Yamaha Pocketrak 2G review: Yamaha Pocketrak 2G

The onboard professional recording features of the Pocketrak 2G may be lacking, but the bundled Cubase AI recording software is undeniably high quality. You'll have to jump through a few online registration hoops to authorize the Mac and PC-compatible Cubase AI, but the results are well worth it for anyone ready to graduate from working in GarageBand or Audacity. The Cubase AI software allows for recording, mixing, and arranging both audio and MIDI tracks, and includes a suite of effects.

Other features of the Pocketrak 2G include: a 3.5mm microphone input that doubles as a stereo line input; a 3.5mm headphone jack; a built-in speaker; fast and slow playback modes; voice-activated recording; MP3 and WMA music playback; passkey protected recording folders; and an alarm mode that allows you to set a recording timer.

Any old AAA alkaline battery will power the Pocketrak 2G, however, Yamaha throws in an Eneloop brand Ni-MH rechargeable AAA battery, which recharges whenever the device is connected over USB. Because the Pocketrak 2G doesn't include an option for an external power adapter, your total recording time is limited by battery life.

The Edirol R-09 (right) was once the smallest high-quality portable audio recorder on the block, but the Yamaha Pocketrak 2G is one-third the thickness of the R-09, and half as wide.

Judged on its highest quality setting (uncompressed WAV, 16-bit, 44.1kHz), with its automatic gain control option switched off, the Yamaha Pocketrak 2G's sound quality is remarkably clean and lifelike. Listening back to a recording we made of a piano in a quiet room, we could hear subtle details such as the piano's sustain pedal being pressed and the creak of the wooden piano stool. Outdoors, we feared the Pocketrak 2G's lack of a windscreen or low-cut filter would riddle our recordings with low-frequency distortion caused by the microphone jostling as we walked or hitting a gust of wind. Surprisingly, the Pocketrak 2G picked up much less wind and handling noise than the Edirol R-09 and Zoom H2.

Because of the narrow spacing of its microphones, the stereo separation of the Yamaha Pocketrak 2G's recordings are a far cry from the sonic realism of the Sony PCM-D50 or Edirol R-09, however, a stereo widening option can be used for slightly better results. Compared with the high-quality WAV format recording mode, some audible compression artifacts are introduced when recording to the Pocketrak 2G's XHQ 128kBps MP3 recording mode. Recordings made in the Pocketrak 2G's HQ, SP, and LP recording modes are too poor to be musically useful.

When using the supplied rechargeable battery, Yamaha rates the Pocketrak 2G at 19 hours of MP3 recording, and 8.5 hours of WAV recording. Using an alkaline battery improves the Pocketrak 2G's performance slightly with 25 hours of MP3 recording and 9 hours of WAV.

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