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Tascam US-1x2HR review

The US-1x2HR audio interface is Tascam’s entry-level budget audio interface. On the whole, entry-level interfaces are getting better, and we are happy to see Tascam easily keep up with the rest. It matches most for quality and features, and it looks great, too. Overall, we have very few complaints and plenty of positives to share. Let’s go through everything the US-1x2HR has to offer.

Tascam US-1x2HR overview

Following the same front panel configuration as many budget interfaces, Tascam has gone for one XLR input and one TRS input.

So, from left to right, the front panel has a couple of LED indicators to show when phantom power is active and when USB is connected. Then we have an XLR input with gain control and LED indicators to show signal and peaking. It’s always nicer to have a proper level meter showing input gain, but a single LED is more common at this price.

Tascam US-1x2HR audio interface (front panel)
US-1x2HR (front panel) / Image credit: Tascam

Next, you have a TRS input that is switchable between line level and instrument level. The TRS input has the same layout of gain control and two LED indicators.

The last section on the front panel is all about monitoring. First, you have your line out level knob that controls your monitor outputs. Finally, you get a 1/4″ headphone jack with volume control.

If we go through the back panel, it’s pretty standard for the most part, but there are a couple of exceptions. Again, from left to right, we have a 5 V DC connection, which is used to power the interface when used with a tablet. There’s a Kensington security lock, which might be the most underused feature of any interface, but it’s still better to have the option.

When used with a computer, the US-1x2HR is USB bus-powered, so a USB Type-C connector is on the back. In the middle of the back panel are two switches for direct monitoring and input selection. The direct monitoring switch is for zero-latency monitoring through your headphones. Even though there are two inputs on the front, you can only use one at a time, so the input select switch chooses between XLR and TRS.

Tascam US-1x2HR (back panel)
US-1x2HR (back panel) / Image credit: Tascam

To the right of the back panel is where we have a few exceptions to the standard layout. Instead of having balanced TRS stereo outputs, you get unbalanced RCA stereo outputs. Given a choice, most people would probably prefer balanced TRS outputs.

Tascam also added a pair of unbalanced stereo RCA inputs. The inputs are ideal if you are a DJ and need a small portable interface for live performance. The last thing on the back panel is a phantom power switch for the XLR input on the front.

We mentioned using the US-1x2HR with a tablet, and that’s one of its selling points. It’s iOS compatible as well as Mac and PC. If you are wondering why you’d need an interface for your iOS device, it allows you to record almost anywhere without a computer. More importantly, it lets you use a proper XLR microphone instead of a USB mic with your iOS device.

Audio/recording quality 8/10

In terms of recording quality, the US-1x2HR captures 24-bit/192 kHz audio. Those specs put it in line with some of the most popular interfaces in the budget price range.

The sample rate is switchable between 44.1/48/88.2/96/176.4/192 kHz. A dynamic range of around 112 dB (A-weighted) provides plenty of headroom. Like some of the other top budget interfaces, the frequency response is impressively flat in the important ranges.

The XLR input comes with an Ultra-HDDA microphone preamp that performs very well. It’s super-quiet, clean, and offers around 57 dB of gain. That makes the US-1x2HR great for dynamic microphones as well as condenser microphones.

Another impressive spec of the Ultra-HDDA preamp is that it has an EIN rating of -128 dBu or less. Even compared to the best-selling interfaces in the same price range, that’s a very low noise floor.

Being iOS compatible definitely adds to the recording quality because it gives you more options.

Build quality 8/10

There are quite a few things to like about the US-1x2HR design and build quality. If we start with the design, it’s slightly angled, so the front panel sits a little higher than the back. It’s not just something that looks good; it makes it easier to access controls when sitting on your desk. Then we have the style-factor of the design; the black and red sides on the interface are very sleek and cool.

It’s great that the interface looks good, but it’s always more important that it’s robust. The US-1x2HR has a tough aluminum body with hard plastic controls. The chassis is more than rigid enough to take on the road without any worries.

Although the switches and knobs are plastic, they don’t feel as cheap as some often do. The switches feel pretty solid, and the knobs move reasonably well, so no real complaints.

Software bundle 7/10

The included software bundle is perfect for the singer/songwriters especially. It comes with the Cubase LE DAW and Cubasis LE3 for iOS. So, whether you are home or mobile recording, you are covered.

You also get SampleTank 4 SE from IK Multimedia. SampleTank SE has a selection of high-quality virtual instruments, ranging from pianos and electric pianos to synths and strings. If you aren’t familiar with SampleTank, you can check out excellent players like Jordan Rudess showcasing it on YouTube.

Now, the bit that doesn’t usually come with a budget interface; you get a 3-month subscription to Antares Auto-Tune. If you are a vocalist or work with vocalists, access to Auto-Tune could be a great start to any project.

Tascam US-1x2HR vs. other interfaces

Tascam’s US-1x2HR is competing in a pretty populated market space. Let’s see how it stacks up against similar leading interfaces.

Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen

It’s hard to talk about interfaces in the $100 (give or take a little) price range without including the Scarlett Solo. We think the Scarlett wins in the studio, but Tascam may offer more versatility on the road. See our full Solo 3rd Gen review

Shure MVi

We added the Shure MVi because it’s an iOS audio interface, like the US-1x2HR. The MVi is more portable, so it may be more convenient on the road, but if you want a studio/mobile all-rounder, go with Tascam. See our Shure MVi review

Native Instruments Komplete Audio 1

The Komplete Audio 1 has RCA outputs, so it’s a good comparison to the US-1x2HR. As popular as the Komplete Audio 1 is, it’s hard to pick against Tascam here. See our NI Komplete Audio 1 review

Final verdict on the Tascam US-1x2HR

As competition to the likes of the Scarlett Solo and M-Audio AIR 192|4, we can safely say the US-1x2HR holds its own. It does come with a couple of minor complaints, but overall, it’s very impressive. If you consistently go between the studio and mobile recording, you need to check out this interface. It has the recording and build quality to serve you well in any situation.

  • Solid aluminum body.
  • Stereo RCA inputs.
  • High dynamic range.
  • Low noise floor.
  • Sleek design.
  • Flexible software bundle.
  • RCA outputs rather than TRS.
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