Pocketrak 2G - A practical road-test
The new POCKETRAK 2G Digital Pocket Recorder is ideal for all kinds of audio applications. Rather than simply listing these we thought it would be great to do a proper, real-life road test. This road-test however would not take place in the obvious band or studio environment though....
Yamaha lent one to their own Jean Ketley who put it through its paces during her unique educational stage production. Jean speaks about how she used it during rehearsals and the performance.
Jean said: “I’ve worked for Yamaha for nearly 27 years and in that time have worked for both the sales side and the Music Schools. Prior to this I was a professional musician and singer for 15 years so it’s no surprise to find that in my spare (!) time I run a 20 strong choir. For accompaniment I turn to either a Yamaha digital piano or the Tyros keyboard, but as I conduct as well, I often write arrangements that I then record onto the Tyros to use during performances.
For the past 7 years, working with the choir we have been involved with the local primary school and each year we stage a 2 hour concert there, transforming the hall into a theatre complete with staging, lights, video projection and smoke machine (which is very popular with the children!).
I work with years 5 & 6 – they have their own 15 minute performance of a popular musical, joining the choir in 2 or 3 numbers, competing amongst themselves for a part in the Stars In Their Eyes/X Factor/Pop Idol part of the show which includes my making short, quick fire videos to screen just prior to the performance of each “act”.
The new Pocketrak 2G pocket recorder was an innovation for me this year. I was able to use it in several ways:
As the Pocketrak has its own rechargeable battery, during rehearsal I was able to very simply record the children’s performance by placing the Pocketrak on a table in front of them - it’s easy one-press record function and the tilt-up microphone stops any sound bouncing from the table top. Then by connecting the recorder using a standard mini-jack lead to the PA or convenient amplifier I could replay the recordings to them and review it instantly – they then understood the need for voice projection etc. I did the same for the 20-strong choir by securing the Pocketrak on to a projector suspended from the ceiling of my music room where we rehearse. The sound quality is simply remarkable thanks to the highly sensitive stereo microphone. It is also possible to attach Pocketrak to a camera tripod which makes placement very simple and convenient.
My videos include voice-overs which I record separately to the filming. Instead of using a mini-disc player and microphone which then have to be recorded to PC, the Pocketrak was much simpler and easier, but more importantly the sound quality was significantly better. Oddly enough I had made a couple of voice-overs on mini-disc prior to testing the Pocketrak but found the method of extracting the sound files was taking too long – to get round this I simply hooked the Pocketrak up to the mini-disc player with one lead and then recorded the files back onto the Pocketrak which I subsequently connected to the PC by its own internal USB connector. So simple!
I also find learning songs a little tedious so always use my in-car driving time to try and learn them on the way home. I would normally record the music with and without vocals onto a CD. However my car only has a cassette player so I have to use a portable CD player which has the separate tape adapter – because the Pocketrak also doubles up as a personal stereo I was able to import my music from a computer into the Pocketrak and by connecting it into the car hi-fi was able to play back. Importing files into the Pocketrak is also extremely simple – I just connect the inbuilt USB connector to the computer and drag and drop either WAV files or MP3 files into the Pocketrak which appears like an external drive. The file name shows in the playback window so it’s easy to recognize each piece. I could see that this could be helpful to drama students learning lines too; and of course if I wanted to remind myself of a task to do I could also use it as a Dictaphone – it has several folders which allows work to be recorded and stored in an organized fashion…..crucial for anyone working in education.
During the live show performance I had planned to connect Pocketrak directly to the mixing desk but since we had a professional in who used a DAT recorder I simply positioned the Pocketrak on top of the mixing desk and recorded the ambient sound – very live.
I see this device as an invaluable tool for recording performance (including GCSE & A level); for evaluating rehearsal; for learning; for easy playback and saving data. And it’s so easy - you don’t have to be a “Techie” to do it!”