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View Full Version : iMic, yea or nay?


Gizby
2004-12-21, 01:28 AM
Ok, I saw the iMic in a show's lineage and was curious as to what it was. So I browsed its homepage (http://www.griffintechnology.com/products/imic/) and it seems like a bang up product. Of course I am only seeing it through their eyes. Does anyone have one, and if so what do you think of it?

For such a low price I am thinking of picking it up. As of now, I am extracting my minidisc shows via the headphone jack of my Sharp MD-MT180 through a 1/8" male to 1/8" male cable that came with the minidisc (I am guessing it is analog) and into the analog in of a Sound Blaster Audigy MP3+. Would it produce any positive difference if I used the iMic instead of the sound card?

Also, can anyone recommend a good cable with which to use in the transfer? It seems I could do better than the default cable.

And no comments such as "You should get such and such equipment" or "send it to someone who can do it digitally". If I could seriously upgrade my equipment I would, and essentially all of my shows are of local or lesser known bands so it would be hard to find someone who would be willing to transfer all of them. I just want to know about the iMic, if it would be better compared to my current situation, or some good cable recommendations.

Thanks :)

Five
2004-12-21, 02:09 AM
the iMic looks like a complete waste of time--it's like a soundcard that interfaces thru your usb port and is still 100% analog so far as I can tell. I looks like a cheap version of this (http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/FastTrackUSB-main-1.html). What you need to do is check if your md recorder has a digital out, then get a card that accepts digital in, I think for MD you need "optical" and a special cable that goes from 1/8" digital to one of those funny little square inputs. I have a card that supports this, but it's more for musicians:
http://www.emu.com/products/product.asp?product=2220&category=754&maincategory=754
Strangely enough, my md only has digital in, but no digital out (??!!).

So, my adivce is "nay", take your md to a sales rep you trust and tell them that you want a sound card that can do digital transfers from your md straight to your hd if that's possible.

Gizby
2004-12-21, 02:16 AM
If my recorder has a digital out, it is hiding very very well. Unless I have been huffing paint for the past two years, the MT180 has no digital out.

So I guess I will be sticking with the old headphone jack/analog in approach.

:(

wattershed
2004-12-21, 02:16 AM
Five has it covered...I just wanted to add that since that MD doesn't have a digital out (which manifests itself usually in the form of an optical out), no matter what signal you feed the input device, and no matter what it does to it before passing it along to either a) the soundcard or b) the hard drive, it will still be an analog signal at heart. In other words, analog > analog and analog > digital won't produce different results.

Unfortunately, the only way to get a digital out would be by using another unit with digital out capabilities.

Gizby
2004-12-21, 02:34 AM
*note to self - kill the person who recommended I get a minidisc recorder when I started this expensive addiction, then wipe his seed from the Earth*

Can't wait until I can afford the Neuros.

Five
2004-12-21, 03:14 AM
If my recorder has a digital out, it is hiding very very well. Unless I have been huffing paint for the past two years, the MT180 has no digital out.

So I guess I will be sticking with the old headphone jack/analog in approach.

:(
yeah, I just looked at the manual (available here (http://www.minidisc.org/manuals/sharp/sharp_mdmt180.pdf)). Your MD has digital input available, you need a special cable with 1/8" on one end and optical on the other (I know because my Sony MZ-R30 is the same). No digital output. One other thing worth mentioning is watch out when you're using the headphone out--you should be using a "line out" which your MD doesn't have. Headphone outputs supply voltage that is meant to drive little speakers (headphones), and can sometimes cause damage when they're hooked up to line-level inputs (like your soundcard). This almost never happens, but I had to warn you because this actually happened to a friend of mine. On the bright side, I've done it many times and have never damaged anything. See if you can borrow an MD from a friend for the transfer.

Gizby
2004-12-21, 03:25 AM
See if you can borrow an MD from a friend for the transfer.

...Friend, buddy, pal, amigo, compadre...how are you?

But seriously, I am the only person I know who tapes (and a total lack of friends hurts that idea as well, but that is a whole other issue). So I'll just stick with what I have. Thanks for all the info! That's $40 I can keep and put towards the purchase of better equipment.

