Saturday, October 14, 2006

Belkin TuneTalk mini review


From time to time I record stories for radio and these need to be recorded in the field in "HiFi" quality. Currently I use a Marantz PMD660 digital recorder, which is fantastic quality, but rather large.

I was excited by the idea of using my Video iPod to record "CD Quality" audio in the field and so rushed out to get a Belkin Tunetalk.

It's physically a neat little unit that clips on to dock connector on a Video iPod as shown above.

The recording quality is good, using the built in microphone, and on "High" quality setting is recorded in WAV format at 44,100 Hz sampling.

There is no way to see the audio level on the iPod and you only have the choice of turning "Autogain" on or off. Basically, on means mic level and off means line level. The recording for me is rather low in level but I guess that's needed to avoid clipping. It's here.

I tried an external mic, a high quality Sony mic, and it sounded rather thin and low level compared to the built in mic.

Apple must have changed the software since the manual was printed as recordings now seem to be automatically transferred into your iTunes library rather than needing to be dragged or respond to a prompt to get them over. This mystified me for a while and I thought it was not saving my recordings.

High quality recordings are going to be big. My 12 second test is already 2.2Mb so this is not a dictation machine. I guess the application is recording interviews for podcasts or radio, which suits me but I find the lack of a VU meter and any way to monitor the recording a bit worrying.

Summary

Yes, it works and the internal mics sound really great. iPod user interface for recording is not great, it needs a VU meter, monitoring of the recording in the headphones, and it seems to take a long time to "Save" the recording when you stop.

Oddly the Belkin device includes one of those mini USB sockets (why can't they standardise these) and a cable so you can charge your iPod while recording. Wouldn't it have been better to repeat the dock connector on the device?

Note that this product only works with the iPod with video.

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