Belkin Tune Talk:Turn Your iPod into a Voice Recorder

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Grew up back East, got sick of the cold and headed West. Since I was small I have been pushing buttons - both electronic and human. With an insatiable need for tech I thought "why not start a blog focusing on technology, and use my dislikes and likes to post on gadgets."

39 Comments to Belkin Tune Talk:Turn Your iPod into a Voice Recorder

  1. I just bought the Belkin recorder today and am having problems with skipping as well. I purchased the product because my previous Olymus Digital voice recorder was skipping and it was driving me crazy! Very disapointed =0( Anyone have suggestions on a good recorder (mostly to record live shows/performances)

  2. I had problems recording with skipping happening every 10-20 seconds or so…when i changed to the ‘low’ setting for recording the problem was solved…and the quality is still alright. Hope this helps

  3. I’m a fairly technologically incompetent nursing student and I recently bought the Belkin Tune Talk so that I could record my lectures. I have the new 80GB iPod classic and so far I haven’t had any problems with skipping during recording, but I’ve had a huge problem with battery life. I got the recorder in the first place becuase it is so much easier to take to class than my laptop and it has GREAT audio quality, but most of my lectures are around 2 hours long (some are longer) and I lose battery life after about 45 minutes. I realize that I won’t be able to capture a 3 hour leture without an external power source, but it really frustrates me that I can’t even get an hour long lecture. Does anybody have any advice for how to prolong battery life? Changing recording quality or turning the Autogain on/off? Other than battery life I’ve really enjoyed the Belkin, it’s great for capturing concerts, lectures, and such. If you have any advice please email me (lvisser@campus.hpu.edu). Thanks!

  4. I just purchased a Tunewear stereo recording device for ipod(seems to be the newest out) for recording live shows. It claims that it can be used to record band practices. It has the passthrough features for “line in” and “mini usb” for charging while operating the ipod itself which I plan on using via an external Lenmar power source. I plan on using the “line in” feature to connect to the mixing board wherever venues/artists will allow me. I”ve seen little talk about this or “exactly” how it’s done on the internet. Does anyone know what cord/cable I need to accomplish this? 3.5mm to 2 RCA male I assume, but am not sure. Any help? Thanks.

  5. External mic Sony ECM-MS907 great as described by 32 Nicholas Chase above–in conference lecture hall I need to be within about 10 to 15 feet of source (whether person or electronic amplified speaker) and the closer the better in order to get better recording–louder voice/signal to background/noise ratio so positioning myself relative to the source is very important and determines where I sit. I have not yet asked to put the mic on the podium, but may as some recordings are too quiet to play in the car with the Monster iCar and need high volume with earphones or klipsch iGroove and of course with high volume get increased background noise. I look forward to the day when each seat has a jack to plug my iPod and thus avoid the mic altogether.

    25 Sue above describes faint recordings on CDs: try the external mic, keep the mic close to the source (not too close or unwanted sounds–breathing, opening/closing mouth–experiment), keep the iPod charged; I have used the tunetalk/iPod80GB for 6 hours in conferences without any problems–excellent recordings with no skipping and battery fully charged when done. I have read books to my kids with the external mic on my chest as we lie in bed and have great voice sound but no machine noise (though may record breathing). Many places have ac outlet–Amtrak coach takes some work; sleeping rooms have outlets so can record reading to or coversations with kids while watching the land roll by. (Rooms come with meals and lowest seat fare so can be great deal.)

    In addition to the external mic I have connected a small sony tape player (full sized audiotape cassette) by a Monster male-male cable and recorded some audiobook tapes into digital space; unsure how well this will work but seems to work somewhat and then can put on iTunes library and have all the flexibility of digital information. (All tapes/CDs purchased–no copyright infringement.) Some audiobooks not on CD yet and want to get ones like Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series onto iPod for easy carrying and therefore ready access for my kids.

    My problem now is that when I import the voice memos (as these recordings are called) into my iTunes library in my iMac the bitrate (bit rate) is 1411kps instead of the usual and quite adequate 128 kps of most voice and music recordings. So instead of about one megabyte per minute, the audio file uses about ten megabytes per minute and uses up a lot of space in both the iMac harddrive and the iPod. How do I convert the bitrate to the lower but more than adequate 128 kps (which captures all of Jim Dale’s inflections and voices in seven volumes of Harry Potter)? Any ideas/suggestions?

  6. I have the skipping issue as well. I’ll bet you any money that the processor in the Ipod is simply too slow to effectively handle everything while recording. I tried defrag and making more space on the drive. It still skips.

