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Focusrite Trackmaster Pro Condenser Microphones
Old 8th September 2006
Lives for gear

Thread Starter
Focusrite Trackmaster Pro

Does the pre on this thing have anything in common with the topshefl focusriite lines sonically? Not really concerned with the bells and whistles, just the pre.
Old 9th September 2006
Lives for gear

Here is a review I did on it that I posted on Studio-Central:

The Trackmaster Pro features a preamp section with 48v phantom power, lo Z, line, instrument and high pass switches. Both balanced and unbalanced sources can be plugged into the front of the unit, which is nice. Two unbalanced 1/4" outs are at the rear of the unit (-10db or +4db configuration).

The pre is followed by the EQ section and compressor. Though the knobs and switches all work, they don't feel like they are going to last, which I guess is comparable to most budget boxes today? For power, it uses a detachable chord that has the transformer sitting outside the unit with one line going to a 120 volt receptacle, and the other line going to a three-way male connector that is secured to the rear of the unit, by a srew-on-sleeve. Unfortunately, the sleeve doesn't mate properly with the threaded connector and wouldn't secure to the unit properly, so I have to send it back.

The first thing I noticed was that the peek level VU meter had been installed crooked, so it has an odd look about it. The three switch stages for the VU meter are: input, output, and gain reduction. There are no led overload meters on the Trackmaster Pro.

My first impression on using this unit is that it didn't have much gain to drive most mics and requires a 90% turn of the preamp knob to drive a signal in the -16 db range. This was using SDCs and dynamic mics. Using LDCs, however, the level was improved. But with the almost maxed out knob using SDCs and dynamic mics, it increased the noise exponentially. The signal level was greatly improved when activating the compressor and increasing the make-up-gain stage. The compressor section is switched based, having no incremental adjustment for ratio, attack or release, and didn't color the sources it was compressing. There is also squash switch that sounded downright harsh when used on percussion, almost like a blanket was thrown over the sound.

The EQ section is also switch based, so there's no adjustment of the Q or incremental adjustments relating to cutting or boosting. Once you zero in on frequencies from 120Hz to 2k, you are pretty much stuck with the switch-based adjustment. IMO, neither the compressor nor EQ are "musical enough" where I would feel comfortable using them during a tracking session.

For me, the big dissapointment was the preamp section which exhibits a lifeless and sterile sound with little headroom. Even with the Low Z switch activated, I didn't notice anything different sonically or level wise.

The best thing about the Trackmaster Pro is that it looks nice and is housed in a solid metal chassis. But at the end of the day, looks and chassis are simply not enough. I wanted to really like it, but it just doesn't deliver the sonic goods. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give it a rating of 5.


*Note. The LDCs I used were a TLM103 and MG930 (both high output mics). The SDCs were a KM84, Elation KM201, and SM81.
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