TASCAM has chosen to differentiate itself from other audio interfaces with the design of the US-2×2 and have included a pair of removable side panels. The side panels angle the interface towards you when on a desktop making the knobs and switches a little easier to read. The German-designed aluminum casing gives it a high quality impression. The knobs and switches are labeled clearly, a reasonable size, and easy to use with good resistance making them unlikely to be accidentally knocked out of adjustment. The unit weighs about 2.43 lb (1.1 kg), which is enough to ensure the occasional cable pull wont send the US-2×2 flying off your desk. It’s clear that TASCAM didn’t half ass the build quality whatsoever with this interface.
At the front panel the US-2×2 features two XLR/TRS combo input jacks, accepting of line-level signals from professional processors and synthesizers. Each input is accompanied a gain control and two LEDs; the green LED indicates when an input signal is detected and the red LED when the input signal is clipping. Also, each input can be switched to high-impedance via sliding switches for direct recording of bass or electric guitar.
The right of the front panel houses the headphone jack and separate headphone and line output volume knobs which is mostly preferred considering that most cheaper interfaces tend to combine the two output controls. The direct monitoring control also located here. The direct monitoring function allows for monitoring the input signal with zero latency before it is sent to the computer. Even the most efficient computers and DAW software can produce a slight delay before reaching the outputs, which can distract some vocalists and instrumentalists.
+48V phantom power for condenser microphones is available for both inputs, controlled by a switch on the bottom left of the front panel.
On the rear panel we find our outputs, which consist of a pair of balanced TRS 1/2 inch outs for connecting to studio monitors and MIDI I/O for for connecting synths, drum machines, and controllers. There is also a USB 2.0 port for data connection and power. A 5V DC power connector can be used to connect an AC adapter for when the US-2×2 is hooked up to an iOS device. TASCAM doesnt include an adapter with the interface but they do make it available for purchase separately.
Setup & Software
The US-2×2 can be used with Mac OS X and iOS devices without first installing a driver, although a suitable Apple Lightning-to-USB or CCK connector to connect the two will be needed by iPad or other iOS device users. Using the interface with Windows requires a simple driver install. For OS X, the Us-2×2 is officially compatible with OS X Mountain Lion (10.8) and later.
TASCAM has included two DAW applications in the bundle, SONAR X3 LE and Ableton Live 9 Lite. SONAR X3 LE is only available on Windows and is a limited version of the award-winning SONAR X3, it restricts you to 32 audio tracks, 64 MIDI tracks and 24-bit/96 kHz audio quality, among other things. The LE version still offers VST plugin support.
Ableton Live 9 Lite is a beginner version of the full-featured digital audio workstation Ableton Live, and includes Live’s core library of sounds and presets. Included for both Mac and Windows OS, Live Lite 9 has a unique music production workflow. The software is also popular among songwriters and ideal for live performance sets and dance music production. Ableton Live 9 Lite supports both VST and AU plug-ins and over 600 MB of loops and audio effects are included, making it a great DAW for people just getting started with music creation.
Both SONAR X3 LE and Ableton Live 9 Lite can be easily be upgraded for more features
The US-2×2 records at up to 96kHz/24-bit resolution which at this price point is on par with the competition. TASCAM’s own Ultra-HDDA mic preamps feature in the US-2×2. Recording vocals with a Shure SM57 mic produced some studio-quality results with the US-2×2’s 57dB of gain ensuring plenty of level on our tracks. No issues were encountered when recording a humbucker equipped Charvel guitar with the high-impedance switch engaged. It’s common to run into clipping problems when recording guitars through budget interfaces but we’re happy to say we experienced no such problem with the US-2×2. Latency while recording was acceptable across a range of tests and we at no stage had any concerns with driver stability or the performance of the interface.
One of the standout features of the US-2×2 is its ability to be connected to an iPhone or iPad. Fortunately the US-2×2 performs as well on iOS as we’ve seen from any USB interface so far with us able to achieve comparable results on our iPad to that of those produced on our desktop setup. For simple tracks and basic composing on the go we think this setup is ideal. For anything particularly complex but we recommend a Windows or Mac PC .
TASCAM’s US-2×2 impresses with a number of features that you won’t typically find at this price point. There is very little to complain about with the US-2×2 offering solid construction, quality preamps, MIDI connectivity, and iOS compatibility.
Would we recommend it over the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2? That all depends. The Scarlett’s preamps deserve the acclaim they receive and have a slight edge over the US-2×2’s when it comes to quality. However, the 2i2 lacks both MIDI connectivity and iOS compatibility and performs poorly when recording high output guitars due to prevalent clipping issues. Based on that, if your needs can’t be met by the Scarlett 2i2 then the US-2×2 is a fantastic alternative that is well worth your consideration.
- Solid build
- iOS compatibility
- MIDI connectivity
- AC adapter not included (required for iOS)