Yamaha Pocketrak 2G Solid-State RecorderSome recording devices seem built upon the idea of being a small microphone, and the storage part of it comes second.  The reverse is true of Yamaha’s Pocketrak 2G Solid-State Recorder.  Yamaha basically took a two gigabyte device and added recording functions to it.  That’s not to say that they skimped on the recording end of the deal, just that you’ll find a good amount of stable, easy to use storage space here.

The Pocketrak 2G doesn’t have removable media.  Instead, it’s like a small flash drive.  Simply connect the extendable USB 2 connector to your computer and copy over the MP3 or Wav files.  This means that in addition to being a recording device, you can save any files you want on it, allowing it to serve as a flash drive or even as an audio player.  The small backlit LCD screen makes it easy to play these audio files, although the small size may be difficult for some to read, especially the smaller text.  The menus are easy to navigate, though, and the controls are large enough to press easily.  You have several different quality options, so you can either record a few hours’ worth of high quality audio or lower the settings and record a lot more.

As far as recording goes, you’ll find that the 2G has automatic gain control that quickly adjusted to different volume levels.  The built-in mic is better than you might expect, and there’s little interference or noise.  Of course, plugging it into a board or external mic obviously gives you a better quality recording.  The display, however, is sometimes less than helpful, and you may find it difficult to change settings on the fly or even read some of what is displayed.

The Pocketrak 2G is certainly a good storage device and recording, but it could use a few adjustments.  The display needs to be a little larger and show more helpful information in some settings.  The battery life, however, is very good, and the price of $450 isn’t bad for what you get. Read more

Sterling Audio ST69 Condenser Microphone If you're looking for a versatile and mid-priced condenser then the Sterling Audio ST69 may be the perfect option for you.  First off, the mic is all around a good looker, with a brushed stainless steel finish and sleek body design. Under the hood the mic is powered by a mini GT6205 Groove Tubes tube which has been wired to operate as a triode rather than pentode. In addition the ST69 features top of line Wima capacitors.

When used to record vocals the Sterling Audio ST69 Condenser Microphone performs fairly well, filtering out background breathing noises when set back at least six inches away from the vocalist.  However, if you want to use the microphone for a more intimate recording setting then, like most microphones, you will want to ensure you implement a pop shield. Listening back to the track, the Sterling Audio ST69 captured a full and rich vocal performance. Read more

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