Multitrack recording with ZOOM R16

I plan to buy a ZOOM R16 multitrack recorder. It creates a couple of synchronized wav tracks. When opening each of these tracks in audacity: is synchronisation of these couple of tracks kept? How is it done? Is it possible to open all the wav tracks in the couple at once?
Thanks for help,
Dieter Fleischmann

If you read “Get in Sync” on the R16 Product Page it would appear they are giving you a potential way to record 16 simultaneous input tracks rather than the eight the device supports by connecting a second R16 as a USB host/slave arrangement. This might theoretically prevent the usual problem that recordings from two USB devices would drift apart due to different clock speeds.

Unless this makes the two USB devices appear as one which I doubt, that would still limit you to maximum eight input channels with software like Audacity that can only record from one input device at a time. The first hurdle you will need to get over is whether Audacity sees the R16 as a single eight-input device or a group of four stereo input devices, from which you can choose one device. That depends on the drivers supporting multi-channel recording without ASIO - ASIO is only supported if you compile Audacity from source code.

If you have seen documentation about a couple of “synchronised” tracks, please give the web address. We can’t comment or guess what it means otherwise.


Dear Gale,

Thanks for your prompt reply!

Due to my poor English I possibly mixed up “synchronisation” and “lock”.

I describe what I do:

Unfortunately I cannot record my violin-play at the same location I use my computer. So I cannot use Audacity for multitrack recording, what would be best and most simple.

I dispose over scores in “Capella” software and can produce MIDI-files out of it, especially click-tracks to violin pieces or accompanyment of violin music. I play back this click-track (or e.g. cembalo) via earphone and record my violinplay with ZOOM H2 according to the earphone heared. So I create two (or more) independent tracks, which should be locked (but are not), which I open in Audacity. My problem now is how to shift each of the tracks properly in time that they fit over the whole session to become a locked couple again. That is the state of the art I am doing now. I propose ZOOM R16 will solve the task of creating locked wav-failes (as Audacity would already do). But I fear I destroy the lock of the different tracks (produced with the R16) when opening them as independent (unlocked) wav-files in Audacity for editing each track in the couple.

I opened the link to ASIO and wikipedia you offered. But I am sure I am by far not big enough to use a source code. ZOOM delivers some Steinberg software together with the R16 which probably solves the problem. But that would mean I leave Audacity. Is that correct? Can Audacity open a couple of independent but locked wav-files as a whole?



I send a copy of my request in this case to a German ZOOM-dealer. I leve it in original language.

Start citation:

Sehr geehrter Herr Fleischmann,
vielen Dank für Ihre Anfrage und Ihr damit verbundenes Interesse an unseren Produkten und Service-Leistungen.

Der Zoom R16 generiert ein komplettes Spur-File in dem Moment, wo eine Spur eröffnet wird und etwas in dieser Spur aufgenommen wurde.
Alle Spur-Files eines Songs sind immer gleich lang, egal, ob Sie schon bei aufgenommen haben oder erst bei Die Spur beginnt immer bei und endet mit dem letzten Audio Sample. Die Zeit von bis zum Start bei wird mit Stille aufgefüllt. Sie setzen nach dem Export dann einfach alle Spuren in Audacity auf die gleiche Starposition und somit sind die Spuren synchron.

Für weitere Fragen stehe ich gerne zur Verfügung.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen
Thomas Becker

Beratung und Verkauf

Musikhaus Thomann
Inhaber: Hans Thomann
HRA Bamberg Nr. 8988

End citation


We can’t read German here except with Google translate, which doesn’t really help much in this case. The R16 product page makes no mention of locked pairs of files.

I understand you import a violin recording made with H2 into Audacity. Is the harpsichord track you also import into Audacity a MIDI file converted to WAV? Or is some other file not synchronised with the violin track? Did you record that other file as well? How are you playing the MIDI file when you record with H2?

If in Audacity you are trying to synchronise the violin track that your recorded on H2 with the harpsichord file that you are now playing on the computer, the tracks probably will no longer synchronise because the computer plays files at a different speed than the device you were playing the file on when you recorded with H2. Is that the problem? Files recorded in H2 should synschronise with each other whatever application you play them on.


Dear Gale,

Thank you for your kind reply.

