The TASCAM Model 16 is a powerful tool that blends analog mixing, digital recording, and a USB audio interface into one device. TASCAM has long been known for their PortaStudio devices that let you record without a computer. This device does that but with those added device capabilities.
With the Model 16 you can pump 14 individual audio streams into your DAW as well as a two channels for the master stereo mix. In addition to plenty of XLR and TRS inputs, including two low impedance instrument ports, there are connections for stereo RCA as well as Bluetooth inputs.
All of the inputs as well as the master mix are recorded to 24 bit/48 kHz WAV files on the built-in SD card drive.
I did find this unit to be tricky to set up in my DAW of choice, Studio One. Also, TASCAM released a nearly identical Model 12 which adds DAW controller to the mix, which now makes this unit feel like it’s missing a key feature that I doubt a ROM Flash would be able to address.
Ease of Use
The unit is generally intuitive, but there is a bit to learn that doesn’t seem to be included in the manual. The difficulty configuring this with my DAW was a bit overwhelming for a novice to overcome. The Model 16 is easy to use when I’m using this simply as an analog mixer and digital recorder without a computer.
The sound is clean and the controls to modify the sound (EQ, FX, etc.) are intuitive and responsive.
The Model 16 feels solid, with no cheap feeling parts. It’s sturdy and is designed to be top rack mountable, taking up 11U of rack space, with optional rack mount rails. It’s one of the focal points of my home studio.
The Model 16 is best suited as a portable recording option, offering high quality preamps, four channels of EQ, and multiple input types and output choices.
The only real drawback is phantom power is toggled on a device level rather than per input. This will make it hard, if not impossible, to use delicate ribbon and phantom powered cardioid mics in the same take.
If you intend to record using your DAW, I would instead consider an interface such as the TASCAM Series 208i which lets you do everything on screen. The 208i also has per-channel phantom power.
If you intend to record on location the Model 16 is a capable device worthy of your consideration.