PreSonus StudioLive AR12c Vs. Tascam DP 32SD : Reviewed & Compared

Choosing the right mixer when there are so many on the market these days isn't easy.
Especially when many of them are built for one specific need but being marketed as an all-rounder 🙄
But not to worry, I've got ya!
I have taken a deep dive into two beasts in the audio-mixing game and gone head to head with them: PreSonus StudioLive AR12c vs. Tascam DP 32SD.

We're looking at things like:
  • Sound Quality: This is the heart of the matter, right? How each mixer holds up in delivering crisp, clear audio. Are we talking about a mixer that makes your tracks sound like they're live from the garage, or are we hitting studio-quality sound?
  • Ease of Use: Nobody wants to spend hours figuring out which button does what. I’ll break down the user interface of both PreSonus StudioLive AR12c and Tascam DP 32SD. Are they plug-and-play easy, or will you need a PhD in mixology to use them?
  • Features and Functions: Ie. What's under the hood? Let's find out what sets them apart.
  • Durability: No matter your reason for buying, you want something that's gonna last, not fall apart after a few light sessions.
  • Price Point: Yep, money talks. When it comes to prices, we need to see which mixer gives us more bang for our buck. Is the higher price of one justified by its features, or is the other a hidden gem at a bargain price?
  • Customer Reviews and Feedback: What's the word on the street? Sometimes real-world use tells a different story than what the sales page says.

PreSonus StudioLive AR12c

Presonus StudioLive AR Series Mixer: In-Depth Review After Extensive Use

Initial Impressions and Functionality

After over two years of using the Presonus StudioLive AR Series Mixer, I've got a lot to share. Initially, this mixer impressed with its robust features – SD recording, Bluetooth connectivity, and the abundance of free software it comes with. The multi-track software, particularly useful for recording and editing, adds significant value. Its form factor and features like the microphone preamps and USB-C connectivity seemed promising for a range of applications – from music production to podcasting.

Performance and Reliability Issues

Short Lifespan and Quality Concerns

The major downside, however, has been the mixer's reliability. It worked flawlessly for a period, but after 2.5 years, it abruptly stopped working. This was particularly frustrating as the mixer was handled with care and never subjected to any rough use. The lack of durability for a high-end piece of equipment is a significant drawback, especially considering the cost of repair, which can run into hundreds of dollars.

Customer Service Experience

Lack of Support and Warranty Concerns

My experience with customer service was less than satisfactory. When the mixer failed, I reached out, only to be told that it was out of warranty. While this is technically true, the expectation for a quality mixer to last beyond 2.5 years is reasonable. The company's approach to customer service and their unwillingness to provide support or reasonable repair options is a major red flag.

Sound Quality and Features

Excellent Audio but Some Limitations

On the positive side, the mixer's sound quality is excellent when it works. The microphone preamps, while needing to be turned up high for certain mics, provide clear and crisp audio. The multi-track capabilities are user-friendly and the mixer is fairly easy to navigate, even for those new to audio equipment. The inclusion of SD card recording and Bluetooth adds to its versatility, although the SD recording could benefit from more informative display features.

Form Factor and Build

Good Design with Some Build Quality Issues

The mixer's form factor is appealing – it's compact and fits well in various setups. However, the build quality seems to be a concern given the longevity issues I've experienced. The unit feels sturdy initially, but the internal components may not be as reliable.

Overall Experience

Mixed Feelings Due to Reliability Issues

In summary, while the Presonus StudioLive AR Series Mixer offers a range of impressive features and excellent sound quality, its reliability is a major concern. The poor customer service and the mixer's short lifespan significantly overshadow its initial appeal. For those considering this mixer, it's crucial to weigh these factors. The possibility of encountering similar issues and the lack of support from Presonus might be deal-breakers for many potential buyers.

Tascam DP-32SD Digital Portastudio

Now the Tascam DP-32SD, let me draw some comparisons to its cousin, the DP-24SD, and delve into what makes it stand out. The DP-32SD steps up the game with its enhanced preamps and 32-track recording capability, minus the hard drive noise, since it runs on an SDHC card.

Key Features:

First off, think of the DP-32SD as a 20-track recorder with 8 mono tracks and 12 additional stereo or mono tracks. The absence of MIDI and S/PDIF inputs (found in its predecessor, the Tascam 2488Neo) might limit some, but it's not a deal-breaker for those focused on analog inputs. Its punch-in and out functions are tight, and the layout of the menu and LED buttons has been thoughtfully improved from the Neo model.

Tascam DP 32SD Review

Recording Quality

The recording quality is a massive win for the DP-32SD. Users rave about the stellar job it does, especially in multi-musician setups. With its ability to record at 24bit 48kHz without clicks, pops, or stutters, it’s a reliable choice for those seeking to avoid the complexities of a DAW.

