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Author Topic: Two Interesting New Tascam Preamps for $200 or less  (Read 3738 times)

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stevetoney

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Two Interesting New Tascam Preamps for $200 or less
« on: February 28, 2013, 02:12:01 PM »
These both look interesting, especially the US-366 which is $200.  These look to me like Tascam's price competitive answer to the SD USBPpre2.  My biggest curiousity is to hear how much truth there is to the 'Superior Sound' claim.  They hit the shelves March 18th.

US-366
http://tascam.com/product/us-366/overview/

US-322
http://tascam.com/product/us-322/overview/


Supported sampling frequency 44.1/48/88.2/96/176.4/192kHz 44.1/48/88.2/96kHz
Supported bit rate 16/24bit (Internal operation is 24bit)

Analog audio Inputs   
MIC IN
(INPUT 1/L, 2/R) XLR-3-31(1:GND, 2:HOT, 3:COLD), BALANCED

LINE IN
(INPUT 1/L, 2/R) 6.3mm(1/4") TRS-jack(T:HOT, R:COLD, S:GND), BALANCED

LINE IN
(LINE I/O 3-4) RCA pin-jack

LINE OUT
(LINE OUT 1/L, 2/R) 6.3mm(1/4") TRS-jack(T:HOT, R:COLD, S:GND), BALANCED

LINE OUT
(US-366:LINE I/O 3-4)
(US-322:LINE I/O 1-2) RCA pin-jack

Digital audio inputs   
COAXIAL
(DIGITAL IN) RCA pin-jack

OPTICAL
(DIGITAL IN) TOS (JEITA RC-5720C)

Digital audio outputs   
COAXIAL
(DIGITAL OUT) RCA pin-jack -
Format IEC60958-3(S/P DIF)/ IEC60958-4(AES/EBU)* -

OPTICAL
(DIGITAL OUT) TOS (JEITA RC-5720C) -
Format IEC60958-3(S/P DIF)/ IEC60958-4(AES/EBU)* -

PHONES   
Connector 6.3mm(1/4") stereo phone jack
Maximum output level 18mW+18mW or more(THD+N 0.1% or less, 32ohms loaded)

USB   
Connector USB B type 4-pin
Format USB2.0 HIGH SPEED mass storage class

REMOTE   
Connector 2.5mm TRS-jack -
Supported protcol Dedicated protocol for RC-3F

Power USB bus powered (5V, Max 500mA)
Power consumption 2.5W

Dimensions 140(W)×42(H)×140(D)mm
Weight 500g
Operating temperature 5-35˚C

Bundle software Cubase LE6

Accessories CD-ROM (includes dedicated driver), USB cable (1.5m), DVD-ROM (Cubase LE6),
Insert sheet for Cubase LE, Warranty card


Audio performance
ADC chip set dynamic range 102dB *1
DAC chip set dynamic range 106dB *2

Frequency response   
Mic preampr 10Hz to 68kHz, +0.5/-3.0dB

MIC IN to LINE OUT 10Hz to 68kHz, +0.5/-3.0dB 10Hz to 40kHz, +0.5/-3.0dB
MIC IN to PHONES 10Hz to 30kHz, +0.5/-1.0dB
THD 0.0045% or less *3
 
S/N ratio 98dB or more *4
EIN -120dBu or less *5
 

Offline achalsey

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Re: Two Interesting New Tascam Preamps for $200 or less
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2013, 02:52:57 PM »
Price definitely looks nice for a digital preamp.  Form function doesn't look great for us though.  Not liking all those analog knobs on the top.  Seems very much like a table top device.

Offline hi and lo

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Re: Two Interesting New Tascam Preamps for $200 or less
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2013, 02:53:07 PM »
Form factor is utterly atrocious. Count me out.

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Re: Two Interesting New Tascam Preamps for $200 or less
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2013, 03:18:28 PM »
Seems very much like a table top device.

It is. I'd bet a beer that it's basically a usb soundcard for all intents and purposes (and that it would be useless without the PC component much like the UA-25).

What saves the usbpre2 to me is that it was designed in a way that allows for two different uses; computer audio & field use. Most computer audio interfaces (such as these) are just PC interfaces.
"This is a common practice we have on the bus; debating facts that we could easily find through printed material. It's like, how far is it today? I think it's four hours, and someone else comes in at 11 hours, and well, then we'll... just... talk about it..." - Jeb Puryear

"Nostalgia ain't what it used to be." - Jim Williams

stevetoney

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Re: Two Interesting New Tascam Preamps for $200 or less
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2013, 03:28:12 PM »
Seems very much like a table top device.