  7. I am very dissapointed with this product. The skipping is quite evident so for longer recordings you can trust to be captured, DON’T GET THIS BELKIN PRODUCT and so you don’t waste your time, the iTalk from Griffen is just as bad in this department, though on both units the sound quality is excellent. That probably why its secifically called a VOICE recorder. NG FOR SERIOUS MUSIC RECORDING.

  8. For an external mic, I recommend the Sony ECM-MS907 Electret Condenser Mic. I purchased one a few years ago for about $70 as a line input to my Sony Miini-disc recorder. I use the recorder for field recordings (ambient sound, lectures, etc.) as well as for archival documentation of concerts (I compose and produce chamber music concerts). It’s a simple stereo condenser mic that runs on AA batteries – I have changed my batteries all of once in the five years I’ve used the mic and only then because I thought I ought to, not because there was any noticeable failing of performance. The mic gives an incredible stereo field, so good and realistic when I review recordings on headphones I have to check to be sure that I’m not listening ‘live’! This mic is so good I have used it to record piano demos that I’ve later dumped into professionally released recordings!

    There is a drawback – the cable will pick up noise, for instance if you move or touch it. So you have to be somewhat aware of your recording situation.

    I am about to relocate to Europe and am trying to slim down my outboard gear – I am strongly considering the Belkin TuneTalk in combo with an iPod Nano to replace my Mini-disc set-up, but will absolutely continue using my Sony condenser mic.

  9. I have had the belkin mic for about a year now and use it to record singing classes every week. I’ve had only one skipping experience. Otherwise, it’s been really fantastic. I’m trying to figure out what external mic to buy to have even better sound, I remember reading that once when I was researching this purchase. Any suggestions?

  10. I bought this too and it has amazing sound quality for bootlegging concerts. Unfortunately both of the concerts I’ve recorded had the skipping problem, which wrecks listening to songs.

  11. I’m glad I found these comments.. I’m getting ready to buy one of the three currently offered CD quality video Ipod recorder assessories I’ve found available. Now I need to check out the other 2 to see if these problems are the ipod’s, or Belkin’s.

    One thing though, on 2 of the complaints: battery life and HDrive noise…

    Creative used to make 2 products, Nomad Jukebox and Jukebox 3. Both were good recorders but battery life on the Jukebox was really bad because the “firmware” (aka operating system) kept the hdrive spinning ALL the time while recording. Mike output would get processed, barely hit a buffer, then get written on the drive.
    Creative fixed that in the Jukebox 3 OS (why everyone calls this “firmware” I don’t know) by keeping Hdrive off until processor nearly filled a good sized write buffer, then spun up the drive, wrote the buffer contents, then shut down the drive until the buffer needed dumped again. Huge difference in battery charge life expectancy.
    I looked but can’t find at apple a write buffer size on a 30gb ipod.
    If the Jukebox senario is what’s occuring here, it would explain the very short battery charge life AND constant Hdrive noise. If Jukebox 3 senario, the Hdrive noise would be interminant… Which one are you folks observing?
    Also, an undersized write buffer could also explain, or have something to do with the skipping complaint…
    I gotta admit, this ipod never was intended to be a reasonable quality recorder, even if some of the hardware is capable of doing so…

  12. Bought one of these. VERY disappointed. It drained my battery after–get this–2-3 MINUTES! Worse, it doesnt appear to charge while recording, so even if you get a power cord, or plug in w/ a USB, or an external battery, it will still go dead while recording.

  13. I was using the Belkin recorder right when it first came out. It used to work great. I only recently started noticing skipping problems, so I’m thinking the problem may actually be with the NEW firmware, not the old.

  14. I want to purchase belkin tunetalk . can anybody tell me the cost of tunetalk if i purchase it from Delhi… and how reliable it is ?? what is the battery life if i use it continiulsly , any limitation of it ??
    please help me ………

  15. I have an 80 gig ipod new, and Belkin tunetalk. I’m trying to find a way for my husband to read recordings onto it for visually impaired friends of ours. I recorded and played it back on the ipod through the earbuds and it was fantastic sound! I loaded it onto my ibookG4, burned a CD, and it’s so faint I can hardly hear it. Can anyone tell me what to do?
    the same thing happens when I added a levelier mic to the tunetalk through the extrernal adaptor plug.

    My poor husband read for an hour, hit the wrong buttons so it didn’t save, and now, before I have him do it again, I want to make SURE that I can burn CDs from the files that are loud enough to be useful for our friends.

    Thanks for any good advice you have!