Usability and Workflow

In terms of workflow, this machine is a powerhouse. For those who prefer to record up to 8 tracks simultaneously without a PC or MAC and don’t need MIDI sync, the DP-32SD is your go-to. It’s great for live band recordings too, being easily portable and capable of handling numerous simultaneous inputs.

Learning Curve

There’s a learning curve, especially if you're transitioning from a simpler recorder or a different brand. However, with resources like YouTube tutorials, you can get up to speed relatively quickly.

Build Quality

The build quality of the DP-32SD is impressive. It feels heavy and sturdy, indicative of a machine built to last. Though some knobs might feel a bit flimsy, this doesn’t detract from the overall solid construction of the unit.

Integration with DAW

While it's primarily a standalone recorder, the ease of transferring files to a DAW for further editing and mixing is a major plus. It's an excellent solution for those looking to blend analog recording with digital editing.

Head 2 Head: PreSonus StudioLive AR12c or Tascam DP 32SD

Presonus StudioLive AR12c: A Love-Hate Relationship

Charming at First Sight, but Can it Last?

The Presonus StudioLive AR12c came out swinging with a boatload of features that seemed too good to be true. SD recording, Bluetooth connectivity, and a generous amount of free software – it was like Christmas morning for audio nerds. The microphone preamps and USB-C connectivity were the cherries on top. However, as the old saying goes: all that glitters isn't gold.

A Mixer with Commitment Issues

Can't Handle the Long-Term Relationship

After a seemingly perfect 2.5 years, our love story hit a rough patch – the mixer abruptly stopped working. No warning signs, no gradual decline in performance, just outright betrayal. This high-maintenance diva decided to tap out without any regard for my feelings or my audio recording needs.

Customer Service: A Hard Pill to Swallow

The Cold Shoulder Treatment

Seeking solace from Presonus customer service proved fruitless. They shrugged off my pleas for help with an indifferent “Sorry, it's out of warranty.” Now I'm no math whiz, but I believe even the most basic calculator would agree that a top-tier mixer should last more than 2.5 years.

Sound Quality: Silver Lining or Fool's Gold?

Impressive Audio Performance When It’s On Song

Putting aside the heartbreak of its unexpected demise, when functioning properly, this mixer can belt out some beautiful tunes. The microphone preamps deliver crisp audio even though they need to be cranked up a bit, and the user-friendly multi-track capabilities are a beginner's best friend. The SD card recording and Bluetooth features add some versatility, albeit with room for improvement.

Build: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Deceptively Durable Externals Masking Fragile Internals

The mixer's compact design is appealing and fits snugly into various setups. However, it seems like a classic case of beauty without substance. The exterior may be sturdy, but the internal components might as well be made from wet tissue paper.

A Rollercoaster Ride with Presonus StudioLive AR12c

Thrilling Highs Overshadowed by Crushing Lows

In a nutshell, this mixer is like that attractive person across the bar making eyes at you – intriguing at first sight but high-maintenance in the long run. It's got all the bells and whistles you crave but lacks the durability to stick around when things get tough.

Tascam DP-32SD: An Unsung Hero?

Packing More Punch Than It Lets On

Moving on to greener pastures, let's take a look at the Tascam DP-32SD. This bad boy is loaded with enhanced preamps and a whopping 32-track recording capability. Say goodbye to hard drive noise since it runs smoothly on an SDHC card.

A Symphony of Sound Quality

The Tascam DP-32SD doesn't just play music; it makes love to your ears. Its impeccable recording quality has users singing praises left, right, and center. And with its ability to record at 24bit 48kHz without any hiccups, it's a solid choice for those craving simplicity over complex DAWs.

Usability: A Smooth Operator

Smooth Workflow and Easy Learning Curve

If you fancy recording up to 8 tracks simultaneously sans PC or MAC, look no further than the DP-32SD. It's as portable as a six-pack of beer and can handle multiple simultaneous inputs like a boss. Sure, there's a learning curve, but isn't there always when you're trying something new and exciting?

Build Quality: Built Like a Rock

The DP-32SD is as sturdy as they come. It feels heavy in your hands – a sure sign of quality construction. And while some knobs might feel slightly flimsy, it doesn’t take away from its overall robustness.

A Harmony of Analog and Digital Worlds

While it shines as a standalone recorder, the DP-32SD plays nice with DAWs for further editing and mixing. It's the perfect blend of analog recording with digital editing.

So who wins this battle? Drum roll, please! The winner is…Tascam DP 32SD! Why? Because it offers stellar sound quality, an intuitive workflow, incredible build quality, and most importantly – reliability. The Presonus StudioLive AR12c may have more features on paper but what good are they if the unit decides to go on an unplanned vacation? When it comes to long-term commitment, Tascam DP-32SD is the one.