 1,000 different and distinct drum kits. There are eleven bass sound sources; including electric bass, acoustic bass, and synthesizer bass.

There are 475 preset rhythm patterns. The rhythm patterns cover a wide range of styles from rock and pop, to jazz, funk, and more. You can choose from a wide variety of intros, fills, and ending patterns that you can link together to quickly create a rhythm track for your project.You can also invent your own patterns with the nine “touch-sensitive” pads for real-time rhythm programming. Up to 511 original patterns can be created and stored. The Hd8 and the HD16 has standard MIDI Files (SMF) that can be imported and used to play internal rhythm sounds as well as external MIDI sources. A software plug-in for programming and editing patterns is also included.

At any time, you have access to 130 types and 370 patches of DSP effects. The effects are configured with seven modules featuring various settings for guitar, bass, and vocals. Two types of send/return effects are ideal for fine-tuning the overall ambiance of a song. And all three effect types can be used simultaneously. Then you can optimize the dynamic range with a compressor / limiter and minimize noise with “Zoom Noise Reduction” (ZNR). You can choose from a wide variety of studio-quality effects; including chorus, flanger, phaser, delay, and reverb, or you can synchronize delays or modulation to the song tempo with BPM effects.

Still not enough for your money? Well, how about this…

The HD16 also offers the “8×COMP EQ” effect for use on up to eight inputs simultaneously to individually optimize dynamics and frequency response when recording multiple tracks at once.

Achieve professional-level results with mastering effects

It has a multi-band compressor, normalizer and other mastering effects to assist you in the control of dynamics, and listening level of your final mix. With 21 mastering presets on-board, you can achieve professional-level results. The final mix will actually rival quality of the major labels. You can also use these tools when importing analog sources such as LPs or cassettes.

There are 18 different guitar amp models (such as Fender, Marshall, Vox and Mesa Boogie), and 6 bass amp models (such as Ampeg, Bassman and Hartke) that you can connect your guitar or bass to and get a distinct power amp and speaker cabinet characteristic.

There is even a built-in chromatic tuner to keeps your instrument ready for your recording session.

Quick connection to a computer ( WIN & MAC ) via USB cable

There is a 2.0 USB port that supports high-speed data transfer of up to 480 Mbps. Simply drag and drop audio files in WAV format recorded on the HD8/HD16 to the computer. You can fine-tune song arrangements with DAW software, or convert files to MP3 for uploading to your web site or sending by email. The possibilities for personal recording projects virtually are endless. Data backup, restore and importing of WAV files are also quick and easy.


You’ll find the studio recording console features so convenient and intuitive and you can keep on using them when the HD8/HD16 is connected to a computer. Using either USB or MIDI, the HD8/HD16 can act as control surface for a DAW application. The faders, keys, and rotary encoders can be assigned to control the mixing functions of the software. This is a really great feature because it makes transport control and mixing operations (such as fade, pan, and EQ adjustments) much more “physical”. Adjustments that are difficult to do with a computer mouse (such as using multiple faders simultaneously) are a breeze with this control surface. The HD8 and HD16 also come with Steinberg’s Cubase LE 4, so you can use your computer for sophisticated graphics-based mixing and arranging right away. But this software is the trial version and if you want to continue using it, you will have to upgrade that, or get another software to use.


MIDI time code and MIDI clock’s output capability lets you synchronize playback operation with an external sequencer or recorder. Or you can set up a larger system to coordinate the HD8 and HD16 with other computer DAW software or additional multi-track recorders.

The HD8CD and HD16CD comes with an on-board CD-R/RW drive to let you burn audio CDs or backup data CDs quickly. Disc-at-once writing is supported, which is great for producing live albums or mixes without gaps between tracks. Capturing the audio data of a CD for use as V-takes is also possible.

So, what do you think? Do you think you’re getting your money’s worth?

And I know you are thinking that it would be difficult to operate, but it isn’t. All you need to know is how to use it. the functions are quick and easy once you know where to find them. I had such a hard time at first because I couldn’t find any information on how to use it. That is why I am going to make these videos, because once you see how easy it is, you’re going to want one!

