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How to get a Tascam US-122 working with Slackware 13.37.

The Tascam US-122 is a bus-powered USB 1.1 audio interface, with 2
channels of input (either 1/4" unbalanced or XLR balanced) and adjustable
direct monitoring. See Tascam's product page for more information (Links
section, below).

These directions might also be useful for the US-224 and US-428. There are
also US-122MkII and US-144MkII units which are cosmetically different,
but might be the same thing internally (or might not; I don't have one
for testing).

Before you start: the US-122 is bus-powered, and draws quite a bit more
power than your average USB device (though not more than the 500mA that
the USB specification says USB ports/hubs should support). It probably
won't work with cheap powered USB hubs (it may be detected & show up
in alsamixer, but fail to actually play any audio). It will of course
never work with an unpowered hub. It's also possible (but unlikely) that
it could fry a cheap motherboard, if plugged in without a hub. If you're
even slightly worried about this, I'd recommend getting a decent powered
hub (one that says it supports "high power" or "hi-power" USB devices).

You should read the owner's manual (see Links, below). Obviously you
can skip the parts about installing/using the Windows/Mac drivers and
software (which is most of the manual actually), but the product specs
in the back are informative.

Unlike some other "USB mixer" devices, the Tascam isn't just plug and
play on Slackware Linux systems. Although it appears as a standard
class-compliant USB audio interface (and also as a MIDI interface),
it requires its firmware to be sent over the USB cable each time it's
plugged in. Presumably, this is to save on cost (no ROM or flash is
required inside the unit), and to allow for easy firmware upgrades.

To get the device to work, you'll need the firmware itself, the firmware
loader utility, and some udev rules that cause the firmware loader to
be run when the device it plugged in. Read on for the gory details...

To start with, leave the device unplugged.

The commands below assume you have root access (either logged in as root,
or via "su -". Don't use "su" without the hyphen though).


1. To get the US-122 working without audio glitches:

# echo 'options snd_usb_usx2y nrpacks=1' > /etc/modprobe.d/tascam.conf

What this does is reduce the number of audio packets sent in each USB
packet. Without this, the Tascam worked, but every few seconds its
audio would get "scratchy" sounding (due to dropped samples). When this
happened, I was using jack, and it didn't report any x-runs. I don't
really understand why nrpacks works, I found it by googling (see the
links section, below).

2. Install fxload and alsa-tools from

# sbopkg -i fxload alsa-tools

If you prefer, you can download the SlackBuild tarballs and build them
manually, instead of using sbopkg.

If you're not actually using Slackware, or if you decide to compile
alsa-tools without using the package, see the "Udev Rules"
section of this document.

3. Plug in the device.

After a couple of seconds, the green USB light on the Tascam should light
up. The snd_usb_usx2y should be auto-loaded by udev (check the output of

4. Testing

Have a look at the output of "aplay -l", and/or run alsamixer and press
F6. The card should show up as "USX2Y [TASCAM US-X2Y]". It will probably
be device #1 (the numbering starts at zero, and your internal/onboard
audio normally shows up as device #0).

# aplay -l
**** List of PLAYBACK Hardware Devices ****
card 0: Intel [HDA Intel], device 0: ALC269 Analog [ALC269 Analog]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 1: USX2Y [TASCAM US-X2Y], device 0: US-X2Y Audio [US-X2Y Audio #0]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0

Since it's card #1, we should be able to use it to play an mp3 or ogg file
with mplayer, like so:

# mplayer -ao alsa:device=hw=1 somesong.mp3

You can use some other audio player, if you don't have mplayer installed.
Whatever you use, set its audio device to "hw:1" (no, the "device=hw=1"
above isn't a typo, it's how you tell mplayer to use "hw:1". Really.)

Obviously you need speakers or headphones plugged into the Tascam, to
actually hear anything. Also, the headphone and main volumes have to be
turned up. There's no software volume control (you can't use alsamixer
or KDE's volume control), you'll have to actually turn the knobs :)


If you don't hear any audio, and/or mplayer (or whatever audio playing
app) gives error messages and/or freezes up, the Tascam might not be
getting enough power. Run "dmesg|tail" and look for messages like:

[623530.547384] Sequence Error!(hcd_frame=226 ep=10out;wait=226,frame=223).
[623530.547386] Most propably some urb of usb-frame 226 is still missing.
[623530.547387] Cause could be too long delays in usb-hcd interrupt handling.

Try a different powered USB hub, or try it in a USB port on the PC itself.

Once you get everything working, you should be able to use the US-122
with jack (with or without qjackctl).  Make sure to enable the MIDI ports
(-Xseq on the jackd command line) if you plan to use them.

(Apparently, the US-428 requires a daemon called us428control to be
running, to get the MIDI controls to work. I haven't got a US-428 so I
don't know anything about this)

JACK Latency

As a USB 1.x device, the Tascam's audio latency is going to be pretty
awful. To measure it, you loop the output back into the input, and run
jack_delay (I used a 1/4" guitar cable, connected from the headphone
output to the left line input jack). Make sure the "Direct Monitoring"
switch is off, or else it will feed back and jack_delay won't be able
to measure anything.

