Yamaha POCKETRAK 2G

Yamaha’s entry into the handheld recorder market nets the most compact recorder we have ever tested.
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(click thumbnail)Actual Size!With the introduction of Yamaha’s tiny POCKETRAK 2G linear PCM/MP3 recorder-player, the trend toward good quality, small-sized recorder/players has taken a giant step. The 4 inches tall by 1.5-inch wide marvel, complete with stereo microphone, built-in speaker and internal flash drive, shows how small a decent recorder can be produced

Though not a purely pro product, the POCKETRAK 2G has plenty of uses for even the most seasoned professionals, including recording rehearsals, practice sessions, etc. Retail-price (MSRP) is $399 ($299) in the stores).

Features

The POCKETRAK features a 2GB internal Flash memory drive, a built-in stereo microphone, a user replaceable, rechargeable AAA-sized high capacity battery, and it is not much bigger than a plug-in USB drive. Accessories include a vinyl carrying case (which doubles a mic stand adapter), USB cable, Cubase AI editing software, and a paper booklet manual.


(click thumbnail)A Pocketful Of PortablesDespite its small size, Yamaha has packed quite a few functions into the POCKETRAK. The front panel includes a 3/4-inch wide orange display screen, and record/pause and stop/menu-enable buttons.

There is also a front panel speaker to check your audio immediately after recording. The power and playback speed control (Slow, Normal and Fast) switches are located on the back panel. A back-panel slide switch opens and retracts the USB 2.0 connector. Headphone and external input jacks are located on the left side, as are play/function-engage, track, volume and folder buttons.

The small stereo electret microphone is affixed to the top of the POCKETRAK and swivels 90 degrees. Amazingly, this micro recorder runs on a single high-capacity 1.2 volt rechargeable AAA-sized battery (or a standard 1.5 volt AAA). In MP3 mode, the POCKETRAK can record in excess of 15 hours. In PCM mode, with a combination of recording and playback use I got about 2.5 hours.

Fast FactsApplications
Broadcast, Location, Music Rehearsals.

Key Features
2GB, internal Flash storage, 16-bit/44.kHz or MP3 recording, built-in stereo microphone, built-in speaker, carrying case/mic stand adaptor.

Price
$399

Contact
Yamaha | 714-522-9011 | www.yamaha.comThe menu functions are contained in three folders: Voice, Music and Common. The Voice mode features, settings for track divide, record mode (PCM 16-bit, 44.1kHz and three MP3 rates from 16 kbps to 128 kbps), auto level control, stereo-wide for enhanced stereo image, and record-select for enabling either microphone or line input. The Music folder contains bass and EQ setting as well as playback repeat settings. The Common menu contains system settings such as battery type (recharging), drive format and screen contrast.

The folder button allows the user to select where the audio will be stored. Folders A-D hold the mic recorded sources, the L folder is for line input sources. The M folder holds MP3 files transferred from computer. Transferred PCM recordings from a computer to the POCKETRAK 2G are automatically converted to MP3.

Since the The POCKETRAK is a drive, all the folders and contents show up on a computer and can be easily transferred.

In Use

I had waited with anticipation to try out the POCKETRAK 2G. Could Yamaha make such a small recorder and still maintain good sonic quality? My first test was to record some high-quality CD tracks line level through the combo line/external mic 1/8th-inch jack at 44.1 kHz PCM. I would then transfer the tracks to the to Mac for playback through a high-end Benchmark converter. I wanted to hear how good an A/D could Yamaha squeeze into this package.

However, I ran into a bit of a stumbling block when I tried to record analog line input at 44.1 kHz. Guess what? The POCKETRAK will not record 44.1 kHz PCM when you select the line input option. It only records the audio in MP3. It was designed that way, a Yamaha product spokesman later confirmed.
Product PointsPlus

  • Extremely Compact
  • Good 16-bit converters
  • Good stereo mic
  • Low power requirement

Minus

  • No PCM line recording
  • Flimsy USB connector cover

Score
Small size, good fidelity and ease of use make recording a snap with the PocketTrak.
Not to be defeated, I selected the external mic input setting with the CD player’s output connected to the POCKETRAK’s external 1/8th-inch stereo jack input, and it worked as long as the signal was not too hot.

The analog input recording of Willie Nelson’s “Red Headed Stranger,” reamastered on CD a few years ago, sounded quite good through the Benchmark DAC. Using Grado SR-325 headphones plugged into the POCKETRAK 2G, the CD recordings sounded very good as well, clean well defined and smooth transients for 16-bit.

Next, I used the built-in mics on my Martin 00-28 finger-style guitar. The recordings sounded nice through the internal DAC, but even better through the Benchmark DAC-1.

The microphone does an admirable job capturing width in the image with a smooth midrange and tight bass. It expectedly lacked the presence of decent external condenser mics, and also when compared to the built-ins on a few of the other inexpensive handhelds, but it is a pretty darn good recording package for $299.

I tried several other guitars including a Gibson L5 hollow-body and Telecaster through a Fender Princeton Reverb amp. All the cuts held up nicely on compilation CD I burned in order to audition across a variety of playback systems.

In terms of ergonomics,, the Yamaha PocketTrack is the perfect-sized recorder for musicians who want to record their rehearsals, impromptu gigs, song ideas and the like. While most competing recorders are fairly compact, this ultra-small recorder is just right for carrying in your pocket – ready for action at a moment’s notice.

Other than the line-input limitation, I had no other problems with the POCKETRAK 2G; it connected to the computer just like any other USB Flash drive, never glitched or locked up, and the included Cubase software was fine for typical editing functions.

For $399 list, I do think the POCKETRAK should have a 24-bit recording mode for those who want to record high res. For such a small size, the plastic-construction and button integrity felt generally robust, though the snap-on, plastic dust cover for the USB port seems flimsy.

Summary

All in all, the POCKETRAK 2G shows that a quality audio recorder/player can be stuffed into an ultra-small package. For quick, point-and-push recording, the ultra-compact POCKETRAK sets a new standard.