Five
2004-12-21, 03:36 AM
:thumbsup glad to help out. save up and get the Neuros!!

wattershed
2004-12-21, 04:18 AM
:thumbsup glad to help out. save up and get the JB3!!

I'm sure this is what you meant :P

I love love love my Nomad Jukebox 3.

Also, unless it's an incredibly pristine recording, there's a decent chance that you may not even be able to tell the difference between a recording transferred via 1/8" cable, and one transferred with optical cable.

Your bigger hurdle with that MD is that since it doesn't have a line-in on it, it's not going to be able to handle higher decibels very well (usually denoted by an SPL, or sound pressure level). A mic connected to the mic-in will be able to handle up to a certain number before distorting...much of the lows and highs that a concert brings will be truncated or distorted.

Gizby
2004-12-21, 04:25 AM
The MT180 has line-in. And the JB3 is my second recorder of choice in the "I will eventually have this much money, I will just need to wait a good long while, oh why don't I still I have a job?" category.

Five
2004-12-21, 04:32 AM
I'm sure this is what you meant :P

I love love love my Nomad Jukebox 3.
yeah, I was just quoting from above... as you can see from my model of MD I'm a bit behind the times lol. I've got a pretty good taping rig, trouble is it isn't steath!

RainDawg
2004-12-21, 09:02 AM
I think you guys are being a BIT harsh on the iMic here. It is certainly a lesser-quality unit than it would be to use a digital-out from the MD to the PC, but it's still a notch better than running analog out from the MD into analog in on the PC. Like it or not, PCs are noisy environments, and lots of extra junk can be added to the signal.

If you don't have a digital out on the MD, this $40 unit would be at least a moderate improvement to going directly to the soundcard analog input.

Gizby
2004-12-21, 12:22 PM
See, that is what I was originally thinking. It would be at least be a slight cut above. Hmm, now I am torn.

Alright blue team, your time is up. Red team, your side is still con. You have 60 seconds. Go!

Five
2004-12-21, 12:46 PM
the usb possibly being quieter is a concept... I wanted to get the M-Audio usb "card" but I asked for some opinions and the guy at the store said the drivers were a bitch to get working. It might be worth a shot, just get some opinions on it first. Or save and get something a little better.

Gizby
2004-12-21, 12:55 PM
Of course I will get something better in the future. But I plan to never touch any recorder that uses tapes ever again, much less minidiscs. So, for the purpose of getting slightly better transfers for all the shows I have, this would hopefully produce better results, even if they are nowhere approaching a digital transfer.

wattershed
2004-12-22, 01:25 AM
If you're looking to upgrade to a better recorder down the line, might as well plan ahead for that now and go with the m-audio revolution 2496. Don't worry about what the salesman has said...the sheer number of lineages I see that have that unit in them tells me they can't be that hard to get working.

New Homebrew
2004-12-22, 04:41 PM
Also, unless it's an incredibly pristine recording, there's a decent chance that you may not even be able to tell the difference between a recording transferred via 1/8" cable, and one transferred with optical cable.

I think that if you are using an Audigy soundcard to convert the headphone out of your minidisc to a digital signal then you are losing a lot of quality at that stage. The audigy cards discard a lot of stereo info and don't sound very good.

My advice is... patience.

1) Keep your master minidiscs safe and sound. Good job being there to record them.

2) Wait until the point in time (even a couple years) when you have the best gear possible to do justice to your recordings. Since you have the only copies, what you spread around is the best anybody will have. So do a job you can be proud of. I have tapes that have sat in a box for almost a decade until I had the time or equipment to take care of them.

tylendel
2004-12-25, 12:14 AM
well, i'm an iMic owner and user, and i think it's worth it for me. i don't have the money to spend to upgrade my stealth MD rig and probably won't for a long time (if ever), and i'm impatient and go to a lot of shows and like to share, especially with people who were also at the show. i've had pretty good results too. so for me, it's the best bang for my buck to be able to transfer shows quickly and easily. i've gotten some criticism for going digital > analog > digital... but really it's just about sharing the music, right? that's what i'm about, anyway. unless someone wants to fund me upgrading my rig... ;)

h_vargas
2004-12-29, 12:27 AM
*note to self - kill the person who recommended I get a minidisc recorder when I started this expensive addiction, then wipe his seed from the Earth*

Can't wait until I can afford the Neuros.


now, before i get flamed, i'll premise this post: i'm not anti-MD. sure, i prefer DAT (or a good preamp>JB3 feed) whenever possible. but i know a lot of people get what they can afford, and make do. and there's nothing wrong with that. having said that, MDs are a lot worse quality than you'd get from even a portable DAT line in. i know this because i've taped concerts side-by-side with MD tapers using the exact same mics. their recordings always sound A LOT more distant, less crisp, more muffled, etc. but like i said, make do with what you can afford currently, and upgrade to better recording equipment when you can.

if it were me, i probably wouldn't plunk down $40 for the iMic. i wouldn't say the iMic is a "waste of money," either. but if you're planning on upgrading later on, then i'd just save that $40 (literally put it in a piggy bank of some sort). there are people who have the "home MiniDisc" players with optical out, who you can get to transfer your recordings in the meantime.

i've read good things about the Neuros, and would LOVE to get one myself. but i'm a bit "chicken"... since it only has a Mic In, i'm not certain it can handle *really* loud inputs (as one would experience 5 feet from a stage stack, for instance). and, i do have two virtually brand new Sony PCM-M1s sitting here, so they have plenty of usage before they drop dead.

happy taping and transferring to everyone!

wazoo2u
2004-12-29, 10:32 AM
I think for MD you need "optical" and a special cable that goes from 1/8" digital to one of those funny little square inputs.
Cable ?? Don't you need a processing device to convert the pulsed voltage into a modulated optical signal ???? How do you get from electronic signal to light (LED Optical) without it ?

wazoo2u
2004-12-29, 10:38 AM
*note to self - kill the person who recommended I get a minidisc recorder when I started this expensive addiction, then wipe his seed from the Earth*

Can't wait until I can afford the Neuros.
While the Neuros is certainly the most advanced techy toy available for digital portable playback, It doesn't feature a digital input. It has an analog line level input, and a built in microphone. Digital inputs and the current lack of FLAC support (FLAC is in the works) are 2 features that are lacking, and stopping me from investing in the unit right now. Hopefully, either Neuros will get it all together, or another manufacturer will step up to the plate. My guess is that we'll see one of the portable video jukebox platforms evolve enough features to be used as a great lossless audio portable. The market needs more time to mature.

robkismet
2004-12-29, 11:02 AM
I think you guys are being a BIT harsh on the iMic here. It is certainly a lesser-quality unit than it would be to use a digital-out from the MD to the PC, but it's still a notch better than running analog out from the MD into analog in on the PC. Like it or not, PCs are noisy environments, and lots of extra junk can be added to the signal.

If you don't have a digital out on the MD, this $40 unit would be at least a moderate improvement to going directly to the soundcard analog input.Bit late on this but, he's currently using an Audigy MP3+, which is a USB soundcard, so the iMic won't be less noisy.

However, I once bought an Audigy MP3+ for the use of its analogue ins, and prospectively it's optical in in the future, but the noise floor on that thing was so damn high that I took it back and kept using my cheap Genius on-board card!

camster
2004-12-29, 05:42 PM
heya guys,

Thanks for all the info, this has been informative to read. I have a ton o'shows I've recorded on my MD in the past 6 years that I"m hoping to transfer sometime soon. I thought my MD has an optical/digital out, but I'll have to check. On the plus side, its not too hard to find some MD players with digi-outs CHEAP as they weren't a huge hit in the market. I am at the point where I want to upgrade my equipment (any advice pointers to links etc welcome) so I'd like to clear out what I have on MD.


I have an iMic that I use (with my G4 Mac) to record my vinyl to wav. I wanted to point out its also useful for that, as well as darn cheap.

cheers,
camster