What We Like
- The number of analog inputs, including 8 XLR/quarter-inch inputs.
- Sleek and simple design.
What We Don’t Like
- Does not show gain levels on the face.
The Zoom TAC-8 audio interface is built to be the centerpiece of your recording studio. It has plenty of analog and digital ins and outs, so it’s designed for that role. Here’s how it stacks up against the industry standards.
If you went just by looks, this interface would get four out of five stars. It’s got a blue and silver metal casing with brackets on each side for mounting it to your interface board.
The eight XLR/quarter-inch inputs on the front of the device each have their own gain knob (which are snug and are bound to hang on for a very long time), a master volume dial, and lights that clearly show signal, clipping, and the clock source (i.e. ADAT, S/PDIF, a World Clock, Internal). However, it does not have level indicators, just an indicator for whether or not there is a signal and if it’s peaking.
It comes with the MixEfx software, which allows you to easily route all of your inputs to all of your outputs, creating custom mixes for each pair of outputs. Also, the device comes with a free download of the Steinberg Cubase LE software.
The TAC-8 is great for both the studio and the stage.
The ability to record and play back eight channels at the same time is a big plus. This many inputs allows you to record a full band, an eight-mic drum setup, or whatever else needs that many inputs at a time. And because it’s connected via Thunderbolt, latency is almost never an issue.
If you want to use this for live music, no problem. It’s perfect for a solo gig or a big band concert. Just plug it into your computer and it becomes the central hub for every instrument and the overall mix. Although one big downside is Windows users are out of luck — this audio interface is for Mac users only.
Also, a feature Zoom could stand to add are level indicators for the front of the device. This model shows only if there is a signal and if that signal is peaking, not the volume levels.
Because of the super fast Thunderbolt technology (which is reportedly faster than USB 3), latency in recording and playback is almost non-existent.
The MixEfx software is easy to navigate — even a novice could pick it up quickly. Clunky software can be a deal-breaker. But one thing to note is the software overrides the hardware when the device is connected to your computer, so without the software installed and running, you may be wondering why you’re not getting any sound.
But overall, the TAC-8 gets decent-quality audio for a professional interface like this one, and the quality is still good when you hook it up with other devices to expand your recording options.
The number of inputs on the Zoom TAC-8 is its crown jewel, but its sturdiness, accompanying software, and audio quality help carry the weight. The features you get for the price you pay is a win-win.