PreSonus StudioLive AR12c Vs. Tascam Model 16: 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 Model 16.

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 Model 16. 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 Model 16

I picked up one of these used to review for a few hundred. Here's the lowdown:

Initial Impressions

Right out of the box, the Tascam Model 16 felt like a good deal. Even though I got it ‘Used-Acceptable', it appeared brand new and functioned perfectly, saving me a significant amount. It's a testament to Tascam's build quality that a used unit can still perform like a fresh piece.

Usability and Versatility

The Model 16 is incredibly user-friendly. Its intuitive design blends low-tech ease with high-tech versatility. For someone who finds computer software a flow-breaker while recording, this Tascam is a dream. It allows recording directly to an internal SD card and then mixing on a computer, offering the best of both worlds.

Quality of Sound and Inputs

The sound quality is fantastic, making it perfect for both recording and live sound. However, I was initially taken aback by the “virtual” tracks 15/16 and the designated Bluetooth channel, limiting its effective input channels. It's a minor issue but something that should be clearer in the product description.

Recording and Playback Experience

When it comes to recording, the Model 16 shines. The process is straightforward, and playback quality is impressive. I especially appreciated the analog summing and HDDA preamps, which add a warm, rich tone to the recordings. The unit’s simplicity in recording makes it ideal for capturing live performances.

Software and Connectivity

A drawback is the mixer's limited software side. Unlike its smaller sibling, the Model 12, the 16 lacks MIDI connectivity, making time syncing with external gear a bit of a hassle. Additionally, the absence of FX return means using external effects requires sacrificing tracks, which can be limiting.

Overall Performance

Overall, the Tascam Model 16 is a solid performer with great sound and build quality. Its drawbacks are mostly in the finer details of software and input/output flexibility. It's a great piece of gear for those looking to record live performances or who want an easy-to-use interface for home recording. Despite its limitations, the Model 16 offers enough features and quality to justify its price.

Head 2 Head: PreSonus StudioLive AR12c or Tascam Model 16

PreSonus StudioLive AR12c: A Not-So-Everlasting Gobstopper

Feature-Packed but Fickle

The PreSonus StudioLive AR12c can be a tantalizing treat for the tech-savvy. Packed with perks like SD recording, Bluetooth capabilities, and an array of free software (including multi-track software for those recording and editing endeavors), it's like a Swiss Army Knife of audio mixers. But beware, my friends – this is no everlasting gobstopper. Despite its initial shine, the mixer's lifespan was disappointingly short at just 2.5 years. Yikes! And that's without any roughhousing or reckless DJ-ing.

Tascam Model 16: The Reliable Roadie

A Used Car with New Car Smell

On the flip side, we have the Tascam Model 16. This mixer arrived ‘Used-Acceptable' but looked and performed as if it had just rolled off the factory line. Quite impressive, indeed! This workhorse is as user-friendly as they come, blending old school simplicity with modern versatility. It's perfect for anyone who gets a headache from staring at complicated software interfaces.

PreSonus vs Tascam: Clash of Clarity

Superior Sound or Superior Service?

In terms of sound quality, the PreSonus StudioLive AR12c offers crystal clear audio – when it works. Its microphone preamps need a bit of coaxing but deliver crisp results. But let's not forget about its Achilles' heel – customer service (or lack thereof). When this mixer gave up the ghost after 2.5 years, the folks at PreSonus responded with a disheartening “Sorry, out of warranty.” Not exactly the kind of support one hopes for.

Meanwhile, the Tascam Model 16 offers fantastic audio quality – a perfect match for recording and live sound. It does have a couple of quirky limitations (like ‘virtual' tracks and a designated Bluetooth channel), but these are more like minor annoyances than deal breakers.

The Verdict: Longevity over Luster

Tascam Takes the Crown

While both mixers have their pros and cons, the winner has to be chosen. Drumroll, please… And the crown goes to Tascam Model 16! Despite its minor quirks, it stands out with its reliability, great build quality, and user-friendly design. Unlike its competitor, this mixer won't leave you in the lurch after a few years. So whether you're recording live performances or dabbling in home recording, this piece of gear will serve you well without any unexpected hiccups. Remember folks – all that glitters is not gold; sometimes it's better to pick silver if it's going to last longer.