The Tascam US 2x2 is a compact (half space) audio recording interface for stereo or multi-track computer recording. Herein are my thoughts on this device after a year plus of regular use.
Tascam US 2x2 | The front panel features easy to see and use controls | image courtesy Tascam
Build quality is excellent, especially considering the low price: sturdy metal case and tilt stand with knobs and switches for all basic functions. Knobs and switches are reasonably sized, clearly labeled and easy to use, unlike the microscopic controls on my MOTU Ultralite. Also, knobs rotate smoothly but with reasonable resistance, making inadvertant adjustments unlikely. And surprisingly, the gently tilted face is easier to see and use compared to units with right angle face plates. Finally, the US 2x2 actually has some serious heft, making it less prone to sliding around when diddling knobs or jacking in cables.
Audio input is via two XLR jacks with 48V phantom power and integrated TRS inputs for balanced line-level signals. Output is via a full sized (1/4") stereo headphone jack and TSR mains (left and right) to feed powered monitors or a mixer. Finally, the MIDI in and out allows connection of MIDI devices such as controllers and synths (a feature I haven't tested).
Tascam US 2x2 | back panel | image courtesy Tascam
The US 2x2 may be powered through the USB bus or a wall wart. For USB power, it must be connected directly to a computer or powered USB hub. Wish it had a power switch as it's a waste to leave it on when not in use. However, if plugged directly into a Mac it automatically powers down during sleep or shutdown. If plugged into a powered USB hub it remains on but can be switched off by powering down the hub or the individual port. The Tascam’s rear panel sports a wall wart input—required for iPad use—but the wall wart isn't included. In fact, the only thing included in the box is the US 2x2 and a short USB cable.
No Drivers Required
One of the wonderful things about the US 2x2 is it's plug 'n play for the Mac, i.e., no drivers needed. I've used it with Bias Peak Pro 7, TwistedWave, GarageBand, Abelton Live and Logic Pro X. It probably works fine with many other apps but that's all I own. Thus far plug ’n play has worked perfectly from OS 10.9 to 10.12.6 (not using High Sierra yet). Merely power on the US 2x2 prior to opening an audio recording app and the US 2x2 is recognized. Other units I’ve owned—e.g., MOTU UltraLite and Zoom—required special drivers from the manufacturer, requiring computer restarts for the interface to be recognized and endless glitches during OS updates and new computer purchases.
I’ve only used the US 2x2 for multi-track recording projects. My live stereo projects are normally done away from my studio (and computer) with a Tascam DR-60 MK or DR-44WL and DSLR video. As expected, audio quality is similar to the Tascam DR-60 MK or DR-44WL, albeit the US 2x2 has a little cleaner mic preamps.
I have the TSR mains routed to my M-Audio BX5 for monitoring and mixing. The Tascam DAC renders audio accurately albeit slightly on the bright side compared to my MOTU Ultralite and Audioengine D1. The headphone amp sounds fine and has plenty of gain to drive my old Sennheiser HD580 headphones.
The mic preamps are squeaky clean and RFI resistant—no RFI even from an iPhone a couple feet away—but, like the Tascam DR series, sound a little edgy with many mics. Nothing a little sweetening with EQ can't fix, but something to consider. Oddly, my Neumann TLM 102 sounds nearly perfect set flat. Also, no locks on the XLR inputs but that's fine with me: one less thing to fiddle with. I don't have a huge array of mics to test but these preamps had plenty of gain for my Neumann KM184, Neumann TLM 102 and AT825 stereo mic.
Accidental Blues | Multi-track recording with Tascam US 2x2 and Neumann TLM 102 used on my classical guitar (no EQ).
The Tascam US 2x2 is well made, simple to operate, modestly priced and records audio accurately and effectively. I'm a happy camper!
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• Two mic preamps (57dB of gain)
• Two XLR and TRS inputs
• Two TRS mains out
• MIDI in/out
• Up to 96kHz/24-bit WAV recording
• USB 2.0 port computer connection and external power (USB 3.0 compatible)
• Zero-latency Direct Monitoring