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on November 22, 2006
I read several reviews of this product before buying it - so I knew what I was getting into. It seemed like the mix of comments were either the product was really good or really horrible. The horrible comments seemed to center around difficulty with the setttings. Hopefully what I write here will help someone else get it up and running b/c I think it really is a nice product for the $.

This product works great with my MacBook using garageband. It sounds really good too and the price is definitely right. That's the good news. The bad news is that it does take some time to fiddle with the settings to get working. Once you know what to do though, it's a snap.

First off, my mac recognized the box right off the bat since its USB compliant. I didn't have to do anything for it to recognize the box. However, two settings must be configured properly on the mac to get it to work the rest of the way: the input and output settings in the "sound" settings of the "System Properties" need to be set to "Fast Track USB." Make sure to crank the volume on the input setting all the way up (to the right). Second, you have to set your garageband settings properly...

Go into Garageband's "Preference" menu item and set the input and output to "Fast Track USB" as well. Then, plug your guitar into the 1/4" jack on the box. Finally, create a "real instrument" in garageband. You have to set the real instrument's track to read CHANNEL 2 and set the "monitor" to "on." That way you'll be able to hear the guitar through your speakers connected to the box (Incidentally, the XLR input on the box s/b considered channel 1 and the 1/4" input channel 2).

On the box, set the "mix" knob all the way to the right (full "playback" mode). Set the XLR "input" knob on the box all the way to the left. Set the "Output" knob high to the right. Now start playing your guitar. You should now be able to hear your guitar just fine through your speakers.

The extra software that comes with the box is awesome too - expecially the GT effects software. This stuff has really great sounds. With this, you won't need all the effects pedals; it's all right there with GT.

Now, the manuals are really poor. You'll find no help in them. In trying to get this thing working I poured over the forum comments on m-audio's site. Review comments their gave me some idea of what to do, but not completely. I had to do a little google searching before I got the other answers to the puzzle. Therefore, I only gave the product a total of 4 stars: 4 stars for the great sound and awesome software, but a ding for the crappy manuals and website support. I would buy the product again though.
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on July 16, 2005
I've got to say that this unit works perfectly with my wife's powerbook. Unlike other posters, I had NO problems with it at all on my G5 at work, my G4 at home and her powerbook. The sound is fantastic and it works really well with the Apple audio control program which recognizes it right away. My setup for mic level input includes a professional mic which is amplified by a separate mic amp. The output of that line level amp feeds right into this unit. Additionally, the sound output to my headphones is a step above what is built into my G5.
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on December 27, 2008
The hardware device works great with my Intel Core2 duo MacBook and an electric guitar. I was surprised how well it worked! I had mixed results with an acoustic guitar using a sound-hole external pickup, but was still usable (just really quiet) Here are some things I've learned...

*The knobs on the front of the unit are only used to control the mix and volume of the playback back to you if you are using the RCA-out for monitors or are using the headphone jack on the unit. They serve NO purpose for recording.

*The stereo mono switch is only used to separate sound in the playback. Mono will mix both signals into both speakers. Stereo will play the mic out of one speaker and the instrument out of the other. No recording use on this switch either.

*The signal LED is only for the Mic input. Don't worry if it doesn't seem to be working when you're just laying down guitar tracks.

*It is important to use the line level/guitar switch on the back correctly (this WILL affect recording)!

*In your Mac system settings make sure to set both the sound in and out to the Fasttrack.

*In GarageBand make sure both the input and output in the preferences are set to the fasttrack unit (make sure it's attached and powered up before you launch GB). Plug in your guitar and Mic. Create 2 new tracks in garageband. Make sure to assign the vocal track to channel 1 and the guitar to channel 2 or this won't work. You also want to make sure to turn the monitor setting to ON so you can hear it in your headphones you've plugged into the fasttrack.

*If you are getting a lot of noise and static (like I was initially) move the fastrack unit as far away from your PC as possible. This really helped cut down on the noise. It works even better if I use a powered USB hub to get even farther away from the PC. Same for your Mic and Instrument. Although the sound transmission is digital from the Fasttrack to the Mac, the sound the FastTrack picks up is analog and it doesn't seem to be well shielded or grounded.

