Tascam Model 12 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: Tascam Model 12 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 Tascam Model 12 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.

Tascam Model 12

The Tascam Model 12 is going to require you read the manual a few times, for sure! But once you get past the initial learning curve, you'll find it's a versatile machine, capable of multi-track recording, interfacing with a DAW, and even Bluetooth connectivity.


It's a great choice for those who need an all-in-one device. The Model 12 acts as a smaller sibling to the 16 and 24 channel versions, offering a good balance of functionality and size. Its dual inputs (1 – 10) that accept both XLR and 1/4 inch TRS are particularly handy.


When it comes to connectivity, USB hookups work best when connected directly to the motherboard USB 2.0 sockets, as recommended in the manual. Some users have reported issues when connecting to USB 3.0 ports, so it's something to be mindful of.

Sound Quality

The sound quality is a big plus for the Model 12, with users noting its clean output over headphones or monitors. The Midi In and Out are a great addition, expanding its utility for various setups.

Phantom Power

A slight downside is the global Phantom Power option, which could be more useful if managed by software for each channel. It's crucial to ensure the Phantom Power is off before powering a new unit to protect any connected mics that don't require it.

Software Integration

For those using DAWs, the Model 12 functions well as an interface, though it requires some initial setup. It leaves a lot of room for experimentation and finding a workflow that suits individual needs.

User Tips

Some user tips to consider: the Sub Button on each channel arms the Headphones bus, essential for monitoring. The effects only work if all the Solo buttons are disarmed. And remember, you don't need to press the Play button alongside the Record button when making a track, which is a departure from older tape-based systems.

Overall Impression

While the Tascam Model 12 might have a steep learning curve and some quirks, it's a solid piece of equipment offering great value. It's an excellent choice for anyone looking to step away from complete reliance on a DAW, offering a more hands-on approach to recording and mixing. Just be ready to spend some time with the manual to unlock its full potential.

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: Tascam Model 12 or Tascam Model 16

Stepping into the Ring: Tascam Model 12

Let's dive right into the heavyweight contender, the Tascam Model 12. This digital mixer is like a Swiss army knife of music production equipment, a multi-track recording device that doubles as an audio interface. But boy, does this one come with a learning curve steeper than San Francisco's Lombard Street. You'll be flipping through its manual more times than a burger at a summer BBQ. Versatility:

The Tascam Model 12 is all about balance. It's like the little brother out of Tascam's trio, nestled comfortably between the 16 and 24 channel versions. With dual inputs (1 – 10) accepting both XLR and 1/4 inch TRS, it's as flexible as a gymnast.


It's got USB connectivity down pat – just make sure you're plugging it straight into your motherboard's USB 2.0 sockets. Some users have been tripped up by their USB 3.0 ports, so keep that in mind. Sound Quality

The Tascam Model 12 delivers sound clearer than your granny's crystal glassware collection. And with Midi In and Out thrown into the mix, you've got more options than toppings at a pizza parlor.

Phantom Power

The global Phantom Power option is like getting one flavor of ice-cream for everyone at your birthday party – not always ideal. It'd be more useful if it could be managed per channel by software to protect any connected mics that don’t need it. Software Integration

Now if you're looking to break away from total DAW-dependence, the Model 12 also moonlights as an audio interface. Sure, the setup might take a bit of time, but think of it as a journey, not a destination.

User Tips

A couple of quick pro tips: The Sub Button on each channel arms the Headphones bus – essential for monitoring. And remember, you don't have to press Play and Record simultaneously when laying down a track. This ain't your granddad's tape-based system. Overall Impression

The Tascam Model 12 is like that quirky friend who’s a tad complicated but utterly indispensable once you get to know them. It's versatile, practical and offers excellent value for an all-in-one recording console.

Meet the Challenger: Tascam Model 16

Next up, we've got the challenger, the Tascam Model 16. This analog-digital hybrid mixer came out of the box looking brand spanking new and ready to rumble. Usability and Versatility

Straight up – the Tascam Model 16 is as user-friendly as they come. It's like your favorite pair of jeans – comfortable, reliable and always in style. Its design cleverly marries old-school simplicity with modern versatility making it perfect for those who want an easy-to-use studio mixer that doesn't interrupt their creative flow.

Quality of Sound and Inputs

The sound quality here is top-notch – think champagne on a beer budget. However, be aware that channels 15/16 are “virtual” tracks while one channel is reserved for Bluetooth – a detail worth noting if you're counting on every single input. Recording and Playback Experience

When it comes to laying down tracks directly to an internal SD card and then mixing on a computer, the Model 16 is like the cool kid on the block, making it a perfect portable mixing console. Plus, with analog summing and HDDA preamps in its corner, it delivers an audio punch that's rich and warm.

Software and Connectivity

The Tascam Model 16 does lose some sparkle when it comes to software. Unlike its smaller sibling, it lacks MIDI connectivity, making time syncing with external gear a bit of a square dance. And without an FX return, using external effects requires sacrificing tracks – not ideal for those who like to keep all their options open. Overall Performance

All in all, the Tascam Model 16 holds its own as a sturdy live sound mixer that delivers impressive sound and build quality. It might have some limitations in input/output flexibility and software features but still brings enough to the table to justify its price tag.

And The Winner is…

In this head-to-head battle of music production equipment, we've seen both devices throw some solid punches. But there can only be one winner and that crown goes to… *drum roll*…the Tascam Model 12. While both mixers offer impressive sound quality and versatility, the Tascam Model 12 pulls ahead with its DAW interface capabilities and Midi In/Out options. Despite having fewer channels than the Tascam Model 16, its more manageable size coupled with flexible inputs makes it a practical choice for most users. So if you're looking for a do-it-all digital mixer that provides excellent value without hogging up all your desk space, you can't go wrong with the Tascam Model 12. Just be sure to set aside some quality time with the manual. Trust me, it's worth the read.