Zoom unveils TAC-8 Thunderbolt Audio Converter at NAMM 2015

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Zoom has launched a new rack-mountable audio interface at NAMM 2015. The TAC-8 Thunderbolt is designed for both professional and home studio environments and provides 8 analog inputs and 10 analog outputs, as well as 10 digital inputs and ouputs (in both S/PDIF and ADAT Optical formats), plus Word Clock and MIDI I/O.

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More than twice as fast as USB 3.0—not to mention twenty times faster than USB 2.0 and twelve times faster than Firewire 800—Thunderbolt is the interconnection technology of the future. Co-developed by Apple and Intel Labs, it allows signal to be transferred at an incredibly fast 10 gigabits-per-second, which means virtually no latency. Thunderbolt interfaces such as the TAC-8 are also unaffected by computer jitter (slight variations in timing).zoom tac8 2

The TAC-8 provides a wide variety of both analog and digital connectors. Eight front panel combo XLR/TRS inputs accept mic- and line-level signals. Inputs 1 and 2 can also accept instrument-level signal from guitars and basses. Dedicated input gain controls and Clip LED’s make it easy to set optimum input levels, and the selectable multi-channel Phantom Power feature allows for the use of condenser microphones.

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Dual balanced analog TRS output jacks enable you to connect the TAC-8 to amplifiers or self-powered speakers, and there are also 8 discrete balanced TRS analog line outputs for multichannel monitoring or connection to external effects devices.

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A large front-panel Output knob offers fast control of main output level, and there are two independent ¼” stereo headphone jacks, each with its own dedicated volume control for private monitoring.

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ADAT and S/PDIF digital inputs/outputs allow for the use of up to 10 inputs from external interfaces as well as 10 outputs, providing a combined total of 18 inputs and 20 outputs through the TAC-8 device. Built-in Word Clock allows for syncing between devices and MIDI In/Out allow electronic keyboards, sequencers, and drum machines to be connected through the TAC-8. Thunderbolt speeds ensure precise audio and MIDI sync.

Additional Features

In standalone mode, the TAC-8 can be used as an 8-channel mic preamp and analog-to-digital or digital-to-analog converter without being connected to a computer.

The TAC-8 performs 4-times upsampling during both analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog conversion. In other words, when the sampling frequency is set to 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz, the TAC-8 processes the signal at high resolution 176.4 kHz or 192 kHz respectively. For A/D conversion, this means less aliasing noise; for D/A conversion, this means increased clarity and fidelity.

TAC-8 MixEfx is a free Macintosh application designed specially by Zoom for the TAC-8. It provides a comprehensive onscreen mixer, with independent level, phase reversal, and panning control for each channel. TAC-8 MixEfx also allows you to freely route all inputs to all outputs and to create custom mixes for each pair of outputs. In addition, a variety of reverb and echo effects can be used as a send/return effect. Complete mixes can then be stored in three different memory slots, allowing instant total recall.

Features:

18-in/20-out high speed Thunderbolt audio interface
Record and play back 8 tracks simultaneously
Support for up to 24-bit/192kHz high‐definition audio
Ultra-low latency audio streaming
8 combo balanced XLR/TRS analog input connectors accept both mic and line-level signal
High‐performance mic preamps with up to +60dB of amplification
Hi-Z switches allow direct connection of electric guitar or bass (INPUT1, INPUT2)
Independent gain controls and clip LEDs for each input
Switchable +48V phantom power (INPUTS 1‐4, INPUTS 5‐8)
10 balanced TRS output jacks for connection to mixers, amplifiers, self-powered speakers, or effects devices
Dual front-panel 1/4″ headphone outputs with dedicated volume controls
Large knob output volume control
4x upsampling during A/D and D/A conversion for reduced noise and enhanced fidelity
Asynchronous transfer system unaffected by computer jitter
Robust metal housing ensures roadworthiness
S/PDIF IN/OUT: 2IN / 2OUT, up to 24‐bit/192kHz audio resolution
ADAT Optical IN/OUT: 2 IN / 2 OUT at 192/176.4kHz (S/MUX4 compatible), 4 IN/4 OUT at 96/88.2kHz (S/MUX compatible), 8 IN / 8 OUT at 48/44.1kHz
Word Clock in/out
Clock source indicator
MIDI in/out
Rack-mountable (1U space)
Works with all Thunderbolt-equipped Macintosh computers running OS X 10.8.5 or later
Steinberg Cubase LE software download

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About Author

MNJ has been writing articles, reviews and blogs for the DV online magazine for the last five years or so. Although he has been playing for longer than he cares to remember and is now officially an 'oldie', he is still mad for all things guitar related and when not busy in his studio he's learning new songs, practising bluegrass guitar, painting his house and taking his dogs out. If banished to a desert island and forced to take only one guitar he'd take a Les Paul. Actually, make that several Les Pauls, a Strat, a Tele, an ES-335, a vintage Martin and some boutique amps. Battery powered obviously.

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