NAMM: M-Audio Microtrack: The pro recording iPod

I've been put off posting about the M-Audio Microtrack portable recorder because it's covered in that horrible silver plastic and all you can see in every pic is a bunch of phono plugs. But now it's official, and I guess it's pretty cool. Seems to be about the size of an slightly pudgy iPod, with phantom power, 24/96 recording and a lithium battery that lasts 8 hours (3 with phantom power), all for $499. I still don't understand why it can't look more like this... (via Harmony Central, or previously and more entertainingly, Create Digital Music)

Ah, but how many minutes can it record with the 32Mb Compact Flash at 24/96? Aye, there's the rub.
I think the Edirol R1 looks much more appealing.

Check it out and make your own mind up.

Apparently snapped up by the BBC for all of its reporters.
Saw this a NAMM last week. Pretty much the size of a chunky iPod. I want one to do mobile podcasts now! Too bad they are so pricey. I too have heard good thinga about the Edirol R1 and Sony was showing off the Hi-MD recorders as well. HiQ mobile audio is getting better!
In America, the story has always been that the biggies (Sony, Panasonic, etc..) could not put out a consumer recorder that could record full bit because it could lead to widespread copyright infringement (haha computers) and that's why DAT recorders were so expensive. When CDR Audio format came out the blank discs were like $2 each because the "lost" artist royalties were built into the cost of the media.

So is that why it costs $499? (when it should prolly cost $250)

Yeah the Edirol looks much less goofy, i.e. less like a damn Alpine/Clarion/JVC car stereo lightshow/biomorphic/plastic blob/ little buttons kind of thing.
$400 + as little as < $100 for 2 GB of memory = out of price range at the *moment*, but certainly tantalizing. Digital ins and real mic pres, and this is a serious box. Now what does it sound like? Can it hold up to the Marantz and Edirol?

for my take.

pffft- if you want a recorder with a built in mic, buy a dictophone

this looks nice
I have a Samsung YH-925GS mp3 player which has a built in mic and line in jacks. It will record directly to mp3 and has an internal 20GB hard drive. There is also the older YH-920 model with similar features. The recording features on these players are more for voice recording than professional audio but they are cheaper than $499.
> if you want a recorder with a
> built in mic, buy a dictophone

My application is acoustic music,
and it so happens that cheap,
built-in mics are perfectly
capable of delivering optimal
performance for that application.

Really, what kind of mics are so
good that they employ TRS

>I think the Edirol R1 looks much
>more appealing.
>Check it out and make your own
>mind up.

I own an R-1, and as I explain on
my blog it leaves a lot to be
desired. It can produce wonderful
results, but the levels and
monitoring controls are bogus, the
USB implementation is bogus, and
the effects are (not that you'd use
them anyway) bogus.

The fact that you can record in high resolution, with pro mics, onto a tiny box and then transfer the files free of stupid software onto the computer is pretty fantastic. So long as the mic pres are good this looks like a winner to me. Biggest problem is the cost of CF media.

As for the R1, it lacks balanced mic inputs and phantom power, is bigger, has shorter battery life, etc. Plus it's got a brain-dead input stage. Just have to hope the Microtrack is better in that regard.

For a more extensive take see the theatre of noise.
Caveat emptor.

Anyone considering using this with "professional" (cough) phantom-powered mics should do their homework; there's been a minor furor over the fact that it does not provide true 48V phantom power as shipped -- only about 30V apparently.

M-Audio says "we plugged in a bunch of mics and they worked" but the professional community finds this an inadequate response; many mics are in terra incognita at 30V as their manufacturers don't quality their performance at non-standard voltages (12V vs 48V being the industry standards).

At issue is that while a mic may seem to *work* (ie produce sound) it may be operating at considerably under par in terms of signal/noise and sensitivity, and might be on the hairy edge of failing (humidity and temperature being factors).

Also still numerous bugs being worked out, it's clearly a late beta product at this stage. Eg still no monitoring off digital inputs.
R-1 owners I have talked to suggest that the recordongs are kind of noisy.
Ahem, recorDINGS.
I've owned the Edirol R1 and the ifp899...and used the PMD660 at length. For size, quality, and sheer empowerment for field recording, this is my keeper device.

Thought the new video iPod has *finally* removed the artifically crappy 8khz recording cap (now 22khz mono or 44.1khz stereo) it still is missing an external cable or all the microphone inputs the M-Audio sports.

Did a 'review' available on my blog:
I see many comments on the Edirol R1 here. I tested the R1 for my organization and found it falling below basic standards in a number of areas, including quality of construction (the job wheel on mine popped off within minutes of starting to use it), battery life (very bad) and software configurations.
I have been looking for this type of product for a long time. Some MP3 players gave similar mobile recording functions, but this is the first one I could find (that's reasonably priced) that could do the same.

I'm generally on the back-end of the technology curve, as I've been bitten too many times by the "next big thing".

I bought one of these for work and am VERY happy with it. Some of other peoples' complaints include the inability to record-pause from the start... so your recordings always have junk at the beginning. Others complain that you can't replace the battery. Frankly, the main purpose I have for this is to get clean raw audio that I can chop up in the studio. Unless you need a perfect edit on the go, this little unit is freaking sweet. The included stereo mic is very sexy as well. It really is incredible.

I DID find that the TRS 1/4 connectors seem quite noisy. It might be my new Sennheiser E835 mic, but I doubt it. Luckily, the 1/8 works fine for my purposes.