Well, I hope this was informative and I’m sure I left some stuff out (I can’t think of everything). Just bear with me and you’ll see how easy it is…

Take care,



I Started out in 1976 trying out to sing in bands but no bands were interested in me. In 1977 I started playing guitar. The individual that was teaching me (who for now will remain anonymous) told me that I would NEVER learn how to play guitar because I had no sense of rhythm. I joined my first band in 1978 called "Dead Center" in Jacksonville, Florida. I played an Aspen guitar, black; a Les Paul copy and in 1981. I gave that guitar to the teacher who said I'd never learn to play. I wrote my first song in 1979 or '80. Over the years I have been in many bands but my passion has been songwriting. I have written well over 100 songs and though the early ones were kind of rough around the edges, I think that most of them could be dusted off and given a new facelift. Today I am still working on my songs. Currently I can play guitar, bass, keyboard, drums, harmonica, and Native American flute. The flutes that I play are ones that I made myself. My guitars are the Epiphone G-400 faded, an Ibanez RG370 DX, an Epiphone G 1275 double neck guitar. My acoustic guitars are an Alvarez 12 string and an old Kay guitar. My drum set is a Peace drum set. I do my recording on a Zoom HD16.
Marshall Haze 15 Introductory
Zoom HD16 Part 8
Zoom HD16 – Part 1
  • January 25, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    already left my comment on youtube. Great Videos….., Love’em!!!.
    I’m a HD 16 user, but I broke my Recover CD….can’t do control surface; can you help me obtain a copy ?

    • Mark
      March 5, 2014 at 3:48 am

      I have a copy, but copyright laws prohibit me from distributing it. Sorry… Just keep looking, I’m sure sooner or later you’ll find it. Try contacting Zoom to see if they will sell you a copy.

  • Almighty
    January 17, 2014 at 4:38 am

    Hello can I use my hd16 with other software other than cubase?I just want to use it as a control surface and it’s annoying not being able to find any useful information and with people asking asinine questions and giving advice they know nothing about.

    • Mark
      March 5, 2014 at 3:51 am

      You can use the Zoom HD16 as a control surface for practically any DAW software on the market. In fact, I don’t know of any that you cannot use.

  • Danny P.Ross
    November 22, 2013 at 7:51 pm


    1st I want 2 thank u for taking the time to do these videos. I know you are not making any $$$. I have made about 20 songs where I play all instruments. I’ve noticed if I hook 2 Mikes for my live Drumming to the 1st & 2nd inputs the drums sound fantastic. When I hook up to other inputs like 6 & 7 they sound tinny. Also the same w/Vocals what’s the difference between the the 1st & 2nd tracks versus the others. Last question How can I make my voice sound better more in pitch? What setting should I use for Voice gets very confusing. The 1st 2 tracks have 2 buttons on top which should be pushed in & which one left open. I have 3 Mikes & only 1 uses Phantom power seems to have best sound. Sorry to throw so much at u. If u ever need help w/ Real Estate please feel free 2 call or email me. I’ve been a R.E & Mort. Broker 32 yrs. Hopefully I can help u as u have helped so many of . Again U.R. Great & wonderful Thx http://www.dannypross.com email [email protected] also my songs are here on youtube http://youtu.be/UActq4ycqoA

  • November 5, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    Hello Mark,

    I can’t thank you enough for your excellent tutorials on the Zoom HD16. I’ve had my Zoom HD16 for over 2 years and am just now wanting to learn about it. The thickness of the manual scared me off all this time. I am just NOT a person who can read through an operational manual and get it going. Your lessons help put most of it together for me and I can actually learn by “seeing” the lessons instead of reading them and trying to apply them myself. I know that I’ve got a long way to go before I can get the entire hang of this Zoom HD16, but you have given me an excellent start. I might actually be able to record something now! LOL I guess I’m of the old “analog” bunch, as the recordings that I have done have all been on a Tascam double speed cassette with an 8 channel board and haven’t had to bounce tracks, so it’s been fairly simple for me, recording and mix down.

    As I was looking at your first tutorial, you showed how to start setting up the rhythm tracks. When you programmed the drum/rhythm track, it came up WITHOUT a bass along with the drums. I could not figure out how to get a clean drum sound without incorporating the bass. Also, I want to put down a “click” track and be able to erase it afterward. When you put the drum/rhythm track down, does it record to the rhythm channel only and then is it able to be filtered out or turned off during the playback? Hope that these questions make sense to you and you’ll be able to give me some insight in this matter. A lot of the music I do is “folk” oriented and doesn’t need a drum track, but I would like a metronome or “click” track to keep the beat as I record.

    I could probably figure this out for myself, but I always hate pushing buttons for fear that I totally blow up the unit. I was that way about my first computer too.

    Once again, thank you so very much for taking the time to map out the Zoom HD16 for us folks who can’t (or won’t) follow directions in a manual.

    All the best, Red

  • matt
    June 3, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    Hi Mark,

    Just bought a second hand HD16. Great machine sound wise compared to to R8. However there seems to be some hum on it at times worse than others. When I touch certain points with my hand the hum stops. Is there a way of earthing it? Also the reverb can produce quite a bit of hum. Had it for a week. Am I missing something hum wise?