*The included Live Lite software is bad. Skip it all together. Even the included tutorial was awful. It kept telling me to click on things in panels that are hidden by default, with no instruction on where to find them to display them. Stick to GarageBand.

Great little unit. One of my favorite Christmas presents ever!
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on October 10, 2005
Like one reviewer noted I too experienced an extremely high noise level plugging an electric guitar into the 1/4" jack. The direct box into the XLR input is the way to go. I hope this is limited to just our interfaces and not the whole batch produced. This product when using Windows ONLY works with XP It wouldn't install on my Millenium Edition computer. I have set up my laptop with Sonar Home Studio 4.0 and the Fast Track works great for laying down ideas on the road. Latency is minimal, and works well as an external sound card. I'm surprised that M-Audio didn't include a software mixer like other interfaces. It's a value for an interface less than $100.
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on September 5, 2007
I've been using this for a while now under both Mac and Windows. Setup on the Mac was dead simple, but I never did figure out how to manually set the latency in OSX. The latency in GarageBand can get a little rough when you add some effects, but that's likely more to do with my processor (a G4 PowerBook) than the interface. But overall I don't even remember setting it up on my laptop, which is probably a good sign.

On Windows I didn't have too many problems once I got the Vista drivers. I've been using CakeWalk Music Maker 4, and once you get the right audio setting in the application (which can be a bit of a pain, but again not M-Audio's fault) you're set. Though I will say that disconnecting the USB cord while the sound card is busy is the one time I've managed a blue screen in Vista! But that's not entirely unreasonable. As far as latency goes, I've got a fast enough processor that if I set the latency on the Fast Track to the minimum (this can be set through the control panel in Windows) I get no perceivable latency. Oh, and if you're not using the ASIO drivers, that's probably part of your problem.

I've been using the 1/4" jack with little problem...I have to up the input levels in my application (which is a pain in GarageBand, easier in Cakewalk) but as long as I stay away from the monitor and fluorescent lights I don't really get any considerable noise. I may try the XLR route anyway, though.

This is a perfectly serviceable item for somebody just looking to do some casual recording on the PC, or in place of an amp when traveling (also allows for a wide array of amp/effect combinations without buying hardware). If you're looking to do anything even semi-serious (such as recording multiple instruments, or record actual tracks with a band) you might want to spend a little more. But for "personal" use thing thing's great...better than anything else I've seen or sampled in the same price range.

Also I've noticed that a large number of the negative reviews seem to have more to do with setup problems (or incompatibility problems) than the actual quality of the product. Like I said, I don't even remember setting it up on a Mac and on Windows (Vista) it was relatively simple. Provided you're moderately competent with computers you should have little trouble.
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on May 13, 2009
Quick preface: I don't play with a band, I simply write/record songs using Garageband, on an iMac. This audio interface is perfect for my needs. I don't record guitar by micing my guitar amp; I plug my guitar into an effects processor (I use the POD 2.0 from Line 6), and then plug that straight into the guitar cable input on this M-Audio Fast Track. When I want to record vocals, I plug my microphone into the mic input in the back. Everything works fine and there is no unwanted hiss or feedback when I am listening to the final mixes on my songs! Some tips in case anyone is confused on how to get this thing to work with garageband:

1) Make sure the Fast Track is set as BOTH your audio input AND output in the Garageband audio preferences (you can, if you're so inclined, even make the Fast Track your audio input/output for your entire computer, you'll still get decent sound, plus it allows you to play your guitar over songs from your iTunes library, which is a big help with guitar practice).

2) In your "Input Source" for any given instrument track, you have to select "Mono 2" instead of "Stereo 1/2" if you're recording guitar, and "Mono 1" if you're recording vocals (or anything from a microphone). You'll want to switch "Monitor" to "Off." Although I have discovered that if you're trying to simulate a bass guitar with your regular electric guitar, for an extra strong bass sound, fiddle with your effects processor to get as close as you can to a bass guitar sound, and then switch Monitor to "On," and use one of Garageband's prepackaged bass guitar settings on TOP of that. Gives your "simulated" bass guitar a little bit more oomph, if you're like me and don't actually play bass.

