Finally, the Belkin TuneTalk Stereo Recorder Arrives

Finally, the Belkin TuneTalk Stereo Recorder Arrives

Quite some time ago I had written about the long wait we were forced to endure with the new iPod voice recorders. I saw a bunch of them on display at MacWorld back in January and kept waiting and waiting for a solid portable recording solution …. well, I’m not sure when it actually got released, but I finally was able to get a new Belkin TuneTalk Stereo (TTS), only down side is that it is black and my iPods are white. The quality is really so much better than the previous versions for older iPods that it isn’t even worth comparing that. Just right out of the box you can make very high quality sounding recordings with your iPod, the TTS, and the goofy little stand it comes with — BTW, that stand must have cost Belkin a whole quarter of a penny.

I spent some time testing the thing — both as a stand-alone and with a couple of lav microphones to see what I could get. Right out of the box the thing sound good plugged into the bottom of an iPod — in some situations you can hear a little hum from the hardrive in the iPod spinning — I noticed it more on my 60 GB than on the 30. There is a little gain switch on the bottom that makes a huge difference in quality.

When I got this thing the thing that got me interested was the line in … it allows you to bypass the internal mic of the TTS and plug in an external setup into the .35mm jack on the bottom. Originally, I thought a wireless mic setup would be ideal for so many situations — walk in, drop an iPod on the podium with the TTS hooked to the bottom, plug in the base unit, and start recording with the freedome to roam. The setup doesn’t seem to work with my Gemini LIX-16 wireless unit as I am only able to get one channel to record audio. I then tried my wired Griffin lav mic and it produces really good sound. It actually got me thinking that the iPod with the TTS and the lav mic plugged into it is actually only a half inch bigger than the wireless unit … the iPod setup is noticably thinner too.

The software on the iPod works the same way as it did before … clip on the TTS and the iPod switches over to voice recorder mode with the option to start recording. You can now also set the recording quality to high or low. I went with high for all my tests. THe one thing the whole thing misses is some sort of user feedback. THe recording click ticks along, but a level meter on either the TTS or, even better, on the iPod screen would make a huge difference — just take the guesswork out of the whole process. At any rate, the included podcast will give you an idea what this thing can do — about half way through the podcast I swtich from the TTS with the lav mic to without. Let me know what you think.

Update: A lot of people have emailed me asking where to find this thing … we found it at the Apple Store … if you are an edu customer, make sure you go into the education store as it is $10 cheaper. Here is the link to the public store.

41 thoughts on “Finally, the Belkin TuneTalk Stereo Recorder Arrives

  1. Interesting podcast, Cole. It really helped to hear both the TuneTalk recording via the lapel mike and just by itself. The quality of the former was much better.

    Where were you able to track down a TuneTalk mic? I too have been waiting for ages for this to finally come out.

  2. Paul, we found them at the Apple Store … the link provided is to the public store, but if you go into the education side you can save yourself $10.00. I would say that this thing isn’t going to be THE solution, but it is certainly a nice piece to the puzzle. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Thanks for the tip! Just placed my order with Apple. I’ve been waiting for the release of this mic for months now. Really started drooling when I saw it in the hands of Apple execs at the end of June. Interesting that you still can’t get it through Belkin’s online store yet.

  4. It is interesting … not sure what that is all about. In the product manual they list a non-black version as well, but I can’t seem to find it. Let me know how you like it!

  5. I have a problem with the Belkin TuneTalk Stero for my 60 Ipod.

    I have been doing recordings and find that after 20 minutes the recordings start skipping. You won’t know it until you play them back. I returned my first tunetalk and exchanged it thinking there was a problem with it and I am experiencing it with the second one. Black by the way – not available in white as I had hoped.

    However, I can get good quality recordings for short projects. But the battery drains and it starts skipping after 15-20 minutes. I am not always able to have plug in to a power supply (laptop) to charge and record at one time.

    Are there ANY recorders out there for the G5 60gig video that don’t drain the power – that have perhaps their own power supply?

    Help!
    I have had this almost a year and haven’t been able to record at all – but now – very limited!

    thanks
    Barb

  6. Barb:

    Go to http://www.apple.com/ipod/download/ and get the latest iPod software. It will fix your recording issues with the TuneTalk. Your battery will last much longer and you won’t get any annoying skipping problems in your recordings. You’ll also get about 50% better battery life if you use the iPod’s Low Quality setting (which actually sounds pretty good).

  7. Barb,

    Go to http://www.apple.com/ipod/download/ and get the latest software for your iPod. This update seemed to fix the skipping problem and also made my iPod’s battery last longer when recording. Recording in the iPod’s low-quality mode also seems to improve battery life, and I think it still sounds pretty good.

    Hope this helps.

  8. Sorry for the multiple replies. The image that you need to confirm after submitting a post wasn’t showing up on the web page, so I thought the reply didn’t get through and I tried again. Feel free to delete the redundant reply (and this one too!).

