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Music Technology

My New Tascam US-122 for GarageBand

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

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.

( Here’s a sample from my horrible playing. MP3 340k )

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)

3 replies on “My New Tascam US-122 for GarageBand”

so jealous. i want a home recording studio. eh. if wishes were fishes… i'm intrigued as to how this will all turn out. especially, final products etc.

also, your playing is far from horrible. :p

Hey thanks for all the posts about your GarageBand experiences. I've had the software for a few weeks, and finally got around to buying the Tascam last night (as well as a used SM57, and a MIDI cable for the Yamaha keyboard I already own). I was so anxious to get recording that I completely forgot about changing the input in GB Preferences. Your entry saved me! Keep posting with any tips you find- it sounds like we're in the same boat (lifelong love of audio and music, particularly folk/singer/songwriter, enjoy acoustic guitar playing, do a bit of singing, etc). What kind of helpful information does the "Dummies" book offer that might apply specifically to the Tascam/GarageBand setup? Is it worth buying?

Thanks and keep it up.
-Jed

Indeed thanks for your journal entry on the Tascam US122. I purchased the same one as it seems to be the best for the money. I plan to use mine with acoustic and vocals, perhaps strings too. I bought a beautiful condenser B1 mic from Studio Projects to go along. An excellent German-esc mic for just $79!
http://www.studioprojects.net/

This should give me a very near to pro sound if I could only get Garageband to recognize the bloody thing. Tascam is reading the signal (green light comes on). Mac is reading Tascam…but when I go to record a vocal track nothing is coming through. I’m confused; do I need to select the Tascam for audio “out” as well as “in” on the Audio Midi Setup and in the Garageband preferences? In the preference I can see that 1 Midi device is detected (my keyboard) but there again no response when pressing the keys. Any advice on this one would be great. Further, is it imperative to monitor through the Tascam and is this accomplished by simply plugging a headset into it?

Thanks in advance to all,

Daniel

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