Zoom LiveTrak L-8 Podcast Recorder, Battery Powered, Digital Mixer and Recorder, Music Mixer, Phone Input, Sound Pads, 4 Headphone Outputs, 12-In/4-Out Audio Interface, Built In EQ and Effects

£231.975
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Zoom LiveTrak L-8 Podcast Recorder, Battery Powered, Digital Mixer and Recorder, Music Mixer, Phone Input, Sound Pads, 4 Headphone Outputs, 12-In/4-Out Audio Interface, Built In EQ and Effects

Zoom LiveTrak L-8 Podcast Recorder, Battery Powered, Digital Mixer and Recorder, Music Mixer, Phone Input, Sound Pads, 4 Headphone Outputs, 12-In/4-Out Audio Interface, Built In EQ and Effects

RRP: £463.95
Price: £231.975
£231.975 FREE Shipping

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Description

Zoom have been on the cutting edge of this kind of stuff for years. The companies continued dedication to location recording and portability have seen them emerge as something of an industry standard for anyone working in the video/sound design/content space. If it involves audio and a location, chances are you will find a Zoom product somewhere in the vicinity, such is the companies omnipresence in the field. Unfortunately, Rodecasters use microSD cards. The main downside is that microSDs are usually slower compared to SDs. In addition, they are too tiny and easy to lose or break. In this case, Zoom 8 takes the lead thanks to its reliability and ease of use. Power Zoom’s preamps are famous for a good reason: they’re transparent, powerful and ultra-reliable. The L-8 features six independent Zoom preamps, built to handle anything from a whisper to a raucous debate. Perhaps one of the more impressive aspects of the LiveTrak L-8 (and one that definitely impressed this reviewer) is when you realise that all of the aforementioned features are powered by the USB Bus alone, something that would have previously been inconceivable a few years ago. I’m still scratching my head as to how they managed to pull this off, as the amount of processing on offer (not to mention the ability to run 6 phantom powered mics simultaneously), would normally render the need for a wall mounted power supply, completely inescapable. The fact that the L-8 manages to do all this with bus power and batteries alone is really quite a remarkable achievement and one that only adds to the units elite level of portability. If you can’t hear yourself, how are you supposed to speak your mind? The L-8 is equipped with four headphone outputs, so that each participant can clearly hear what is going on.

Only USB host controllers with Intel Chipsets are supported. Operation is not guaranteed when used with USB hubs or expansion cards. No power outlet? No worries. Get up to 2 ½ hours of power from just four AA batteries. You can also power using a USB battery, and with the L-8’s unique USB connection design, you never have to worry about accidentally disconnecting. Zoom’s new LiveTrak L-8 takes this same ‘go-anywhere’ ethos and applies it to the relatively terrestrial world of studio/podcast peripherals, and the results are liberating to say the least. Podcast creators are a special breed. They require a unique set of audio features, along with the flexibility of a proper mixing console. The LiveTrak L-8 combines Zoom’s famous audio performance with features made for podcasters. Sound Pad MagicThe Zoom Livetrak L-8 can run up to 2 ½ hours with just 4 AA batteries, alternatively you can use a USB battery with the L-8’s unique USB connection design, so you can podcast from anywhere that inspires you, and not worry about disconnecting. The Zoom Livetrak L-8 is class compliant, allowing a connection with iOS devices, although an Apple Lightning to USB Camera Adapter is required. There are two each Hi-Z, line-level and USB inputs. Continuous battery operation times were determined using in-house testing methods. They will vary greatly according to use conditions. For a mixer that looks to be more geared towards the content creation crowd, the L-8 really has no business being as musical as it is.

Alkaline surely lasts longer but who doesn't get bad conscience replacing alkaline batteries every 2 hours?Pre-recorded inserts such as intros, outros, ads, jingles, sound effects are available at the touch of a button through 6 easily-assignable onboard Sound Pads. The Zoom Livetrak L-8 has all the features a podcaster needs. Designing a mixer/interface that caters to both music and podcast types in equal measure is by no means an easy feat. Both disciplines bring with them their own unique set of conventions and production requirements and it’s hard to please everybody. Thankfully, Zoom have done a more than commendable job of integrating enough of both worlds to make the L-8 a more than capable mixer on all but the most high end of applications. Musicians will be drawn to it by its simplicity and minimal power requirements, podcasters will be impressed by its technical thoroughness and ease of use. It’s important to understand that the Mixes store only the fader settings: the Gain, Pad/Hi‑Z, Select, Channel Strip and Mute status aren’t recalled. But more settings can be stored in what Zoom call Scenes. Several settings are stored in each Scene: the fader positions (for every channel, including EFX RTN and Master); Mute status; all Channel Strip settings; the selected effect patch and parameters; and the input source selection for channels 7+8. I've bought this mixer to route my external synths into the Maschine+ which is running in standalone mode. It works as a class compliant audio interface (Maschine+ recognizes it) (if you are interested in this please read the terrible part!)