  16. I purchased a 30GB ipod, thinking that it would be a great improvement over my 20GB (Version 5) one I’ve had for two years. What a mistake. I use my ipod primarily for recording long workshop sessions in my job (up to 2 hours). I used to use a flat microphone plugged into an itunes adaptor at the top. With the new ipod, the machinary has changed and the adaptor cannot plug into the machine anymore ($70 down the drain). I then heard about Belkin Tune talk and bought one (which made my $200 flat mic redundant). The only way I could record and charge the battery at the same time was to purchase an additional USB charger cable (cost $40). Now, my problem is that the belkin tune talk recorded its first session in stereo, but subsequently does not. I have tried everything to make it record in stereo. I now tried to purchase another belkin tune talk from Future Shop to see if it is the ipod or the tune talk, only to be told that belkin has discontinued the poroduct (??). I am REALLY frustrated and need some helpful advice and guidance. I haven’t experienced the skipping referred to.

  17. By the way, I recorded one song of under a minute and it skipped at the end. A longer session of 30 minutes has multiple skips.

  18. I bought a Belkin TuneTalk for my 30 gig IPOD and it skips as well. I took it back to the Apple store and they gave me a new mic. I just tested it and it skips too. I have the newest software (1.2.1). This is extremely frustrating since I recorded a concert my choir did and the skips ruined the recording. Any other ideas?

  19. Just and FYI…..i returned the Tune Talk that i purchased at my local Apple Store and picked up a Micro Memo recording device that does the same thing as the Tune Talk. What the Micro Memo does not do is pick up the noise from the wizzing hard drive. However, after making a 50 minute recording with the Micro Memo i noticeed that about 20 minutes into the recording while listening back to the recording that i made the skipping started again. So the skipping issue is with the ipod and not the recording device. i have not updated my firmaware as someone suggested here but i plan to. We shall see if this makes a difference.

  20. Ok, now that I know that I don’t have to “join” the site to submit my comment here here is my review.
    I have just purchased a TuneTalk. I have a 60 gig iPod.

    1. recording quality of the TuneTalk is fantastic! The problem with the mircophones of the TuneTalk, however, it that they are too good. When making a recording the microphones pick up the sound of the hard drive spinning. The hard drive starts and stops as you are making a recording and when this happens it makes noise and this noise is picked up as the recording is made. I plugged in an external microphone and this solved this problem but as far as picking up the sound of the hard drive and the quality of the recording with an external microphone, at least the one that I used, was as good if not better than without it.

    2. I assumed that the TuneTalk would have built in speakers to play back a recording. This is not the case. If you are on the road and are using your iPod with the TuneTalk to make recordings in your car in order to listen to the recording that you have just made you will need to have a way to connect your iPod to your car to listen to your recording. This would probably not be a problem for most. However, if you are sitting a desk and making a recording and want to playback your recording you will have to buy a portable speaker set and carry that around with you. I bought the Mist speakers by Fidelity at my local CircuitCity.

    3. My biggest complaint and one that I read here before I bought the TuneTalk is that it skips segments of your recording. Up until this morning I had made a series of small recordings but this morning I made a 33 minute recording. I had the iPod unplugged from the wall outlet so the battery ran down after a 30 minute recording to the red zone of the power indicator. I plugged the iPod in and listened to the playback of my 33 minute recording. I noticed that when the recording got into the later half of it there were skips in the recording and even though the recording total time said that it was 33 minutes long when I played it back it was only about 25 minutes. So there is some sort of problem with the iPod for longer recordings. I am not sure if the skipping had anything to do with the low power but it did skip in more than a few places and by skipping I mean that it DID NOT record! It was really annoying.

  21. This is a test message to see if I can just submit my comment or if when i write a comment and then try to submit it i have to fill out a form or “sign up” for an account……

  22. Leon McCormick

    Regarding Skipping,
    The podcast Inside Home Recording (I believe #23 reviewed this product, and then 24 or 25 addressed the skipping) mentioned that he needed to defrag the iPods drive, and that the problem only seemed to happen in “high quality mode”.

    Also, regarding battery time…if you are out and about you are stuck with the limits of the iPod battery, but apperently you can plug in the included USB cable with the white battery block that came with your iPod to charge while you record.

    Finally, two other issues that I have heard about…
    One person in a review mentioned noise coming from a loose part in the mic in all 3 that he received. I thought I had the same problem, but discovered that the switch on the bottom rattles, so you may need a bit of tape or something to hold it in place.

    Also, the mic picks up the sound of the 30 Gig hard drive while it is recording, so it is better to use it with an iPod Nano as there is no internal harddrive (flash memory I believe).

