UPDATE: Purchased an iRiver H120 jukebox/recorder.
According to this iLounge discussion, it seems that the 5th generation iPod (the one with video capabilities) supports “CD-quality” audio recording (uncompressed audio at 44.1kHz, 16 bits, stereo). If true, this could be a dream come true.
This is the one feature that has been on my wishlist from the start. Actually, before the original iPod was introduced, as rumors of an Apple audio device were circulating. Was in the market for an audio recording device to bring to the field (in Mali, West Africa). Ended up with a MiniDisc recorder which proved quite useful but had two major flaws: audio was compressed in the ATRAC format (which is not that suitable for audio analysis) and lossless transfer to a computer (audio “upload” as it is often called) was only available on very high-end devices. This has changed somewhat with the Hi-MD format which does allow for lossless audio “upload” to a computer and does support uncompressed formats. But there are several issues with Hi-MD devices and their audio “uploading” capabilities.
The new iPod could be miles ahead of Hi-MD recorders in terms of convenience and practicality. While 1GB Hi-MD medium can be quite useful in many situations, the 60GB hard drive of the high-end iPod is quite a bit more appealing, regardless of differences between hard drive and MiniDisc technologies. Sony’s SonicStage software to “upload” audio from Hi-MD devices to computers is allegedly difficult to use. Assuming that the new iPod’s recordings are handled in a similar way to those recorded using the Griffin iTalk, it should be possible to automatically transfer recordings to the iTunes music jukebox software which can greatly facilitate management of recordings. Altogether, the iPod might become an amazing solution for musicians and field recorders.
The iPodLinux Project does allow for even higher quality recordings to be using some older iPod models. But “out of the box” support for “CD-quality” recordings implies official support.
Of course, MiniDisc recorders are meant to be used as recorders and usually have good quality analog-to-digital converters, implying good recording quality regardless of format. In terms of size and weight, the new iPod is probably more attractive than MiniDisc devices but some MD devices have long battery life for recording.
So the jury is still out on the new iPod as portable audio recorders. Can’t wait for that jury’s sentence.