While Marantz was a no show at the AES convention, I did get a close look at a non-functional M-Audio Microtrack II.
I used a Microtrack for a little while at my old radio station. It was a decent little machine. The quarter-inch mic and line inputs seemed a bit sturdier than the 1/8th inch inputs on a minidisc recorder. The ability to record uncompressed WAV audio or MP3 was nice. And the sound quality was respectable for a $400 unit.
But there was no way to make track marks, the menu system was a bit clunky, and it took 15 seconds to boot up, making it less than ideal for grab and go recording. The Microtrack also had a non-removable internal rechargeable battery, meaning you had to get a makeshift external battery if you wanted to record for more than 4 hours at a time without stopping to recharge.
One of the strangest choices M-Audio made with the original Microtrack was the inclusion of a 30V phantom power supply. That means you could get certain powered microphones to work off of phantom power, while others would not. Some issues M-Audio was able to address through firmware upgrades. For example you couldn’t record in mono when the unit was first released, but a firmware upgrade eventually added support for mono recording.
The Microtrack II doesn’t address all of those issues, but it does appear to be a step in the right direction. Here are some of the updates:
- 48V phantom power
- Better battery life (but the battery is still non-removable)
- BWF file marking ability
- A new brightness control button on the side
- A shiny new $299 price tag (making this unit about $100 cheaper than the original Microtrack)
I’m not sure if that price is list or street, as the M-Audio rep didn’t seem to have a lot of details. but he said the Microtrack II should be available in November, and that the company would be phasing out the original Microtrack.
Update: It looks like that $299 is the street price. Minidisco has a preorder page up for the Microtrack II and it’s selling for $299.
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