It was easy to go into iPod accessory overload at this year’s Macworld Expo, which ballooned back into two halls of the Moscone Center more because of iPod products than Mac products. (Some wondered if the show should be called “Appleworld.”) But while it’s been bashed by Gizmodo, Belkin’s new TuneStudio shows a lot of promise as an iPod accessory that just might change how you use your music player.
I got a chance to talk to Belkin at the show, and learned some additional details about the device. If sound quality is up to par, it could be a really handy gadget.
The TuneStudio is what it looks like: it’s a mixer with a port for your iPod. Since the iPod can’t record multitrack audio, you get instead a 16-bit, 44.1 kHz WAV file recorded to the iPod. (It lives in your voice memos folder, for easy syncing to your Mac or PC.) The mixer itself is a full mixer, with 3-band EQ, pan and level, and routing to headphones or a monitor mix.
Most interesting to me is that the USB connection on the TuneStudio will stream audio bi-directionally to your computer. That means you can use the TuneStudio as an audio input device for your computer, and/or stream sound back from your computer to the mixer and record the resulting mix on the iPod. With one device, in other words, you could plug in an instrument, mic, and sound from your computer software of choice, route the results to a house mix for a gig, but capture your performance onto your iPod for your band’s podcast.
Belkin is bundling Ableton Live Lite with the package, and they were demoing the package with a live duo, so it’s clear they think you might do something of the sort.
Of course, there are two real questions here. The first is, what’s the audio fidelity like, and naturally I couldn’t tell on the Macworld show floor. The second and more important question is whether people will want to carry this or just buy a mixer and audio recorder for more flexibility. Also, don’t be too sure about the US$180 price widely quoted on the tech blogs — rumors on the floor said the shipping product might price out higher. We’ll watch this one closer to release.
See also: Music thing, which liked the design. (Note that they were looking an artist rendering; these photos are actual working prototypes.)
Expected this summer.