Hands-On Review:Yamaha POCKETRAK 2G Pocket Recorder
Yamaha proves once again; the best things come in small packages
By Darius Van Rhuehl
Musician’s Friend Staff Writer
Let me apologize up front: This opening paragraph is nowhere near as cool and engaging as it was supposed to be. I'll explain: I was getting ready for work, knowing that I had to think of a good punchy opener for this review. The good news is that it hit me in the car on my way to work. The bad news is that it hit me in the car on my way to work. I had this devilishly clever intro, perhaps the most clever sequence of words ever strung together in the history of words—now lost forever. Sorry.
Why don't I carry a pocket-sized digital recorder? You see, the thing is, I don't like carrying stuff. Pocket-sized recorders are still pocket lumps—and I refuse to carry a man-purse. Now, if I had the Yamaha POCKETRAK 2G with me this morning, you'd be reading the most clever introduction the world has ever known. What makes it the exception? Its size . . . or should I say, its lack of size, which we'll talk about in a moment. In the meantime, I want you to imagine that my opening paragraph was the most brilliant thing ever . . . much like the POCKETRAK.
Let's get small
The POCKETRAK redefines "portable recorder." In fact, I'd say the word "portable" is probably too big to describe it. At 4-5/8" long, 1-1/4" across, 1/2" thick, and weighing in at 1-7/10 ounces, it's the Yoda of hand-held recorders—diminutive in size, yes; but don't be fooled, the force is strong with this one. I didn't know what to expect from a recorder this small as far as functionality and ease of use were concerned. But I was pleasantly surprised on both counts. As far as sound quality goes, pleasantly surprised doesn't begin to cover it.
The unit has a sleek, streamlined appearance with an LCD screen that lights up with a friendly "Hello." It doesn't take long to get the hang of the POCKETRAK's menu, where you'll find a lot of useful features including voice activation, auto record level, variable playback speeds, EQ settings, selectable recording formats, the ability to widen the stereo perception of the mics, 2GB of memory, and quite a bit more. When connected via USB 2.0 to a computer, you can drag and drop WAV, MP3, or data files. There's even password security, which hides files from view. Did I mention that it also has a slide-out USB connector? Considering its size in comparison to the unit itself . . . well, that just makes it even more amazing—and don't forget, there's also a built-in speaker!
Just me and an acoustic guitar
When I said this unit was small, I wasn't kidding. I had to keep checking that I still had it on me, which firmly established the fact that a portable recorder built for my particular madness now exists. The only remaining question was sound quality.
My first test was as real world as you could get: Me sitting on a sofa in my living room with an acoustic guitar and the POCKETRAK sitting on my left knee. That meant the recorder was underneath the guitar to its left. Set for voice activation, I began to record. Listening back through a set of Beyerdynamic DT 770 headphones was a life-changing experience. I could not believe the quality of the recording. Plus, the guitar even showed up slightly to the right in the stereo field, just where you'd expect. Next, I placed the recorder on a table directly in front of the acoustic, about 10" away with the stereo mic in the upright position to minimize reflections off the table. Playback was astonishing. There was depth of field and full-range tone. There was also a bit of proximity effect, which added richness to the low-midrange of the guitar. Finally, with the unit placed two feet away, the guitar sounded sparkly clear and full, but without the proximity effect (better for sitting in a mix). I saved the audio files to my computer via USB. Perhaps I can post them to the Musician's Friend website where you'll hear me say: "When Yamaha says full CD-quality, they're not kidding! I could use this (recording) anywhere!" Seriously, if you are a singer-guitarist or singer-pianist, you could sit this puppy down in front of you, play through your tunes, and have a CD worthy of release. In fact, with the included Cubase AI software, you could add some processing and master yourself a very respectable CD.
Rehearsal stealth recording
My next thought was that this would be great for hiding in my pocket during band rehearsals. (Musicians tend to play less spontaneously when they know they're being recorded.) When one of my band mates noticed the POCKETRAK, I said it was an MP3 player. We continued on with no one suspecting that something so small could be a recorder. After I played back the set, they couldn't believe the sound quality either. Of course, I wasn't lying, it is an MP3 player too, and quite a good one.
Right on TRAK
First off, I have to say shame on me for initially doubting the sound quality of the POCKETRAK. The Yamaha name has always been synonymous with top-quality sound, but the size of this thing really threw me. Needless to say, I am extremely impressed with its sonic abilities. And for all those fleeting moments of brilliance, whether it's an idea for a song, an idea that will make you rich, a lecture, or even the most clever opening paragraph ever conceived by modern man, the POCKETRAK can be there with you—ever at the ready—to capture fleeting inspiration for all posterity. Finally there's a pocket recorder that I feel comfortable carrying everywhere.
Sample Audio Clips
The following audio examples, which include a verbal description and acoustic guitar, were recorded with the Yamaha POCKETRAK 2G. They have not been processed, altered, edited, or mastered in any way. What you hear is pure POCKETRAK.
Features & Specs
- Lightweight pocket-sized recorder
- 16-bit/44.1kHz CD-quality resolution
- 3 hours of PCM recording
- Up to 19 hrs. of MP3 recording
- Tilt-up stereo microphone
- Automatic Level Control and level meters for maximum clarity and intelligibility
- Comprehensive playback functions
- Nickel corners
- DRM10 playback support
- Built-in speaker
- Direct USB 2.0 connection
- Long-lasting rechargeable battery included
- Cubase AI included
- Memory: 2GB
- Weight: 1-7/10 oz.
- 4-5/8"L x 1-1/4"W x 1/2"D