Because we are in 2016 and 16-bit is now clearly a thing of the past, the two new TASCAM MiNiSTUDIOs provide high-resolution recording up to 24-bit, 96 kHz with Windows and Mac computers. The interfaces connect via USB 2.0 (also a thing of the past, but apparently still the standard in 2016) and can be USB bus-powered. You can also connect them to iOS devices using the usual adaptors. The two new TASCAM interfaces are compatible with all major DAW software and work with all major streaming software and services.
But connection is only half the story and TASCAM believes effects can make the difference between a good podcast and a great one. The slightly silly and “geeky-Japanese” concept of these TASCAM MiNiSTUDIOs enables users to easily add sound effects on-the-fly, thanks to three self-lighting PON pads that trigger audio files from the Mac or PC. Three sounds are included, but can be easily replaced with by a .wav or .mp3 file of the user choosing. A Voice Effects feature also allows users to alter the sound of their singing or speech, as well, adding a fun effect.
At showtime, an illuminated On Air button confirms that we are live on the air and busses audio to and from the computer by way of the MiNiSTUDIO’s Broadcast mode. This ensures that the user hears everything the audience hears, making the MiNiSTUDIO a well-integrated and easy-to-use interface that lets the presenter focus on its podcast, rather than the equipment.
To complete the package, both MiNiSTUDIO models include free software for Mac, Windows, and iOS that provides extensive control of the interface’s features in one of two specially designed modes. In Easy mode, the user gets software control of most-used EQ, compression, and effects presets, while Expert mode allows users to dig in deep to program the four-band parametric EQ, compressor and reverb parameters, as well as advanced parameters for triggered sounds.
The TASCAM MiNiSTUDIO Personal US-32 features a built-in microphone and a combo XLR mic/balanced 1/4-inch TRS line input with high-quality mic preamp and 48V phantom power. A 1/8-inch input can connect to a smartphone, tablet, or other consumer audio device so allowing prerecorded music and dialog in the mix. Separate headphone and headset/mic connections are also available.
The MiNiSTUDIO Creator US-42 extends the features of the MiNiSTUDIO Personal by adding a powerful set of tools for producing, as well as broadcasting podcasts. Instead of the built-in mic, the MiNiSTUDIO Creator adds a second XLR/TRS mic input for the presenter and a guest with external microphones, both enjoying clear audio thanks to the built-in professional-caliber HDDA microphone preamps. In addition to headphone outputs, the MiNiSTUDIO Creator offers stereo RCA line-level outputs with separate level controls for connection to powered monitors.
In addition to supporting the Broadcast mode of the MiNiSTUDIO Personal US-32, the US-42 can be switched into the aptly named Creator mode. In this mode, the MiNiSTUDIO Creator behaves like most USB audio interfaces. This mode is recommended for production with a DAW or video editing software. The loopback feature is turned off, and the mic inputs are routed separately to the computer.
The MiNiSTUDIO Personal US-32 and MiNiSTUDIO Creator US-42 are available now at a street price of $129.99 and $179.99, respectively.