The ZED-R16 is a superbly equipped console with all the crucial parts of the recording process in one box. The best performing preamp in Allen & Heath’s entire range is packaged with a high quality analogue to Firewire interface and the most extensive EQ on any mixer at this price point (or even twice the price!). An analogue channel strip so well featured, which sounds this good, is a real find at this level.
ZED-R16 combines an analogue recording mixer with a FireWire soundcard, MIDI controls and ingenious ‘home-studio’ routing so you can build tracks in the studio, record live gigs, mix-down, remix… all through warm analogue circuitry, 4 band fully parametric classic British EQ and out to crisp, precise digital format.
In the studio
ZED-R16 combines an imaginative feature set with professional build quality to create the ideal centrepiece for any project studio with big ideas, or larger studios with dedicated live rooms. Control room speaker and alternate speaker outputs, plus two separate artist monitor feeds are provided. In addition to the digital inter face, two analogue recording outputs are also available. The ZED-R16 even has a dedicated internal condenser talkback mic. Features such as the dual function audio/MIDI faders and built in sequencer transport were dreamed up by engineers here at A&H who have home studios themselves, so they’ve made sure they’ve built in features they really need.
The internal soundcard features 18 FireWire inputs and 18 outputs plus 16 ADAT I/O. Each channel on the mixer has its own independent soundcard channel so instruments can be recorded simultaneously (pre or post EQ) and into the sequencer separately. To minimise clock jitter and provide synchronicity between the ZED-R16 and other devices, the mixer is equipped with the professional JetPLL™ digital audio chipset.
Mix-down and live
In addition to multi-track recording, the ZED-R16 allows mixing down in analogue, then recording back into the computer in digital. The bundled SONAR LE software makes this a breeze. The story doesn’t stop here however – ZED-R16 can be a versatile live FOH mixer too. In this mode, its 4 aux buses become foldback feeds and FX sends, and the main XLR outputs feed the PA system. Recording the live gig is straightforward; the record feed signal can be easily assigned using the four buttons next to the faders.
The ZED-R16’s pre-amp, which has been specially designed for this application, has a symmetrical ultra linear circuit. The best epitaxial low noise transistors are used in the front end, and active feedback is employed in both phases before the differential amplifier. This results in super-low distortion, while maintaining low noise (-128.5dBu EIN), high CMRR, and a transparent and beautiful sounding pre-amp.
The digital audio connections are all present on the rear of the desk. Two FireWire connectors allow the ZED-R16 to be connected to a personal computer whilst the second socket daisy chains devices. Two switches change the sample rate and routing selection, while 4 connectors allow input and output to ADAT equipment.
In addition to the FireWire input and output, the ZED-R16 has 4 ADAT optical sockets. The I/O routing on the ZED-R16 is identical for the FireWire channels and the ADAT optical connection. With a combination of panel switches, the mixer is capable of an incredible 26 simultaneous inputs and outputs. Feed the ZED-R16 from ADAT lightpipe equipment, or record directly out from 16 channels to 2 ADAT machines, or to another soundcard.
MIDI software control
The MIDI section on the ZED-R16 has been designed to control software transport, with extra mappable controllers ready to be user-assigned. With recording now truly in the digital age, ZED-R16 brings the home studio bang up to date. In addition to the ZED-R16’s dedicated MIDI controls, all of the channel faders can be switched to become MIDI controllers.