Sure, it only comes with a tiny little card. Your last digital camera probably was the same scenario. I bought a 1g card for under $100 and have everything I need.

Portable uncompressed .wav recorder with incredible sound? WELL WORTH the $400.
Just finished taping a show using core sound binaurals. I attached sound professionals pre-amp. The result was dissappointing. The mics worked fine as did the preamp. The culprit is the microtrack. It is noisy! My music has an awful hiss. My old Sony DAT was completely silent. Still searching for that perfect field recorder...
Bot my microtrack at for
$400 and they threw in a half GB CF. Now I get 2 hrs topclass MP3 or a lot less WAV/cdda/aiff.
TROUBLE: Battery drains itself from a full charge in two days. I lost a gig due to no power.
I purchased one of these as a replacement for my minidisc recorder, and was obviously excited by the prospect of 24/96 uncompressed wav possibilities. I was, however, very dissapointed when using it with my Sony ECM-197 stereo mic. I realise this isn't a pro mic, but it sounds pretty damn good on my minidisc recorder, and sounded utterly crappy on the Microtrack. On the 1/8 inputs I had issues with stereo-image (no centre?!), and overall found the preamps to be extremely hissy to the extent that rendered them useless.
If I owned a nice portable preamp I'm sure this device would be fantastic, but I seem to have been very unlucky :(
I bought one Microtrack to see if it would be a proper replacement for the Sony MiniDisc´s we currently use at the radiodepartement at School of Journalism, Stockholm University. This machine was a major disappointment.The hissy preamps makes this unit useless for professional radio. Compared to all my Sony MD machines it loses out on nearly all accounts. And when you import WAW-files or MP3-files into ProTools, the levels are all to low.
So, I am panicking - soon Sony will let go of their MD:s with their magnificent mic preamps and what should I replace them with? Is there anyone out there who could help me find some kind of not-so-expensive but good recording equipment? I really love those ultra silent Sony preamps. How do they do it? And soon they will disappear and leave me in turmoil.
Anders Gjöres Stockholm University JMK
I got the microtrack and field tested it in a dj environment, hooking it up to various dj mixers through the 1/4 analog inputs. First of all the levels coming in where all too hot resulting in distortion even though i had the microtrack's rec. levels on zero and the switch set to low. 2nd I also got a lot of hiss. Third don't even try recording on a hitachi microdrive, it's too slow resulting in skips in the recording. Fifth it stopped recording after about an hour for no reason at all. I also read somewhere that with analog in it isn't a true 24 bit recorder.

I think I've said enough.

Microtrack (M-audio) & R-09 (Edirol) is about the same price, who can recomment which one is better to buy?R-09 looks good, but the audio quality seems can not compare with Microtrack.
I own one and find it very handy indeed. easy to use and holds enough charge for capturing gigs and playing them back. I like the built in mic but stuff a coupld of rode nt5's into it and it is in another league altogether.
Thumbs ups
I have one of these and have problems with compact flash cards. Admittedly I bought a cheap one (Kingston media 2GB). It recorded to it fine, but it can't read it today. Anyone else have this problem? Any flash cards that you would recommend?
Used all three: Microtrack, Edirol R09 and Zoom H4, I've been dissapointed by all of them. In terms of noise, the R09 had the most hiss, the Zoom H4 had some 'tone' noise when running on batteries. The Microtrack has a bit of hiss noise but was slightly better than the others. I heard the Microtrack is now discontinued. I hope all these three vendors will be coming out with their next generation devices soon...
anonymous wrote "Used all three: Microtrack, Edirol R09 and Zoom H4, I've been dissapointed by all of them"

I have all three and agree with this opinion, in general. However I have found the that H4 with an external battery pack is my first choice. The internal mics offer best imaging to my ears and the external power supply seems to get around the battery cicuitry that introduces the low-level noise. Not perfect, but notable better than the other two!
This iPod size is more inspiring than previous...I hope quality is good too ?
This comment has been removed by the author.
I like digital gadgets a lot. That model was really cool that time, but now there are so many same gadgets. Of course, they are not so high-value…
I recently received a M-Audio Microtrack as a gift from my daughters. I understand the purchase price was $299! Wow! I hate to think what I paid for an Ampex 350 back in the 60s! Have we ever come a long way, or what? I'm very happy with the device as it is doing what I expect a CF field recorder to do: cheaply and accurately. If there's any hiss with the preamp stage, I don't hear it, but I'm down quite a bit at 15khz these days any way. I recorded the huge thunderstorms that recently rumbled through these parts and wished there was a built in limiter! Overall, I'd rate it a "9" out of "10".
Mine just died after 15 months. Boots up, freezes. Boots up, freezes etc.

I loved it - but having it freeze at 8am when you've got a whole day recording ahead of you and no option but to wait UNTIL THE BATTERY RUNS OUT 4 or 5 HOURS LATER for it to reset? That renders it unusable.

Now I'm about to find out how good / bad m-Audio customer service is.
Seriously, if you ever decide to spend on protools or Microtrack for a budget of 500 bucks, I'd say get a more stable one. I got my m-audio repaired twice. The moment i picked it up they gave me the microtrack 2 for free, meaning they can't fix the bugs and the digital instability of the microtrack. I would recommend the Zoom portable if ever you wish to invest on something portable. They do lend it out in our school. I find it as un-user friendly as the microtrack but for the long run, it is more convenient and reliable
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