Technology — 04 August 2010

By Elianne Halbersberg

Always on the cutting edge of technology, Alesis began 2010 by introducing the PalmTrack and VideoTrack at winter NAMM. Both of these remarkable products belong in the hands of anyone with audio and recording needs. Alesis has bundled a host of capabilities into both items — from exceptional image resolution to crystal-clear sound — without sacrificing quality. Like all Alesis products, the PalmTrack and VideoTrack offer ease of use, portability (PalmTrack: 4 x 2.5 x 1 inches; weighs .3 lbs., VideoTrack: 4.5 x 2.5 x 1 inches; weighs .2 lbs.) and affordability.

Planet Ill spoke with Kurt Heiden, Marketing Communications Manager, Numark Industries, about the latest additions to the Alesis line.

Planet Ill: This is Alesis’ debut into the world of hand held recorders and video recorders. In a crowded marketplace, and with consumers still holding on to their dollars, why was it important to enter this field, and what made 2010 the right time to do so?

Kurt Heiden: We actually introduced the ProTrack, the world’s first handheld recorder for iPod and iPhone, a year ago. It’s done quite well and we wanted to expand on its success.

Lots of people are making content for all kinds of media, for which demand remains high. For example, Apple had more than 5 billion downloads from their iTunes App store, and someone had to make content for every one of those apps. There is strong demand for content, and where there is content, someone is recording something somewhere in the creation chain.

Planet Ill: Both of these products are priced competitively and offer competitive features. With so many brands and models to choose from, why should customers select the Alesis models?

Kurt Heiden: Alesis has a very long history as a leader in recording technology and changed the recording world with the ADAT. Today, we deliver that heritage through a family of mixers that let you record straight to an iPod or to your computer, and these two new portable recording devices. VideoTrack and PalmTrack are simply the best choice for people wanting to make quality recordings at prices most people can afford. Quite simply, nothing else in the marketplace can do all that these two do at the same quality for anywhere near this price.

Planet Ill: Let’s look at the PalmTrack. This recorder offers multiple uses in numerous settings, from band rehearsals to interviews to conferences. What are we looking at in terms of distance for mic pickup and noise cancellation? Will the PalmTrack isolate your voice over the cacophony of a NAMM show when I interview you in Anaheim?

Kurt Heiden: PalmTrack has four microphones in it and settings for omni or basic stereo use. They are exceptionally good at picking up vocals within several feet and certainly good enough for use at the NAMM show. We haven’t conducted any tests to provide specific numbers for you, but it should have no trouble recording an interview in a noisy setting. The ability of the DSP to isolate the human vocal range in a recording is an additional benefit, just in case additional help is needed to bring out the vocal without going back to the studio.

Planet Ill: Please tell our readers about some of the unique features of the PalmTrack, including auto and monitor options for recording, as well as gain and input levels.

Kurt Heiden: For starters, there are settings for high gain, low gain and an auto-gain feature that can help novice recording engineers and musicians to quickly and easily set up recording levels that are plenty hot but won’t distort. Levels are backlit and very easy to see, so there’s no fumbling to figure out what’s going to get recorded.

You can monitor via headphones too, but where things get really interesting are with the built-in DSP. Another staple of the Alesis family tree is world-class effects processing, so with PalmTrack you get Bass compensation, Chorus, Pitch Shift, Delay, Reverb, MP3 voice enhance and a Tuning function for guitar players. It’s a lot to pack into such a small space, but all of these combined in one place make PalmTrack a no-brainer.

Planet Ill: How do the PalmTrack and VideoTrack compare and differ, aside from the obvious video feature? Is there overlap in the features? If so — and if not — how do they work as companion products, or are they targeted toward separate audiences?

Kurt Heiden: Both have exceptional audio recording quality compared to the competition in their respective markets. The only overlap is in quality audio recording, which is present on both. The VideoTrack has video, the PalmTrack has a number of bonus audio processing functions that are handy to have in a portable form factor.

These two products work as companion products for musicians and audio engineers who need a quality portable audio recorder with DSP [PalmTrack], but who may also want to shoot video. Audiophiles are just like everyone else in that they want to shoot videos of their family, friends or just for fun, so there’s no reason they should have to sacrifice audio quality just because they aren’t behind a mixing console. VideoTrack shoots video anywhere and makes it easy to upload to YouTube or archive on hard disks while maintaining the kind of quality one expects from Alesis gear.

Planet Ill: What are the advantages of owning both products?

Kurt Heiden: The advantage of owning VideoTrack and PalmTrack is that no matter what recording situation you find yourself in, you have something to get the most out of the session. If you are an audiophile, both products are quite useful. For omni recording and on-the-go audio FX processing, the PalmTrack delivers the goods. If you need video to shoot without having to sacrifice audio quality, as you might with other handheld cameras, VideoTrack is all you need to get Alesis quality audio along with your video capture. Both can fit in the palm of your hand and each one can fit in a pocket, bag, backpack or purse very easily.

Elianne Halbersberg is a freelance writer whose work has also appeared in Mix, Premier Guitar, Electronic Musician, Audio Media, Ink 19 and many other magazines and websites.

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