Zoom Corporation has announced the availability of its new R8 music production solution. In addition to an 8-track recording device with built-in stereo microphones, the unit also acts as an audio interface for your computer, a mouse-free control surface for digital audio workstation (DAW) software and an eight voice pad sampler.

The R8 is said to operate for over five hours on four AA-sized alkaline batteries, but can also be mains-powered via an included adapter or draw its needs from a USB connection.

Like its predecessor, the R8 can be used as a recorder, computer interface, DAW controller, or sampler and is said to take some of the music creation power offered by the company's powerful R24 solution and shrink it into a gig-bag-friendly 10 x 7.5 x 2-inch (257 x 190 x 51 mm) frame.

The 8-track recorder can capture two simultaneous tracks and can play back up to eight tracks. On either side of the device interface there's an omnidirectional condenser microphone to cater for spur-of-the-moment recording, or two balanced XLR/0.25-inch combination inputs can be used to plug in external microphones and/or instruments. Creations are recorded to 44.1/48kHz, 16/24-bit WAV format but 44.1/48/88.2/96kHz, 24-bit sampling is possible when used with digital audio software. There's 96kHz, 24bit analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog conversion, a three-band equalizer and SDHC media card support for up to 100 track hours.

The R8 can also be connected to a computer via the mini-USB 2.0 port and used as an audio interface or controller with the included Cubase LE software, or other major DAW programs like Sonar or Logic. The device features onboard divide and trim editing functionality, as well as punch in and out, bounce down, repeat, undo and redo and marker. There's a chromatic tuner for guitar and bass and a metronome, and players can enhance their tone by choosing from 146 DSP effects, including distortion and amp models.

The R8 includes ten virtual drum kits and over 500 rhythm patterns, with eight velocity-sensitive pads allowing users to provide real-time or looped accompaniment. The tempo can be changed without affecting pitch and users can see the waveforms on the 128 x 64 pixel resolution LCD panel when setting loop intervals.

The R8 ships with a 2GB SD card with 500MB of Big Fish Audio drum loops thrown in and is made available in the U.S. by Samson Technologies, carrying a suggested retail of US$524.99.