M-Audio MicroTrack II Review
2011 UPDATE: The Microtrack II has been discontinued.
Of our customers who purchased a MicroTrack II in 2008, approximately half wrote us to complain that their units stopped working after only 6-9 months of use.
Based on our conversations with M-Audio Support, the problems appeared to be related to battery fatigue. Notwithstanding our customers' experiences, we were advised by M-Audio that there was no widespread issue with the MTII. Wingfield Audio has not had powering problems with its MTII demo unit, but the LED burned out after less than a year of use.
Except for the classy darker color, the M-Audio MicroTrack II looks identical to its predecessor. Same layout. Same controls.
When we first picked it up, we noticed that the MicroTrack II is a little heavier (5.5 ounces versus 5.3 ounces) and its sides are covered with a rubberized material, improving grip and handling. Very considerate.
The "hand feel" of the MicroTrack II is very good.
In the Box
The MicroTrack II comes with the following items in the box:
- USB cable
- stereo 'T' microphone
- 48V phantom power
- 1/8" female to male extension cable with lapel clip
- protective bag
- USB switching adapter/power supply
- Quick Start Guide
- CD-ROM containing the USer Guide, test tones, and Audacity editing software
The most notable omission from this list is a compact flash card.
Most other companies offer a token 128-512 mb-sized flash card to get you started. Seems like M-Audio could have done the same.
Ease of Use
The MicroTrack II is easier to use than version I.
The volume meters make level-setting much easier than it was with the little red and green lights.
The formerly twitchy Nav Button is now fairly stable.
The REC button can be programmed as a "REC PAUSE" button to avoid creating dozens of files while setting levels.
The first firmware update was posted on 28 Dec 2007.
M-Audio's new, "more professional" features and enhancements in the MicroTrack II include:
- extended input gain range
- analog input limiter with bypass
- 48V phantom power
- faster data transfer rate via USB 2.0
- easily add markers to BWF files
- monitor S/PDIF input via headphones while recording
- seamless recording of files greater than 2GB
- customizable folders for organizing files
- built-in CompactFlash speed test
- backlight dimmer
- hibernation mode
These are all indeed handy improvements. Unfortunately, two notorious irritations from the MicroTrack I have been continued in the MicroTrack II:
- no real way to mount the unit on a mic stand or tripod (m-audio staff jokingly suggest duct tape) and
- a battery that can't be replaced by the consumer
Battery LifeThe MicroTrack II battery does appear to be more efficient than the one in the MTI. It lasted more than 4 hours during our battery life test.
The MTII Quick Start Guide contains an ominous warning that "failure to fully charge the MicroTrack II battery before first use can limit the capacity of the battery, lowering the total time of MicroTrack II." We charged ours overnight and haven't had a problem.
Storage and Connectivity The MicroTrack II accepts compact flash cards up to 8GB in size.
It has one of the most diverse arrays of inputs and outputs available in a handheld recorder.
- mic/line stereo 1/4" TRS
- 1/8" stereo mic
- RCA (L - line - R outs)
- 1/8" stereo headphone
The USB 2.0 connection is very speedy
Sound QualityWe can't figure out how M-Audio managed to get such good sound from the cheap little stereo 'T' mic that comes with the MTII, but they did.
The MicroTrack II sounds very good with the little 'T' mic. The high-caliber sound quality is why so many people put up with its irritations. On the other hand, we had trouble getting clean sound with an external condenser mic plugged into the 1/4" TRS mic inputs.
Is the MicroTrack II better than the 24/96? Maybe. To our ears, the MicroTrack II conveys a bit more spaciousness in its aural sound stage than its predecessor, but it is also a bit noisier.
Conclusion The MicroTrack II sounds very good with its little 'T' mic. It is the smallest-sized portable recorder available that offers 48V phantom power.