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Old September 23rd, 2005, 07:09 PM   #1
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Early MicroTrack 24/96 Reviews...

Seems like some folks don't know that the MT is already out, so I posted this at the end of a different thread on another topic, but now that I think of it, it seems worthy of it's own thread. So...

The MT is in fact shipping (in limited quantities), and they are NOT pre-release models, they are the actual production units. That is why all of the bugs and early testing and reviews are slowly starting to get out. The taper community is all over this thing like flys to... Well, you know what I mean. Anyway, M-Audio has shipped a limited quantity, with more on the way soon (supposedly), so it's more a function of who you ordered with, what their priority is with MA, and then where you stand on your seller's waiting list. That said, if you want to read more about real-world, actual hands-on experience with the MT, you should go to this thread (but you might want to work your ways backwards rather than starting at the beginning because all of the juicy stuff is closer to the end):

http://taperssection.com/index.php?topic=50364.0

That site requires registration to prevent spam, but it is worthy of checking out if not just for the wealth of "audience taper" knowledge it has to offer. Also, Oade Brothers has a very, very good rep in the taper community, and if you go to their message board, you'll see a whole bunch more conversation about the MT, including remarks from the Oade Brothers themselves about the first impressions of the MT.

My own personal assessment of the news to date on the MT, is that it still holds some real potential, but it's got some serious issues (random hangs, 30v phantom max, and no S/PDIF at 24/96, which is amazing considering that's in the freakin' NAME of the product, and it's batteries aren't living up even close to the stated specs, and oh yeah, if you can believe this one, the Line/Mic switch is REVERSED, LOL!). So, it basically already needs a firmware update, which supposedely is coming out within "weeks." So, it definately has potential, but right now it doesn't even seem close to being a pro-audio piece of gear.

Last edited by Bill Binder; September 23rd, 2005 at 07:47 PM.
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Old September 23rd, 2005, 07:43 PM   #2
 
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Bill,
thanks for the link to the tapersection stuff. I had never heard of that site before.

Interesting about the MicroTrack. M-Audio is giving one story, and you're giving another, but it's pretty clear there are units out there even though M-Audio is saying they aren't. Maybe they've opened a specific channel or something, but it's all good info. Thx.
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Old September 23rd, 2005, 11:18 PM   #3
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I have been reading that forum too Bill, but the one thing I think makes the most sense (and some of the tapers have mentioned this too), is that this unit should really be reviewed in depth once M-Audio updates the firmware because it is so buggy right now. I just cannot imagine that M-Audio is going to leave the firmware in such a buggy state. If they put out an update within the next month, then it's only going to make sense to review it then in order to see how the device stacks up in the long-term. I know you are planning to do a review DSE, so I hope that M-Audio gives you something better than their current firmware.

Having said that, it seems really unlikely that firmware is going to solve the battery problem, but maybe they can do something about the 30v preamp (though that seems unlikely too). Someone on that tapers forum mentioned that they tested or were asked for advice on the preproduction unit by an M-Audio engineer, and he recommended: 1) user replaceable batteries (which would seeminlgy lower the cost) 2) XLR jacks (or mini-XLR) instead of 1/4" TRS and 3) a built-in limiter. If they had engineered the unit that way and resolved the firmware and phantom power, this thing would have been a very hot seller for M-Audio.
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Old September 23rd, 2005, 11:48 PM   #4
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I agree with pretty much everything you said. There is no doubt the need for an update to the firmware is big, but you never know with this stuff -- could be next week, or months from now. So until we see it, those reviews are very relavent for anyone considering blowing $400 plus media on the MT. I want that thing to work as bad as the next guy, but I'm going to wait for this "firmware" first thanks to the reviews. And trust me, those guys will test the hell out of it within the next week -- with each additional "taper" who has one, they'll QA that thing to death real quick like, which is good for everyone, including MA themselves.

My guess is they'll fix the M/L/H switch, some of the locking up problems, and hopefully the 24/96 digital inputs, and improve battery life slightly. I think the phantom issue might be more serious, but hey, a lot of people will run external phantom from their pres or whatever anyway, and it is putting out 30v, so a lot of phantom powered mics will be OK anyway. So, I'm will you, like I said in my original post, there is still A LOT of potential here, but it depends a lot on this "firmware update." I'm still real hopeful on that front, but for now, it is what it is. They released it a bit too early maybe, and now they're going to have to deal with the results until they fix it.

