Tascam has released two USB interfaces designed to help podcasters and online broadcasters focus on the content rather than worry about operating complicated equipment. The Ministudio series is made up of a Personal edition stocked with essential podcasting tools and a Creator edition that adds advanced audio and video production features.
Both Ministudio editions can record audio up to 24-bit/96 kHz resolution using Windows and Mac computers over USB 2.0 or iOS device via an Apple Camera Kit (not supplied). When cabled to a computer, the units get their juice from the USB port. Otherwise, they need a USB power adapter or battery pack (again, not supplied). The Ministudios are reported compatible with all major digital audio workstation software, and all major streaming software and services.
When the "On Air" light is on, the device will bus audio to and from the computer via the Broadcast mode, which lets the user hear exactly what the audience does. Some extra color can be injected into a podcast by using the Voice Effects feature and sound effects can be triggered in real time courtesy of backlit three pads. Tascam has included three effects in the package, but these can be replaced by a podcaster's own digital audio files. Companion software also allows for four-band EQ tweaking, and control over sound compression, reverb and presets.
The Personal model has both a built-in microphone and a balanced XLR/TRS line input, and a mic preamp with 48 V phantom power to ensure that condenser microphones have enough juice. Prerecorded music or dialog can be fed into the mix from a smartphone or tablet via a 3.4 mm input and there are two headphones jacks, one for just headphones and the other for headphone/mic combos.
There's no built-in mic included with the Creator edition, but it does get a second XLR/TRS combo input, for those occasions when you have a guest in the house. These are backed up by are dual studio-level HDDA mic preamps. Elsewhere, stereo RCA line-level outputs with individual level controls allow for connection to powered speakers or monitors, and an appropriately-named Creator mode has been added so that the Ministudio can be used like a regular USB interface (turning off the loopback feature and routing the microphone inputs separately to the computer).
The Personal edition is available now for US$129.99, while the Creator model commands a slightly higher $179.99.