If you thought your iPod was just an MP3 player, boy are you in for a surprise. Plug
the Griffin iTalk into the top of your iPod and suddenly you have a world-class voice
recorder with literally thousands of hours of recording time.
With iTalk you can record seminars, meetings, classes, notes in your car, songs,
whatever you want. iTalk has a built-in microphone designed to record crystal-clear
audio, and its Automatic Gain Control assures you have the best possible signal
level for recording. You can even connect an external microphone directly to iTalk
for more recording options.
The iTalk's built-in speaker is great for playback of voice memos. In addition you
can use iTalk as a mini-speaker for your iPod. Play your favorite audio book through
iTalk or listen to a downloaded seminar. You'll never realize how much you've missed
a built-in speaker - until you have one.
iTalk can play back your recordings through its integrated speaker, or through your
headphones. It includes a pass-through mini jack so you can monitor your voice recording
or listen to your music without removing iTalk. You can even download your recordings
to play back on your computer, but iTalk's speaker is so good you may not want
Make your iPod so much
more than just an MP3 player. Make it a portable, dockable dictation machine with
a built-in high-quality speaker. Make your iPod listen to you - with iTalk.
The iTalk couldn't be simpler to use. Just attach it to the top of your iPod and
you are immediately presented with a memo timer and status screen to begin a recording.
Your iPod recognizes the iTalk, and triggers some built-in recording functions -
no additional software need to be installed on the iPod.
The iTalk is a single white plastic enclosure, perfectly themed with the 3G iPod,
and includes a single metallic dual-function jack, a small built-in microphone, a
small red microphone LED, an internal speaker (covered by a silver grille), and a
plug that interfaces with the top of the iPod.
As a trainer in the field of Real Estate, on occasion I record my classes for those
students who were not able to attend my class. I normally use a micro-cassette recorder
to record my classes, but instead I brought the iTalk for testing.
The room I was in could hold about 100 people, and there were probably about 50 people
in the room at the time. I stood in the front of the room and had an associate, sitting
approximately 20-25 feet away, hold my iPod and record myself and one other trainer.
The other trainer has a soft voice, and I have one of those voices that really carries
to the back of the room. After the class, I took my iPod home and attached it to
my iMac to listen. In spite of obvious ambient noise in the recording, and the faintness
of the other person's voice, I was still able to hear both myself and the other speaker.
If I raised my iMac's volume setting all the way up, I could hear the quieter voice
perfectly clear. These were very impressive results just using the iTalk's built-in
When you click the option
to begin recording, about two seconds elapse before recording actually begins. This
is not readily apparent to the user at the time recording is started. Apparently,
this is the time needed for the hard drive to get going. Since there is really no
confirmation between when you initiate recording and when you actually are recording,
my advice is to always wait until you see the counter display one second elapsed
I could access the recording
screen on my iPod either by attaching the iTalk, or via the iPod's Extras>Voice
Memos>Record Now menu. A large timer is displayed during recording, along with
menu options to pause or to stop and save your memo. Each recording appears chronologically
in the Extras>Voice Memos menu. Selecting a recording offers the choice to play
it or delete it. Memo playback is functionally identical to song playback.
Griffin's product page states that the "built-in speaker is amazingly loud for
its size." I played a new song on my iPod to a group of friends using just the
iTalk's speaker, and everyone had no problem hearing it once I turned the volume
up to somewhere around 90-95 percent. However, quality and volume are two entirely
different things. The speaker is great for listening to a reminder you previously
recorded, or for other brief playback needs. However, I wouldn't enjoy listening
to an entire lecture or a playlist of songs from the iTalk's speaker. The speaker
quality is what you might expect from something so small, perhaps even a bit better.
For more enriched playback, you can always plug headphones into the iTalk, or download
the recordings to your Mac and play them through your computer speakers.
With the iTalk attached to the iPod, the iPod automatically senses what is plugged
into the metallic jack on top, and treats it as output (headphones) or input (external
microphone). This is a pretty cool feature supported by the iPod's system software.
Unfortunately, one thing you cannot do is use the iPod's remote control, because
the iTalk covers the remote jack. The iTalk also covers the hold switch, so you cannot
"lock" or "unlock" the iPod without first removing the iTalk.
