Another year had passed, and another closing concert for the school bands arrived. Last time around, I’d tried to “tape” the show for posterity, using my MP3 player that can take voice memos. This procedure is not one that bears much musical fruit; the quality of the recording was about equal to the early efforts of Edison. I’m one that follows the advice of others, so when a little extra cash came along, the family invested in a proper digital tape recorder. After all, it could be useful some day.
My purchase stayed safely in the original box, taken out only for firmware upgrades, until last evening. The M-Audio Microtrack II digital recorder is a niche product. Not ready for the professional studio, too much for the home market, it seems to have a devoted following in the concert tapers forum. I shopped and found a decent price (not on eBay, but at a well-know Montreal music store) and had one delivered. Small (discrete), with a reasonable stereo microphone for those times when you don’t want to play roving journalist, and the ability to last through three hours of a school band concert; perfect.
I set all the recording parameters to maximum quality (96 KHz sampling rate, 24-bit sound, WAV format) and settled in to my balcony seat at the Palais Montcalm with only minutes to spare. Not too many neighbours, either… I could afford to fiddle around with the controls, even though the canned PSA had forbidden any recording apparatus. Not too much to do, other than hit pause at the end of each piece and save to the 4 GB CompactFlash memory card.
The recorder shut off during the second-last performance of the evening (sorry, son #3) which means that in future I’ll scale back my sampling rates, but the overall quality of my capture is far, far better than I’d expected. I could see where with a slightly improved microphone setup (a wire up the sleeve, etc. for the discrete approach) this could be an interesting way to augment the musical library, because the limiting controls did a fine job.
My only “petit chagrin” of the evening involved the seven young people that arrived after the start of the concert, settled in behind me and then carried on their whispered conversations for the next three hours. Why do people purchase tickets to a show that they don’t want to enjoy? If I’d had access to one of those bibilical demons that made people go mute, I’d have gladly invoked it for the concert.