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Entries in Tascam ixz (1)

Wednesday
Nov022011

QUICK REVIEW: TASCAM iXZ iOS device audio interface

The Tascam iXZ just popped up on my radar.  

I don't usually buy new gadgets for which I haven't read a review previously, but at $50 I couldn't resist.  So I figured why not be the first to review this affordable audio interface and see how well it works?

It seems that recording professional audio into an iPhone was never part of Steve Job's master plan.   

While we wait for the ultimate audio interface that connects to the iPhone via the dock connector with a digital signal, other products some to be coming along to fill the gap.   The Tascam iXZ is the first one I've seen that really boils the features down to the basics in a very portable package, while still accepting a phantom powered studio condenser microphone.  

The iXZ's multifunction XLR/phono combo jack will allow connection to a standard 3 pin XLR mic cable, or to a 1/4" guitar cable.  It provides 48V phantom power at up to 5ma, enough for many modern mics.  I metered the XLR connector and sure enough there's about 46V DC with a fresh pair of AA alkaline batteries.  It's enough to power my Audio Technica AT3035 microphone with appearant ease.  There's a variable input gain control dial, which isn't calibrated.  It also has an 1/8" mini headphone jack for playback purposes.  Sadly, it doesn't provide a "Zero latency monitoring" function to listen to the mic in your headphones while recording.

The iXZ does not come with any software, which is just fine with me.  I'd much rather not waste time with some inappropriate for VO bundled application.  Buy TwistedWave from the app store for $10, plug in the iZX into the headphone jack, plug in your mic, power it on, engage phantom power, hit record, set your levels, and you're recording.  TwistedWave is incredibly feature reach for an iOS app, even providing the ability to process the audio through effects and FTP files.  It can also deliver MP3's via their own server, a necessary workaround since Apple won't permit encoding to MP3 on an iOS device.  

But does it work?

That depends on what you want to use it for.  If your intention is to replace your Macbook or other laptop and audio interface with this unit for all of your work, I wouldn't go that far.  Take a listen the this recorded sample using an Audio Technica AT3035 studio condenser mic and judge for yourself.  CLICK TO PLAY

It's definitely quite useable for making an audition happen while traveling.  And with proper noise gate settings, you might even pull off a job here and there in a pinch.  Here's the first segment of the previous audio sample after processed with a noise gate in TwistedWave.   CLICK TO PLAY

NOTE:  Beau Weaver tested with an iPhone and DID NOT get the same results we did with the iPod Touch!  The audio quality differed.  In his audio test he records first with his home studio system, next with his Sennheiser 416 into the iXZ, then with the iPhone mic.  LISTEN TO HIS TEST

I did test it with my T-Mobile MyTouch 4G phone, and it DOES work.  However, my phone's recording quality was no where as good as the iPod Touch's.  A good deal of the recording quality is thanks to the iPod itself.

To summarize, here's a Pros and Cons list.

PROS:

 

  • Cheap, only slightly more than an XLR adapter cable to connect a dynamic mic 
  • Very compact and light
  • 15 hrs on a pair of AA batteries when using phantom powered mics
  • Works better than the price would imply
  • Will work with an Android phone, as well as most all Apple iOS devices

 

CONS:

 

  • A tad bit noisy (no worse than a Blue Snowball)
  • No "zero latency monitoring" for headphones while recording
  • Connects to analog line input instead of digital dock connector
  • Very short cable to connect to device, making it hard to read a script from your phone while holding it

 


Tascam iXZ and iPod Touch 4th gen