Yet another iPod . . . yet another iPod without real recording capability. (And no, adding a piece of hardware and then having to deal with low-resolution recording does not count.)


So while Nano is certainly deeply drool-worthy for listening, wouldn’t it be great to have an iPod-like device for recording? Here are some of your options:


Hack your iPod. iPodLinux unlocks full-resolution, uncompressed audio recording with no additional hardware; it works best with a line out plugged into the headphone port but mic recording works, too (though the signal winds up being on the weak side). Installation on Windows and Mac is easy; see links on their site. Bad news: many iPod models aren’t supported; my 3rd-gen iPod works great but 4G support and mini are still in the works — and forget about Nano.


Get an iKey and a hard drive. Gemini’s iKey recorder takes a line in input from RCA and records either MP3 or WAV to a USB key or hard drive. That makes it a good companion to an iPod Shuffle or Nano or, better yet, a high-capacity, full-blown iPod. Detailed specs now available from Gemini. And it’s got a clip indicator so you don’t screw up your recording. Bad news: The iKey could be great for someone whose only need is getting a line feed recorded, especially for extended recording sessions. But the thing is big and clunky (2 lbs, and about 5″ wide) and costly ($229 list) for something that really doesn’t do anything. It’s just a line in, USB out with buttons on it — no mic in, and no built-in storage. For the price, you could get an iPodLinux-compatible iPod, or save up for a real recorder. Speaking of which . . .



Get a decent CompactFlash recorder: This is really the best solution. There are a number of real recording devices that do accept mic input, even with mic pres / phantom power. My favorites of these are the Edirol R-1 and M-Audio MicroTrack (shown). The R-1 has lots of great extras, like a built-in stereo mic that sounds surprisingly good, mic effects, and metronome. The MicroTrack is more iPod-like in shape and has digital in (perfect for connecting to your audio interface.) Bad news: None, really, other than price — about $400 for the recorder, plus $100 for storage. But as opposed to the other routes, while this will cost you more, you’ll get a real serious recorder you can actually use. I’m still saving up for mine, but boy do I want one of those MicroTracks at my next gig.


Get Apple to Add Recording. This sure would be nice. Bad news: Outlook very, very poor.


Previous coverage: (and more details on these recorders)


Which Portable Recorder to Buy?
Gemini iKey Recorder: BYO Hard Drive
M-Audio MicroTrack Portable Recorder: Official, US$499.95
Edirol R-1, Tricked-Out Portable Recording
Korg D4 Compact Flash Four-Track USB Portable Recorder
Pro Digital Recorders with SMPTE Sync for Video Production
The “HD” MiniDisc – 1GB Recorders from Sony
Marantz PMD660 Portable Digital Recorder


Updated: Music thing joins the quest for recording alternatives, no matter how “cheap or ugly.” I’m game. And I’m on the lookout for a MicroTrack to test; stay tuned. Heck, if I get one, and you’re in the NYC area, we can test it on your band. -PK


Updated again: The Digital Music Weblog waxes poetic about an old Archos Jukebox Recorder . . . that’s gigantic and records MP3s, not lossless files. Hrmm, still not impressed. Who knew basic recording would prove to be an elusive technology?

  • Guest

    If you have a treo 600 or 650, you can get some _stellar_ audio recording using a free utility called "SoundRec".

  • admin

    Good point. Some equivalents for PocketPC, too. 2 GB SD is pricier than CompactFlash, but still not so bad — and cheaper than buying new gear.

  • Guest

    Would like to know your thoughts if you have. Saw the Marantz 660 on a film shoot last week and it seemed pretty solid but the Preamps aren't great. Was using an external mixer and sending it line level.

  • admin

    Yeah, I agree — I want to try these out in person. I'm surprised about the Marantz, given their past rep (I've used plenty of their tape machines. . .)

    But yes, let me see if I can get my hands on a MicroTrack. I expect they're in demand . . .

    I have heard nice recordings on the R-1, but made from the built-it electret condensor mics — those can be surprisingly good.

