M-Track Plus is one of the portable USB audio and MIDI interface bundle releases from the world of M-Audio. The other audio interfaces in this category are the M-Track and the M-Track Quad. The M-Track Plus is the mid-range interface in this group and comes with many useful features for portable laptop studios or live performance.
In addition, the M-Track Plus comes bundled with ProTools Express and Ignite music creation software by AIR Instrument Technology. With an iLok 2 also included, the M-Track Plus bundle is an amazing deal at just $149. This bundle is geared toward singer-songwriters, traveling musicians, live performers and producers just starting to build their studio and looking for something economical. Let's take a closer look at the hardware itself.
The M-Track Plus has two mic/line inputs. You have the ability to switch between line and guitar input, which is great for this level of interface. Singer-songwriter guitarists, for example, have the option of using a microphone on their guitar or plugging into the interface directly. Phantom power is included on microphone input one for condenser microphones. The insert jack is for sourcing in outboard effects for vocals or instruments.
Low latency monitor mixing is essential when artists are recording themselves. M-Audio provides a input monitor mix knob that allows the artist to hear more of the direct input while recording and not the signal coming back through the computer. The headphone input in also switchable between mono and stereo.
Once I plugged in the M-Track Plus into an available USB port, I had a track armed and ready to record in minutes. M-Audio scores major points for making another plug and play, user-friendly product. When inspiration strikes, the last thing an artist needs is to troubleshoot his or her recording setting up. The M-Track is rock solid. The pre-amps are decent for the price, but for those artists/producers who want more power and clarity, this may not be the interface to go with. The M-Track Plus is great for sketching ideas on the go.
Pro Tools Express is a great way to get into the industry standard DAW without the hefty price tag. There is a limited track count of 16 stereo audio tracks, 8 instrument tracks and 8 aux tracks, but for singer-songwriter projects or song demos, this is quite a bit to work with. AIR instruments Boom, Xpand! and Structure free are also included along with a general pack of AIR Effects also found in other ProTools versions. You can sketch basic song structures and take the sessions to larger, more equipped studios for further production and mixing.
Ignite Music Creation Software by AIR Instruments is also included and provides another fresh take on production software. Ignite seems a likely competitor with Garageband in the DAW entry market. This is a colorful, fun interface to work on music with. As you can see from the screenshots below, all the production happens within one window, with the arrange window at the bottom and all the other editing and selection windows switchable at the top. Once you develop a workflow with Ignite, sketching ideas is breeze!
"A great mix of value, portability and power."
I've had a few pieces of gear from M-Audio over the years so I'm always interested to see how they are evolving their user-friendly products in a growing, competitive gear market. In this case, M-Audio does not disappoint. The M-Track Plus is a great mix of value, portability and power. Their controllers and interfaces continue to be the stable gear I rely on everyday in the studio and come highly recommended.