    Other than that, it sounds pretty good, and after having it for about 6 hours I am glad I picked it up.

    leon

  23. I just bought one of these and am having the same skipping issue.

    My firmware is 1.2.1

    I contacted Belkin’s support — will post back what I hear from them.

  24. Johnny Table

    Jim,

    Sounds like you need to upgrade your iPod firmware. This problem only happens with firmware version 1.1 or earlier. You can update your firmware when you dock your iPod using iTunes 7.0 or later. The latest firmware is v1.2.1. This should fix the skipping problem.

  25. I have just got the Belkin Tunetalk from my 30GB Video IPod and have been encountering a problem. When recording it will skip segments. You can’t tell the segments have skipped until after you play them back. Does anyone have a clue why it does this. It is really annoying.

    Jim Labbe

  26. I have been using the tunetalk to record all different kinds of music and have been having a blast with some incredibel results. It’s unbelievebly true to sound. It works best when just a few feet away from source but i have used it in small concert settings right off the mixing board and have had amazing results. Everything I have learned has been by trial and error as theri is very little out yet in how to use it. I think it will revolutionalize recording as i have a $1000 recording divice that is impossible to figure out with an inch thick manual that is written in martian. This is so easy with mindblowing results. I am having so much fun with this. I had a birthday part for my kid in which we all sang songs on guitar and piano while i recorded it all. I took it downstairs and downloaded it into itunes and i handed themeach a cd of the singing as they walked out the door. i have an amatuer reverb program that came with my computer that adds some dimension to the recording and then i rerecord it into my ipod and put it back into itunes with the reverb added. viola impressive recordings that will blow you away. I wish that itunes had a reverb option that could be added to the songs if needed. also would be nice to be able to overlay tracks onto the recordings to add different parts-it seems like they could be able to add that easily. wish there was somebody else out there that has used it as much as i have to communicate with and exchange ideas. (i got incredible recordings around the campfires at a bluegrass festival this summer)

  27. I’ve wanted one of these quality iPod recorders for awhile. Haven’t purchased yet. Has anyone tried the Tunetalk for nature recordings like birdsongs? Does the iPod battery last better if you use an external mic; not the built in ones?

  28. Do you know where can i buy it in internet?iam from Europe and i cant see them in the stores.

    Thanks
    Gonçalo

  29. I will be going to Zimbabwe to do some research, and a large chunk of that is recordings of music in everything from dance clubs to outdoor sacred ceremonies. I need a recorder that will 1) last a long time 2) produce a high quality recording – consider that it needs to pick up lots of instruments in a large area, or the music from speakers at an African dance club 3) easily portable. So far I’m thinking I should get the 60GB video ipod with the Belkin TuneTalk, and download the software that helps save battery life (what software is this exactly?). Please email me (smhoman@noctrl.edu) to confirm or change my mind. I need to make this purchase soon, and I need it to be a wise investment. Thanks!

  30. I bought an external battery to attempt to fix the problem of short record time, however it would not charge and record at the same time. Not sure if there is a fix to this. If anyone has a solution, I would love one!!

  31. If you have a tunetalk, download the latest iPod software from Apple. It definitely gives the iPod better battery life when recording. I recorded almost two hours in high quality mode with my 30GB iPod on a full charge. Before I updated my iPod I only got around one hour. Using Low Quality mode doesn’t seem to drain the battery as fast either.

  32. The tune talk is available now in the new apple stores – mostly in the malls. I paid $70.00. I’m angry too for the long wait because it feels it was because Belkin agreed to hold off until the apple stores rolled out and to give them first rights to offer it. Not knowning this woould happen, I gave away my old ipod that I used heavily for recording. Again, I have to tell you, if you plan to record more than a half hour to 45 min. be prepard to wire a bunch of batteries to yourself – and all the mess that will come with that – so you can record more than that time. I hope Microsoft, or anyone else, puts out a microphone with its own power source – or one that does not draw all the battery power from the player.

  33. #3 Bill – where did you get yours? It isn’t available to buy yet on the belkin website or anyplace else.

  34. I have the tune talk stereo. I can’t believe I waited so long for this poor product. It drains the fully charged Ipod in about 45 minuets. If Microsoft can do significantly better than this I’m switching fast and give this damn Ipod away.

  35. This is wonderful and it seems (although not mentioned) that it records in stereo. I cn’t imagine how Microsoft is going to compete when they introduce their mp3 player, later this year. The ipods are so elegantly designed and executed while being so thoroughly integrated into society and with such a diverse accessory base, it would seem impossible . . . Interesting.

  36. interesting. so is that why one of the categories on an iPod is “Voice Memos” because u can record voice memos with some separate devices. i think its the sexiest iPod accessory ever.

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