We don’t recommend you buy a recorder that rules the market because sales don’t always equal greatness. If you are a musician and need a multitrack recorder, let’s see how the Zoom R20 stacks up against the Tascam model 12 in some important areas. Although it’s not a fair game since the Tascam model 12 is way more expensive, the Zoom R 20 does have its own selling points.
It’s easy to see that the Tascam model 12 comes with better preamps just by looking at its specs. Although the Tascam only has eight mic input channels, which looks the same as the Zoom R20, it has a better gain range, lower input impedance, and higher maximum input level. Besides, the Tascam model 12 allows you to record with 10 channels with line-in inputs while you can only record 8 channels simultaneously with the Zoom R20. Of course, the preamps sound of the Tascam model 12 is more attractive to me, and they don’t generate noticeable noise.
Controls and Inputs
The Zoom R20 is extremely compact compared to the Tascam model 12, you will see the Tascam model 12’s eight main input channels all have their own one‑knob compressor and three‑band EQ section. And the Tascam model 12 is also equipped with plenty of knobs for adjusting when sending signals. However, you only get a gain and a level knob when using the Zoom R20, it doesn’t even have a JOG wheel that helps you to go back and forth on a track. On top of that, the Zoom R20 only has 2 1/4 inch jacks and only 1 hi-z, which is a little bit restrictive compared to Tascam model 12’s LINE/INST input jacks.
You get what you pay for, the Tascam model 12 is obviously more powerful when it comes to mixing/recording features, even though it’s not a perfect unit. I’m not going to cover all the basic features here, here are some new improvement that the Tascam model 12 bring to you. In the model 12, you are able to have new routing options to create different workflows with their new methods to deploy the processors and change the positions of converters, EQs, and compressors to treak your live performances or podcasts during playback. Also, Tascam added a new feature called VAMP Playback to this model, the VAMP playback allows you to play between two selected points in a song manually or automatically, and you can do that during up to 10 sections of the Song. Plus, the tap‑tempo feature, a new facility that helps music creators to monitor the tempo with a top‑panel button is also useful.
Unfortunately, the Zoom R20 lacks a few important features. First off, it doesn’t support punch-in/out that lets you record new material onto existing tracks. Also, the Zoom R20 has no bounce option and you can only import tracks to a stereo pair when a bounce function is needed. The Zoom R20 recorder doesn’t have a repeat function either, not to mention the Tascam’s VAMP Looping playback.
Zoom R20 vs Tascam Model 12 – Which Will You Choose
For me, the Tascam Model 12 is absolutely the better option in 2023, it works nicely with or without a computer. With its feature‑rich and versatile design, it can be a go-for multitrack recorder for live performers and professional music producers as well. The Zoom R20 might seem cute, but it lacks some features that I really need for my workflow. But it’s still a decent and simple recorder that almost requires no experience and no skills to start with. And if you are on a budget and know what you exactly need, a Zoom R20 that fulfills your tasks is also okay to purchase. Most importantly, the R20 from Zoom costs you $349.99, while the Tascam model 12 will set you back more than $600.