by Jerry Vigil
This month's Test Drive takes a look at a piece of equipment you as a Production Director might not use very often, but you'd call it one of the most valuable pieces of equipment your department has. The Fast Trac from Henry Engineering packs the power to free up a studio that's being used to dub music to cart, therefore leaving that studio available for some serious production. The Fast Trac is basically a "one-pot" console with three inputs. With the Fast Trac, any space in your station, be it a closet, a store room, or an unused corner somewhere, can become a dub center without the need for a console and large console furniture. This dub center can also be used to dub spots to cart. So, if you're short on studios and find yourself too often having to give up your main studio for music dubbing and commercial dubs, read on. The Fast Trac could be exactly what you and your station need.
Think about it. Whether you're dubbing music or dubbing spots, you only use one playback source at a time. Therefore, only one fader or pot is needed. The Fast Trac uses a pot. If you're dubbing music, you're dubbing from a CD or a turntable. If you're dubbing spots, you're dubbing from a 2-track reel-to-reel. The Fast Trac has three inputs labeled TT/MIC, CD, and AUX. The AUX input can be used for a 2-track while the other two inputs handle your turntable and CD player. The TT/MIC input will handle a mike input using an optional mike preamp. There is a fourth input on the front panel. This input uses a ¼-inch jack and overrides all other inputs when used.
There are three knobs on the front panel. The first is the BALANCE control which enables control of the left/right balance of the line output of the Fast Trac. This control can be defeated with one of the buttons on the front panel. The center knob is the LINE GAIN knob used to control the output level to the cart machines. The third knob is the MONITOR level control which controls the Fast Trac's monitor output to an amp and speakers.
Among the INPUT SELECT buttons on the left side of the Fast Trac are two oscillator buttons. One selects an internal oscillator as output for setting levels, and the other selects the oscillator frequency, either 400Hz or 10kHz.
The six buttons on the right side of the panel include three used for monitor selection: TAPE/LINE, TAPE 1/TAPE 2, and STEREO/MONO. One of up to three sources can be selected for output to the monitor speakers. With the TAPE/LINE button in the LINE position, the selected input is sent to the monitors. In the TAPE position, (assuming you have two cart machines installed) the playback of one of the two cart machines is selected, and the TAPE 1/TAPE 2 button alternates between the two cart machines. The third button is a STEREO/MONO selector which can be used, even while recording, to monitor the playback of the cart machines to confirm that you are recording and that there is no phase cancellation occurring.