Why podcasters (and bootleggers?) will love the new iPod | iLounge Article

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Why podcasters (and bootleggers?) will love the new iPod

It was one of our top feature requests, and frankly, one that was overdue. The new “iPod with video” has finally upped the ante on audio recording quality, so for the first time in two years, fans of iPod recorders can rejoice.

This new iPod can record in two modes - we’ve heard them called “standard and extended,” and seen them called “low” and “high” on Apple’s web page. Low is 22.05KHz, monaural - nothing special, but perfectly adequate for podcasts. High is 44.1KHz and stereo - potentially ideal for CD-quality recording. We recorded our first two podcasts on iPods at 8KHz, and though they worked, the audio quality wasn’t impressive.

Good guys will see this new feature as a way to use microphones and line-in accessories - not yet released - to make easily portable podcasts and other legal recordings of audio content. Some people will, of course, try to make direct-to-iPod recordings of things they probably shouldn’t record - like someone else’s CDs.

Apple’s decision to force all recordings into WAV format - an outdated, huge, entirely uncompressed way of storing audio - is actually pretty ingenious. The new iPod most likely can record directly into MP3 format. But by forcing files into WAVs, Apple limits the practical likelihood that you’ll copy libraries of CDs or pull other tricks with your iPod. It would be just too inconvenient, time- and space-consuming, and require you to use iTunes to convert into MP3 anyway.

The one possible loophole: live concerts. Recording these with an iPod mic will now be as easy as it is with a tape recorder. But still harder than with most of the iPod’s numerous competitors, which often include line-in and microphone recording direct to MP3 or other formats without any charge, or challenge. A full-sized iPod loaded with other content won’t be able to hold too many hours of uncompressed, WAV recordings, so don’t expect iPodalooza or iOzzfest to be recorded in entirety on an iPod.

In our view, the new feature gives portable podcasters what they want, and precludes the recording industry from complaining too much about Apple’s compromises. Now bring on the new microphones!

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Comments

1

About time.

Any chance they’ll improve the bitrate in an update for the older iPods?

Posted by Shig on October 12, 2005 at 8:09 PM (CDT)

2

“Any chance they’ll improve the bitrate in an update for the older iPods?”

Not in a million years.  Apple hates old customers.  if you aren’t buying the newest thing, they don’t care about you at all.

Posted by stark23x on October 13, 2005 at 3:31 AM (CDT)

3

Uncompressed audio is hardly outdated, although it certainly takes a lot of space.  There’s also no real need to use it when a 60 GB iPod can hold nearly 100 hours - four days! - of uncompressed 44.1 kHz 16 bit stereo audio.

I’m sure that dedicated bootleggers won’t find it too much of a burden to free up space beforehand, and the uncompressed format will give a better quality recording at the end, along with more scope to fiddle with levels, noise reduction, and tonal balance before it is finally compressed (if it’s not going onto CD, that is).

Apple probably don’t care about people copying CDs to the iPod, given that they produce an application to do just that - and to do so rather more quickly and conveniently than using an audio line in and real-time recording.

However, I suspect that the real reason recording is done in uncompressed PCM audio is just that it requires no processing.  Encoding to compressed formats is typically much more processor-intensive than decoding.  Dedicated hardware might require more space, and almost certainly costs more.  MP3 encoding probably also requires an additional per-device licence from Fraunhofer.  AAC ditto, perhaps.

Given that the iPod can record four solid days of audio, I can’t really see any compelling reason for implementing compression in the iPod itself.  I don’t think there’s any record-industry-placating conspiracy behind it, just sensible engineering decisions.

Posted by Paul Battley on October 13, 2005 at 6:03 AM (CDT)

4

Yummy!I was looking at the second generation Hi-MD from Sony which will record an hour and a bit into PCM stereo on a 1GB disc and then you have to upload into software to convert into WAV format…it all looks a little limite and long-winded now compared to the new iPod.I just love the way Apple moves the goalposts in this whole audio/music/video category and redefines the playing field.Boy it is getting hard to keep up with them….Sounds like Sony’s epitaph!

Posted by Bozo on October 15, 2005 at 1:05 AM (CDT)

5

No need for iPod-Linux, then, right?

Can someone review the new recording features? Please?
Specifically:
–Does it need an add-on like Belkin’s “Voice recorder?”
–What recording options are available? I.e., can recording levels be modified while recording, etc.?
–What’s the battery life for recording at 44.1/16?
–Is there a limit to the size of recorded files?
–How does the sound quality compare with other devices recording uncompressed sound?

This could be the killer device for field recorders and musicians. We do need uncompressed sound, for many reasons. Bozo’s right about what this can do to Hi-MD. If it’s done right.

Posted by Enkerli on October 15, 2005 at 9:18 AM (CDT)

6

i would like to know the same stuff…..

–Does it need an add-on like Belkin’s “Voice recorder?

Posted by mixtus on October 19, 2005 at 8:28 PM (CDT)

7

WAV files are much better, they’re a professional standard (BWAV), second only to SDII, and they’re not compressed for a good reason. Compression destroys the audio quality. 44.1kHz sounds much the same as 96kHz, and better 44.1k D-A converters will produce a much greater improvement in sound quality than using 96kHz on the same converter. It would have been tragic to restrict the iPod to recording MP3s. Also, 60GBs will give you about 120 hours of recording, five days solid. Enough for your average festival.

Posted by bishopdante on October 25, 2005 at 6:24 PM (CDT)

8

It’s most unfortuante that you can’t use the minijack socket as a S/PDIF socket.

Posted by bishopdante on October 25, 2005 at 6:28 PM (CDT)

9

Incidentally, you’ve been able to record WAV files on any iPod with iPod Linux installed upon it. Only older iPods are supported, but they’ve got a photo of a guy running Doom on an iPod photo. They’ve got quite hefty ARM chips in them, so you can do quite a lot with them. It’s amazing to think that an iPod looks like a shrunken Mac 128k, yet it’s far more powerful, and can store far more than a floppy disc’s content of 800k!

Posted by bishopdante on October 25, 2005 at 6:31 PM (CDT)

10

agreed about the comments regarding wav files. far better than thin and lifeless mp3. (now the real deal for live audio is 24 bit recording—takes up more space, but 60 gig is plenty to simply capture it)....unless you’re only listening thorough headbuds or some other unrealistic transducer. for live recordists the issue is what kind of inputs it has. no spdif, firewire, usb, optical…? it the new one hackable? no, in a word. so ya gotta use itunes? bring along a laptop? why not just record directly onto the hd of the laptop with audacity via an a/d?—then cut it up into files and import to itunes > ipod (this is what one does now.) so this entire discussion is moot, unless i’m missing something regarding inputs…

Posted by dbdb on December 12, 2005 at 2:55 PM (CST)

11

If you want to record anything other than podcasts and lectures on your MP3 player, I’d recommend going old-school, getting the Iriver H120 and installing Rockbox - you then get analog and optical line in/out, recording in MP3(fixed or VBR)/WAV/FLAC, gain and volume control (even while recording), and automatic gain control. Stored files are labelled with date and time, and the whole thing just appears as a USB 2.0 hard drive to the operating system. The cheap player will also free up money to get a more expensive mic!

Posted by Tom Richards on October 13, 2008 at 8:11 AM (CDT)

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