Rites of Spring #15 – Gadgets – playing with the TASCAM US-100 interface

TASCAM US-100 USB Audio interface with Phono inputsThis is the first in a series of features focusing on the geek aspects of my life under the category of digital audio.

I have a home based studio powered by a 3.2 Ghz PC running Windows XP. One of my main audio interfaces in the M-Audio Delta 44 4 channel audio interface tied into a 12-in / 2-out Behringer analog mixing board. I use APEX floating plate microphones and Adobe audition software for multi-track audio recording and mastering.

An old friend of mine needed a portable USB interface device that would handle phono inputs from his turntable into his slightly older PC. After a bit a research and phone calls to the good folks at Long & McQuade, I had my hands on the very affordable TASCAM US-100 multi-mode USB audio interface.

The TASCAM’s US-100 bridges a wide variety of analog devices like cassette decks and turntables as well as guitars, basses, keyboards and non-phantom powered microphones into your PC or MAC. The microphone input handles any dynamic microphone (like the SHURE SM-58), or you can plug in your guitar or bass directly into the instrument-level input. Stereo line inputs can be switched to RIAA phono level for digitizing your LP’s from any turntable. A USB 2.0 connection guarantees hassle free playback on any Mac or Windows box, and solid aluminum construction looks like it could survive anything I could throw at it.

The online specs read: The US-100 records in stereo at CD-quality 48kHz/16-bit resolution and includes a free copy of Audacity software to get you started.

Oddly my sample did not come with any software but the fabulous AUDACITY software is readily downloaded along with a veritable forest of plug-ins.

I was up and running in minutes and playing my guitar directly into my PC (and then my MAC Powerbook for good measure) – I then patched one of my favorite semi-pro cassette decks from the 80’s – the JVC DD-5 into the RCA inputs on the TASCAM US-100 for some whisper quiet recording on the PC. Some of my song demos from the 80’s, however banal nowadays, sure sounded sweet through this set-up. And NO, no one is ever hearing those demos!

The TASCAM US-100 has a single balanced XLR and 1/4” unbalanced microphone input, as well as unbalanced stereo RCA line ins and outs. I have been using TASCAM products since the 1980’s (with the venerable TASCAM 144 and 244 cassette multi-track units.) As usual, TASCAM and Long & McQuade have never let me down. Their staff are awesome and no matter where you go in Canada, you are going to be singing the praises of Long & McQuade and Tascam products.