You wouldn’t record your band’s demo on your iPod, but if you want to capture close-range interviews or voice memos, the Belkin Voice Recorder and the Griffin iTalk get the job done. These microphones work only with iPods that have dock connectors; the iPod mini sadly lacks the software.
When you plug one into the iPod’s headphone jack, it goes straight into recording mode. The iPod displays a large, stopwatch-like counter that marks recording time in hours, minutes, and seconds. Two menu choices below the counter offer Record and Cancel options.
The Belkin Voice Recorder records in mono sound at 8KHz and 128Kbps, or about 1MB per minute of audio. It records audio as WAV files; there are no options for other formats. (We wish that both recording devices had options for changing the file format – to MP3 or AAC, for example – and recording quality, to allow for smaller files.) Once you’ve made recordings, you can play them directly from the iPod or through iTunes.
Belkin’s mic works fairly well for voice memos. The company acknowledges that it’s meant for very close-range recording, rather than for interviews at a longer distance. This explains its tendency to distort more projected syllables and to play back sounds such as ‘ess’ and ‘eff’ with a loud popping sound – a major drawback.
The iTalk records more clearly and with more-consistent sound than the Belkin. And it has a nicer-sounding speaker (but it’s also much larger). There’s a standard 3.5mm port on the top for audio in and out, so you can attach another microphone or listen via headphones. Depending on the microphone you use, you may be able to improve the quality of your recording.