Yes, professional audio companies are still building and launching new good-old USB 2.0 audio interfaces, at least for the more budget-conscious users. But Tascam is doing it in two new products that not only excel in design and build, but add lots of features that make the two new 102i and 208i interfaces extremely versatile for any application, starting with the built-in mixing and digital signal processing abilities. As Tascam highlights, having digital signal processors included internally eliminates all latency issues and takes the load off the computer, allowing the PC/Mac to process the audio more efficiently - perfect for guitarists and songwriters.
The compact Series 102i audio/MIDI interface provides 2 analog mic/line/instrument combo inputs with Tascam's low-noise Ultra-HDDA mic preamps and individually switched, +48 volt phantom power. The interface can be expanded up to 10 total inputs using its Optical S/MUX port, which can accept up to 8 channels of audio input from an ADAT- or S/MUX-compatible device. The Series 102i also provides dual headphone outputs with dedicated level control and two balanced, 1/4-inch line outputs for versatile monitoring.
A great choice for professional studio and live recording, the compact Series 208i features four analog mic/line/instrument combo inputs with Ultra-HDDA mic preamps and individually switched phantom power. It can be expanded up to 20 total inputs using a pair of Optical S/MUX ports, each of which can accept up to 8 channels of audio input from an ADAT- or S/MUX-compatible device. Eight balanced, 1/4-inch line outputs enable multiple monitor mixes or up to 7.1 surround monitoring. The unit also offers dual headphone outputs with dedicated level control. Word clock in and out ensures correct synchronization with other digital audio devices.
Both interfaces come with Steinberg's Cubase LE DAW software for Windows and macOS and Cubasis LE app for iPad, IK Multimedia AmpliTube guitar effects/modeling software and T-RackS mastering software. The IK Multimedia software is provided in both free standing and plug-in versions for complete, versatile recording, mixing, and mastering.
The included Tascam Control software manages faders, processing, and the ability to route any audio input (analog, optical, and USB) to any audio output, complemented with a new Windows USB driver that the brand says offers very high stability.
The Series 102i and 208i interfaces' angled tabletop design offers easy access to all front-panel controls. A large front-panel Monitor knob ensures users can quickly adjust the monitor output level, and a handy Monitor Balance control enables mixing live input with computer playback for zero-latency overdubs. Rear-panel 5-pin DIN MIDI In and Out jacks allows connection of MIDI devices, while a Kensington key lock helps keep the units safe in live recording/stage situations.
The fact that these interfaces used old-fashioned USB 2.0 technology is (almost) forgiven when we find out that the 102i and 208i interfaces are available at estimated street pricing of $399.99 and $499.99, respectively.