- in Gear , Hardware , New Music Gear Monday by Bobby Owsinski
New Music Gear Monday: Radial Engineering Backtrack Audio Switcher
When you need a box to do something that no one has thought of yet, you can be sure it will be soon available from the clever boffins at Radial Engineering. In this case, with backing tracks becoming such a big part of many artist’s live performances, adding a separate mixer onstage just for that can be cumbersome. That’s where Backtrack comes in.
The Backtrack™ is a compact stereo audio switcher, perfect for bands running redundant backing tracks on stage or for switching between any stereo audio sources.
Connecting your playback devices to the Backtrack is easy, with ¼” TRS connections provided for the outputs of a recording interface and 3.5mm stereo inputs for integration with a smartphone, tablet or laptop. ¼” TRS outputs can feed powered speakers for monitoring on stage and balanced XLR outputs will drive signals up to 300ft to connect to the PA system. The XLR outputs are transformer isolated to eliminate buzz and hum from ground loops and feature a ground lift switch to further reduce noise.
Once connected, an A/B switch determines which stereo input to use, so the backup source can be quickly activated should the primary playback system fail. A Radial JR-2 remote ($99) can also be connected to the Backtrack to change the inputs remotely, which could really come in handy during in the middle of a performance. When cueing up tracks for playback, a mute switch cuts the feed to the main and monitor outputs, allowing tracks to be silently monitored using a dedicated headphone output. This output features its own level control and input selector switch, so even during a live performance, both sources can be checked without disturbing the outputs on stage.
While the main purpose of the Backtrack if for easy injection of backing tracks to the sound system, it has other uses too. For instance, it can be used to switch between redundant amp modeling systems. Should one amp simulator go down, use the JR-2 to easily switch Backtrack to the backup unit.
Like all other Radial boxes, Backtrack is built like a tank in a steel box that’s made to last. MSRP is $349, and you can find out more here.