It is. I'd bet a beer that it's basically a usb soundcard for all intents and purposes (and that it would be useless without the PC component much like the UA-25).

What saves the usbpre2 to me is that it was designed in a way that allows for two different uses; computer audio & field use. Most computer audio interfaces (such as these) are just PC interfaces.

Not really disagreeing with you because this obviously wasn't designed to be a field device...but at the same time I'm not really seeing where what's packaged here is any different than the USBPre2, other than the obvious advantages the USBPre2 has when it's sitting in the bottom of a gear bag and the awesome SD level meters.  If SD had targeted the USBPre2 to be a field device, it seems like they'd have offered more options for powering that just the USB...but having said that, I don't consider the USB only option to be a field limitation at all.  In fact, the 5V power for all of these is awesome since there are so many universal batteries out there that provide 5v from a USB connector on the battery!

Having said all of this, I'd still be inclined to consider this for $200 vs. $850 for the USBPre2 IF the sound is up to snuff.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2013, 04:06:53 PM by tonedeaf »

Offline illconditioned

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Re: Two Interesting New Tascam Preamps for $200 or less
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2013, 04:08:53 PM »
My application is as a remote recorder.  Use one of these as input to a "netbox" (headless) computer.  So "field use" is not necessary.

However, I'm suspicious about the internals.  Why do they need a discrete input?  A standard INA163 or similar instrumentation amp would give just as good noise figures, and low distortion.  These are expensive and also require higher supply voltages, so I don't expect them in consumer units.

The question I ask when I see these devices is:
- what is the voltage to the Opamps (+5V is cheapest (Tascam US-122, uses really poor CMOS opamps), +/-5V is better (Edirol, OK if modded), +12V is better yet (Creative EMU), but the proper thing is +/-12V or +/-15V (pro gear)!
- there is a difference between low noise and distortion.  Some units, such as the Dencke AD20, have low noise, but have higher distortion.  This, too, has a discrete front end, but poor opamps following it.  These are designed for film sound, but not great for music.

If you have any units, Please show us the GUTS!

Some recent examples I have discovered:
- Presonus Firebox/Firepod: discrete front end, +/-15 internal, MC33079 opamps.  This unit sounds very good, I need a USB version.
- Komplete Audio K6: +/-5V internal, MC33178 opamps (much worse than 33078/9).  Suspect poor operation due to lower voltage operation (specs are not given for +/-5V with this opamp).  This unit has now been modded with ADA4842 opamp, the same low noise preamp used in my Sony PCM-D50!

  Richard
« Last Edit: February 28, 2013, 04:22:29 PM by illconditioned »
Please DO NOT mail me with tech questions.  I will try to answer in the forums when I get a chance.  Thanks.

Sample recordings at: http://www.soundmann.com.

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Re: Two Interesting New Tascam Preamps for $200 or less
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2013, 04:26:14 PM »

basically a usb soundcard for all intents and purposes


"USB 2.0 Audio Interface" printed on the face of the 366... 

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Sony PCM R500 > SPDIF > Tascam HD-P2
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Re: Two Interesting New Tascam Preamps for $200 or less
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2013, 04:45:07 PM »
I'd bet a beer that it's basically a usb soundcard for all intents and purposes (and that it would be useless without the PC component much like the UA-25).

but at the same time I'm not really seeing where what's packaged here is any different than the USBPre2

The usbpre2 will operate without a computer attached, I don't see any indication this will. That's the chief difference I was trying to point out. The Edirol UA-25 was a similar unit. Looks just like the UA-5 we are all familiar with, but dickering with the internals didn't yield a box that you could use without a PC (like it did with the UA-5).

There are lots of products that can be considered USB Audio Interfaces, but not all of them will function without a PC driving them.
"This is a common practice we have on the bus; debating facts that we could easily find through printed material. It's like, how far is it today? I think it's four hours, and someone else comes in at 11 hours, and well, then we'll... just... talk about it..." - Jeb Puryear

"Nostalgia ain't what it used to be." - Jim Williams

stevetoney

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Re: Two Interesting New Tascam Preamps for $200 or less
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2013, 06:22:08 PM »

"USB 2.0 Audio Interface" printed on the face of the 366... 


Yes, but USBPre2 is also called the same thing, that's why I focused on the preamp capabilities of this device. 

That said, I checked the SD site and a little ways down into the product description for the USBPre2, they do promote how it can be used as a stand-alone mic preamp, if desired.

