Monday, November 28, 2005

Microtrak is GOOD

I'd have to say that I'm happy with the M-Audio Microtrack. While the first version of the operating software (updateable into flash EPROM) had bugs, the new version mostly corrects these goofs:

Now no "bump" sound in the phones when booting up
Switches the H and L selections on the level button (these had been reversed)
Shows a VU meter while playing back
Now shows a VU meter with a peak hold function while readying for recording (in pause)
The signal is audible in phones while in REC + PAUSE
Smoother metering and resolves some inaccuracies in graphic items on screen

[still has only 30v output for the mic phantom power. . .some mics won't work this low]

The whole concept of these new CF (Compact Flash) recorders is that they are quiet, having no moving parts, and are small, with high quality audio specs.

My goal is to capture "scratch audio" of the various groups I play trombone with. I had been lugging a laptop along with me, which provides lots of options for processing audio. The laptop interface has a phantom power capability which I haven't tested yet.

What I was hoping for here was to reduce the weight and bulk of the recording gear without sacrificing quality. I think I've got that. There would be a need to do more extensive micing and baffling to get really good captures of big bands, so I'm not really trying to do that.

This unit excels for someone like a regular with brass quintet playing or a college kid wanting to get snap recordings of his college ensembles. The unit comes with a CD that has Audacity, the open-source, free digital audio recording software. The manual is the other content on the CD. There is also a USB 2.0 cable, a power/USB adapter, a T-shape stereo (electrets) mic and a 64meg CF card.

I bought a one gig CF card right away so I'd be less limited as to time. I've been using the mpeg at 320 Kbps. The unit also goes up to 24bit 96khz audio which I'd not be likely to use.

Battery life is a bit whimpy, but then I'm normally setting up a power strip anyway for my music stand light. I can put the unit plugged in to get recharged. I'm thinking this is going to be pretty good. I'll post more as I do more.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

M-Audio MicroTrack

I picked up the M-Audio Compact Flash recorder this week and I tried a scratch recording of a rehearsal last night. This was late, after the horns left, so all I was getting was an electric guitar player going over tunes with another musician. The sound seemed pretty good. I could detect my gum chewing sound and the interface was pretty obvious. I have looked for reviews on a Google of the device and have found some people are unhappy. Looks like those folks are expecting too much, however. There is a concern about the ability of the thing to put out ONLY 30 volts for phantom power. I was wondering about that, since it seemed that the phantom powering would detract from the battery time, anyway. My Rode stereo mic allows for a nine volt battery to be popped into the body, and that will be the way I will go when using the Rode.

I'm looking forward to getting some music recorded this week, and I'll come back and discuss the results once I've recorded.

LAST WEEKEND:

I had recorded the gig with Danny DeLurgio at a dance this weekend. Got the combo doing "Sophisticated Lady" and some other standards. This was with the Rode stereo mic, thru the M-Audio "pre" and into the HP laptop. Since this is getting to be a bit heavy to carry around, I'm looking forward to the truly tiny M-Audio MicroTrack. This could be carried in your pocket.

Chris

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