Mobile journalism tool review: Alesis ProTrack

By Will Sullivan on November 1, 2010 0 Comments Ideas Experiments

By Andrew Dumas 

The Alesis ProTrack is a pretty high performance microphone built to work with the iPhone.

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It’s got a ton of features (though I found I only used a couple), it’s fairly light, and it definitely looks legitimate (may not seem like much, but the look of your hardware has a pretty significant effect on your subject. It reassures them that you do actually know what you’re doing). When I took it out reporting, I found it to be extremely handy for a couple of reasons.

It can record in stereo and in mono. I was trained to typically record in mono for editing purposes, so it’s nice to be able to record in that format, but even better I can switch to stereo for music recording. Also, there’s a switch on the side of the microphone that allows the user to charge their device while in use. Since the microphone uses four double-A batteries, this means you’re going to run out of juice pretty fast, but if you need that extra boost to capture the last 30 minutes of something, then it’s a pretty sweet switch to flick. The meters on the device are also quite accurate, giving you better control over your audio, which is good because the Microphone is pretty sensitive.

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Which brings me to my next topic, the quality of sound. To say it simply, this microphone works. It’s certainly better than the internal mic and several of the other microphones we tested out. The only thing that gets close is the actual XLR microphone. The sound from this device is clear, it’s crisp, and it’s pretty close to professional quality, if not all the way there.

The only downside is that it’s a bit bulky and unwieldy. If your hands are small, it may be a little tough to grip, and it’s definitely large, even if it’s light, so have a way to carry it around, because there’s no strap. Also, without the ball on the end, it resembles (only slightly and possibly in the dark only) a taser, I got stopped for a moment and was the unfortunate recipient of a long look in security for a street festival I went to cover while using this equipment for just that reason, which is why I mention it.

Other than those few negatives, this is a pretty solid purchase, even if it’s expensive. I recommend it for sure.

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