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Review: M-Audio Microtrack II Portable Recorder

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Review: M-Audio Microtrack II Portable Recorder

M-Audio MicroTrack II

Courtesy M-Audio

The Bottom Line

The M-Audio MicroTrack II is one of those devices I wish I'd had ten years ago -- it's portable, lightweight, runs on a great-capacity internal battery, and records in great quality, up to 24-bit, 96-kHz. There's a few issues that I wish would be addressed in a future model, but compared to the original MicroTrack, the MicroTrack II is a great recorder for both working musicians wanting a quick way to record their material, or an audio pro needing a recorder (or bit catcher... more on that idea later!)
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Pros

  • Small size, highly portable
  • Built-in battery, easily chargeable
  • High resolution - up to 24-bit, 96-kHz
  • Great quality included microphone

Cons

  • Relatively easy to clip line inputs
  • Some issues with included firmware, fixed with update
  • No included storage

Description

  • Portable, handheld stereo recorder with high resolution capability.
  • Up to 24-bit, 96kHz recording resolution in WAVE format.
  • High-quality converters, good quality preamps. Built-in battery for several hours' use on one charge.
  • Included accessories: microphone, USB charger, carrying case.
  • Requires purchase of Compact Flash memory card ($35-40 on up).

Guide Review - Review: M-Audio Microtrack II Portable Recorder

The MicroTrack II by M-Audio is a really cool device. It's priced very reasonably ($299). For most users, it's a perfect solution.

Build Quality & Accessories

The MicroTrack II is built very solid; I feel it could take a lot of abuse before showing issues. The moving parts are few, with high quality connectors.

The MicroTrack II has inputs on both a 1/8" jack (mic-level only) or 1/4" jacks (mic- or line-level, with +48v phantom power available). There's also an S/PDIF input -- a huge advantage to those using external preamps with A/D conversion -- as well as RCA outputs alongside a headphone output.

The MicroTrack II has a small USB charger, and a surprisingly good included microphone; it sounded really good on ther internal preamp, much nicer than the included mics with many competitor's products.

One of the biggest disappointments with the MicroTrack II is the lack of any on-board storage. Storage is done via a Compact Flash card, one of the more expensive storage mediums available. Hopefully, future versions will support the much cheaper SD card format.

Sound Quality

Recording quality via the inputs is very good, especially the included microphone. The microphone preamps on the 1/4" inputs were somewhat weak, but using an external preamp, results were great.

One of the bigger problems was with the internal A/D converter clipping early; it seemed to overload fairly easily, so a good trim or attenuator control is a must.

The high resolution settings sound great, although there's still some slight noise in the background, especially if using the LCD screen's backlight.

Overall, the MicroTrack II is a phenomenal value, and works very well given it's small size. With a few tweaks, M-Audio's next version of the MicroTrack could be an even bigger winner. Until then, I'd consider using an external preamp or A/D converter if possible.
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