Article: Where Are the Audio Accessories?

by on January 6, 2006

With the introduction of the iPod nano, and a month later, the fifth-generation iPod, Apple killed the remote connector once and for all. Besides making all the old acessories obsolete, the Dock Connector became the only choice for any expansion on iPods. What is interesting is that although many accessories have made the jump to the Dock Connector, not one permits recording audio.

Let me just say that this article is not intended to call out any particular manufacturers, but more or less question the iPod accessory market. We’ve seen remotes, FM transmitters, and tape adapters moved to the other side of the iPod. Where are products like the iTalk or Belkin’s Voice Recorder?

Some people are already calling for video recording on the new iPods, but that seems a bit unrealistic. Audio recording is something that the iPods can and have done in the past and the current crop should not have any trouble with it.

The fifth-generation iPods have better recording capabilities, but there is no actual way to physically connect anything to the iPod for recording. According to Apple’s iPod Tech Specs:

Voice recording settings:
Low (22.05 KHz, mono)
High (44.1 KHz, stereo)

High-quality recording seems like it would be quite nice for recording radio programs, live concerts, or even things by aspiring musicians. If manufacturers were concerned about sales, it is hard to compare, since the one glaring problem of the previous recorders was the iPod’s low-quality recording capabilities.

Back in October, Music Thing had predicted a slew of accessories for the new iPods:

“Expect a rash of all-in one XLR port/phantom power/preamps in matching white and black.”

It seems that we’re still waiting, although some suggest just using iPodLinux. Unfortunately, iPodLinux has not fully made the jump to fifth-generation iPods either, and it does not have the advantage of being used with the Voice Memos item.

The Dock Connector provides enough power, as proven by all the FM transmitters and remotes that have moved, and it is known that the Dock Connector does carry audio in signals. It just seems rather strange that nobody has tapped into it to allow recording.

Even if you don’t plan on recording with your iPod, it is one feature that the iPod currently “lacks” (due to the accessories drought), especially when compared with otherwise lesser audio gadgets. Now that we’ve got the hard capacity to record in high-quality, let’s do it.

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