    • Mark
      June 16, 2013 at 6:58 pm

      I really can’t speak on it. I haven’t had any issues with mine. I am not sure what exact “Hum” you have, but it can be from vibration or a bad ground, or even from a crossed or loose wire.
      If it is vibration, you can open it up while you have it unplugged and get it in a position where no wires are being compromised, and then plug it back in and turn it on. Find the source of the vibration and see if you can secure it (after you turn it off and unplug it).
      If it is electrical, it can become a nightmare if you aren’t a trained technician. Even then, some connections can be tricky. You can take it apart as described above and when you turn it on, wiggle some wires with a wooden stick or pencil and see if one of the wires is causing the problem. If it is you may be able to just re-solder the wire or replace it. Anything beyond that, I’d just find a technician or contact zoom to have it looked at. I bought mine brand new and I have never had any problems.
      I wish I could help more, but Electronics is a bit above my education, sorry.

  • Peter Tickle
    March 14, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    Hi Mark,
    I dropped across your tutorials only today after purchasing the HD16 four years ago. I have had a terrible struggle with my Hd16 – I am post-graduate scientist and diploma technician in IT but have completely been swamped by the wretched useless manual, and searches for alternate enlightenment have been zilch until today! You are a star and have made my day – thank you so much for your work.

    Is there any way I can purchase all the lessons as downloads?

    I am having terrible troubles – I cannot make the bounce function work from the manuals instructions, although the copy method will be tried next as an alternative. Is there any way I can create a pre-master track, run it through a large behringer graphic equalizer, and then return the signal to the HD16 for final mixdown, thus getting the 32 band control over the finished recording?

    Any thoughts on any of these issues would be very gratefuly received…..

    Once again thanks for the free “course” on the HD16

    • Mark
      March 25, 2013 at 11:18 pm

      Hi Peter,
      As far as purchasing all of my tutorials, I guess I’m just stupid, … I give it away. Go to: https://www.youtube.com/user/mdroute249?feature=mhee. On the right hand side is a playlist that has all of my Zoom HD16 tutorials on it (Bounce is one of the videos, although I forgot to include an alternate bounce feature). Usually I make new videos when people (like yourself) ask questions that are too long to write in a short paragraph.
      I usually find that in most cases, I like their final Mastering Effects, but sometimes it just doesn’t bring out the tonality that I had in mind. Anyways, they don’t have a Send/Receive function. Perhaps, if you use a DAW software like Ableton Live or Cakewalk, or whatever, you can use the Equalizer when transferring from one to the other. Just a thought. If you don’t have any software, you can always visit their site and get a trial version to see if it will work for you.
      Well if this helps, cool, if not, let me know and I will try it myself and do a video for you, just let me know, ok? Ok!

      Take care, …

  • gerald
    November 30, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Marvelous, what blog it really is! This website presents valuable facts to us, continue.

  • Bob
    November 26, 2012 at 2:00 am

    I was trying to edit some tracks by using the trim feature, but somehow I’ve lost the entire track. Is there some way to recover the lost data?

    • Mark
      November 29, 2012 at 11:28 pm

      No Bob, I do not think you can recover it. What you probably did was you trimmed everything by setting the start and stop at the same place which left no room for data in between. As a safety precaution, you can copy the track to another V-Take so you always have the original and then edit the other.
      Sorry, I know you wanted to hear something different, but once it’s gone, … it’s gone…

  • russ batchelor
    October 10, 2012 at 12:44 am

    hi Mark,

    love the Zoom HD 16….my question is, do you know if it is possible to sync up 2 16s , either midi or usb, to run together ? thanks

    • Mark
      November 9, 2012 at 12:06 am

      I apologize Russ, your comment somehow got grouped in a spam folder. No, i do not know if you can link them together, but you can bounce tracks in order to have more tracks to record on.

  • Arnold
    September 4, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    Mood very bad 🙁
    but your blog makes it better 🙂

  • guild wars 2 gold
    August 29, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    I am not sure where you are getting your info, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more. Thanks for excellent info I was looking for.

  • August 3, 2012 at 1:51 am

    Hey hows it going? Just got this zoom hd16 today frm a friend, he lost the menu..so i was wondering if their’s any way to put music (beats frm FL studios on a audio cd) into this machine and record vocals? thanks.

    • Mark
      August 3, 2012 at 9:58 pm

      Hi, I am not sure what you mean by “lost the menu” but I will try to answer your question. I am not very familiar with what type of files the FL Studio makes. If it makes WAV/AIFF audio files then I believe you can, or if it uses a MIDI SMF (standard MIDI files) you can import the sounds that way too. The process is too lengthy for here,but if you tell me what procedure you plan to take I will either send you the info on it, or make a video. I will send you an e-mail, ok?
      Thanks for your interest,

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