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Tascam US-122mkII audio interface
3.2 3.2 out of 5, based on 4 Reviews

My review of the Tascam US-122mkII


27th March 2012

TASCAM US-122 MkII by swisha31

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Tascam US-122mkII audio interface

Depending on how long you've been making music, most artists/producers have gear that they swear by. When I was in college, I made a small investment in the Tascam US-122. It was cheap and allowed me to get the job done. Seeing how all I had was a small budget and a dream, I couldn't really aim for the overly expensive gear. Since then, I've only updated once and that was to the Tascam US-122mkII. The Tascam is incredible for multiple reasons. It's cheap, it sounds great, it gets the job done, and it's portable. There have been multiple times where I, as a producer, have had to switch sessions or make changes on the fly to sessions and was able to do so because of the Tascam US-122mkII. And importantly, it works with every DAW available.

The US-122mkII has two 1/4" line inputs, an instrument input for guitars and basses, and two XLR inputs with phantom power for dynamic or condenser microphones. I actually have a Juno 6 and a Rode K2 that I keep plugged into the device. It also has MIDI input and output for use with controllers and keyboards. The device is also USB 2.0 powered. This means that you can just plug in the device into your laptop(or desktop) and go. Again, this is amazingly useful as these days so much is done on the go. It also records in up to 24-bit/96kHz resolution. Another feature of the US-122mkII is that is overrated, especially for the musician on a budget, is the Mon Mix feature. This feature allows you to control the volume when recording vocals. In the past, I was unable to hear myself when recording vocals because the US-122 was very limited in this aspect. Much of the time, I was forced to turn down the actual 2-track in order to get a meaningful vocal. Talk about shoe-string budget! The US-122mkII took care of this problem and as a longtime user, I'm quite grateful for the update.

Now that we've discussed the specs, is the quality of the device as good as Tascam would have you to believe? I've tracked strings with this device. I've worked with Glen Ballard, Dave Stewart, Mike Bradford with projects all recorded in my bedroom using this device. For $119, this device has incredible sound quality. The US-122mkII has a lot of pros but the only con is that you can't really plug in multiple instances of outboard gear. It's very limited in this respect BUT then again, this is not what it was meant for. Personally, I have yet to be disappointed with the capabilities of this device.

This is a very integral part of my studio and is used daily. Not many features but for a musician on a budget, the Tascam US-122mkII is a must have.

1st April 2013

TASCAM US-122 MkII by Threads

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Tascam US-122mkII audio interface

I have had the Tascam US-122mkII for a year and a half now and its quite the stand alone unit for beginners. It has been a great entry level item that gives a good variety of configuration. Two Mic inputs two DI's, Mono/stereo switch, and Mon Mix dial are great features for the price and that's really where the bang for the buck comes from. Personally when I purchased it I did it in a hurry and I didn't realize I didn't need the DI or two mic inputs in general as I was only mic'ing vocals which means I may have been able to find a "better" set up but I do not regret my purchase as in this price range I doubt their is significant differences. It can support 1 external hardware unit assuming you have studio monitors plugged into it which is all that's usually needed for a beginner, in addition that hardware unit may add more inputs. The headphone monitor out and dial has been my best friend as I have been working with headphones for the past year and it makes adjusting volume super easy. I now have two studio monitors that I use via RCA unbalanced and when not in engineer mode I can add my computer speakers/subwoofer combo into the headphone out to have them all running simultaneously.

I'm unable to give a accurate description of the sound quality in comparison to others in the price range or greater as I have no other interface / mic pres / converters for comparison. So far in general from my experience the pre's have been very usable and a great way to practice and learn the ways of audio and has a phantom power switch for condensor mics. Your vox recordings will sound listenable and "alright" but will sound perhaps a bit processed and quite amateur, the pre's are not clean enough to allow for the stacking of vocals which is common in what I'm doing (hip-hop). I am not extremely dynamic in my vocals but at my normal level their is enough headroom for me to never distort even at max gain settings. I always keep the mic input gain a bit below max till the noise that the pres make are unnoticeable and bring down the track volume in Ableton a bit lower to allow for more headroom for mixdown so I can automate db levels throughout the song without be concerned of distorting although this leaves the waveform a bit small in Ableton and harder to edit visually during mix down. This is a great starting box to jump into recording and simply by getting some good external mic pres the jump in audio quality will be tremendous.