I will try to explain what I do as a usual task:

I use scores written in Capella software, containing voices for different instruments and a click track.
I myself play the violin and no other instrument.
I intend to to play the violin part (or several different violin voices, one after another) of the score which is accompanied by the other voices (or the click track as rhythmic basis).
I start with the click track, or the harpsichord track. This track is created out of MIDI as wav-file. The mid-file is produced by Capella and I convert it to a wav-file by NCH Switch Sound File Converter.
While listening to the click/harpsichord track via earphones I record my violin play with H2. This process locks the click/harpsichord track and my violin play physically.
Unfortunately the produced wav files of the click/harpsichord track and my violin play are independent from each other.
These two wav files I open in one aup-project. Now arises the problem in audacity to seek the optimum time shift of one of the two tracks in reference to the other timefixed one. This problem comes up because I cannot preserve the physical time lock from recording on to editing in audacity.
The task becomes even more incalculable the more violin voices belonging to the piece of music I want to produce.

If I could use audacity from start the problem would not exist, of course. But I cannot record in the location my computer is placed. Therefore I look for a portable hardware which will produce a system of time locked wav files, each produced at a different time. I think R16 could be suited. The German salesman told in the text above each wav track belonging to a R16-project receives a start mark serving as a lock-key and which is to be observed when editing the different wav-files within the project in audacity. So in audacity I just have to line up these start marks to recreate the timelock which physically is present during recording of a new track.
I by no means do the music for publishing but use it as an excellent method for practice the violin “within a band” (play along) and in different tempo.

The answer of the German vendor of R16 gives sufficient clearence for my personal decision.

Many thanks to you,


Tell me if I have this correct.

You record several different violin parts onto the H2, using either a generated click track, or a harpsichord part generated from MIDI, or the previous violin part as a reference. You then import into Audacity the click track (or harpsichord track) and the violin tracks. You want to synchronize them.

So the Zoom R16 is not being used at the moment, and you want to know how to synchronize the several violin parts, and if the R16 will help?

How do you play back the click track? The H2 will not play and record simultaneously.

You are asking if using the R16 will allow you to record “locked” WAV files which you can import into Audacity for mixing. I don’t think we can answer that.

However, using your current method you can “synchronize” (but perhaps not “lock”) the various parts in Audacity. Use your ears and the Time Shift tool to align all the parts as best you can.

Does your click track have a “count in”? That is, 2 or more bars with clicks or notes played before the actual music starts? While listening to the count in, say “One, two, three, four, one, two …” before you start playing. You can then use this to align each track.

I hope I have understood your question, and that this is helpful.

– Bill

We can’t really understand this until we know what application is playing the WAV that contains the click/harpsichord track. Your description seems to suggest that H2 is playing the click/harpsichord track, but Bill says this isn’t possible while you are recording. Are you recording the click/harpsichord track into H2 while you are recording the violin part? If so, I don’t understand why those recordings would be desynchronised.

If it’s a time marker in a Broadcast WAV file, Audacity does not recognise those.


Hello Bill, Gale

Thanks for your reply.

My aim is to study a piece of music, especially “my” violin parts. For study purposes I try to practice together with accompaniment of the other voices of the piece of music. So I can repeat as often as I want, what a human partner probably would annoyed had stopped after the 20st repetition. Moreover MIDI-created wav files can simply be adjusted to every tempo I’d like without loss in audio quality.

You wrote:

You record several different violin parts onto the H2, using either a generated click track, or a harpsichord part generated from MIDI, or the previous violin part as a reference.

That is just partly true. If I dispose over a click track (or harpsichord track) only so its origins are MIDI solely and I create about one bar count-in in the score already, of course. I convert this mid-file to wav (NCH Switch Sound File Converter) and “open” (not “import”) this file into audacity to place 5 secons “Stille” that means “nothing”, or “zeros”, or “quiety”, to assure time for keeping up my violin and bow before I will start to play. As you write, this is the reference part for my own playing to come.
If I intend to study e.g. a violin duo or trio I record one violin voice of the piece with H2. Counting-in I do personally in saying loud one - two a.s.o., what will be recorded also. Normally I edit this record also in audacity to clear it from noise etc. and create also the 5 seconds “Stille” (because I am used to this lead-in time) at the start of the track. In this case this one violin part is my reference part for my own playing to come.
I convert one of these reference parts to a mp3-file for playback purpose on my mp3 player. There is absolutly no need for synchronistion or locking at all. There is just this one (reference) track I upload on my mp3-player.

