Thunderbolt is slowly picking up as a standard. Especially in the audio industry, more and more interfaces are seeing the light of day. At NAMM 2014 Zoom announced their TAC-2, a Thunderbolt Audio interface for the Mac.
I/O and controls
The TAC-2 is a 2-in and 2-out Thunderbolt bus powered audio interface. What first struck me is how much it resembles another Thunderbolt audio interface announced at NAMM 2014. On the rear, two combo XLR/TRS inputs are provided for connecting mic- and line-level signals. Next to that are two balanced TRS jacks to connect your monitors. Of course you have the Thunderbolt connection on the back as well as a handy Kensington lock slot to protect the TAC-2 from theft. The front panel houses a high impedance unbalanced DI input for connecting your electric guitar or bass guitar. Next to that there’s a dedicated 1/4″ stereo headphone jack.
On the top there’s a single rotary control knob, which is used to set input, output and headphone levels and to provide +48 volts of phantom power to the selected input. Seven-segment LED meters show continuous signal strength as well as input and output overload clipping.
Under the hood specifications
The TAC-2 makes use of a high-end Burr Brown PCM4202 analog-to-digital converter and an AKM AK4396 digital-to-analog converter. The TAC-2 performs 4-times upsampling during both analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog conversion. In other words, when the sampling frequency is set to 44.1kHz or 48kHz, the TAC-2 processes the signal at high resolution 176.4kHz or 192kHz. According to Zoom this provides less aliasing noise for A/D conversion and an increased clarity and fidelity for D/A conversion. The 10 watts/18 volts supplied by the Thunderbolt bus, gives the TAC-2 a stable Phantom power for connecting condensor microphones.
TAC-2 MixEfx is a free Macintosh application designed specially for the TAC-2. You can use it to set mix parameters and add effects such as reverb and echo. Other features include a high-pass filter, phase reverse and auto gain control for each input. There’s also a Loopback function that allows you to mix the input signal with the playback signal for zero latency. Three memory slots allow you to save user settings for quick recall.
– 2-in/2-out high speed Thunderbolt™ audio interface
– Support for recording and playback up to 24-bit/192kHz
– Ultra-low latency audio streaming
– Two combo balanced XLR/TRS input connectors
– +48V phantom power for each input
– Hi-Z input jack allows direct connection of electric guitar or bass
– Two balanced TRS output jacks for connection to amplifiers or self-powered speakers
– Dedicated headphone jack with independent level control
– 7-position LED metering for input, output and headphone volume
– High-performance Burr Brown mic preamps with up to +60dB of amplification
– 4x upsampling during A/D and D/A conversion for reduced noise and enhanced fidelity
– Asynchronous transfer system unaffected by computer jitter
– Simple user interface—all operations controlled by a single rotary knob
– Bus powered—no AC power required
– Rugged yet compact and lightweight
– Works with all Thunderbolt-equipped Macintosh computers running OS X 10.6.8 or later
The TAC-2 costs US $399 and is available from recommended retailers worldwide. Visit Zoom’s website for more info on the TAC-2.