E-MU did it right with the Tracker Pre – a great audio interface (USB 2.0)

The Tracker Pre by E-MU is a great sounding, effective audio interface. It’s a light but sturdy plastic box, the color is E-Mu‘s two shades of gray. There are four control knobs on the front – two of them are level controls of the two inputs, there’s a continuous one for the monitoring level and one for setting the output level. Both inputs have separate LEDs to indicate proper level (green LEDs) or clipping (red LEDs). The button on the front is to turn the monitoring on or off and select its mode – stereo or mono, both of these modes have a separate green LED as well. There’s also a ¼” jack input for the headphones and a power on LED.

A versatile interface

E-Mu Tracker Pre audio interfaceThe back has a 5V DC power input, so you can power the unit from a separate DC adapter if you want to, but normally the interface gets power from the USB, which also has its input on the back. There are two ¼” jacks for the two outputs (left and right), two ¼” jacks for pre-amp/effect inserts, and the switch of the 48V phantom power, so you can use your condenser microphones. The two combined inputs are also here on the back, you can plug a ¼” jack in the center of both of them, or use them with XLR plugs, depending on what your equipment requires. The Tracker Pre works with both balanced and unbalanced jacks and cables. There’s also a little 1/8″ jack input for an electret microphone. Also, the whole interface doubles as a microphone preamp if you want it so.

Helps with your gain staging

The E-Mu Tracker Pre has low noise and a nice, clean, flat sound. The level indicator LEDs come handy when you try to set your input levels. There’s a built-in limiter that catches some of the weaker peaks, so you don’t drive the circuit into nasty digital distortion immediately every time the red LEDs come on. You shouldn’t trust setting your levels on this limiter though, but I think it’s still a nice touch.

No latency, no problems

The zero latency direct monitoring is a great thing, you don’t need to depend on your computer or drivers, because you hear everything you plugged into the inputs immediately. The continuous monitor level knob does its job fine, though the level of the monitored signal can be too low sometimes, so you might need to correct it temporarily in the DAW program itself with lowering the level of your other tracks during recording.

The E-Mu Tracker Pre comes with its own drivers, including a good ASIO driver that you can use in the DAW of your choice. The box also contains a software bundle.

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