Reviews

Strother Bullins on Cymatic Audio uTracK 24

9/20/2016 11:15 AM Eastern
uTrack 24 records directly to standard off-the-shelf USB thumb- or hard-drives.

Whether for live, installed sound or location recording applications, Cymatic Audio’s affordable uTrack 24 is a highly-functional yet cleanly designed and intuitive multitrack recorder/player and 24-input/output USB audio interface. As such, it’s an invaluable tool at front-of-house for a variety of common house-of-worship, theater and/or institutional tasks: multi-channel live audio capture and/or playback for both partially pre-recorded performances and virtual sound checks.

Reportedly compatible with Mac OS, Windows and iOS (I personally only used it with Mac), the uTrack 24 also serves as a standalone computer interface featuring control room and headphone outputs with hardware level controls and up to 24-bit/96 kHz operation. Two uTrack 24s can be synchronized for a total of 48 tracks, and play back of standard MIDI files is allowed.

Packed into a 1U chassis, the uTrack 24 is straightforward in its layout. Featuring a USB port on the far left side of its lovely golden-orange brushed aluminum front panel, uTrack 24 records directly to standard off-the-shelf USB thumb- or hard-drives; the rear panel provides a USB connector to allow its 24 channel I/O operation. Twenty-four three-color LEDs are 24 channel three-segment meters for input and record information; above the lights are large, blocky and easy-to-engage illuminated transport controls. A reasonably large LCD screen, adjacent input buttons and a rotary input knob offer further detailed setting adjustments and data input. In my use, I was up and running with the uTrack 24 long before I reached for the user manual; the panel was much more intuitive than other similar products I have used in the past.

Connectivity-wise, its 24-channel analog input and output scheme is courtesy of +20 dBu 25-pin D-Sub connectors, an RJ-45 network connector is available for software remote control functions, and a space for an optional digital audio card—available in a range of formats—resides on the rear panel. Cymatic now offers several cards compatible with leading digital live mixers, for example.

I personally enjoy mixing and capturing live audio with a rack-mounted recording tool such as the uTrack 24 over working with a laptop or tablet running a DAW, especially in a live or theater setting. In my time working with the uTrack 24, well over six months, it performed flawlessly. There’s much to be said about the simplicity and robust nature of a rack-mounted computer that only records/plays back audio and passes audio signal, ready to interface with a DAW’s CPU later, and capable of recording to virtually any USB drive out there. Importantly, it is priced at $999—surely the lowest-cost solution of its kind that is built for truly professional use. But best of all, it sounds clean, pristine and accurate.

PRODUCT SUMMARY

COMPANY: Cymatic Audio | http://cymaticaudio.com
PROS: Intuitive controls and operation; affordable; records/plays back from virtually any USB drive.
CONS: No internal storage; multichannel digital I/O available via additional card purchase only.
PRICE (STREET): $999

SPECIFICATIONS

LINE IN:
• Full scale input, 20 dBu, 8 Vrms
• Frequency response, 20 Hz-20 kHz, +/-0 … 0.25 dB
• THD+N @ 1 dBFS, 20 Hz-20 kHz bandwidth, -85 dB, <0.005%
• SNR A-weighted, >100 dB

LINE OUT:
• Full scale input (balanced), 20 dBu, 8 Vrms
• Frequency response, 20 Hz-20 kHz, +0 … 0.25 dB
• THD+N @ 0 dBFS (1 kHz sine wave) 20 Hz-20 kHz bandwidth, -85 dB, <0.005%
• SNR A-weighted, >100 dB
• Crosstalk (20 Hz – 20 kHz), <-90 dB, 0.003%

PHONES:
• Full-scale input, 14dBu, 4 Vrms
• Output impedance, <50 Ohm
• Frequency response 20 Hz – 20 kHz bandwidth, +/- 0 – 0.025 dB
• THD+N @ 0dBBFS (1 kHz sine wave) 20 Hz-20 kHz bandwidth, -85 dB, <0.005%
• SNR 20 Hz – 20 kHz bandwidth, >100dB

Strother Bullins is Technology Editor for NewBay Media’s AV/Pro Audio Group. sbullins@nbmedia.com

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