In the 1980s, Madonna indicated she was a material girl living in a material world. However, more than 20 years have gone by, and we find ourselves living in a USB world. Serial connectors are becoming more and more scarce, and USB is a faster, easier computing interface. The speed offered by USB connectivity has opened the door to handy developments in the recording and radio industries. When Madonna recorded Material Girl, microphones, preamps and mixing consoles were a must. But today, microphones can simply connect directly to a computer via USB with the help of the Centrance Micport Pro preamp.
Performance at a glance
| 24-bit/96kHz performance
48V phantom power
No drivers necessary
Stereo headphone output
Windows XP, Vista, and MAC 0S X and 10.5 compatible
Compact, rugged construction
The Micport Pro is a Class A microphone preamp constructed from black anodized aluminum. It is 4" long, 1" around, weighs 2.2 ounces and comes equipped with a USB port (cable included), headphone output, 48V phantom power on/off button, mic level adjustment, and headphone level adjustment. A female XLR jack allows for easy connection of a standard dynamic or condenser microphone. No batteries are required; power comes from a computer USB port, and it drives the phantom power circuitry and headphone jack. The mic gain adjustment allows for 36dB of gain adjustment, accommodating most dynamic or condenser microphones.
There are no drivers or software to install: When the unit is connected to a USB port, the computer recognizes it as an audio in/out interface within seconds. A bright white indicator ring lights up when a computer has recognized it. Depending on individual computer audio interface and recording software properties, designating the Micport Pro as the working device for recording will take some brief experimenting. It will be automatically included as a possible audio device on a PC or Mac, so setting up is a snap.
The Micport Pro provides a 96kHz sampling rate and 24-bit resolution. When used with headphones, sound from the computer can be routed back through the Micport Pro for multitrack monitoring, or for use when no speakers are available. Zero latency is a plus with this device. No noticeable delay is detected when using the device as an output monitoring device. The phantom power is activated using a small button near the headphone and USB jacks. Micport Pro offers 20Hz to 20kHz frequency response, complementing the performance of virtually any microphone.
Having experimented with a Shure SM7, Sennheiser E835, Audio-Technica 815-b, and Rode NT1, I found the tool accurately sampled the expected character of each microphone. The quality Class A preamp matched the performance of typical high-end microphone preamps by providing quiet, pristine power and affording true life-like frequency response. The Micport Pro will operate using Windows Vista, XP and Mac OSX 10.5. It is compatible with USB 1.1 and 2.0. Multiple preamps can be used for stereo or multitrack recording in conjunction with the Centrance Universal Driver, which is downloadable from the Centrance website.
Capturing audio material is sometimes best done using a laptop or desktop computer, and sound gear is sometimes hard to lug around or unavailable. The Micport Pro tags along easily in a computer carrying case. Just snap on your favorite microphone and hit record.
Wygal is the programmer, engineer and Web designer for WRVL in Lynchburg, VA.
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