At the CES conference this week, Belkin announced an accessory that
allows the iPod to act as relatively sophisticated audio recorder.
The Podcast Studio provides combo XLR and 1/4-inch (7 mm) inputs, as
well as a 1/8-inch (3.5 mm) TRS input. No word about mic vs line
level, so I assume these are microphone inputs. In addition, the
Podcast Studio has two built-in mics.
The device has switch selectable mono mode, low cut filter, mic
sensitivity (low or high), and limiter (on or off). There is a single
large preamp volume control, and two rows of LEDs that show the level
of the preamp output (-18, -9, -3, 0 dB) for two channels.
A very small speaker and headphones jack provide output options. The
Podcast Studio announcement does not specifically talk about playback
of material already stored on the iPod, but I expect that it will.
The Podcast Studio is powered by an internal battery, probably
composed of two AA cells.
This gadget is designed to work with the fifth generation iPod (sold
in 2005 and 2006), as well as the current iPod Classic and the iPod
Nano (the Nano that is able to show movies). The iPod's software
digitizes input at 16/44.1 WAV only.
Photos of the new gadget can be found here:
Belkin says the Podcast Studio will be available in June, price $100
USD. A new 4GB Nano costs $150, so the least expensive package would
cost $250. A new 80 GB iPod Classic costs $250.
More sophisticated field recorder options are available for similar
cost. For example, the Zoom H2 costs only $200, and digitizes at
rates up to 24/96. The M-Audio Microtrack II costs about $275.
I think the Podcast Studio will appeal primarily to people who already
own an iPod and who want to try their hand at recording.