TASCAM US-122 MkII by swisha31
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.