m-audio1b.jpgIt can’t get any more simple than this. The M-Audio M-Track MkII is as straight-forward as you can get for a two-channel USB audio interface. Two inputs, two outputs and a headphone jack – that’s about it.

 

Well, there are a few knobs and switches to go with those jacks, but you get the picture.

 

Short, Sweet and to the Point

 

The simplicity of the M-Track MkII is its charm. I didn’t expect to have to crack open a manual and I’m pleased to say that I didn’t have to. Setting this interface up on PC and Mac was a breeze. Both platforms recognized the device, loaded class compliant drivers and the M-Track was ready to be used.

 

The interface supports a bit-depth / sample rate of up to 24-bit / 48kHz which should be just fine for most home-studio users.

 

Knobs, Switches and Things

 

M-Track Front.jpgThe front of the unit sports two combo inputs that will accept either XLR or ¼” jacks. If you insert a ¼” jack into the input, there is a switch to set the appropriate impedance level for a line level device (keyboard/CD player) or an instrument (electric guitar or bass).

 

Each input has a separate gain control to set the incoming signal levels appropriately and a 48v switch allows you to supply phantom power to the mic inputs for condensor microphones.

 

A mix knob gives the user the ability to monitor signals from the inputs, the computer or a combination of both.

 

Finally, a Monitor knob controls the volume fed to the two rear ¼” outputs.

 

Taking it for a Spin

 

IMG_8316.JPGI wired the M-Track MkII into my studio and was up and running in a matter of a couple of minutes. The front panel has a couple of blue LED lines that light up when USB power is present – there’s also a little blue LED on the back that does the same. There are two four-stage LED meters (two green, one orange and one red line) that give you immediate feedback on how hot your incoming signal is.

 

I plugged a couple of condensor mics from different vendors and got a nice clean sound from the pre-amps. Dynamic mics were fairly good – a Shure SM58 and SM57 were handled nicely, but a larger diaphragm dynamic such as Heil PR40 and Shure SM7B needed to have the preamp cranked to get a semi-decent signal – even then, I was wishing it would go to “11”. Regardless, the signal was clean and had little noise.

 

The reported latency at 128 samples was 9.4 ms which produced a barely perceptible slap-back artifact. 64 samples brought that delay down to a 7.4 ms delay. All in all, a pretty decent spec for this little box.

 

I took the M-Track on a last-minute remote recording gig and I’m pleased to say it performed without a hiccup. I was recording a band live off-the-floor at a video shoot. I mixed the performance on the fly with four mics going into a Soundcraft mixer feeding the M-Track MkII via the main stereo bus.

 

Barring the fact that I couldn’t have mics in the shot (except for an RCA replica) and the reflective room, the sound wasn’t half bad. I don’t think I’d have been able to get a better sound under those conditions with other interfaces.

Keep it Simple

What more can I say? The M-Audio M-Track MkII USB Audio interface is simple to setup and simple to use. There are no fancy bells and whistles. It does what it’s supposed to and it does a great job at it too. If you’re looking for something small, portable and simple to start recording with, then I’d be more than willing to suggest taking a look at this little guy. Check it out at Best Buy or order it online. Best Buy has a very customer-friendly return policy if you’re unhappy with your purchase. Go ahead – give it a shot!

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I'm a film / TV composer based in Vancouver BC. Music has always been part of my life, but my first career was in the technology industry as a consultant and project manager. I helped to build and open the Experience Music Project – a rock and roll museum in Seattle. I hold a Bachelor of Music from the University of Western Ontario and a Master of Business Administration degree from McMaster University. I also hold a diploma in Audio Engineering from the University of Washington and I’m a graduate of Hummie Mann’s acclaimed Pacific Northwest Film Scoring Program.