Zoom R12 Multitrak, new portable multi-track recorder with an FM synth

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Zoom expands its revised portable multi-track recorder series with the R12 Multitrak, a downsized R20 with fewer inputs but with the same workflow. 

At the end of 2021, Zoom presented the R20 Multitrak, a completely renewed version of their popular, compact multi-track recorder. A device with which you can record your sessions, jams, etc. without a computer. Hello DAWless musicians. It has 16 tracks, built-in effects for instant processing, and also a built-in groovebox. A somewhat unusual feature for such a device.

Today Zoom has added a smaller version to the range with the R12. Whether this is the indirect successor to the R8 is not known.

Zoom R12 Multitrak

Zoom R12 Multitrak

The R12 is the little brother of the Zoom R20, not only in size but also in features. Instead of the 8 inputs, the R20 only offers dual XLR/jack combo inputs and 8-track recording directly to SDXC or SDXC cards. That’s a real downsized version in terms of features.

But no worries, you can make complete tracks. You can alternatively import audio files from an SD card or USB straight into your project. So can jam on your own tracks which is very interesting.

Then Zoom continues its somewhat unusual move with the internal sound engine. They new Zoom R12 Multitrak also hosts an internal FM Synthesizer with 18 sounds, 1 drum kit, and 150 patterns. These can either be played via USB-C MIDI from a keyboard or with the built-in sequencer operable via the touchscreen. I’m not sure if there’s any fun in programming this.

Zoom also ships the unit with a new Sequence Play functionality where you can create playlists of projects to be used as backing track.

Zoom R12 Multitrak


There are onboard effects to refine sounds, including compressor, EQ, gate, and Zoom’s MFX DSP processor. According to Zoom, the latter is fully compatible with the Guitar Lab software so it will be possible to customize this effect slot. The R12 also has a send effects channel with reverb, chorus, and delay along with a dedicated return fader. Plus the unit has panning and a 3-channel EQ for each track. Inputs 1 and 2 also have a compressor.

Another nice feature is the built-in metronome with monitor blend control.

Zoom R12


If you’re looking for a device with many connections, you’ve come to the wrong place. The Zoom has two inputs, whereas input 1 has a Hi-Z switch to connect guitars. Further, both inputs offer 48V phantom power for condenser microphones. Output side, you get a stereo headphone jack and dedicated TS/TRS monitor outputs.

There is also a USB-C port that turns the unit into a 2-in/4-out USB-C audio interface and DAW control surface with transport and fader functions. The unit runs either via an AD-17 AC adapter or on 4 AA batteries with an estimated battery life of 5 hours. The R12 is compatible, of course, with macOS and PC but also with iOS devices using the optional R12 Control App.


At first glance a nice device. I think it’s positive that Zoom continues to expand its digital recorders. I just don’t understand why the feature set was cut so massively for the R12, especially on the input side.

Where the R20 has 8 inputs, I would have given the R12 4 inputs to make it more attractive. 2 inputs are very tightly calculated and usually not sufficient for small jams in the studio or on the go.

Zoom R12 Multitrak will be available in Q4 20222. Price TBA.

More information here: Zoom 

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  1. A lesser known feature of the R20 is that you can record to channel/track 1 and 2, then you are able to drag the clips down to any of the lower channels/tracks. Some people use this trick when all they have is jack cables, because the R20 has jack inputs on ch1&2. Do we know if you can do the same with the R12? Also, do we know if one can apply DIFFERENT effects to different tracks? The R20 is NOT capabke of this. :/ Not as of this day. Maybe with future firmware.

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