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Review: Griffin iTalk Pro

by on June 15, 2007

It’s been almost three years since we reviewed Griffin Technology’s iTalk iPod voice recorder, and in that time, the iPod has lost the remote jack on top, gained a color screen, video playback capabilities, and can actually record CD-quality audio. Because of some of these changes, Griffin had to go back to the drawing board and created the iTalk Pro.

Having a price tag of $10 more than its predecessor, the iTalk Pro sells for around $50. Other noticeable differences include black casing with a chrome back, to match some iPods, a button for quick recording, and the use of the Dock Connector. Unfortunately, it’s not available in anything other than black/chrome, so white iPod users and nano users will have to put up with the non-matching components.

iTalk Pro
iTalk Pro

iTalk Pro
iTalk Pro + 5G iPod Recording

iTalk Pro
Gain Menu

Thanks to updates with the iPod’s firmware, one can record “CD-quality” audio, something that was available to those who have hacked their prior iPods with Linux. You can now record in both high-quality (44.1kHz, 16-bit stereo, 1411kbps) and low-quality modes (22.05kHz, 16-bit mono, 352kbps). Since the recordings are stored as WAV files, they tend to eat up a lot of space on your iPod.

The iTalk Pro works with both the video iPod (fifth-generation) or the aluminum iPod nanos (second-generation). Due to hardware changes, older iPods won’t work.

On the face of the iTalk Pro is the aforementioned button, a red light ring around it, and two microphones (for stereo recording). On the bottom of the iTalk is an auxiliary/microphone input. Microphones that require “phantom power” still need an amp between them and the iTalk Pro. An interesting addition is the inclusion of gain controls, accessible by holding down the iTalk’s button. You are presented with three options: Low Gain, High Gain, and Automatic. In most cases, Automatic is fine, but if you plan on recording from another device to the iTalk Pro, Low Gain is a better choice.

Unfortunately, there is no way to hook up a charger, as the iTalk Pro does not include a pass-through (or a mini-USB port). Because of this, you can only record as long as your iPod’s battery will last. On the video iPod, this length of time is comparable to playing back video—since the hard drive is constantly spinning. On the nano, one could expect 7-8 hours.

Using the iTalk Pro is a breeze, as pressing the button takes you right to the recording menu, readying the iPod to record. The interface is the same as previous iPods, and playback/transfer to iTunes works the same, too. The actual recordings sound decent, although a professional would probably look elsewhere for “excellent” recordings.

Another thing worth noting is that the iTalk Pro records the left channel with the left microphone and the right channel with the right microphone. As someone who’s studied audio production, this tends to be the opposite of conventions, as the final result ends up backwards. However, since the microphones are so close together, it probably won’t even be noticeable.

Finally, the iTalk Pro did away with the miniature speaker found on its predecessor. Although it wasn’t exactly known for its high quality sound, it was good for listening to quick voice memos, or sharing a sample of a particular song with a friend. Because of this, the iPod/iTalk Pro combination has not quite reached the level of “pocket recorder replacement”.

In short, the iTalk Pro is an okay upgrade to its predecessor, especially since you can’t use the older iTalk with newer iPods. It makes it easy to record, but because of the “downgrades” from its predecessor and the increased price, it is a bit of a question what’s so “Pro” about it.

The One-Sentence Verdict™

The Griffin iTalk Pro does a good job at recording things to an iPod and is still the cheapest option out there, but does have some limitations.

Pros: Integrated with iPod, button for quick recording, stereo recording
Cons: Higher price, no speaker, no charger/dock pass-through
Rating: 7/10

The Facts

Product: iTalk Pro
Company: Griffin Technology
Platform: iPod (5 N²)
Price: $49.99

This post has been filed in iPod, Mobile Devices, Reviews