  9. Cole, I’m curious whether you tested the TTS line-in with an audio source other than an external mic. Also, I’ve read that the TTS has a USB port pass-through jack that allows for the iPod to be powered by a computer USB port or an external iPod power supply. Did you try powering your iPod with this setup? Thanks.

  10. DrumRunner … I did not test another source … other than the external lapel mic. I was able to plug it into the AC power adapter with the included USB cable and it charged while it worked. Another thing that would have been nice it make it playback audio as well w/o headphones. I’ll try an external source on it and report back soon.

  11. I have a problem with my TuneTalk voice recorder.

    I have a podcast, and have been using the TuneTalk to record voice and music through a mixing board using the line-in plug. Sound quality for both is fine, but after exactly two hours, the TuneTalk automatically stops recording. It will automatically start recording again as a new voice memo, but inevitably a minute of audio is lost in between. Does anyone know how to fix this? I’d like to be able to record straight through on the same voice memo for at least 2.5 hours.

  12. Not that I can tell … I tried and if you can I cannot see how it is possible. I was hoping for the same functionality, but it doesn’t look like you can. I haven’t tried the Extreme Mac recorder yet — that hopefully happens this weekend.

  13. Will … The best wired lav mic I have used is the Griffin lav mic … it is a white stereo model that seems to be hard to find these days. I have also tried the run of the mill Best Buy and Radio Shack wired lavs and they do a nice job, but aren’t designed as well as the Griffin. Wireless lavs are a bit more tough … the Gemini LIX-16 that I carry in my podcast kit is more than decent, but for some reason only produces of audio out of one channel. I hope that helps.

  14. I finally recieved my tunetalk and used it immediately with great results. I’m having a problem with the volume though when i record line in from my fostec 4 track. I t records but the volume is so low and i have to have the volumes sliders maxed and then it is so soft. When I make a cd of the recording (through itunes of course) i have to crank the volume on my stereo all the way up to listen to it. This is only when i record in from an auxilary source (like from my fostex recorder) What am I doing wrong?

  15. Hi and thanks for all the great info on this.

    Question:
    1. Are your lav mics stereo or mono. I have a Sony lav mic and it’s mono. Getting it plugged into the TTS is kinda hard but this is good so that it does not come out of my pocket when I speak. But, the recording is left channel only on high quality.

    2. Do you have power between your lav mic and the TTS? My Sony lav mic comes with a little battery powered (pre amp I guess, or some kind of power) device and I am not sure if I have to use it or not. With the old Belkin Mic adaptor, I was told specifically not to use it.

    3. When recording with the gain on, do you notice that it picks up sounds in the room (like student’s questions) adiquately? The old Belkin had a very narrow range and if I could pick up students questions (which I would like to) then my own voice would clip out on the recording.

    Thanks and sorry for all the questions, can’t find anywhere on the Belkin site to ask these.

  16. thanks for the info. I dont use a lav mic though im just using a direct line in from two rca jacks coming from my 4 trk to a single plug which is a stereo plug plugging right into my tunetalk and then i press record and it records and i listen to it. when i listen to it the playback volume is so low i have to have it totally maxed. It also burns onto the cd with this low vlume so when i play the cd in the car i have to cracnk the volume way up to hear it. when i pput a factory made cd in i have to turn it way down again.

    In a nutscell
    I cant see how to adjust (make louder) the recording volume (the 4tk is turned all the way up too).

  17. jnelson … all I can think is that you could flip the switch on the bottom for the gain, or use a preamp in between the output device and the line in on the TTS.

    Patrick … all the lav mics I have tried are stereo. I have had this strange thing going on with my wireless set in that it only produces one channel of audio via the tts. The wired lav mic I use does not have power — it is a belkin. I do have a lav mic like the one you are talking about (with the battery), but I have not tried it. I can and see what happens. Are you getting good sound without the battery part? The gain doesn’t boost it enough to hear classroom noise … I can’t catch students’ questions with it and that has become our next big quest — to see what it would take to really mic up a classroom so we can get the all the discussion captured.

  18. Hi Cole
    When I use the battery powered connection between the Sony Lav Mic and the TTS, I do get a kinda acceptable recording. It’s one channel only on high quality and both on low quality. There is a hiss in the background which persists in all options unless I take out the mic altogether and just use the TTS built in mic, which is really good and pics up questions well around the room, but I walk around a lot and can’t afford the difference in quality.

    My belkin adapter, sony mic (without the battery) and 3G white ipod are still a better combination. Maybe TTS is looking for a stereo unpowered mic to do it’s job.

  19. Thanks all for insights above.
    So….has anyone done a performance comparison with the new recorder for iPod from Xtrememac? I’m training to decide which mike to get and welcome any insights/suggestions.
    Heartfelt thanks!

  20. I went to purchase the Xtrememac device yesterday and it is still on backorder from our campus computer store. As soon as mine come in (I pre-ordered it) I’ll do some testing and post my thoughts here.

