Our friend Ariel just sent this my way–looks like M-Audio is coming out with a dedicated portable recording device in August/September. They’re calling it the “Micro Tracker” or “Flash Tracker”, and the specs are pretty darn impressive (taken from The Sound Professionals):
Compact Flash and Microdrive Media
2x TRS mic/line jack inputs
48V phantom power
3.5mm jack mic in with 5V power for electret condenser mic
SPDIF RCA input
3.5mm headphone jack
RCA stereo out
24-bit 96kHz recording
You can see specs and a picture on their site here.
Street seems to be around $400. Not cheap; you can get a high-end MiniDisc player for, what, around $300 or so? BUT, I think MiniDiscs suffer from some significant flaws as live recording devices:
–The software to interface the MD to your computer is Windows-only.
–They’re not designed to just be audio recording devices. So there’s tons of options/features/menus/junk that just get in the way if you just wanna record audio using a mic.
–For a long time you couldn’t transfer audio recorded directly onto the MD (using a mic for example) to a computer at faster than realtime. Though to be fair, it looks like you can now with the newest version of Sony’s MD software.
For a while I’ve wanted something that’s small, records audio digitally in a bunch of formats, and can be connected to any computer for simple drag-and-drop file transfers onto a computer/audio workstation. Perhaps this is it?
UPDATE: Thinking more about studio uses, could this be a good device to mix to? It’s got both SPDIF and analog inputs (TRS), can record at up to 24 bit/96 kHz, and is obviously portable. It’d be even easier to take your mixes with you… Big question: I wonder what the converters sound like? For $400 street it would be a letdown if they sounded like crap. We’ll see.