And BTW, that guy who was asked about testing in pre-prod you reference (post from TS forums) I believe may be the owner (or is affiliated is some way with) of Sound Professionals.
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Old September 24th, 2005, 02:13 AM   #5
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The thing doesn't have any limiter at all, huh?
That's not too good.
And the company is advertising it as putting out
48V but it's only putting out 30V?
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Old September 24th, 2005, 10:12 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shawn Redford
Someone on that tapers forum mentioned that they tested or were asked for advice on the preproduction unit by an M-Audio engineer, and he recommended: 1) user replaceable batteries (which would seeminlgy lower the cost) 2) XLR jacks (or mini-XLR) instead of 1/4" TRS and 3) a built-in limiter. If they had engineered the unit that way and resolved the firmware and phantom power, this thing would have been a very hot seller for M-Audio.
Ha! That was the Sound Pro store responding to my post where I said it would have been a good product if only they'd added those features!

The preamble to that was Sound Pro agreeing with me that those were priority features that it was STUPID to leave out.

With the unit as it's performing now I think you'd have a hard time deciding between the Edirol R-1 and the MicroTrack... or at least some of you will have a hard time making that choice... for me it was easy. I cancelled my MicroTrack order and I'm probably gonna' go R-1.

I'm "MattinSTL" over there, just like I am on almost every other board.

DSE... you have a poorly informed connection there at M-Audio... there is NO doubt that people on taperssection had their units 'cause I actually SAID I wouldn't believe it without pictures and everybody put up pictures! That was a week previous from this PAST Thursday! (So 9 days ago)

Also as for taperssection... they have a system of evaluating a person's "worth" or "kharma" as they call it... where a person can give you a ticket, or take one away... but only once every 12 hours. So people have post counts AND they have ticket counts... which implies their worth to the forum. At first I thought this was the coolest thing EVER... but once you hang around for about a hundred posts or so you realize that it's either a way for somebody who disagrees with something you said to work your tickets down... or else a way for you to almost "campaign" for tickets... people are constantly telling people when they gave a ticket... and then they get one returned to them... and so on. I think it's an idea that's about 50% good... but when you either TELL people, "hey I just gave you a ticket!"... or else secretly work somebody's tickets down because they stepped on your toes... it's worthless.

That site has a mix of incredibly valuable and technical information on it...

BTW you can get a MicroTrack from my home state right now on ebay... from a seller with 100% positive feedback... and he says he's taking offers under $389... AND that he has 12 of them ready to ship.
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Old September 24th, 2005, 10:47 AM   #7
 
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Well, I wouldn't go so far as to call my connection "crappy" as he is the VP of marketing and sales. It's more likely that they're working out some issues and don't want to send me a unit for review/purchase until it's worked out. But it would have been better had I not been told "they're reallly not shipping just yet." Because it was inevitable that I'd learn of the issues at some near point...
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Old September 24th, 2005, 10:49 AM   #8
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I edited my post... sorry for the disrespectful choice of words.
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Old September 24th, 2005, 12:31 PM   #9
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One interesting thing that was just reported was pics on the MT's inards. Someone is reporting (not sure if it is true) that the ADC chip in the unit (now that we have pics of it) actually has a limiter. So, you never know, could be in the next firmware? Also, DSE, I was thinking your intuition above on the story you got is spot on. I actually thought that yesterday when I originally posted, but I decided not to say anything explicitly because I figured you'd make the connection on your own in about a minute after reading the posts at TapersSection (considering they've actually been shipping for about a week, and there's actually been a few reports of them being spotted in-store at Guitar Center). Finally, I've still got high hopes for that unit, and MA seems to be putting themselves out their explicity about an imminent firmware release, so it wouldn't surprise me if they've known all of this all along, were too far into the production run to really do anything about it, and it didn't make sense to delay manufacture since maybe they've had the fix all along -- I mean if they're saying in a couple of weeks, chances are they are already in a QA testing mode on the software at this point. But who knows? We'll just have to see...
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Old September 24th, 2005, 07:56 PM   #10
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The amount of unhappiness over this product sure makes it clear how badly people want a product like this.
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Old September 24th, 2005, 08:25 PM   #11
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yup.

