M-Audio MicroTrack II
by Emily Scarlet Kramer
With professional quality and two-channels, M-Audio's Microtrack II mobile digital recorder has changed my life for the better. It's pocket-sized so I can take it anywhere and it's perfect for recording song structures and sketches, the occasional live show or an important interview. Sound quality is superior for a small on-the-go recorder and its simple and straightforward interface makes it easy to use. Cutting back on the oftentimes superfluous knobs in favor of a few straightforward buttons makes for a quick learning curve.
I'm most impressed with the MicroTrack's range. A tiny plug-in T-mic is able to pick up the most discrete library voice, but the ability to adjust levels allows me to record even the loudest dance music. Just make sure you aren't going into the red or you'll get some distortion on playback. A helpful tip (especially at loud shows) is to muff the mic a bit to cut back on overloads. That way you don't have to lower settings too much and you still pick up all the nuances and details of the music.
The gizmo records in both WAV and MP3 formats and getting files on your desktop is a cinch. The USB charges and transfer files. You can even rename files directly on it and use the recorder as a player during downtime. One drawback however is the short battery life, so get used to bringing the USB charger along for the ride.
Purchase the MicroTrack II for $300 from Musician's Friend.