Review: Tascam Track Factory Project

A complete windows PC audio recording system
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For musicians who are not particularly tech-savvy, putting together a system for recording digital audio can be challenging. But Tascam aims to solve that problem with the Track Factory Project. This preconfigured studio-in-a-box includes an Intel NUC computer with keyboard and mouse, a licensed copy of Cakewalk Sonar Professional, as well as Tascam’s US-2x2 audio interface, TH-02 headphones and TM-80 condenser microphone. All you need is a computer monitor and cable, and you are good to go.

Setup takes about 20 minutes, and the detailed instructions walk you through the process. (Because the Intel NUC has a Mini Display Port and Mini-HDMI monitor outputs, you may have to purchase an adapter for your computer monitor if you don’t already have it.)

The Track Factory Project caters to musicians and other content creators who want a no-hassle way to start recording.

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At the heart of the Track Factory Project is an Intel NUC with a 2.7GHz, dual-core, i5 processor; 8GB RAM (expandable to 16GB); a 256GB SSD; and Windows 10 Home. The computer has been fully optimized for audio and includes pre-installation and configuration of all hardware drivers and software by PCAudioLabs. It is possible to upgrade both RAM and system drive, but this would void the warranty. Instead, you can add more storage space by connecting an external drive to one of the four available USB 3 ports.

The included copy of Sonar Professional provides unlimited tracks, 56 effects plug-ins, 19 virtual instruments, and free copies of Melodyne Essential and Addictive Drums 2 Solo Edition. The Sonar license is permanent and includes lifetime updates. And because it is preloaded and set up, all you need to do is activate the license and start recording.

Of course, you’ll still need to take some time to learn how to operate the software, and Craig Anderton’s Quick Start videos can help. You also receive a one-month subscription to the Obedia online knowledge-base and a 20-minute live session with a personal studio assistant.

QUALITY STUDIO GEAR

To capture your sound, the US-2x2 interface has two XLR/TRS inputs with Ultra-HDDA mic preamps and +48V phantom power. The interface supports up to 96kHz/24-bit audio resolution. It also provides connections for external MIDI gear and zero-latency monitoring is available.

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the TM-80 condenser mic. Even though it’s a budget transducer, its sound is clean and clear, and it can be used for both voice and instruments. The bundle also includes a desk mic stand, a shockmount, and a 6-foot XLR cable.

For monitoring, the TM-02 headphones work nicely and provide a comfortable fit. And although they work well for tracking and overdubbing, I recommend getting a good pair of active studio monitors for mixing or mastering, once your budget allows.

SUCCESSFUL STUDIO-IN-A-BOX

During my tests, I found that both Sonar and Windows 10 ran smoothly on the NUC, and the recording quality of the included gear was excellent. Overall, the Track Factory Project provides a fine way for musicians who are new to digital recording to get up and running quickly at a reasonable price.

STRENGTHS
Preconfigured and optimized for audio. Permanent Sonar license and lifetime updates. Ultra-HDDA mic pre’s. Quick and easy setup. Begin recording same day.

LIMITATIONS
Mini computer-monitor cable/adapter not included.

$1,299
tascam.com

Scott R. Garrigus is the author of the Sonar Power! book series. You can find him online at garrigus.com.