I've measured my Tascam with jack_delay. Results:

# jack_delay -I system:capture_1 -O system:playback_1 -E
        210.625 frames    4.388 ms

To get jack-using applications to compensate for latency, use the -I and
-O options. jack_delay's README says:

  To determine the correct values for jack's -I and -O, set both
  of them to zero ('default' in qjackctl) and measure the latency
  using the -E option. Then set each of the -I and -O options to
  half the value displayed.

The options can't be fractional, so I use "-I 105 -O 105", which seems
to work OK. My complete jackd command line looks like:

/usr/bin/jackd -Z -R -P65 -dalsa -dhw:1 -r48000 -p256 -n3 -Xseq -I105 -O105

With these settings, I'm able to use fluidsynth, beatrix, bristol,
and other audio synths. I use a USB MIDI keyboard, but you could
use the Tascam's MIDI in jack with a standard MIDI keyboard as well.
ardour and ecasound also work for recording audio, though I haven't
tested them thoroughly.

I haven't experimented with the -p and -n options. Lower values would
mean less latency, at the expense of more CPU and I/O overhead. I'm using
the Tascam with an eeePC (relatively slow single core Intel Atom CPU),
you might do better on faster hardware... but don't expect miracles:
USB 1.1 just plain doesn't move data fast enough to get truly low latency
audio. You'd need USB 2.0 (expensive, proprietary) or better yet, Firewire
(also expensive) for that.

If you can't seem to get rid of audio problems any other way, try
(in order):

- make sure jackd and your audio applications have the appropriate
  POSIX capabilities (e.g. setcap cap_ipc_lock,cap_sys_nice=ep

- add append="threadirqs" in lilo.conf (re-run lilo, reboot)

- use the rtirq script from

- recompile the kernel with CONFIG_PREEMPT=y

- Use a realtime-patched kernel

There is a lot of info out there on the 'net about reducing latency
and/or x-runs in jack. You'll get it working if you're persistent.


This isn't Slackware- or Linux-specific information, but it's not covered
real well in the owner's manual either.

Unlike some other "USB mixer" devices, the Tascam won't work as a
standalone mixer. It's USB-powered, and needs its firmware loaded.

The Direct switch sends whatever's coming in on the inputs, directly to
the output, with no latency. In ardour, select "Options > Hardware does
monitoring" to use this. If you want to use the Tascam + your computer
as a live guitar effects rig (maybe using rakarrack, jack-rack, and/or
sooperlooper), this needs to be disabled.

The inputs are labelled L and R (left and right). When the Mono switch
is in the On position, both channels are mixed together and appear on
the left and right outputs (and on both system:capture_* ports in jack).
The device still appears to be stereo from jack and alsa's point of view
(just with identical audio on both channels).

The insert jacks are described as "TRS jacks" in the manual. This means
tip-ring-sleeve. Probably you'll need a stereo 1/4" Y-cable (with two
mono 1/4" plugs or jacks on the other end) to make any use of the inserts.
I haven't tried them yet. See

There are no software-controllable mixer controls. You can only adjust
the volume with the hardware knobs (separate ones for headphone and
line outputs).

You can't use the US-122's controls as a MIDI control surface. From what
I've read, the US-428 is capable of this.


Tascam US-122 product page:
The owner's manual is in the "Downloads" section.

These instructions were adapted from the Fedora Core 5 instructions here:

Ubuntu forum topic about Tascam devices (there's a lot of noise, but some
useful info too):

The US-122L, US-122MkII, and US-144 are apparently completely different
beasts. Here are a couple of pages discussing them (which may contain
outdated information, YMMV):

Udev Rules

If you used the package of alsa-tools, you don't need
this (it already includes a suitable set of udev rules for the US-122,
US-224, and US-428).

# cat > /lib/udev/rules.d/99-tascam.rules <<EOF
BUS=="usb", ACTION=="add", SYSFS{idProduct}=="8006", SYSFS{idVendor}=="1604", RUN+="/bin/sh -c '/sbin/fxload -D %N -s /usr/share/alsa/firmware/usx2yloader/tascam_loader.ihx -I /usr/share/alsa/firmware/usx2yloader/us122fw.ihx'"
BUS=="usb", ACTION=="add", SYSFS{idProduct}=="8007", SYSFS{idVendor}=="1604", RUN+="/bin/sh -c '/usr/bin/usx2yloader'"

(the above is two long lines beginning with "BUS==". There shouldn't be any
other line breaks)

For the US-224, change the "us122fw.ihx" above to "us224fw.ihx", and
change the SYSFS{idProduct} numbers to 8004 and 8005. For the US-428,
the firmware is "us428fw.ihx" and the product IDs are 8000 and 8001.

After creating the udev rules file, tell udevd to load it:

# udevadm control --reload-rules


B. Watson (yalhcru at gmail dot com)

If you find anything confusing or inaccurate in this guide, or have more
information (particularly about the other Tascam US-series interfaces),
let me know and I'll update the guide at some point.