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Home recording is one of those tricky things that is so difficult to get spot on. I have heard many people (with the same equipement) produce great recordings, or recordings that sound like they were recorded using a phone mic. M-Audio already produces a huge array of products from mics to mixing boards and are pretty well established with regards to reputation and product range.
I encountered some issues with installing drivers when I got my M-Audio fast track pro, and went straight to the customer support site. On the site I found endless help from professionals and the general community. That's one thing I love about the music community, many people have worked out things for themselves and are eager to go online and help others out. It really boosts the community.
Well that's the community support we can check off the list, the next and most important aspect of this piece of kit is of course, the tone. Basically what this little piece of kit is, is a soundcard in a case that can be plugged into your computer via USB. This makes it great if you're a musician "on the go" and enjoy the handiness of simply plugging in your recording device and being ready to go in seconds. The box has a really nice Direct Monitor button which allows even faster processing of what is being recorded, minimising latency and delay.
For those who don't know what latency is, when you record something into your computer sometimes it does not record exactly where you pressed the record button, but may be 0.1 of a second ahead of itself. trust me this gets annoying when you have abuot 5 layers of guitars, bass and drums on one track!
The array of inputs on this little box is mindblowing. It's amazing to see how technology has come along over the previous years considering you used to pay around £1000 for a desk with the ability to plug a couple of mics into and do a little mixing. You are able to plug standard jack cables as well as XLR Mic cables which ticks all the boxes for recording inputs. Let's face it, it's nor really often you're going to be using anything but those inputs.
The Fast Track Pro came with a copy of Pro Tools which allows you to jump right into the game of recording as soon as you get the gear. I didn't choose to use this, I have become so accustomed to Cubase 4 that anything else it just confusing to me. I did take a little look around this software however, it seems to be easy enough to use (much easier than Cubase was at the begining for me) however did lag my computer quite a bit. However, just because this comes with Pro Tools, does not mean you have to use it with Pro Tools. The Fast Track will become a recognised input into your computer allowing it to be used for Skype, msn, audacity you name it! It's basically a handy way of plugging a jack cable into your computer.
I must say, I do not miss the £120 I parted with to pay for this, it was worth it!
Being an aspiring musician and also being interested in the technical and recording side of the music industry, I have recently purchased some home studio recording equipment so that I can record my own tracks at home.
M-audio are a well respected manufacturer in the home recording market, and I decided to choose them for my USB audio interface as the DAW (Digital audio workstation) software that I am currently using is affiliated with M-audio products. I'm glad I decided to choose an M-audio product as all of my products by this company have worked exceptionally well been very reliable.
The Fast track pro is, quite simply, an easy way to connect instruments and other devices to your computer via a single USB connection, in order to record and playback for editing.
The Fast track pro provides two separate Mic/Inst inputs, with either a jack or XLR input, which is useful as microphone cables tend to use XLR connections whilst musical instrument cables use Jack connectors. Each channel has a gain and a pad feature, enabling you to easily switch from microphones to guitars, to bass guitars. All technical specifications can be found on the product description, so I wont bore you with them now.
Two separate stereo phono outputs make the fast track pro really easy to connect to monitors for listening back to your recorded tracks. There is also a headphone output with a separate volume control, which is perfect for listening to tracks when using live microphones. There are 2 Jack inserts which can be used for adding in effects and such. 48V phantom power is also available, turned on and off by a switch on the back, to provide power to condenser microphones or DI boxes via balanced microphone cables.
In addition to the audio features, the Fast Track Pro also provides MIDI in and out connections. This is very useful as I like to create electronic music, using MIDI sequencers and this allows me to connect MIDI devices very easily to my computer without extra interfaces.
The whole device can be powered via the USB cable, however if your computer is low on USB bus power, then it can be powered by a 9V DC adaptor. I don't use an extra adaptor and it works perfectly with my set-up. I love how I only need the one USB cable to connect everything up and power it.
I suppose by now the main question on peoples' lips are "does it sound good?" I guess the simple answer to that is yes.
For the price, around £150, the sound quality is brilliant. Obviously, higher quality gear is available, but only if you pay the price. For home recording and probably small studios this product is perfect.
The one downfall I have to point out is that there are only two inputs on this interface. Personally, I don't see this as a downfall, if more inputs are required, for say a drum kit, a mixer could be used to mix the kit and then take the outputs on the desk into the interface. Obviously this means buying a mixing desk as well, but most musicians will either own or have access to one anyway for live work.
As far as reliability is concerned, I would have to mark this 10/10 as I have never had any problems with it after owning it for almost a year. The construction isn't very rugged, but it is not meant to be taken on tour and so is perfectly adequate for leaving in the studio.
Installation is really simple, the interface comes with a disk full of M-audio drivers, and if the correct driver isn't on the disk, they can be found on the M-audio website. Once the driver is installed, simply plug in and select the device on your software and everything work perfectly. There is hardly any latency on my set-up and if there is, then it can be altered simply in the properties menu.
I would definitely recommend this product to anyone who wishes to start recording their own music at home.
This review is also posted on Ciao under the same username.
This item is a mobile studio recording unit that can be used with a PC or a Mac via a USB connection, it can record in either 16bit format or the higher 24 bit quality although the difference between the 16bit an 24 bit quality is not huge difference, but a difference all the same.It comes packaged with Ableton Live Lite not the greatest recording software on the market but it does the job, Pro tools or software from cakewalk would be a better option.The sound quality is varied guitars sound fine vocals or voice overs not so great but the unit is light and portable and sturdy and has a nice interface with plenty of connection options and is a good way of starting out in the world of home recording studio as the unit is reasonably priced
This interface is a must for anyone just getting into the hobby of home recording. Its extremely easy to setup as it is connected to your PC and powered through the USB port, and its features are great for a budget studio. Phantom power and its double use as a MIDI interface are a couple that stand out immediately. The sound quality in the outputs is great and by far a huge improvement to the stock soundcard included in my PC. The interface provides 2 mic/instrument inputs, as well as a S/PDIF input for digital, 4 RCA outputs, a headphone out, and two TRS outs. It also has 2 Outboard effect inserts which can be useful to those using hardware effects. The two inputs is somewhat small for the typical home studio setup up and I need more myself, but is enough for anyone just starting out. Recording quality is good, with pre-amps built into the two front mic inputs, however the pre-amps aren't of the greatest quality. Negligible if you are a beginner. The ability to record at the improved sample rate as well as play back at improved quality is more than enough for me to recommend this to anyone looking to make their first interface purchase.