MacMusic.org  |  PcMusic.org  |  440Software  |  440Forums.com  |  440Tv  |  Zicos.com  |  AudioLexic.org
Loading... visitors connected
3 Pages V   1 2 3 >  
Reply to this topicStart new topic
> Tascam Us-122, Review of new USB device
rickenbacker
post Fri 1 Aug 2003, 14:15
Post #1


Maniac Member
******

Group: Members
Posts: 645
Joined: 17-May 02
From: Broughton
Member No.: 4,705




A few people have been mentioning the Tascam US-122 lately, so I thought I'd post a review of the unit that I've just written for a music magazine. Might help someone thinking of buying one. Any further questions are very welcome. cool.gif

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin...

The US-122 is the latest fruit of the Tascam/Frontier development partnership and is the logical successor to the US-428 and US-224 models. Where these sought to act as both interfaces and mini control surfaces for sequencers, the US-122 is a straightforward portable USB device.

Put simply, it is a two-input, two-output 24-bit AD/DA audio/MIDI interface, offering a respectable proliferation of ins and outs. There are two balanced XLR mic inputs; two 1/4” balanced line inputs (switchable to high-impedance unbalanced inputs for direct connection of any hi-Z source, such as a guitar, bass or synth); TRS inserts on each input channel for effects processors; impedance matching and a 16-channel Midi interface.

Output is via a pair of unbalanced line outputs on RCA connectors, although regrettably there is no digital option, either in or out. A separate headphone output with dedicated volume knob is provided, along with the master volume knob and a direct monitoring knob. The unit is entirely USB powered and provides phantom power to the two XLR sockets for use with condenser mics.

Construction is solid, the reassuringly chunky design and rubberised mid-section promising to withstand a few knocks. As the US-122 lends itself to portable use, this is an important issue. Its dimensions are also a boon, measuring just 149 x 60 x 196mm (W/H/D) and weighing just over 2lb (925g).

Installation of the tiny 5Mb driver was easy, the only caveat being that OS X owners must be running at least OS X 10.2.3. The driver also works in OS 9 and the device will support ASIO, Sound Manager, CoreAudio, CoreMIDI, OMS and Free MIDI. A version of Cubasis for Mac is bundled with the package, although this only works in OS 9.

The US-122 Manager contains settings for Audio Safety Buffer (1-5ms) and the USB Bandwidth Usage dialogue, an audio-disable function for when you just want to run MIDI and timing is crucial. A guitar tuner is also included. Sample rates of either 44.1 or 48Khz are possible, with a resolution of either 16 or 24-bits. These and other parameters (such as overall gain levels) can be set in Audio and Midi Setup in OS X.

In operation, using the US-122 is a no-brainer. Plug in your instrument or mic, move the mic/line or guitar switch accordingly, select phantom power if required and adjust the Left or Right channel levels as necessary, using the signal indicators as a guide. There is only one light to show the presence of an audio signal (when the level exceeds –37dBFS) and only one overload indicator (which lights at –2.5dBFS), so it’s something of a challenge to pinpoint the optimum recording level. Using your DAW’s channel-level indicators is advisable.

The latency of the US-122’s hardware input monitor is advertised at “always less than 1.5ms”, but you can avoid the latency issue completely while overdubbing live signals by using the Direct switch. There is also a Mono switch which folds the two direct monitor stereo channels to mono.

You can record and playback two audio channels simultaneously, although slightly disappointing is the fact that the manual advises against recording mic and line signals simultaneously as the signal level is summed and the two are likely to interfere with one another.

The sound quality achieved with the US-122 is of a professional quality and the unit delivers a nice loud signal on playback – some USB audio devices need cranking right up to get anything out of them. MIDI operation was also straightforward. Bear in mind that the US-122 is only a USB device, though, and that the limits of the USB’s data-carrying capacity generally prohibits playback of anything greater than 16 audio tracks.

One improvement we would suggest is that the dials could do with a coloured strip on top to better indicate their position. At present, there is only a groove cut into the plastic, but as all the knobs are silver on a silver machine, it’s hard to identify settings at a glance or in low light conditions.