  21. Hi all,

    I am new here. Does anybody have experience how the Griffin TuneTalkStereo and the Belkin ITalk compare? (I am aware the latter is mono).
    Another question: Is there any recording solution for an IPod mini?
    Thanks for any enlightenment!
    Hans

  22. Hi there,
    I have just purchased the micromemo recorder for my 30G iPod. The recording quality is very good. My problem is that the recording regularly skips. Can anyone explain what I need to do to avoid this? Also the playback on the micromemo doesnt seem to work. Anyone has these problems? or is it just me?

  23. I have the exact same problems sith my belkin tunetalk stereo, the audio starts skipping after some 20 minutes. I´m using the latest software, so the problem shouldn´t be there. If you experience the same problems with the micromemo, that indicates that the problem lies in the ipod and not the accessories. Anyone who has a solution?

  24. I have a 20 gig color ipod.
    Will the belkin tts unit work with it?

    I am looking to record lectures, etc.
    The recording time will be in excess of two hours regularly.
    Or should I just get a new ipod?

  25. Thanks Cole,

    I was afraid of that.

    Is there a good solution for me or will I have to upgrade to get a good lecture recorder with decent storage?

  26. If you have a laptop you can just record to it with a cheap lav mic … otherwise, there are options for older iPods they just don’t have as a high a quality recording capability. There are other options that do not rely on the iPod if you are interested. Drop me a note and we can go from there.

  27. Cole,

    I had a 3G iPod and I used the DIO voice recorder which came with a lapel mic. It worked great! Well, I decided to upgrade to a video iPod and bought the Belkin TuneTalk. With no .35mm mic plugged in, it works/sounds great. But when I used the .35mm mic that came with the DIO unit I only get sound from the left channel. No stereo! I notice on your podcast sample you are getting stereo. What am I doing wrong?

    Thanks,

    J

  28. Hello.

    I recently purchased the Belkin Tunetalk for my 5G Video iPod. I bought it for the purpose of recording lectures. For shorter recordings, the Tunetalk works great. The sound quality is excellent. However, when I try recording anything above 30minutes, the audio starts skipping. What’s worse is that after lecture is over (almost an hour of recording), I hit the ‘Stop and Save’ button, the screen stays on the ‘Saving’ screen for a couple minutes, and then loads up the ‘Voice Memos’ screen. Assuming the recording was successly saved, I then try to play the recording, and the iPod completely freezes. It takes a complete reset just to get the thing to turn off.

    When I do finally play the recording I find that even though the length of the recording is listed as 50 minutes long, when I try to play anything past the 30 minute or so mark, the recording stops and takes me right back to the ‘Voice Memos’ screen. This is especially frustrating because throughout recording the red light remains on leaving one to believe it’s still recording what its supposed to. So I guess the issue comes when the Tunetalk tries to save such a lengthy file. Which leaves me out of luck, and missing crucial take home points made at the end of lecture.

    I thought this might have been a battery issue, as I’ve read that the Tunetalk will cut off the last 25 minutes of a recording if the battery is too low. So I tried recording with the Tunetalk connected to my desktop via the USB cable. The same problems persisted. Skipping audio and missing the last 20 minutes of my hour long recording.

    While the sound quality is excellent, I found the Belkin Tunetalk useless for longer term recordings such as lectures, which is unfortunate especially considering “records lectures” is listed under the product description.

    My question is then, is there a workaround to the frustrating problems of skipping audio, and the cutting off of longer recordings? If not, would someone be so kind as to point me to maybe non-iPod alternatives to other cheap, compact digital voice recording devices with similar sound quality as the Belkin Tunetalk for the purposes of recording important lectures, but without the issues I have stated above?

    Thanks.

  29. I just listened to your test podcast. The lavalier mic is obviously distorted, clipping, and has some other bad artifacts. (Aside from that, it seems to have a lot of high frequency boost, which accentuates the sibilants in your speech.) Recording with the internal mic was much cleaner and free of distortion and clipping.

    I have read some literature for the TTS which states that when the LED blinks, the level is too high and the recording will be clipped. Since you stated (in the podcast) that the LED was blinking with the external lav mic, that confirms the bad audible distortion.

    I agree, the iPod should have a bargraph display on the LCD screen, to show recording level. But since it does not (which is obvious to anyone), Belkin should have implemented that feature in the TTS. Also, the TTS should have a rotary control, to allow careful adjustment of the record level, rather than just a switch to turn AGC on or off.

    The TTS sounds like a good idea (recording to the iPod) which is badly executed, leaving out some important features. As a result, it’s a toy, not an accessory. So sad.

  30. To everyone complaining about skipping of the iPod recording devices: I wrestled with this and tried all of the remedies recommended in this site. Nothing worked. In my experience, the only thing that works is to reset your iPod precisely according to the instructions given at
    http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=61705

    You must do this before each recording session. I am still waiting for Apple to come out with an update to iPod firmware or software to fix the bug.

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