A: The short answer is, yes. Modern USB 2.0 thumb drive (a.k.a. USB drive, jump drive, pen drives, flash drives, USB sticks, etc.) have gotten much faster, and are capable of supporting the throughput required for recording and playing back some number of audio tracks. However, they are still not as fast as a hard drive — even a slow hard drive, whether internal or external FireWire/USB. So, we recommend recording to a hard drive where possible. But for recording a few tracks, playing back a few backing tracks for a live performance, or in an emergency, a thumb drive will work.
Caution: all drives are not created equal. Be sure to test the thumb drive you intend to use to ensure that it is capable of supporting the number of tracks and sample rate/resolution you require. We have not done our own testing, but the word we’ve heard is that the fastest thumb drives are the newer USB 2.0 “dual-channel” drives. Some users also feel that smaller capacity drives (say, 4GB) are faster than large capacity drives (for example, 32GB); but again, we have not tested this ourselves.