Yesterday, I received the first peice in my home recording puzzle, the Tascam US-122 USB Audio/MIDI Interface ($185 new on ebay shipped). This thing is bigger than I thought it was going to be but I was expecting a cheap little plastic USB Device… Not so. The first thing I noticed about the Tascam US-122 is that it’s a substantial piece of audio equipment, the solid steel construction of the 2 pound interface sits firmly on your desktop, without many fears that a coiled mic cable will flip it over.
Tascam US-122 features:
- USB power
- Two analog inputs and outputs (stereo)
- 24-bit (44.1 kHz or 48 kHz) input to output path
- Separate source selection (MIC/LINE/INST) and gain control per channel
- 48V phantom power
- Hi-Z input for (D.I.) instrument pickup
- TRS inserts on each input channel
- Balanced/unbalanced connections
- Zero-latency direct monitoring
- Unbalanced RCA and Headphone outputs with dedicated volume controls
- MIDI input and output ports
- 16-channel MIDI interface
Installation of the drivers needed was a breeze, I decided to download drivers directly from the Tascam website instead of messing with the included installation CD. A restart later the US-122 was up and running. In GarageBand’s Preferences, selecting Audio/MIDI was equally easy to start recording from my guitars pickup. Although at first I noticed an audio lag from what I was playing when I was monitoring the guitar track, I quickly found opening the included utility US-122 Manager I could set the Audio Safety Buffer from 2ms to 1ms and the lag disappeared.
The sound quality, recording directly from my Takamine EG330SC acoustic guitar, was very clear and synched to my playing, although I could detect a slight latency. Unfortunately latency, or audio lag, is a problem on all USB recording devices and the Tascam US-122 is susceptible, but Tascam includes a zero latency direct monitoring feature which allows you to bypass the circuitry and listen to your input directly. The latency was almost imperceptible with all track effects off in GarageBand.
I had never heard my guitar accept through cheap guitar amps and the US-122 was so clear and detailed that I could hear every movement of my fingers on the strings and every missed fret. It was a little unnerving. The short of it is, the Tascam US-122 is extremely responsive, so much so you may be surprised to hear your guitar uncolored.
To my Takamine’s defense, I really didn’t have a chance to fool around with any settings and the recording is done straight, without any EQ adjustments. It will be interested to see what I can do to make the guitar sound like I want it to… fingers crossed.
UPDATE: Sat down for half an hour with my acoustic guitar and went through GarageBand’s settings. This is more like it. Forgive Me Love instrumental as QuickTime Movie 450kb.
(To be added later this week, dynamic microphones and the Tascam US-122)