My only gripe are the drivers but its a half gripe. Now I'm not as computer savvy as a computer technician but if you are not cautious with how you turn your sound cards on and off, change sound devices in your daw, or when you unplug your tascam you may experience lots of blue screens like I did till I got wise. At first it was significantly worse and would bluescreen after just being plugged in for any long period of time. If I fell asleep w/ my computer left on I would wake up to a blue screen. Now for reassurance I do not blame the drivers entirely. I initially did as if you google this unit and, "drivers issue" or "bluescreening" you'll find threads of people freaking out and blaming this unit so I did too. Yet after I did some diagnostics by direction of some computer tech forums it ended up that it may have just been due to a not flawless installation of my OS (Win7 x64bit) and after reformatting. Now I only experience blue screens sometimes and usually its due to what I said above. From forgetting to turn on my laptops sound cards in audio devices before unplugging the tascam if its turned on, or by accidently selecting my computers sound cards in ableton when their turned off, or at times by any rapid pluggin in and unpluggin of the sound card while their in use. Now it seems to me that too bluescreen in these situations are reasonable and so I'm still willing to recommend the unit.

Overall it may sound bad but I'm trying to give as much of an neutral objective explanation of my experience as I can. Without knowing other peoples experiences with other interfaces in the price range I cannot really determine how it stands in comparison to other models. All in all when choosing your first interface make sure that it comes with amazing tech support, driver compatibility to your OS, the amount of channels and proper I/O you need.

This item is banging in I/O for one or two people that need DI and Mic inputs, support is a bit lacking, and driver compatibility could vary depending on your OS but so far its good enough for me for win7 64bit. It is sleek and sexy and the added mix dials are very welcomed. In the end I can easily give it a 4/5.

20th April 2014

TASCAM US-122 MkII by egoless

  • Sound Quality 1 out of 5
  • Ease of use 1 out of 5
  • Features 1 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 1 out of 5
  • Overall: 1
Tascam US-122mkII audio interface

Don't even try to buy this one second hand, since they are discontinued. The Windows drivers are so bad that the soundcard is almost unuseable! You get blue screen's everytime because drivers suck big time, even with asio4all...

Few years ago tech service from Tascam said they don't have any intentions releasing proper drivers for US-122. So I would highly advise you not tu buy anything for Tascam because in the next few years you may end up with non-usable product after OS upgrade... So, when they discontinue the product they just stop updating the drivers, therefore disrespecting the people that actually gave them money... Very nice, Tascam, very nice!

Oh yeah, the build quality on US-122 is awfull, it looks like a toy, the pots are cheap as hell, like they are made out of paper...

CONCLUSION: do not buy this! (or anything from Tascam) ...

22nd April 2014

TASCAM US-122 MkII by mastercruker

  • Sound Quality 2 out of 5
  • Ease of use 3 out of 5
  • Features 3 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 3 out of 5
  • Overall: 2.75
Tascam US-122mkII audio interface

This interface was the worst interface I've ever owned.

1. Sound Quality
The sound quality is pretty bad. Poor sound card. For the price, it is one of the only interfaces you can find that records 96k, which is nice. But don't be fooled, its preamps are not neutral.

2. Construction
The nobs and phantom power switch feel like they are barely holding together. The xlr input jacks are cheap and plastic.

3. Features
As good as it gets in this price range: Phantom power, 96k, stereo xlr inputs, usb.

In the end, the interface spontaneously stopped working, no physical abuse, no explanation. Tascam support couldn't be reached. On a budget at the time, I bought a roland interface instead and it was worlds better.

The verdict: Don't bother with this interface, even if you're on a budget. It is not reliable.

 

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