Apart from that, if you need to capture analogue sources and are in the market for a small, portable recording and MIDI solution, this machine fits the bill. As a portable recording solution for capturing ideas on the hoof, for recording demos, gigs, rehearsals or any other type of location recording, the US-122 is a good bet.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
xingu
post Fri 1 Aug 2003, 17:28
Post #2


Senior Member
****

Group: Members
Posts: 235
Joined: 25-Jul 02
From: Strongsville - US
Member No.: 6,217




Nice review there. The only thing I would like to caution people against is the potential for OSX driver problems with any of the Tascam US-devices. One only needs to have a look through the Tascam Computer Audio forum to see that there are many people unable to work in OSX due to what has come to be known as audio 'fizzles' (transient distortion that leads to drop-outs).

There have been user reports of this problem from all three (122, 224, and 428) interfaces that have gone unanswered for many months now. Unfortunately, there is no real apparent rhyme or reason to what configuration causes them and even less fortunate is the fact that Tascam has abandoned any type of support, at least through the forum. They even recently scripted a pop-up window upon entering the forum that bascially says "we won't help you here." I cannot comment upon direct phone or email support, as I have no personal experience with either.

I actually went about my merry, fizzle-free way until I installed the demo for Logic Audio 6. I haven't had time to do much work at all, much less test to determine exactly when where and why it occurs, but the problem seems random, transient, and mostly just annoying at this stage.

That being said, there are also plenty of users that have reported no problems (as I did until recently) as well as those that don't post anywhere because they have everything running smoothly. I still really dig my 428, so my goal isn't to turn people away from Tascam. Just trying to keep people informed... wink.gif
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
T1mon
post Fri 1 Aug 2003, 23:31
Post #3


Rookie
*

Group: Members
Posts: 29
Joined: 01-Jul 03
From: Neuried - DE
Member No.: 20,536




Thx for the review and for telling us the 'fizzles' problem.
The US-122 looked really interesting because it is 24bit instead of 16 like the MobilePre. But if it has problems with OSX I might have to look into the MobilePre again.
Maybe I can find a dealer in Germany who allows to test it for 30 days and then return it if it doesn't work. unsure.gif
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
natural selectio...
post Tue 14 Oct 2003, 05:57
Post #4


Newbie


Group: Members
Posts: 1
Joined: 14-Oct 03
From: San Jose - US
Member No.: 26,738




hello rickenbacker,

you seem to be an expert so this question is directed towards you (as well as anyone else who can help!)

i just got a tascam US-122 and am trying to record music from my akai MPC 3000 into my computer (soundforge 6.0)........my computer doesn't pick up any signals/sound when i turn on the MPC

i installed all drivers correctly and the recording device in soundforge has been set to the tascam unit.....just to see if soundforge was faulty i tried to record some of a record into the microphone input on the laptop (works fine)

i connected the stereo outputs of my mpc into the L and R inputs of the tascam.......i don't know what i'm doing wrong......when i plug my headphones into the tascam's headphone jack and press play on the MPC, i still don't hear anything?!! am i doing something wrong or is it a faulty tascam?

-hung
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
rickenbacker
post Tue 14 Oct 2003, 14:45
Post #5


Maniac Member
******

Group: Members
Posts: 645
Joined: 17-May 02
From: Broughton
Member No.: 4,705




Hey, Natural Selection,

Well, I'm no expert, but I'll try and help anyway. smile.gif

Have you tried recording anything else connected to the 122? Like a mic or a line level instrument, such as a guitar? Have you selected the 122 in Audio Midi Setup on your laptop? Oh, wait - are you on a PC? I'm guessing that as you're talking about Soundforge you must be. Well, there must be something similar on a PC - a system setting for routing the sound input and output. If there is such a utility, can you select the 122 for all ins and outs?

What else? Dunno really. Unless it really is faulty, you should be able to hear something easily enough. Are you sure you have the cables connected from output on MPC to input on 122? How are they connected? RCA jacks or 1/4"? Can you run the outs of the MPC to the combo jacks of the 122? Have you got all the levels turned up and the connection type selected on the 122?

Try recording something else using the 122 - like a mic or guitar - and if that doesn't work, maybe it is indeed faulty. Hope that helps. Apologies if I stated the obvious anywhere here!
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
boze
post Tue 14 Oct 2003, 17:36
Post #6


Junior Member
***

Group: Members
Posts: 132
Joined: 13-Sep 03
From: - US
Member No.: 24,676




rick-
could you say anything more about that 'summed input' issue with recording xlr and line-in input at the same time?

i'm not sure i understood the point that you were trying to make as far as real world use. it's only got two inputs, but if i used an xlr for mic'ing vocals and a line-in for direct guitar then.. um.. i wouldn't like the results because of this 'summed signal level' thing?

i'm starting to think that 2 ins is a bit limiting for me. i'm hoping to get a laptop soundcard before too long but i'd like for some flexibility in different live laptop performance settings. had my sights set on the fw410 but alas, it's only got the two inputs as well.