The usbpre2 will operate without a computer attached, I don't see any indication this will. That's the chief difference I was trying to point out. The Edirol UA-25 was a similar unit. Looks just like the UA-5 we are all familiar with, but dickering with the internals didn't yield a box that you could use without a PC (like it did with the UA-5).

There are lots of products that can be considered USB Audio Interfaces, but not all of them will function without a PC driving them.

Ahhh.  OK I see your point.  I assumed that since it probably can be powered from the 5V USB that it would be like the USBPre2 in that it could also operate on its own.  Yeah, now that I understand your point, you'd think if it could operate as a stand-alone, they'd have mentioned that in the features. 

I had a Metric Halo ULN-2 once and it was mainly an interface/mixer/sound effects processor that went between your mics (or instrument) and an Apple computer, but it could still operate as a stand-alone preamp in the field.  Cool piece of gear!
« Last Edit: February 28, 2013, 06:25:42 PM by tonedeaf »

Offline pohaku

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Re: Two Interesting New Tascam Preamps for $200 or less
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2013, 07:04:55 PM »
It has multiple analog and digital ins and outs (including mic and line in, and line out) and what appears to be rudimentary meters.    Although they don't specifically state so, it appears that it would work as a stand alone pre.  Not that I'm rushing to trade in my USBPre2 for one anytime soon.
Mics: akg c460 (ck61, ck63), c414buls, c568eb; at4049a, 4051a, 4053a, at853; josephson c42; neumann U87, km84i; beyer m130, m160, m500; aea r84; gefell m71, mt711s, m200, m201; sony c38; schoeps cmc6, CMBI (mk4, mk21, mk41, mk4v); sennheiser mkh30, mkh40, md421, md431, md541
Pres: API, a-designs, pendulum, purple, millennia, gt, littlebox, tinybox, usbpre2, CA 9200, pipsqueak, grace V2, pueblo pending
Cables: KCY, CMR, Naiant AKG actives, PFAs, asst.  GAKables and Darktrain
Recorders/converters: dr680, m10, dr-2d, d50, zoom f8, 788T SSD CL-8, lynx aurora 8


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Offline illconditioned

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Re: Two Interesting New Tascam Preamps for $200 or less
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2013, 07:42:25 PM »
My application is as a remote recorder.  Use one of these as input to a "netbox" (headless) computer.  So "field use" is not necessary.

However, I'm suspicious about the internals.  Why do they need a discrete input?  A standard INA163 or similar instrumentation amp would give just as good noise figures, and low distortion.  These are expensive and also require higher supply voltages, so I don't expect them in consumer units.

Inamps don't have to have high supply voltages, there are plenty of micropower inamps in the world.  Anyway, discrete has two possible advantages: it's cheaper as you only need a couple or six $0.02 transistors followed by a generic opamp (5532 works well) vs. a $4 inamp, and it enables use of audio taper rather than reverse log taper pots.  It's also possible to have an attenuating gain control, which is not possible with an inamp.

Quote
The question I ask when I see these devices is:
- what is the voltage to the Opamps (+5V is cheapest (Tascam US-122, uses really poor CMOS opamps), +/-5V is better (Edirol, OK if modded), +12V is better yet (Creative EMU), but the proper thing is +/-12V or +/-15V (pro gear)!

Actually 5V is fine if you are only feeding an ADC, nearly all of which operate on no more than 5V.  Any higher level simply has to be padded down to the scale the ADC wants.

On the DAC side you might want higher voltage, especially for a headphone amp.  That's not common though; most headphone outs on cheap gear are class D operating on even less than 5V.  They work great into 16 ohm and not so well above 32.

I guess I should say if you want to use commodity opamps, you need higher voltage.  That's why we modify gear.  Take the Edirol UA5 or Edirol R4 as an example.  They use cheap 2064 or 4580 preamps running from +/-5V.  It sounds a lot better if you replace those with something else.  I've had good luck recently with ADA4842, a nice rail-to-rail and low voltage opamp.  This is what the Sony D50 uses, where there are really low voltages (3.3V, single sided).  The ADA4842 is rated up to 12V total.

I just tried a Komplete Audio K6 and was really disappointed with the sound.  They are running MC33178 at +/-5V.  Nowhere near as good as my Maudio Duo (ten years old) that uses INA163.

  Richard

Please DO NOT mail me with tech questions.  I will try to answer in the forums when I get a chance.  Thanks.

Sample recordings at: http://www.soundmann.com.

 

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