Search this site

 

Entries in travel (2)

Wednesday
Nov022011

QUICK REVIEW: TASCAM iXZ iOS device audio interface

The Tascam iXZ just popped up on my radar.  

I don't usually buy new gadgets for which I haven't read a review previously, but at $50 I couldn't resist.  So I figured why not be the first to review this affordable audio interface and see how well it works?

It seems that recording professional audio into an iPhone was never part of Steve Job's master plan.   

While we wait for the ultimate audio interface that connects to the iPhone via the dock connector with a digital signal, other products some to be coming along to fill the gap.   The Tascam iXZ is the first one I've seen that really boils the features down to the basics in a very portable package, while still accepting a phantom powered studio condenser microphone.  

The iXZ's multifunction XLR/phono combo jack will allow connection to a standard 3 pin XLR mic cable, or to a 1/4" guitar cable.  It provides 48V phantom power at up to 5ma, enough for many modern mics.  I metered the XLR connector and sure enough there's about 46V DC with a fresh pair of AA alkaline batteries.  It's enough to power my Audio Technica AT3035 microphone with appearant ease.  There's a variable input gain control dial, which isn't calibrated.  It also has an 1/8" mini headphone jack for playback purposes.  Sadly, it doesn't provide a "Zero latency monitoring" function to listen to the mic in your headphones while recording.

The iXZ does not come with any software, which is just fine with me.  I'd much rather not waste time with some inappropriate for VO bundled application.  Buy TwistedWave from the app store for $10, plug in the iZX into the headphone jack, plug in your mic, power it on, engage phantom power, hit record, set your levels, and you're recording.  TwistedWave is incredibly feature reach for an iOS app, even providing the ability to process the audio through effects and FTP files.  It can also deliver MP3's via their own server, a necessary workaround since Apple won't permit encoding to MP3 on an iOS device.  

But does it work?

That depends on what you want to use it for.  If your intention is to replace your Macbook or other laptop and audio interface with this unit for all of your work, I wouldn't go that far.  Take a listen the this recorded sample using an Audio Technica AT3035 studio condenser mic and judge for yourself.  CLICK TO PLAY

It's definitely quite useable for making an audition happen while traveling.  And with proper noise gate settings, you might even pull off a job here and there in a pinch.  Here's the first segment of the previous audio sample after processed with a noise gate in TwistedWave.   CLICK TO PLAY

NOTE:  Beau Weaver tested with an iPhone and DID NOT get the same results we did with the iPod Touch!  The audio quality differed.  In his audio test he records first with his home studio system, next with his Sennheiser 416 into the iXZ, then with the iPhone mic.  LISTEN TO HIS TEST

I did test it with my T-Mobile MyTouch 4G phone, and it DOES work.  However, my phone's recording quality was no where as good as the iPod Touch's.  A good deal of the recording quality is thanks to the iPod itself.

To summarize, here's a Pros and Cons list.

PROS:

 

  • Cheap, only slightly more than an XLR adapter cable to connect a dynamic mic 
  • Very compact and light
  • 15 hrs on a pair of AA batteries when using phantom powered mics
  • Works better than the price would imply
  • Will work with an Android phone, as well as most all Apple iOS devices

 

CONS:

 

  • A tad bit noisy (no worse than a Blue Snowball)
  • No "zero latency monitoring" for headphones while recording
  • Connects to analog line input instead of digital dock connector
  • Very short cable to connect to device, making it hard to read a script from your phone while holding it

 


Tascam iXZ and iPod Touch 4th gen

Monday
Aug092010

IMPORTANT INFO for Source Connect and AudioTX users on the go

It's been a rough week for some voice actors who are traveling during the busiest vacation season we've seen since we've started supporting the needs of voice-overists on the road.  Connectivity problems and other glitches when reaching hotels and other destinations have gotten in the way of important ISDN bridging sessions.  In most every case the problem could have been avoided with better preperation. 

Here are the important things you must check before you plan your trip.

1. Before you book your travel, will the Internet access at every destination during your travels be adequate to support your connectivity needs?  Here's a check list:

  • Speed test-  Fast enough download AND upload?  Ask a representative at each destinatation to check this for you.  We recommend using speedtest.net  Source Conncet?  At least 300kbps up/down.  AudioTX, at least 140 kbps up/down.
  • Ping test- Speed is only part of the equation, quality of connection is not all about speed.  After you check the speed and it is good, use Pingtest.net to ensure the lowest "jitter" and "ping time" possible.  The longer the ping time, the worse the delay.  The higher the jitter, the greater number of glitches in the audio stream you'll hear.
  • Ethernet-  Are you forced to rely on WIFI?  Ethernet is always recommend and far more reliable, no matter how fast it seems the connect is.  
  • Firewall or Proxy-  Is the Internet access protected behind a firewall or proxy that can't be disabled?  Clues include if there is a very slow "ping time" (latency) during the speed test, or the speedtest.net map shows the nearest location to the test location as somewhere far away.  Also, Marriot hotels employ a proxy service at all of their hotels and chains.  SOMETIMES this can be rectified by the IT department, which a call can clarify in advance. 

2. Before you pack your gear, test your entire system in the configuration you'll use during the trip.  Do this early enough to allow for fixes, especially if you are borrowing or renting equipment from someone else.
Hook it all up, test it, shut down, and test it again.  

3.  As soon as you arrive at your first destination, setup your equipment and arrange a test with your ISDN bridging service or another studio you plan to work with.  Source Connect users can connect to the "echo" contact at anytime and do a self test.  If you connect and hear yourself clearly looped back to you with no glitches, you are in good shape.

4. Make sure your agents and/or clients have your contact info.  It's crucial that everyone been well informed of how they can connect with you, so be sure to have any ISDN or user account info you'll need.  Also, please have your agents contact the bridging service in advance of the session to ensure preparedness and availability. 

We hope you get to travel as much as possible this year, and by following these steps you'll have a worry and troublefree trip and still make your clients (and agents) happy!