-sorry, i'm just thinking out loud. nice review and thanks for sharing it with us smile.gif


--------------------
Kit: Dual Ghz G4, Vaio 2.6ghz GRV670 notebook. Software: Reaktor, Reason, Ableton Live. Leanings: Laptop performance, jazz guitar, singing.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
rickenbacker
post Wed 15 Oct 2003, 16:38
Post #7


Maniac Member
******

Group: Members
Posts: 645
Joined: 17-May 02
From: Broughton
Member No.: 4,705




Hey boze,

The summed input issue is basically that - a mic and line in don't play nicely together inside the US-122, although it's not a total disaster. If you're a kind of one-man-band in your bedroom, or you want to build up a song one track at a time, or you want to record something live using two mics or a stereo feed or whatever, the 122 is fine. If you want to get some kind of Bob Dylan vocal mic, guitar and harmonica thing going on, it's not best suited for that. It's a cute solution for many uses and for many musicians, but you can't please all the people all of the time, can you? I liked it, but I didn't choose to buy one. I've got a MOTU 828, which is way more than enough for me. And you, probably. Check out the second-hand market for the original model at good prices.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
boze
post Wed 15 Oct 2003, 17:11
Post #8


Junior Member
***

Group: Members
Posts: 132
Joined: 13-Sep 03
From: - US
Member No.: 24,676




thx rick-
yeah, i've already been pricing used 828's. it's funny- with them i've heard about their issue with monitoring other inputs while using either of the xlr's. it strikes me as strange that offering inputs doesn't guarantee using/monitoring them in any combination. that just seems lame to me- that you have to research and ask questions like 'so it has four in?-- can you like use them at the same time then? ... no, like _all of them?'

like i could have asked a hw person about the little tascam unit and they'd have been like 'yes, yes, and yes' but i'd still have gotten stuck.

appreciate the extra info and the advice though.....


--------------------
Kit: Dual Ghz G4, Vaio 2.6ghz GRV670 notebook. Software: Reaktor, Reason, Ableton Live. Leanings: Laptop performance, jazz guitar, singing.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
billmeyer
post Tue 21 Oct 2003, 06:13
Post #9


Newbie


Group: Members
Posts: 1
Joined: 18-Oct 03
From: Hamtramck - US
Member No.: 27,039




rolleyes.gif Just bought myself a US 122 because I was looking for a portable interface for my iBook. It fits the bill totally! I've got a rackmount FireStation for more serious stuff, but the 122 can fit in the pouch of my iBook case along with a stereo mic for recording 'on the road.' Nothing else in this price range can compete. ($175 at the local Guitar Center)

But about the 'merging sound' issue. Although i haven't tried it yet, I thought they were warning against recording a mic and line input at the same time, on the same side. in other words don't try to stick an XLR mic AND a line input device ON THE SAME SIDE, but rather one on the LEFT and one on the RIGHT. Has any one had experience with this issue?

My question is: how do you set the prefs in OS 10.2.8 to have sound going in to the iBook from the 122 and out of the audio outputs of the iBook (rather than the 122)? i can't seem to get this happening.
Thanks for any help.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post
jebbels
post Wed 22 Oct 2003, 15:43
Post #10


Newbie


Group: Members
Posts: 8
Joined: 10-Oct 03
From: Chicago - US
Member No.: 26,452




Hi Rick
I've been considering buying the tascam because of my very limited funds. I have a new powerbook g4 with osx. I have run other programs(mostly graphic programs) on os 9 classic, it automaticly boots when you run non native osx programs. Are there any conflicts or down sides you know of with running the free cubase on os 9 on my computer. Because it's such an inexpensive package deal with hardware and software, and my purposes are just to make a decent quality demo, I thought it sounded like a good rout to take.
Go to the top of the page
 
+Quote Post

3 Pages V   1 2 3 >
Reply to this topicStart new topic
1 User(s) are reading this topic (1 Guests and 0 Anonymous Users)
0 Members:

 

Lo-Fi Version - Sun 21 Jul 2024, 02:20
- © 440 Forums 2011