Belkin Offering External Microphone Adapter for iPod -- Belkin's latest iPod add-on lets you plug in an external microphone for recording audio to your iPod. The Universal Microphone Adapter accepts 3.5 mm microphones and plugs into the special headphone/adapter jack found on the dock-based iPod series. The adapter shipped 17-Mar-04 and costs $60 from Belkin; or about $40 from resellers. The adapter records 16-bit audio (ostensibly stereo) at 8 KHz, which is adequate for voice recording but would be sub-par for live music recording. The adapter has its own headphone jack to replace the one it's using, a level indicator, and a three-position gain switch to adjust sound sensitivity on the microphone you attach.
Belkin's previous offering, the Voice Recorder, was a mono recorder with relatively low fidelity and no adjustments, although a reasonable choice for compactness. In low ambient noise conditions, the Voice Recorder performed well. But at any distance or with any complex sound situation, the recorder lost distinction and rendered sound somewhat unintelligible. By contrast, the Universal Microphone Adapter lets you change sensitivity on the fly. The level indicator - which displays tones that range from green through yellow to red - ensures that you're actually recording sound and that it's not breaking up at the loudest end. As with Belkin's previous product, it's extremely hard to use the iPod's hold button since it's partially covered by the adapter. [GF]