An overview of the M-Audio Fast Track Pro – 4 x 4 Mobile USB Audio/MIDI Interface with Preamps
Introducing the M-Audio Fast Track Pro usb audio interface.
The M Audio Fast Track Pro is one of the most popular audio interfaces and is regarded by many to be a good introduction to home recording. The Fast Track Pro has 2 very decent sounding microphone pre amps, with phantom power for condenser mics and pad switches to cut or boost the input signal as required, 2 line/ instrument combo inputs to take just about any type of guitar, keyboard microphone or other sound source and direct monitoring so you can plug in and listen via headphones.
It also has the necessary midi connections for running midi keyboards and a stereo digital S/PDIF in and out. This makes it well suited for most home recording needs. It’s also a good base for a computer based DJ system.
As far as outputs go it has 4 RCA unbalanced outputs and the headphone output can be switched between each pair of outputs.There is also a cue control so if you were to hook up a DJ mixer, a powered monitor and install something like Ableton Live lite software on your laptop computer you should have all the tools you need to start doing some DJ work.
The M-Audio Fast Track Pro has a pair of balanced outputs for plugging in a set of powered monitor speakers. There is also an allowance for plugging in external processors since the 2 inputs have an insert each to do this.
Fast Track Pro is compatible with most popular PC and Mac music software. USB connection and bus power along with class compliancy for Mac OS X make it simple to set up.
What software is supplied with the Fast Track Pro?
As with most audio interfaces of this type there is some bundled software which takes care of monitoring and routing inputs within your computer. inTone | Express Bundle is a collection of effects designed by leading audio effects provider Audiffex and provides a broad array of tools—from guitar and bass stomp boxes to virtual mixers and so on. Each software program lets you arrange channel routing and effects in a variety of ways so you can create your own sound.
Most importantly is your DAW software which in this case is Pro Tools SE, a lightweight version of the same software used by numerous recording studios around the world and respected as an industry standard amoungst many professional audio engineers. Having this software will not guarantee you a Grammy as there are more skills required than just having a great recording program, but it is a good start.
Having said that Pro Tools is a good start, most decent DAW software should work with this interface, whether it be Mac or Windows.
For more compatibility inforaton about this audio interface here are some technical details.
Protools SE minimum system requirements. Windows Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, or Ultimate; Windows XP Home or XP Pro (SP3) 1.8GHz multi-core processor (Intel or AMD) 5400 RPM hard drive 2 GB RAM for Windows 7 64-bit; 1 GB RAM for Windows XP and Windows 7 32-bit 1 available USB port for included hardware Adobe Flash Player 10 (free at adobe.com) Note: Windows Vista is not supported Mac Mac OS X 10.5.8, or Mac OS X 10.6.1 1.8 GHz multi-core processor (Intel) 5400 RPM hard drive 1 GB RAM 1 available USB port for included hardware Adobe Flash Player 10 (free at adobe.com)
Buying advice: For recording guitar,using a midi keyboard, adding a vocals,capturing acoustic instruments, preparing your own podcast or setting up as a DJ the Fast Track Pro is a good all round starting point for those wanting to get their feet wet in home recording. in terms of price, for under 200 bucks you do get a lot of features for the price. If there was one thing to be picky on it would be the sample rate which is that of a typical CD 16 bits at 48khz. This would be fine for demo work and home recordings but many systems now sample at 24 bits and 92khz which provides better quality samples (although you may be hard pressed to tell the difference).