after a couple of nearly disastrous outings with my pmd660, i got rid of it and was really hoping the MT would work out. the oade mods to the marantz looked interesting -- especially the advanced one where they rip pratically everything out of it -- but they only mod units they selll and i'm still not sure if the updated preamps sound that great based on some of things i read. the fostex fr2 seems to be the best, least-expensive option for a solid state recorder at this point, but at $1300 without the TC option, it still ain't cheap.
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Old September 24th, 2005, 09:57 PM   #12
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If you hear the samples posted on Oade's site you'll think it can't possibly be true... the difference in the ACM mod 660 and the stock 660 is HUGE. It's like you're hearing a transistor radio and then a good cd player.

Being skeptical as I am I didn't want to believe it... but after weeks of prying and calling I'm coming to the conclusion that they really do change 'em that much... because the logical argument is "how long do you think they'd stay in business if those samples weren't accurate?"

After seeing bit perfect graphs and all sorts of comparison recordings on taperssection... I gotta' believe that what seems too good to be true really isn't too good to be true.

The fact is that you're paying 50% more for a modded machine... but in the end it's a totally new machine anyway.

Can you tell which way I'm leaning right now?
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Old September 24th, 2005, 10:52 PM   #13
 
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Matt, definitely sounds hugely diff. I'd sure like to try one of their rigs too, because it's hard to accept that big a diff between mod and stock!
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Old September 24th, 2005, 10:58 PM   #14
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Sony FX1 and M-Audio MicroTrack

If there is a limiter inside that can be accessed through updated firmware, that would be fantastic. I think I would most appreciate that added feature over user replacable batteries or XLR replacing the 1/4 TRS jacks.

One thing I'd be interested in (especially in DSE's review) is if this unit might be combined with an FX1 or Z1u (and maybe even the newer HC1/A1u). FX1 owners would really seem to benefit a great deal since it would give them a lot of similar audio features as the Z1u but the real improvement is that you could record a WAV file rather than being forced to use the compressed audio of HDV. The MicroTrack also might have better pre-amps also in spite of the 30v phantom power. The MicroTrack seems like the only unit small enough that it could actually be mounted to the camera (somehow) and take the place of a BeachTek type adapter. Does this seem feasible and a reasonable benefit to anyone else?
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Old September 25th, 2005, 07:01 AM   #15
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DSE... I'd say it's safe to say that you and I think alike regarding the Oade ACM 660. When I tried to get some scientific answers about the mods... and also questioned the unscientific nature of "A" recordings rather then A/B recordings... my ticket count started to drop at taperssection. I could tell that my skeptical attitude wasn't appreciated regarding Oade.

The ONE thing that made me take a deep breath and accept that his mods could really be that impressive is that everyone at taperssection seems to have a high level of proficiency creating waveforms and running other tests which show SN and "bit perfect" recording... and then you have a bunch of people who hated a stock 660 and loved the modded one... so I figure they can't be fooling themselves into hearing improvements that aren't there.

The other thing is I told Doug Oade straight out that if I order an ACM 660 the FIRST thing I'm going to do is run a split recording of that versus a stock 670 which a good friend of mine owns... and he said "do it! there won't even be a comparison!"

So if I pony up $710 for a 660 modded and it blows the 670 away or doesn't really blow it away... the whole world will know... and I don't think I'm the first one that would want the world to know... and people who bought the modded 660 seem to ALSO want the world to know how happy they are... so...?

I guess I'm ready to stop being skeptical and order one.

I'll let you know what I find... and I'll post a split recording of the modded 660 and a stock 670.

EDIT: DSE... don't those recordings on Oade's site sound like he's right on top of the mic in the two modded clips and then about 3' from it on the stock clip? The thing I had a hard time believing is that that WASN'T what I was hearing... and I told Doug that, but he just laughed it off like... you just wait and see. Which made me feel good to hear! Also I listened a few more times with my 7506's CRANKED UP... and I could still hear room acoustics on the first two... plus I tried to concentrate on details such as saliva and clicking at the beginning and end of words... you know how if you really listen to that you can judge distance to the mic? Well I think he probably WAS about the same distance... which definitely makes me eager to do a showdown of the ACM 660 and stock 670.
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