Then again, the function of the iTalk is such that you probably will only use it
for specific recordings, and then remove it when not in use.
In one test, I plugged
in a phone headset to the metallic jack to use as a recording device, and it worked
fine. The quality of the recording varies with the quality of the external microphone.
However, for my purposes, I found the built-in microphone to be adequate.
While the quality of the
iTalk's internal speakers may not be so great, the recording quality itself is quite
stunning when heard through headphones or decent computer speakers. According to
Apple, the iPod records into 8-kilohertz, 16-bit, mono WAV files. The WAV files created
are roughly a megabyte per minute, give or take. Hence, even if you have less than
a GB free on your iPod, you probably have room for several hours of recording. It's
a safe bet you'll run out of battery life before you run out of disk space. The
one problem I experienced with the iTalk is that it is power hungry. I learned that
the battery life of my iPod was not as efficient as I thought, because I had to keep
recharging my iPod after using the iTalk.
To test the quality of the recorded files, I held the iPod/iTalk at a typical distance
that I would hold it for recording - around 8 inches from my mouth - and recorded
a few seconds of talking. When I played back the file through my computer's attached
speakers, despite a slight hiss, the clarity was excellent. Even at a point when
I raised my voice a bit, there was no distortion. Thus, for interviews and dictation,
the iTalk passes with flying colors.
NOTE: I learned that you should not use the iTalk an inch or two away from your mouth,
like a phone, as that begins to distort the sound.
In another test to play back recordings, I plugged in some headphones to the iTalk's
metallic jack. Listening through headphones plugged into the iTalk is similar in
quality to listening through headphones plugged directly into the iPod (i.e., the
iTalk is serving as a pass-through device for playback). The recordings sounded
great through the headphones (far better than just listening through the iTalk's
The iTalk is not a device
you should run out and purchase an iPod for (that would result in a voice recorder
costing more than $300). Rather, the iTalk is an extremely useful add-on device for
people who already own a 3G iPod. The iTalk can easily be marketed to journalists
who are frequently taking interviews, students who like to record lectures, bosses
who can record their dictations to their secretaries, and more.
After using the iTalk to make recordings, it was easy to transfer the voice recordings
to my iMac. I just synced my iPod to my computer, and iTunes pulled in the recordings.
There is one small thing to keep in mind. On your iPod, the recordings are accessed
in the Extras>Voice Memos menu. When you sync your iPod, they show up in iTunes
as a playlist named Voice Memos. After synchronization, all prior recordings no longer
show up under the Extras menu. Instead, they now appear in your iPod as a regular
playlist named Voice Memos.
Once the recordings are in iTunes (as WAV files), you can use iTunes to move the
recordings around, and organize them into your own playlists, and then re-import
these playlists back to your iPod for on-the-go reviews. If you wanted, you could
also use iTunes to convert your WAV files to MP3 files.
iTalk is an iPod-themed recording device that attaches firmly to the top of your
3G iPod. It allows you to use your iPod as a recording device on the go, in a studio,
in the office, or anywhere you might have a need to record something. The microphone
on the iTalk provides great recordings for dictation or notes in small or medium-sized
areas, but don't expect the iTalk to make worthwhile recordings at concerts or large
outdoor events. The iTalk provides adequate playback through it's internal speaker.
To improve either the recording or playback quality, the iTalk comes with a dual-function
jack that accepts an external microphone (for better recordings) or headphones (for
At a $39.99 suggested retail price ($31 street price), Griffin Technology's iTalk
offers great performance and tremendous value for the dollar. With the ability to
use built-in or external input and output devices, and excellent automatic gain control
performance, the iTalk is well worth the price. If close-proximity recordings are
(or could become) a part of your normal routine, the iTalk is small enough, cheap
enough, and convenient enough to possibly be the best digital voice recorder you
can buy. The iTalk is a great way to expand the usefulness of your iPod, and I highly
- Simple to use
- Turns iPod into a recording
- Dual-function jack for
external microphone or headphone
- Weak speaker
- Inability to use remote
- Drains battery life
4 out of 5 Mice