USB Volume Controller

Essentially a stereo USB DAC with a single volume control.  You really don’t get much simpler than the Fostex PC-100USB volume controller.

Above angle view of the Fostex PC-100USB Volume Controller

Feed audio from your PC or Mac via USB to stereo RCA outputs.  Plug these into your amp or a pair of powered monitors and you have a handy little volume control.  There’s also a 3.5mm stereo mini jack to plug in a pair of headphones

PC100USB-1.jpg

It’s USB bus powered and outputs 16-Bit audio for sampling frequencies at 32k, 44.1k and 48k.  It would have been nice to see 24 Bit audio output.  But it’s still a small and functional unit that should appeal to someone who wants a minimal USB audio solution.

It’also worth mentioning that when you plug a pair of headphones into the 3.5mm jack the sound is cut to the RCA outputs.

The manual suggests that the unit is plug and play for both Mac and PC and shouldn’t require installing audio any drivers.  It should just appear in your sound preferences once you’ve plugged it in.

It’s 5oomA 5V power consumption suggests it probably isn’t compatible with the iPad and the Apple USB camera adapter kit.  At least not without a powered hub (if you have any experience of testing this out please leave us a comment!).

Useful links and further reading

PC-100USB | Volume Controller product page at Fostex

PC100USB User Manual

Turn Up Your Volume with the Fostex PC-100USB | BH inDepth

Check out the PC-100USB on Amazon or find new and used on eBay

Tascam iU2 – Plug in your PC, Mac or iPad!

Front angle view of the Tascam iU2 USB audio interface

No, the Tascam iU2 isn’t a new audio device powered purely by Bono’s ego.

In fact, the iU2 by Tascam introduces a new style audio interface with hybrid connectivity capabilities.

A 2 in 2 out USB audio interface is specifically designed to be plugged into your iPad, iPhone or iTouch (using the build in dock connector), but also capable of being plugged into a Mac or PC via a conventional USB connection.

This type of hybrid connection capability could well make the iU2 a winner with all those who don’t want to clutter their lives with lots of different pieces of audio hardware.

Let’s take a tour…….

The controls on the front offer comprehensive control of input levels, monitor mix level (for getting the balance between the audio on your computers DAW and your live inputs right), line out level (to control of the volume out to your speakers or amp) and headphone monitor level.

Front view of the Tascam iU2 USB audio interface main controls

Inconspicuous controls on the bottom of the iU2 provide control over various functions; host type (iOS or computer), phantom power, together with input type selection settings for mic, line or guitar level audio sources.

It should be noted that only the left input channel is optimised to accommodate a guitar input (take note if you’re expecting to plug in and record more than one guitar or bass at a time).

Rear view of the Tascam iU2 control setting switches

If you’re a musician looking for a pair of phantom powered balanced mic inputs and instrument inputs, together with zero latency monitoring it may be time to start getting excited.  The iU2 provides these using break out cables provided that plug into the L and R inputs on the bottom of the device to give access to balanced XLR connection inputs.

Bottom side vidw of the Tascam iU2 jack inputs

Midi I/O capability comes via 2 provided breakout leads gives your Midi keyboard or controller access to you favorite iOS music apps (provided that the iOS app supports apple core midi).

Left side view of the Tascam iU2 Midi I/O and headphones connections

Plug into your speakers or amp using the S/PDIF digital output or the stereo analogue outputs.

Top side view of the Tascam iU2 USB connection and digital and analogue outputs Specifications overview for the iU2

  • Audio/MIDI Interface for Mac, Windows and iOS devices
  • Compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch
  • Two XLR mic inputs with phantom power
  • Two balanced line inputs
  • Instrument-level input for guitar or bass
  • MIDI in and out
  • Onboard A/D conversion for low-noise and distortion when recording with iOS devices
  • Zero-latency direct monitoring
  • S/PDIF Digital Output
  • Includes USB cable, iOS dock connection cable, XLR to ¼” connector

Overall this is a versatile and compact performer.  If you want just one device for desktop and mobile iOS use then this unit make a great deal of sense.

Here’s a quick video overview of the iU2 presented at NAMM 2012

You can find the iU2 at Amazon.

Links and further reading

Tascam product and specification pages for the iUR2
 

UPDATE (17/10/2013):

The iU2 seems to have been discontinued by Tascam.  Although, there do seem to be units still available for sale on Amazon and eBay (and other retailers), there’s even some that come with all the cables you’d need (including a power adapter).  

We have managed to find a similar unit, the iUR2. it’s not clear what the difference is (if any), but this isn’t listed on the US tascam.com site any more.

Also, if you’re using iOS 7 beware as this iOS version has not yet been confirmed as compatible with the iU2 or iU2R.  If we notice any updates on this situation we’ll add it here (anyone who knows more please feel free to add to the comments below!).

It’s also unclear as to whether the iU2/iUR2 will work with a lightening connector.  It certainly doesn’t come with one, so chances are if you have a device with a lightening connector then this isn’t the unit for you!

All this is a shame as the iU2 had the makings of a great little unit.  Although perhaps this is one of the pitfalls of being such an early adopter of the iPad/iOS platform.