    Peter

  • Guest

    What brand and model is the stereo mic pictured in the photo? I've been looking for something like that for my field recordings. 😕

  • reflex

    Thanks, Peter, for yet another thought provoking post. I'm hunting for a decent (and affordable) field recorder to record sync sound while filming. And now, I'm off to check out iPod Linux, since I have a 3G iPod.

  • Guest

    The Stereo Mic pictured is the one that comes with the microtrack. No one outside of M-Audio knows of its quality as of now. I use a Sony ECM-MS907 with my old portadat and it sounds awesome. There are many other options from Sony, I haven't really tried other brands in small stereo Mics as I usually use my high end mics for other applications where I don't need extreme portability. GOOD LUCK! Looking forward to seeing a Microtrack in action.

    Mr. Random Advice

  • diskurs

    Product Page

    Voice Recording Yes
    Line In Yes
    Line Out Yes
    Optical In Yes
    Optical Out Yes
    It supports Powered external Mics and works great.

  • Guest

    Can any of you who have a pocket PC recording setup point me to links of recordings? what models are good? I wonder if the Nokia 770 will have any recording capability in the future. Looks cool.

  • Guest

    First the original creative juke boxes (the first hard disk MP3 player I owned way before the ipod) could record full quality wav files. The current leader is the iriver who do a hard disk based portable player that accepts a stereo mic input. We use it to record our band's practice sessions and it works great!

  • Guest

    If so sign me up! What model do you use?

  • diskurs

    we use the iRiver h120 for Radio Production of our correspondants. And unwired out of house filetransfer. Cause it works great as external harddrive too. So
    mac use not a problem, cause it uses common standards usb 2.0 and works as mass storage device.
    iriver Page click for detailed spec

    faq on iriver and mac

  • Guest

    Check out the HHB website news.
    http://www.hhb.co.uk/hhb/usa/index.asp

    It's a mic with a built in flash recorder. Won't be available for a while and looks more suited to reporters than musicians. Kind of cool anyway. Wonder how much they're gonna ask fo it?!!

  • Guest

    I've got it here right now & it's charging for the first time… 😉

  • Guest

    I've used my Creative Nomad a number of times over the years for recording and it does a great job. Plus, it'll record to WAV files instead of MP3.

    I bought a Sound Professionals mic and mic preamp, which sounds simply awesome and works wonderfully with the Nomad. I've currently got 60 gigs in the Nomad which gives me, like, a million hours or something.

    Downside: the Nomad has crappy battery life, so unless you'll be able to plug-in, you've got to keep an eye on the battery while you're recording.

    … Ryan (www.laze.net)

  • Guest

    The "iaudio U2" (1GB) is the least expensive high quality recorder. At only $129 it records in 192kbps and encodes to mp3 format at the same time! It has a stereo line-in, USB, and mp3 functions. The best part is that U can change the record level (a feature that many voice recorders overlook). The U2 has also been rated #1 small mp3 player by CNET.com

  • Guest

    Core Audio has a supposedly pro-quality recorder controlled by a PDA called PDAudio.

    Core Audio does the best review of the MicroTrack that I've seen so far.

    Cheers,
    Kevin
    The Nettles

  • Guest

    How embarrassing, I bollixed up the links. Let's try that again:

    Core Audio has a supposedly pro-quality recorder controlled by a PDA called PDAudio.

    Core Audio does the best review of the MicroTrack that I've seen so far.

    Cheers,
    Kevin
    The Nettles

  • Guest

    Any recommendations on how to record aduio from a small acoustic set using a laptop with XP Pro?

    I would like to buy/rent a mic, since this is a one time thing. If I have to buy a mic, so be it. Also, suggestions on software to record and edit?

  • Guest

    some of you definitly do not understand what the iKEY can do. I highly suggest a conversation take place with the designer, engineer or a sales personal at Gemini headquarters in Edison, NJ… http://www.geminidj.com

  • Guest

    Now that the iPod (video) seems to support "CD-quality" (44.1kHz stereo), could someone review the iPod as a recorder?

  • Guest

    is there an input adapter? or what!?

  • Alexander Wright

    I've got mac 10.2.8 and want a small recording device which is no fuss, also interested in editing / mixing and producing. Any advice?

    I'm more into music than computers.

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