I am looking to purchase a multitrack recorder for my home studio. I am a drummer so I need one that is at least 8 track. However, i do want to be able to have other musicians play so i am want to get either a 24 track or a 16 track recorder. I don't know much of recording equipment, but I am confused because when I look at the descriptions of these items, they all seem to say that you record upto 8 tracks at the same time. If that's the case, Why would I get a 16 track, when it probably be better off getting 2 8 tracks and connect them together? Why or what would you need the remaining tracks?

2 Answers 2


Being able to record 8 channels at once means you can just about record a drum kit in one take... they need a lot of mics, even if you're going to sub-mix to multitrack.

If you have an 8-track recorder... then that's it. Done. Mix your drums, or bounce to stereo so you can record another instrument.
If you try to use two 8-tracks to give you 16 at once, then you are going to hit synchronisation issues.

With 24 tracks, you've still 16 tracks left before you need to start bouncing, even if you can only record 8 at a time.

Honestly, these days I'd buy a computer, DAW software & an audio interface with as many inputs as you will ever need at one time - though bear in mind that unless you're going to try to go straight to the interface, you're still going to need a mixing desk with that number of busses.

I grew up on a 4-track in the 70's went 8-track by the early 80s, 16-track by the mid 80s.
I got my first DAW in the early/mid 90s... infinite tracks, no bouncing [within reason, if your machine's powerful enough]
Never looked back.
Wouldn't dream of limiting myself to 24 tracks these days.
I've done a lot of projects using 60 - 80 tracks; the occasional one with a lot of orchestral & backing vocals up to 120 tracks.

If you ever get chance to listen to the multitrack of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody [it's out there, it "escaped"] then you'll see something of what a feat it was to get all that into a mere 24 tracks.
It's a masterpiece of .. frankly, sheer bloody-mindedness, combined with not a little patience & a good bit of engineering skill [& very probably a lot of edits on the 2-track as they mixed it in sections.]

  • So basically that means, with a 16 track recorder, I can use the 8 inputs to record drums and I can have upto 8 other instruments playing thru the mix but only the tracks with the drums will be recorded... Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 18:56
  • The important consideration is the number of 'busses'. A bus is an 'output channel', a route to the next device. If the recorder has only 8 input channels, & your mixer has 4 busses, then you can only record 4 channels at once. Similarly, if your mixer has 24 busses, but the recorder has only 8 inputs...you can record 8 channels at once. Additionally, a 16-track recorder will be capable of returning 16 separate recorded channels to your mix environment at once, but not necessarily be able to record on all 16 at once. It's a cost consideration.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 19:11

Get a computer-based system. Practically unlimited total track count. Choice of audio interface determines how many can be recorded in one pass.

You probably don't need 8 tracks for drums. Plenty of excellent recordings have been made with an overhead pair plus snare and bass drum mics.

Don't fall into the trap of assuming that seperate tracking of each instrument is the ideal way of working, or even the standard way. Music is made when everyone plays at once, LISTENING to each other, playing parts that fit together using sounds that fit together. Then you can avoid the 'remedial mixing' that seems such a large part of many people's workflow.


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