Now the real problem comes up: Let’s do an example. Assumed there exists a click-track reference to a violin trio I can playback on my mp3-player which I can listen to by earphone and I want to study a violin trio according to this click track as a music piece. The aim is to produce every two of the three violin voices as violin duos (all rhythmically based on the click track) so later on I could study the lacking third violin voice accompanied by this duo. So I switch on the H2 to “Recording” and my mp3-player to “Playback” of the proper click track. Now I have 5 seconds before the click track count-in starts in my earphones to take up violin and bow to record my play of one of the three violin voices on H2. Of course I try to musically synchronize my violin play to the clicks I hear in the headphones as good as I can (experience shows, there are up to about plus minus 5 milliseconds maximum unprecision over the time of the whole recording session, giving about 10 ms uncertainty). I called this type of recording/playback as “physical time lock”. Let’s overlook what is done now: There exists a perfect rhythm (-click-) wav track, and, independently, a live recorded violin wav track with intrinsic time uncertainties of 10 ms max. relative to the click track. These two tracks are by no means related in time (moreover it is to trust in the quartz based clock in two independently running systems: H2 and mp3-player). Now I open the wav click track in audacity and paste at a “New Track” the violin wav-file in. The click track serves as reference and the violin track has to be time shifted, oriented on the reference, until I think its on optimum. This optimum to find is the central point due to the above mentioned uncertainty in time of up to 10ms. To be honest, I think I never at all found the “physical time locked” state which was present at the recording session. Coming back to the example: If this first task should be done successfully yet there is onother violin voice left at least and so far!

I hope I could put into words what troubles me. I hope I can clean up the mess when using a R16 which at first sight time locks the click track and my violin play (and all further recorded music of the same piece, and beside the ever present 10 ms time uncertainty). But the R16 produces a seperate wav file for each new recording, orderly time locked in a uniting “R16 project”. My original question was how to “import” this “R16 project” (fulfilling all my desires) to audacity, when the time lock is to be broken: In audacity I have to destroy the R16 structure to “import” each wav file independent from the next. So I would have to align again the different wav files whith an intrinsic uncertainty of 10ms each.

In fact I did not buy the R16 yet and really cannot comment what the R16 does. But as far as I understood the R16 records during playback within the same “R16 project” and all of the tracks of a “R16 project” have the precisely equal start time: recording of a new track sarts at the moment the track played back starts. So the time lock should be the common start time of all tracks of the “R16 project” (if I am right(?)).

I hope I could answer what was up and thanks for your interest!



Firstly, the MP3 version of the “click track” will not be synchronised with the WAV original because the MP3 format adds about 50 milliseconds of silence padding to the start. But my guess would still be that the real problem is this - the MP3 player does not play the MP3 at the same speed as the computer plays the WAV file. From what you have written, your complaint appears to be that you must synchronise the click track with the recorded violin tracks in Audacity, not that you must synchronise the violin tracks with each other.

If that diagnosis is correct I don’t think the R16 will help you, except that it will synchronise the violin tracks more tightly.

If you connect the MP3 player to the R16 and record the click track into R16, then record against playback of the click track in R16 (if it allows that), I think that would solve the problem. It would be at the expense of slightly degrading the quality of the click track in the final master. Otherwise you must experiment finding out the speed difference between playback on the computer and the MP3 player and adjust the speed of the WAV before you convert it to MP3.


Dear Gale,

Thanks for your reply!

I am very surprised to hear conversion from wav to mp3 adds strange time periods not to be expected by the user. I must confess to some extent in the past I faintly suspected the clock reliability of the recording system as a whole when getting in trouble with trying to synchronize my different recorded and played back tracks in audacity.

Two weeks ago I downloaded the R16 manual from the ZOOM homepage. Overdubbing is a special paragraph. Doing so I don’t need to change track format. I never doubted a “R16 project” is synchronized properly. Just the transport of all the different tracks into audacity without breaking the coincidence of the tracks for edition of each track appears misty to me.

To gather the more knowledge about the stuff clears up the thought. After having had my first steps to work with the R16 I will drop a short note about getting on.

Again many thanks to all of you for discussion!

By the way I changed from audacity 1.3.13 ANSI to the UNICODE version.



I promised to be back when I got my ZOOM R16 to report how to create overdubbed recordings. This task is quite simple, as R16 starts the counter of the first track to record at time 0.000s and creates a corresponding wav file. To start the next track to record (together with the corresponding next wav file) just go back to this start time. The R16 project collects all overdubbed recorded files, and they all start at the very same time 0.000s, with millisecond accuracy. Importing the files (one after another) in one and the same audacity project, cursor position at start time, gives the correct ensemble play of all files.

I am very happy my problem of multitrack recording is solved by using R16 and I can continue to use the excellent facilities of audacity for editing every single file.


Thank you very much for the feedback and I’m pleased for your success.
I’ll move this topic to the “Recording Equipment” section of the forum where it may be more easily found by others that are seeking information about multi-track recording with ZOOM R16.