There is a thin between the qualities of sound produced by both units. Zoom units boil down to 0 – +70 dB when comparing the specs. On the contrary, Rodecaster specs are 0dB – 55dB. Recording Mode Each of the eight input channels has its own fader, mute (but not solo) and Select buttons, and when a channel is selected you can tweak further parameters in the Channel Strip section. This has five continuous rotary encoders and a (12dB/octave 75Hz) high‑pass filter button. Each encoder is circled by 13 LEDs, but as each LED has five levels of brightness and they light in combinations you’re treated to a finer level of indication than first sight suggests. A very minor gripe is that the height of the knobs means they obscure some LEDs’ default positions (eg. centre pan) when you’re seated, with the L‑8 on your desktop. The encoders control panning, the effects send level and a three‑band EQ, comprising high (10kHz) and low (100Hz) shelves and a peaking mid band (2.5kHz). Each band can boost up to ±15dB, again in fine enough steps that you have plenty of control. Making podcasts requires some technical know-how on audio and video recording software. With several recording units in the market, most people consider Zoom L8 and Rode Rodecaster brands because each has unique sound quality, build superiority, and versatility features. So let’s explore key features likely to guide you to the best fit. File ManagementFor the musically inclined, the L-8 has all the makings of an extremely portable and flexible recording set-up, with six hybrid line/XLR inputs (each with 48v phantom power), an intuitive layout and a selectable three-band EQ; more than enough to get things down with a minimal amount of fuss. I would of loved to have seen a simple compressor/limiter included on the unit, but in terms of standard DAW workflow, this is something that can easily be amended in the box. The Zoom Livetrak L-8 has 6 independent, high performance preamps, which are transparent, powerful, and reliable. They have a low noise floor (-121dBU EIN), and maximum input gain of +54dB. Both options operate through batteries. The Zoom L8 is powered by two AA batteries or a USB cable. However, a Rodecaster has a DC-USB cable that accommodates a USB battery. You only need a USB cable to power a Zoom 8, making it more convenient than a Rode. Noise Reduction vs. Noise Gate Once you’ve dialled in your mix…save it! The L-8 lets you save up to 7 show “scenes” that can be saved and instantly recalled at the press of a button. Zoom’s preamps are famous for a good reason: they’re transparent, powerful and ultra-reliable. The L-8 features six independent Zoom preamps, built to handle anything from a whisper to a raucous debate. Key Features

Despite this being a digital desk (meaning no physical routing limitations in between the converters) you can’t apply EQ to the effects return or master mix; I can’t say I missed that ability but some might. Naturally, you can’t apply reverb to the main mix, since there’s only one effects engine and its signal already flows to the mix bus. Input channels 7 and 8 are shared with output 1/2 and 3/4 correspondingly, when used in audio interface mode. So you can not hear the output from the host, when you are recording from those channels.Just press a button to play intros, outros, jingles, ads and sound effects. With 6 easily-assignable Sound Pads, the right sound is at your fingertips. First-Time Caller, Long-Time Listener As a digital mixer, the LiveTrak L‑8 is fairly simple, in that all the input channels are permanently routed to the master stereo bus. There are no subgroup buses or, other than one that goes directly to the internal effects engine, aux sends. That effects send is available to all channels except, obviously, the effects’ stereo return channel and the stereo master mix channel. However, some behind‑the‑scenes digital sophistication means that it is still perfectly possible to create and distribute different cue mixes, or send signals to external processors/effects. As I hinted at the outset, I love the Zoom LiveTrak L‑8. It offers so much convenience and versatility for so little money, and it sounds decent too. The mic preamps, which have a gain range of +10 to +54 dB, are never going to be world‑beaters on this sort of device, but they are competent: clean and quiet and as good as any in their class. I was happy using them for exposed sources like spoken word (eg. podcasting) and when applying plenty of gain for dynamic mics (a Shure SM57 and Heil Sound PR40) there was pleasingly little hiss. The neutral‑sounding broad‑brush EQ is exactly what’s required here, and I found a handful of the effects (mainly the reverbs) very usable, even if I always wanted to tweak the default settings to something that sounded less obvious. Overall handling of the device feels retro (but in a bad way). Some of the options like putting the unit into audio interface mode are not saved, so you have to put the unit into that mode every time you power it up.



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