Tascam is not the name that is often mentioned in the community. With that said, their affordable monitors are worth talking about. Tascam VL-S3 are among some of the most interesting and best-performing budget monitor speakers you can get your hands on under $100. Let's take a closer look.
The very first thing you will notice about Tascam VL-S3 is their size. They are arguably among the most compact monitors out there. Even so, build quality is there. Tascam has used decent quality MDF for the cabinets, which is covered with black wood grain vinyl. Baffles are a separate piece made of plastics.
One thing we thought could have been done differently is the controls department. With active speakers, you often see controls mounted on the front of the active unit. That makes perfect sense as you will most likely be using those controls every day. On Tascam VL-S3, controls are located on the back panel of the active speaker. Is this a deal breaker? Not necessarily, but it can be a nuisance if you position the speakers out of your reach.
The core of the VL-S3 is its 3“ low-frequency driver and a tiny .5“ tweeter. This might not look like much, however, when you take into consideration the size of these speakers, going with smaller drivers makes perfect sense. As we have already established, Tascam VL-S3 are active by nature.
Each speaker packs some 14 Watts of power, making them fairly powerful considering the size. Tascam ships these with a built in crossover that kicks in at 8kHz. Just having that crossover, which works rather well, is one of the better reasons why Tascam VL-S3 is worth looking into. In all honesty, the only real way to make these speakers better than they currently are is to move that power button and volume control to the front.
In terms of performance, these will surprise even the most conservative users out there. Here’s the deal. Tascam VL-S3 are tiny, have small drivers and aren’t the most powerful pair of speakers in the world. However, they are incredibly flat. We are talking impressive transparency from 100Hz and up. In many ways, these are better than some of the much larger and much more powerful models in the very same price range.
The only real issue here is the low-end response. As soon as you hit that 100Hz mark, the response just sinks. We will attribute that to using a 3“ driver, and file the whole issue under ’as expected’ tag. Positioning VL-S3s in your room is easy. This model is not made for large studios, but rather small ones where space is tight and you really need to cash in on that near field performance.
All in all, Tascam VL-S3 has proven that size isn’t a metric and that performance comes from brands you least expect it to. These are impressively flat for what they are. If you are on a budget, there are maybe one or two other speakers out there which can compare.