Another cool feature on the M-Audio Fast Track is a "mix" knob which allows you to control the volume balance between the track you are recording and the playback from the rest of the song, so you can always make sure you can clearly hear what you are recording against the backdrop of the rest of the song!

Anyway, like I say, this is perfect for MY needs, and I know there are plenty of people for whom this device would not be sufficient. But if you're a non-pro musician who enjoys making songs in your spare time with a "bare essentials" collection of equipment, then you might want to look into purchasing one of these!!!!
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on November 21, 2006
I've used everything from Ableton Live to ProTools to Reason and this thing is just plug and play. Very easy interface makes for no brainer recording. I'm a guitarist and the stock sound selections are outstanding. Most players drive themselves crazy tweaking their sound but as you know it's all about the SONG. The Sessions software is a piece of cake and makes it incredibly easy to go with your inspiration instead of getting sidetracked trying to figure out all the bells and whistles. Fantastic product guys and for the money it's a steal!
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on June 21, 2006
I'm not the most gadget inclined person, and this was given to me as a gift because it was easy to install and use. But I have to say I've had a lot of frustration with this device because the gain for the mic input is tweaked out - it's either OFF or ON, but there's not much gradation between the two. In fact I get almost no gain at all until I reach almost the "3:00" position on the dial. And then it's a LOT, and my vocals tend to clip out with the slightest volume variation. It basically keeps me locked into soft, close singing, and a girl can't do that all the time! Other than that I haven't had any problems, but that one almost renders it useless. I don't know if there's something more reliable (and sane) out there, but if there is, go for that instead. Even if it costs more. Why spend money on something that doesn't work?
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on November 4, 2006
It requires absolutely no technical skill to set up and use the Fast Track. I simply plugged my guitar into the Fast Track, then plugged the Fast Track to my iBook then I opened up Garageband and sat back so my face wasn't rocked off by the results. I have never used an easier piece of recording equipment.

Also the size of the Fast Track makes it easy to pack into a laptop bag and take with you anywhere you'd like to go. Mics sound just as good through it as instruments do and the included drivers work simply and instantly with Garageband. The drivers CD was a breeze to install and use on a Windows PC which makes this box worth owning no matter which operating system you use.

I'll admit that when I bought it I thought that it was going to be nothing more than something to lay demo riffs down with, but after using it I realized that anything I plugged into it came through crystal clear with no distorting of sound or tricky delay between playing the instrument and hearing it through the recording software. Plus since it is so easy to use on Mac I can borrow it to anyone I know who has a mac and all they have to do is plug it in and go. I don't think you can find a better, inexpensive USB audio interface.

I have used this product for months and I can no longer picture myself without it. Gone are the days of crappy demo recordings and messing with tons of wires and boxes just to lay a riff down. With the Fast Track it's plug and go, which means when the riff comes to mind, or when you start to play the riff you want, you can simply plug in and record it before you forget it.

The M-Audio Fast Track has earned the 5 star review I am giving it, especially considering that over months of use I have not see a single downside to owning it.
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on December 1, 2006
I use this with n-Track Studio and, yes, I had to fiddle with some settings to get it working. But once I did that, I was very happy with what I was able to accomplish. I don't plug my electric directly into the box because I prefer the tone I get through my amp so I mic it and run it through the unit. That's the one thing I severely dislike about this device: the mic preamp is HORRIBLE. Of course, even a semi-decent preamp will cost you close to $100 alone, so you can't expect one on this thing. That's probably why some reviewers have had problems with the mic gain. The thing is, even if you get the gain correct, you will be extremely disappointed in the quality. But if you have a good preamp (which you should get for serious recording no matter what other hardware you use), then it will sound much better.

Since I don't plug directly in, I haven't used much of the software that comes with it. I tried the sequencing program, and it's nice but FAR too limited to be of any real use.
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