TASCAM is about to release a new USB microphone called the TM-250U. This kind of mic is pretty handy for things like video chats, live streams, podcasts and basic recording. It’s simple to use for the non-audio types and it’s convenient for the latter as it has the interface and preamp built right in. No surprise that so many studio technology brands sell a bunch of them these days.
Competition in USB microphones is fierce and I’d expect a big brand like TASCAM to offer an ambitious or aggressively priced product. But the TM-250U is a barebones affair. There is only super-cardioid polar pattern, which is meant to keep your sound source in focus while reducing ambient noise. That’s what most of its users want, anyway, but having switchable polar patterns like omni and figure-eight offer interesting recording options. Moreover, the microphone lacks low-cut and pad switches. These aren’t crucial to the recording process, but really help with taming boomy lows or excessively loud sources before recording has even started.
Moving on, the TM-250U has three controls on its body – Mute, Gain, and Headphone volume. The bottom houses a USB-C port for computer/mobile device connection and a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack. The TM-250 is said to be compatible with Windows, macOS, iOS/iPadOS, Android and Chrome OS without the need for drivers, which is great. But audio conversion quality is capped at 16-bit/48kHz. I’d expect to see 24-bit/96kHz in this day and age. At least the recordings will be clean as expected, judging by the negligible distortion measurements.
- Frequency range: 20 Hz to 20 kHz
- Sensitivity: -32 dB (0 dB ＝ 1 V / Pa at 1 kHz)
- Maximum permissible sound pressure level: 130 dB (at 1 kHz = 1% THD)
- Distortion (THD + N) A / D converter: 0.01%
- Signal to noise ratio A / D converter: 89 dB
- Dynamic range A / D converter: 89 dB
- Distortion D / A converter: 0.005%
- Signal to noise ratio D / A converter: 96 dB
- Dynamic range D / A converter: 93 dB
Price and availability
A release date for the Tascam TM-250U isn’t available yet. The price, however, will be around EUR 250. The scope of delivery includes a 2m long USB cable (type C to type A), a microphone holder (with 5/8 inch screw thread) and a table stand. I don’t think this price is justified, as the TM-250U doesn’t seem to offer better features, sound quality or bundle items than modern USB mics priced EUR 99 or less. It’s only a single polar pattern microphone with audio conversion capped at around CD audio quality and no software for mixing and effects. Moreover, manufacturers like PreSonus sell entire recording bundles for this kind of money. I think the TASCAM sales dept needs a second price check before launch.