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November 28, 2008

Test: Line6 Backtrack review

Filed under: Recording reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 1:42 pm
Line 6’s Backtrack+Mic: The Test
Unfortunately, we often realize too late that we should have recorded what we just played. How many times have you wished that you could go back in time and hit the record button right before inspiration hit you? Line6 has come up with something along these lines with its portable recorder, the Backtrack, a small device that lets you save a take after the fact. Is it magic? 

No, there’s nothing magical hidden in this little box the size of a pack of cigarettes, and the process is simple: Backtrack continuously records after being activated and automatically splits out audio events thanks to its silence detection. Just press the big Mark button in the center of the device when you want to keep something you just played. It’s both simple and original! But let’s take a closer look at the device.

Backtrack

The Backtrack is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and is therefore easily transportable. It has a belt clip on the back, a ¼-inch guitar input as well as a ¼-inch output so you connect it to an amp. There are two versions: the Backtrack, which is designed to record instruments via a jack, and the Backtrack + Mic with the same features, but which also has an integrated microphone which allows you to record any acoustic instrument. We’ll be testing the latter.

The first thing that should be mentioned is that the device is USB powered. This connection lets you get to the audio you recorded with the Backtrack as well as recharge the internal battery. The manufacturer claims an autonomy of more than 8 hours and its memory (2GB) allows the user to record 4 hours of audio in 24 bit/48 kHz or 24 hours in 16-bit/11 kHz. There are also intermediary settings (22, 32 and 44.1 kHz) for greater flexibility. Note that the Backtrack only supports WAV format. It seems that Line6 didn’t deem it necessary to use less space-consuming formats such as MP3 or AAC. Of course WAV offers better sound quality, but is this the real point of a device like this? A compressed format would have easily fit 10 times more audio in its memory without sacrificing sound quality, which, for a tool of this kind, is not the priority. Moreover, it’s too bad they didn’t integrate a built-in speaker; if you record via the mic you’ll need to listen back to your takes with headphones (not included). If on the other hand, you’ve got the output connected to your amp, you can listen back to your takes through the amp.

But let’s take a look at how it works …

 …

Conclusion

 

Backtrack

Line 6 offers a highly original product that differentiates itself from the competition through its well thought out ergonomics, though they may be confusing at first. Its size and weight will be appreciated by musicians on the go, and its audio quality, without being extraordinary, is adequate for use as a type of audio capture device. Its few flaws remain bearable: only uses WAV format and its start time is a little long.

This recorder was clearly designed for musicians: it goes against the trend of the more expensive recording devices that offer better sound quality. Those who do serious field recording will no doubt turn to these more expensive models, while musicians hoping to easily capture a moment of inspiration will no doubt appreciate this product.

 Ergonomics: original and practical 
 Small 
 Price 
 Integrated microphone for the “+ Mic” version
 Ample autonomy and memory

 Impossible to un-mark a file 
 WAV only 
 Starts up after 10 long seconds 
 No built-in speaker

Read the full Line6 backtrack review here

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2 Comments »

  1. I’m badly thinking about buying either this or another recording device I’m not sure though which ugh

    Comment by dennis molina — July 22, 2009 @ 4:27 am

    • Don’t. I bought one under the impression i could leave it on and it would
      record whenever I started playing but it takes time to ‘warm up’, doesn’t like
      recording the banjo and splits tracks anywhere there is a minimal pause of half a
      second. My personal opinion is that it’s probably ok if you plug in a guitar,
      forget using the external mic, but you still end up with a pile of confusingly
      labeled tracks, most of which you didn’t want in the first place. When it works the sound is great but having to plug into a computer to see what’s been taped is a pain in
      the arse. I don’t rate it at all.

      Comment by Mike Sasiadek — October 14, 2010 @ 2:06 pm


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