Offering both retro analogue simplicity and modern digital recording facilities, can this device be master of all trades?
With its striking colour scheme, long-throw faders, faux-wood metal end-cheeks, and spacious layout, the Model 24 evokes memories of a time in which every function had a dedicated control and confusing nested digital menus were a rarity. Now, I don't plan on ditching my DAW software any time soon — but I was certainly keen to discover how much of that old, simpler approach to recording Tascam's Model 24 could bring back to my studio. I was also interested to find out how it might meet the needs of location recordists or those capturing live recordings of gigging bands.
Unlike some other all-in-one products, the Model 24 is arguably best thought of first and foremost as an analogue mixer — but one with a multitrack recorder built in, and one that doubles up as a 16-mic preamp, 22-input USB 2.0 audio interface.
The integrated multitrack digital recorder is the headline feature, and by today's standards it is fairly basic — though I believe that's deliberate. You can record, playback, punch in (with a pre-roll if you wish), choose your song sample rate/word length and edit song names. And that's pretty much it. There are no editing tools and there's no virtual takes facility, or anything like that. Crucially, though, the individual track-arming means you have the option of recording a full 22-track project all at once or building it up only one or two parts at a time. That's something you can't do when partnering another mixer with one of the latest generation of stand‑alone multitrack recorders from, for example, Cymatic Audio or Allen & Heath, since these devices record to all tracks simultaneously (or, at best, in two passes, each writing to half the tracks). For individual track-arming in such a setup, you'd need either a computer or a more upmarket device such as a JoeCo Black Box Recorder. In fact, the only current product I'm aware of that offers this facility and a similar number of channels for around the same price is the Zoom LiveTrak L‑20. That, though, is a rather different product that I'll discuss towards the end of this review.
What the Model 24 isn't is a direct replacement for the do-everything stand‑alone digital Portastudio that Tascam and others have being making and refining for the last couple of decades. Some may lament that fact, but I think it's a very sensible design decision. To have turned this into a full bells-and-whistles digital studio would have added considerably to the unit's complexity, putting off as many people as it pleased. It would also have bumped up the asking price significantly! As it is, the Model 24 offers you enough built-in recording facilities that you can be...
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