Panel Borders and other podcasts

Panel Borders and other podcasts

Podcasts, radio shows, writing and more by Alex Fitch

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Podcasts on this blog are recorded on a Zoom Q3 Handy Video Recorder…

Zoom Q3 recorder

Zoom Q3 recorder

Ignore the name of the device, while the Q3 does capture video, that function is more of a bonus extra – youtube quality only – on a machine that brilliantly records broadcast quality audio in either .wav or .mp3 format. Having tried Edirols – which I use occasionally when recording phone interviews in the Resonance Studio – I find the interface of the Zoom range much more intuitive and the flip out USB lead incredibly useful for plugging the device straight into a computer (though it helps to have a USB extention lead also, as it’s pretty short).

Prior to owning the Q3, I owned a Zoom H4, which the company doesn’t manufacture anymore (although it makes similar models), which I lost while travelling. The Q3 records audio as well as its predecessor, but doesn’t have an audio input, which is the only feature I feel is missing from this model. The Zoom Q3HD which records 1080p HD video does have an audio input, but records audio in .m4a format which is considerably less useful than mp3. The Q3 isn’t as dinky as a dictaphone, but records in much better quality, with looks that are one part electric shaver and one part Beefeater (as depicted by cartoonist Sarah McIntyre) but unlike the H4, at least it doesn’t look like a stun gun!

Recording quality on the Q3 is excellent with amazing sensitivity, both in WAV and MP3 format and the Zoom holds 10.5 hrs mp3 format / 30min video (.mov format 640×480 px – i.e. NTSC standard def. video resolution) / 1.5hr wav format per Gb on an SD card. I’ve used the Zoom Q3 to record nearly every interview on this site since April 2010 (and the Zoom H4 for most before that).

You can buy the Zoom Q3 Handy Video Recorder from Amazon…

Phone interviews on this blog are now recorded via an Audyssey iPhone Speaker Dock…

Audyssey SoMA iPhone speaker dock

Audyssey SoMA iPhone speaker dock

Regular listeners to my shows and podcasts may have noticed phone interviews have been of variable quality – poor quality recordings have been mainly down to bad quality connections across the Atlantic, which I don’t have much control over – but a variety of experiments using speaker phones, landlines with audio outputs and VOIP have also produced variable results and I have been looking for a permanent solution.

I’ve only used the Audyssey ‘South of Market’ iPhone Dock to record my interviews with David Petersen (Mouse Guard) and Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveller’s Wife), so far, but it produced a lovely clean sound, that was only slightly marred on occasion by my not testing the optimum distance between the dock and my Zoom recorder (which lead to a couple of instances of interference) in advance. Having tried for years to find a decent speaker phone, I’m happy to report that the Audyssey SoMa dock is the loudest, clearest and most useful speaker phone I’ve ever come across.

Admittedly you have to be an iPhone owner to use it, but if you have an iPhone, the Audyssey dock is pretty much an essential purchase. As well as working fantastically as a speaker phone – which works equally well regardless of whether the phone is sitting in the dock or connected by Bluetooth – the SoMa is also a brilliant iPod dock that produces ‘room filling’ sound that I tested with a variety of genres from Jazz to Ambient, Ska to Classical as well as with radio plays and audio books. If you connect an iPhone to the dock via Bluetooth, you can also use the dock with both an iPod and iPhone simultaneously (with the former connected physically) and you can switch between music from the iPod and conduct a call via the speaker phone facility via the remote control. For such a small piece of equipment, the bass produced by the machine is impressive and overall the sound quality is comparable to hooking up my iPhone to a full size stereo by mini-jack lead.

If you’re an audio nerd, there’s also a free iPhone app for the device that will let you adjust EQ, bass, treble and other aspects of the device acoustics and the dock also has a microphone / mini-jack input, so you can connect it to a computer as either a speaker or a VOIP microphone. You can even charge your phone in the dock and connect to it to iTunes on your computer via USB in situ. The only small problem I had with the dock, is it doesn’t yet want to communicate with my Mac Mini by Bluetooth (although it recognises that it is there), but I assume this is something Audyssey will correct with a firmware upgrade in due course.

I’m not an audio technology reviewer, so feel free to compare What Hi-Fi? / Gadget Mac / Electric Pig‘s reviews to mine and a) I haven’t listened to many other ‘high end’ speaker docks and b) was given this review machine for free, but I think it’s a brilliant piece of kit and something I’m increasingly finding indispensable as an iPhone owner…

You can buy the Audyssey Speaker Dock for iPod/iPhone from Amazon…


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