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iRiver iHP120, better than iPod as field recorder

Subject: iRiver iHP120, better than iPod as field recorder
From: "oryoki2000" <>
Date: Wed, 01 Feb 2006 01:53:24 -0000
If you're really interested in using a small hard disc-based audio
player as a field recorder, check out the iRiver iHP-120 and the
Rockbox software.

iRiver is a Korean company that makes personal music players. The
iHP-100 was introduced in mid-2003, and replaced in early 2005 with
the newer 300 series.  The iHP-100, -120 and -140 are iPod style
devices, with 10, 20 and 40GB hard drives respectively. Unlike the
iPod, the iHP-100 series has several features oriented to recording audio:

--3.5mm line level input jack
--SPDIF optical digital input and output
--records in 16/44.1 WAV format or up to 320kbps MP3
--large remote control to manage most recording settings

There are a few problems with the iRiver design:
--maximum WAV file recording is 75 minutes
--can't adjust levels while recording, must pause
--1300mAh battery provides only 2.5 hours of recording time

These problems have been addressed by the open-source audio
software called Rockbox.  Rockbox is developed by volunteers
and offered to everyone for free.  You load the Rockbox
software into the iHP-100 series from your computer using a 
USB cable.  

Running Rockbox, the iRiver iHP-100 series players now record WAV
files up to 2GB (more than 3 hours).  The record levels are displayed
on the LCD screen, and can be adjusted on the fly as needed.  And the
Rockbox software runs more efficiently, making the battery last almost
twice as long.  Not bad for a free software upgrade!

The Rockbox software development continues. Bug fixs and new features
are added weekly.  You can find out more about the Rockbox project and
download software by following links at

The iHP-100 series machines are available used from eBay.  The iHP-120
seems to be the most common model.  Prices for the iHP-120 range from
$275 for a factory refurbished model with 90 day warranty, to
$175-$200 for a used model with all accessories.

Recording via the line level input works OK with most mics if the
source has a high sound pressure level (like a waterfall or a rock
concert).  Nature recordists will probably need an external preamp of
some sort to raise the signal level. 

Admittedly, a setup like the iRiver iHP-120 and Rockbox software won't
appeal to everyone.  Most of us would be better served by a device
designed first and foremost as a recorder, such as the recently
announced Edirol R-9.   But the iHP-120 combination offers real
advantages over the current iPod as a field recorder.



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