Tascam DP 32SD Vs. Zoom LiveTrak L 12: 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: Tascam DP 32SD vs. Zoom LiveTrak L 12.

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 Tascam DP 32SD and Zoom LiveTrak L 12. 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.

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.

Zoom LiveTrak L-12

Zoom LiveTrak L-12: A Multifaceted Digital Mixer

Practical Design, Impressive Functionality

After spending three months with the Zoom LiveTrak L-12, I've found it to be an invaluable tool for a musician, offering versatility in numerous situations. Its compact size belies its powerful capabilities, making it ideal for various settings from practice to live performances.

Rehearsal and Practice Sessions Elevated

Integrated Metronome and Recording Ease

The L-12 excels in practice environments. Its ability to connect multiple devices, such as a computer via USB for playing along with Spotify, is highly convenient. The built-in metronome and easy recording to SD cards are perfect for pinpointing and working on challenging sections. The recording feature is intuitive, simply arm the desired tracks, and you're set.

Rehearsal Powerhouse

Individual Monitoring and Built-in Effects

In low-volume rehearsals, particularly where everyone uses headphones, the L-12 is a game-changer. With five independent aux sends to 1/4″ headphone jacks, it offers personalized monitoring for each musician. The built-in effects, like reverb for vocals, add to the mix's quality.

Writing and Recording Made Simple

Instant Recording and DAW Integration

Capturing spontaneous musical ideas is effortless with the L-12. Its standalone recording capability, combined with the metronome, allows for quickly laying down initial ideas and building upon them. The seamless integration with DAWs for further editing is a significant advantage.

Live Performances and Mixing

Flexible Output Options for Shows

Though more suited as a sub-mixer, the L-12 can handle a full show, especially when using in-ear monitors. It offers up to five different mixes for in-ear monitoring and has both XLR and balanced 1/4″ outputs for speakers. Recording live shows for later mixing is a breeze.

Adaptable for Socially Distanced Rehearsals

Effective for Diverse Rehearsal Setups

The current pandemic has made music rehearsals challenging, but the L-12 adapts well to different scenarios. Whether it's playing in separate rooms or outdoors, it allows for effective mic setups and clear monitoring of all instruments. The ability to quickly transfer recordings to a DAW like Logic Pro X is highly convenient.

Areas for Improvement

Minor Setbacks, But Still a Top Choice

Despite its many strengths, the L-12 has a few areas that could be improved:
1. The compression always writes to the recording and isn’t of the highest quality.
2. The preamps are adequate but not exceptional.
3. The file naming system, while functional, can be cumbersome to navigate.
4. The lack of motorized faders means manual adjustments are necessary when switching mixes.
5. There's no option for individual stereo or mono pairs for monitor outputs in live situations.
Despite these minor issues, the Zoom LiveTrak L-12 stands out for its versatility and comprehensive features at its price point.

Final Verdict

A Robust, Versatile Mixer for Various Needs

Concluding, the Zoom LiveTrak L-12 is an excellent choice for musicians and sound engineers looking for a versatile, all-in-one mixer and recorder. Its strengths in various environments, from studio to stage, make it a valuable asset. While it has some limitations, its advantages far outweigh them, making it a highly recommended tool in the music and recording industry.

Head 2 Head: Tascam DP 32SD or Zoom LiveTrak L 12

Tascam DP-32SD: A Stalwart in the World of Multi-track Recorders

The Tascam DP-32SD, a behemoth of a device, is the older, wiser cousin to the DP-24SD. This audio interface is more than just your average recording studio equipment; it's a reliable companion for those who love to record without the fuss of an overcomplicated DAW. Key Features:
Think of it as a 20-track recorder that moonlights as a 32-track machine when it's feeling ambitious. I know, losing the MIDI and S/PDIF inputs from the old Tascam 2488Neo might feel like being dumped via text message – no one likes it. But let's face it, if you're more into analog inputs, you won't miss them much. Plus, its punch-in and out functions are tighter than jeans after Thanksgiving dinner.

Recording Quality

Now let’s talk about its recording quality; this thing is no joke! If you're tired of dealing with clicks and pops ruining your perfect take (and sanity), then this DP-32SD is your knight in shining armor. It records at 24bit 48 kHz smoother than butter on a hot pan.

Usability and Workflow

When it comes to workflow, this machine has its game face on at all times. Whether you're recording a raging live band or perfecting your solo project, this portable recorder is ready to rock and roll – literally. Its ability to record up to eight tracks simultaneously without needing a PC or MAC gives you all the freedom you need. Learning Curve:
I won't sugarcoat it – there's some learning curve involved here. But hey, we all had to learn how to ride a bike, right? And with some YouTube tutorials (and maybe a couple of cups of strong coffee), you'll master this professional sound production tool in no time.

Build Quality

The build quality is solid, like that dependable friend who always shows up when you need them. Sure, a few knobs might feel a little flimsy, but they don't take away from the overall robustness of this unit. Integration with DAW
Even though it's primarily a standalone recorder, being able to transfer files to a DAW for further noodling is like the cherry on top. It's the perfect hybrid solution for those who love old-school recording but can't resist some digital editing.

Zoom LiveTrak L-12: The Swiss Army Knife of Digital Mixers

Now let’s get acquainted with the Zoom LiveTrak L-12. If the Tascam DP-32SD is the reliable old friend, then this digital mixer is that talented buddy who can juggle five tasks at once and still make it look effortless. Rehearsal and Practice Sessions:
The L-12 has got your back during practice sessions. From connecting your computer for jamming along with Spotify to its built-in metronome keeping you in time (like a rhythmically gifted robot), this little device packs quite a punch.

Rehearsal Powerhouse:

When it comes to low-volume rehearsals where everyone’s rocking headphones, this beast is truly transformative. Its five independent aux sends offer personalized monitoring for each musician – talk about VIP treatment!

Writing and Recording:

Sudden stroke of musical genius? The L-12 is ready when you are! With its instant recording capability, you can lay down tracks without missing a beat. Plus, it's got a great relationship with DAWs, making your editing journey smooth and easy.

Live Performances and Mixing:

Though it's best suited as a sub-mixer, the L-12 can step up to handle a full show. It offers up to five different mixes for in-ear monitoring and has both XLR and balanced 1/4″ outputs for speakers.

Adaptable for Socially Distanced Rehearsals:

When life gives you lemons (or a global pandemic), the L-12 makes lemonade (or socially-distanced rehearsals). Whether you're playing in separate rooms or outdoors, this device ensures everyone hears everything.

Areas for Improvement:

No one's perfect though, right? The L-12 could improve on its compression quality and preamps. The file naming system could be less of a maze too. And while we're at it, some motorized faders wouldn't hurt either.

The Final Showdown

After diving deep into these two professional sound production tools, who emerges victorious? Well folks, I've got to give it to the Zoom LiveTrak L-12. While both are solid choices as multi-track recorders and audio interfaces, the L-12 wins because of its versatility. It adapts well to various situations – from studio recordings to live performances – without breaking a sweat. Admittedly, there are areas it could improve on but the advantages far outweigh these minor setbacks. So there we have it! The Zoom LiveTrak L-12 takes home the trophy as our top pick for an all-in-one mixer and recorder. Whether you're a musician or a sound engineer, this device is sure to be a valuable asset in your recording studio equipment arsenal.