In time for AES 2019, Zoom prepared a new addition to its line-up of LiveTrak multi-channel recorders. The new LiveTrak L-8 is not merely a downsized L-12, rather Zoom has clearly put in the work to create a viable competitor to the RODECaster Pro – RODE’s very well executed podcast production studio-in-a-box. Of course, being a full-featured LiveTrak board, the L-8 also has plenty of recording functionality to offer for musicians and multimedia creators. But podcasters are clearly top priority with this device.
Catering to Joe Rogan wannabes, the L-8 features a set of six buttons to fire off sounds like intros, outros, jingles, ads, and effects. A particularly helpful nod to them is the included TRRS cable for hooking up smartphones – the Mix-Minus function automatically removes echo and feedback from the conversation, which usually gets rowdy when one has to do it manually. USB connection is also a possibility, piping in live audio from messaging apps.
LiveTrak L-8 Recording functions
On the side of traditional recording, the LiveTrak L-8 features six mic preamps on combo-XLR connectors with two Hi-Z inputs on preamps 1 – 2, and -26dB pad switches for the rest. Gain ranges are -10dB to +54dB, so enough for most dynamic and condenser mics but underpowered for gain-hungry mics like the Shure SM7B, a favorite among professional casters. There are also two line inputs. For monitoring, the L-8 has four headphone outputs handling independent monitor mixes, and L/R XLR Master outputs. Effects and rudimentary editing are provided by Zoom’s familiar DSP engine, operated via buttons and a monochrome display.
Recording is possible to SD cards, computers (over USB), and you can also live stream while recording. The L-8 can record up to 10 discrete tracks plus a stereo mix at resolutions up to 24/96. However, a lot of the recording functionality, in particular effects, EQ, overdub, and USB recording, is unavailable in 96kHz. Then again, going down to 48kHz in exchange for all that and the ability to record to computer and SD simultaneously is no tradeoff to balk at.
While the L-8 is powered from an outlet, it also lasts up to 2 and a half hours on four AA batteries and you can also power it from an USB power pack. So that’s a good bit of portability right there.
Price and availability
At USD 399, the LiveTrak L-8 looks like typical Zoom value for the money. Its closest competitor, the RODECaster Pro, costs USD 599 and the LiveTrak L-8 exceeds its available functionality with more preamps, effects, portability, and 96kHz recording – to name a few. However, the RODECaster Pro is almost a luxury experience with its color screen and handly, uncluttered layout. It’s a podcast station then and there, while the L-8 is a more of a digital recording console that’s particularly podcast-friendly.