Tech News on G4
GoStudio Portable Recording Studio for iPod
Dec 12, 2008
By Greg Gazin - Apple Gaziní - G4 Canada
Most recording consoles are designed for studio use, but with today’s mobile generation, Belkin has found a way to help you take it on the road. You can hold it in your hand but it won’t fit in your pocket, but it certainly with fit in your backpack.
The Belkin GoStudio ($149) has a docking cradle for any iPod that supports video as well as most iPod nano models. Simply slide your unit into the dock and you’re ready to record CD quality 44Khz 16-bit sound which will appear as “Voice Memos” on your iPod. What it has over many other attachment devices including Belkin’s Tune Talk Stereo we covered a little while back, is its ability to accept multiple inputs and control many aspects of the recording process.
Many Input Possibilities
First let’s look at inputs. At the rear are 2 standard 3.5mm (1/8”) input jacks with plug-in power, allowing you to plug in microphones or any line-in device. There are also 2 combo jacks that accept ¼” or XLR inputs - allowing you to directly patch in stage microphones and even instruments like a guitar. On either side of the unit are 2 built-in unidirectional electret condenser microphones unit that can be rotated.
Control the Recording
If you are in a recording studio you have the ability control your environment, but you don’t always have that luxury. GoStudio has a number of features that can help you fine tune your recording.
There are 2 gain controls – one for each channel that can be set to low, high or auto, to allow you amplify the incoming signal. These are ideal since you may be in a situation where the subject is very far away or perhaps you are in a loud or noisy environment like a club or a bar. The low-cut filter can rid the recording of unwanted low frequency sounds like rumbling or vibration and the limiter feature keep the signal from jumping into the red.
As you can see from the photo, there is also a Master level control that is designed to reduce or amplify the incoming signal. It’s not quite a volume control as the centre point “0” indicates that there is no amplification applied. Turning it to the right boosts the signal and turning it all the way to the left with mute the sound. The recording-level LEDs indicate how loud the sound is with the red “0” indicator lighting up when the peak volume has been reached. Anything beyond that will be totally distorted. The LEDs on either side of “0” indicate the levels for the right and left channels.
Test Driving the GoStudio
The GoStudio is fairly easy to use and gives you an incredible number of ways to control the audio to give you the best recording possible. I liked that it had a tripod mount so that you could take any camera tripod and mount it in your ideal location for recording. It runs on 2 standard AAA batteries (AC adapter optional), so they’re easily replaceable. It also has a bracket to snugly secure the iPod in the dock, depending whether you are using the full size iPod or the nano
You can also listen to your recording through the built-in speaker or the volume controlled headphone jack located in the front of the unit.
As far as recordings go, to get the best possible recording, I did have to spend a little time trying out the various combinations of using the filters, gain controls and master level. I found the best results were when using the 3.5mm jacks. The XLR and ¼ have no phantom power, which would have been a nice touch. The external mics are passable for voice recording – ie podcasts but not ideal for singing. The one challenge I did have is that the mics are so sensitve, the sound of touching or adjusting the unit’s controls would easily be picked up on the recording. Overall I found them reasonably acceptable, but if you are recording for high fidelity sound go with external mics. The source selector allows you to choose which inputs you are using. It would have been nice it that could be done automatically.
The Bottom Line
Overall this is a nice little unit if you need to do some recording in a pinch. And while it’s easy to use you may need to spend a little time, at least when you first get it, to fine tune how it will record given the various settings. Nevertheless, the Belkin GoStudio is great for recording school lectures, speeches, especially for Toastmasters, creating podcasts and even music to some extent – maybe band practice rather than recordings you would hope to sell.
If this unit were $300-$400, I might have been a little more disappointed, but for less than half that, the GoStudio is a gem.
Greg Gazin can be reached at gadgetguy “at” telus “dot” net.
About G4 in Canada
G4 launched on September 7, 2001 as the ultimate television resource for technology news, information and entertainment. Co-owned by G4, Rogers Media Inc. and Shaw Communications Inc., G4 is Canada's first television channel 100% dedicated to technology, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The channel features the latest technology news, information and entertainment in an exciting and high-energy format. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite.