CTD for October 2, 2005

This week’s show covers my new toy: the M-Audio MicroTrack portable compact flash recorder.

For those of you who have listened to my podcast for awhile, you’ll know that I’ve been on-the-hunt for a small, phantom powered, brain-dead-simple-to-operate device for portable podcasting. For now, I’ve found what I’ve been searching for (though an iPod with greater-than-8khz recording would be my all-in-one-device choice).

There are a multitude of stories I want to capture. Many are ones my 79 year old father has stored away in his brain. I plan on taking him to places within Minneapolis where he grew up and where he had experiences…since I loved listening to them as a kid and don’t want to lose them.

Link to the podcast

14 Comments

  1. Danny on October 5, 2005 at 2:16 pm

    I appreciate you taking the time to let us hear the MicroTrack. I’ve been coveting it for several weeks now. Have you experienced any of the bugs mentioned in this discussion thread: http://groups.google.com/group/rec.audio.pro/browse_thread/thread/ae729b9c5b16e5ef/8943e4ee396c049b?lnk=st&q=M-Audio+MicroTrack+24%2F96&rnum=1#8943e4ee396c049b

    Thanks again!



  2. Steve Borsch on October 6, 2005 at 9:19 am

    I wouldn’t call what I’ve experienced “bugs”…but rather little unique user interface and behavorial stuff that I don’t like. For instance, when you delete a file it still appears on the display. Also, making selections on the menu sometimes don’t “react” when clicked on.

    Still, I’ve gone through the Edirol R1, ifp899, tried out the PMD660 (my next choice if this M-Audio didn’t work) but I’m blown away by the quality.

    My post from Oct 5th (yesterday) at the Web 2.0 conference was about using the MicroTrack to record a panel discussion. You can listen to it if you have time (get past the first two minutes). What you’ll hear is the included stereo microphone picking up (beautifully) the panel, many of the questions from the 75-100 audience members, and I think it sounds great. Nothing else I’ve used can do this without external microphones and even then the results are iffy.

    I’m sold.



  3. Danny on October 6, 2005 at 11:24 am

    For a stock mic it does indeed sound impressive. Hopefully the UI quirks can be addressed via firmware updates. Certainly there are higher-end offerings out there but for 3-4 x the price. I believe I am still coveting this unit. 🙂

    Thanks again for your quick response!

    Danny



  4. TWC on October 11, 2005 at 8:18 pm

    Thanks for the pod cast on the microtrack. I am a fanatic on audio qualtiy and have been on a similar search for a device to do documentary interviews with aging relatives.

    What quality level did you use for the broadcast. Seems to me that when you switched to the microtrack, I picked up a background hiss that wasnt there before!

    ITs still pretty impressive



  5. Steve Borsch on October 11, 2005 at 9:10 pm

    The quality level was set to WAV at 128kbps and 24 bit. I’m still playing with optimal levels for given situations so am not expert at it yet.

    The lower quality you heard was to be expected though. My “studio” setup is a much higher quality microphone (AudioTechnica 3035 for $200), a PreSonus Firebox ($400) and my Powermac. The envelope and range on the mike and firebox most certainly would produce superior results.

    That said, I’ve been stunned with the quality.



  6. C Ottow on October 12, 2005 at 3:49 pm

    Audio Engineer.Same here on the hunt for an affordable, quite and computer compatible mobile recorder… My first recordings seemed to be quite noisy. A Sennheiser MKH 816 was plugged into the 1/4″ input. Has anyone actually measured data like THD, signal to noise ratio, etc. of the micrtrack? I would love to know! Also when recording a 0db signal via SPDIF, the ovl lights on the microtrack light up- Strange. No audible distortion at this level though.
    Still an interesting machine…



  7. Aaron Vogel on October 15, 2005 at 3:41 am

    I just picked up the MicroTrack at Guitar Center this evening. I too had tried Podzilla on my 3G iPod and finally got fed up with the weak sound, lack of MP3 conversion and horrible battery life (this struck mid-interview this morning) and headed over to GC to find something better. I’d been checking out the Edirol R1 but it seems like that has nothing on this thing. We’ll see how the battery life is. At the moment that’s the only concern. I’m using a Sony ECM-MS907 electret condenser mic and still figuring out the best settings, but I think this is going to work well.

    You mentioned that if the iPod up’d the ceiling on audio recording then you’d think about going that way. Now they have (the new iPod with video does up to 44.1Khz recording) are you gonna switch?



  8. deva on November 2, 2005 at 4:20 pm

    The problem with the Microtrack is the battery. It is not swappable. You get maybe 3 hours of on location recording, and then the Microtrack needs to be recharged. This totally ruins it for me because I regularly need 4-6 hours of portable recording time. Why not use AA batteries? or make a battery compartment and swappable Li batteries. What a shame.



  9. Steve Borsch on November 2, 2005 at 4:40 pm

    I also was initially disturbed by the battery life. But have either found power to plug it in *or* have just connected it to my laptop via the USB. Rarely do I need to be untethered for hours (and I’ve consistently received four hours of battery life).

    Still, over time the battery life will downtrend. Just like my iPod, I’d love to have the microtrack have a replacable battery but it’s not a deal-killer.



  10. Daniel on December 7, 2005 at 8:21 am

    My main concern is noise. In some of the audio I’ve heard there is an audible hiss. Is this a machine you would recommend for recording interviews for podcasts?



  11. Scott on December 22, 2005 at 10:08 am

    Thanks for a great review. We’re looking at getting one of these for recording medical lectures – previously using a digital recorder that doesn’t record to a usable format (some weird proprietary format). Thanks for the good info!



  12. Doug M on January 5, 2006 at 11:19 pm

    You say you’ve “gone through” an Edirol R1. ?? Can you please elaborate? There’s no doubt the MT has better specs, and maybe better sound, but the battery is its fatal flaw. Too bad. The designer at M-Audio who thot that up is braindead, and probably history.

    Would like to know why you passed on the R1.



  13. Michael on January 24, 2006 at 5:38 pm

    I too am looking for a similar device. I’m interested in not only doing voice recordings, but also environmental soundscape recordings. Do you think the sound quality would be good enough for that or would there be too much background noise?



  14. HowardM on December 27, 2006 at 5:25 am

    I’ve had my MicroTrack barely a year and today it won’t even record 10 minutes. To make matters worse, the battery is not user-replaceable.

    I first thought, “warranty is most likely a year.” Well, no. The battery is on a separate warranty of 90 days. I must ship the MicroTrack to California and pay $75 + shipping.



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