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"Terrific value for the money. Surprising sound quality."
"The base which contains the speaker is on the cheap side, but the flexible mic with wind screen makes up for it."
"Any rapper who has an iPod should get one...This little mic changed everything"
November 28, 2007
../ TestDrive: XtremeMac MicroMemo
I've always tried to come up with a snappy slang term for those people you encounter in everyday life who think their "singing" along with their
iPods, but in reality sound more like they don't have a tongue. You know exactly what I'm talking about. You're on the bus, waiting in a line or simply
walking down the street, and some cat is belting it out thinking they're Bono. Clearly unfazed by cringing pedestrians holding their ears and collapsing
to their knees in their wake — or the pack of feral dogs trailing them — they continue their horrendous rendition of "When You Beat Me With
That Bat" unabated.
One time while riding NYC's subway, a young male was moaning so miserably along to 50
Cent's "In Da Club" that I was forced to ask him if he was all right. He perked up, twisted up his face and demanded to know "whadda you sayin'?!" Now
in the NYC Rule Book of Encounters With Strangers, this line of questioning can either go two ways, horribly wrong, or delightfully right.
The MicroMemo is compatible with 5th generation Apple iPods
I looked him in the eye, and said, "it sounded like you were in pain." The genuine look
of concern on my face made him pause for a split second before erupting.
"Yo man, I'm a rapper!" He exploded. "I was just practicing my flow."
I'm thinking, if that was his "flow," he's lucky someone didn't jump up and start giving him
CPR. I raised my eyebrows, "really? let me hear you spit." By this time, the encounter had piqued the interest of the other passengers, who were piercing
him with cynical eyes. See in NYC, everyone's a rapper. (...or a DJ. —Ed.) He looked around the car slightly insecure, but then puffed
out his chest and hit it.
The MicroMemo consists of two parts, a detachable mic and the speaker base.
Well, to everyone's surprise, this kid could rap. In fact, he was quite good, with a
distinctive voice, humorous tales, and dynamic rhyming patterns. The crowd was now on his side and gave him a thunderous applause. He sat back down next
to me with the air of a heavyweight champ. "Wow," I said, "you can really rap; you're awesome!"
"Thanks man," he said appreciatively.
"Too bad that's not what it sounded like when you were rapping with Fiddy."
"Really. It sounded like you were dying. I think that woman over there was about to call 911,"
I said with a grin.
He started laughing and we shared a nice NYC moment. See New Yorkers, are terribly miscast.
Everyone thinks we're nasty, but the reality is we're just eggs — hard shell, soft inside.
"I like to rap along to some of my favorite artists for inspiration," he revealed to me later.
I asked him to elaborate and he went on to tell me he listens to his iPod during the day to come up with his own material, and then records what he's come up
in his home studio.
"Don't you end up forgetting a lot of your ideas by the time you're ready to get it down?"
I asked. He pursed his lips and frowned. "Yeah, I do, and it's frustrating."
Then it hit me. "What if you could record your ideas directly into your iPod the moment
His eyes got instantly wide, "that would be the s&%t!" I handed him my business card and
told him to stop by our office. "I think I have the perfect thing for you."
He jumped up and delivered me a complicated street handshake that I fumbled badly trying
to keep up with his moves.
Sure enough, at the end of the day, he was at the office. I handed him the XtremeMac
MicroMemo for his iPod Video.
The Line/Mic Input can record 2 channels of audio with a self-powered external stereo mic
His eyes bugged. "What's this??"
"It's a microphone that turns your iPod into an audio recorder," I responded.
"Get out! How do you use it?"
"Well that's the catch," I smiled. "I'm giving it to you, but you have to come back and tell me
everything about your experience using it." He wasn't happy about this small detail, but he nodded, took the MicroMemo, and walked out.
After he departed, a fellow staffer walked over to me. "Hold your right hand up." I obliged.
"Wave it 'Bye Bye'" I did. "You'll never see him, or the MicroMemo again."
"We'll see," I responded defiantly, but after several weeks without a word, I suspected he was
correct. Until one day, I got a buzz from the front desk. "The Poet is here to see you."
The Poet?? Oh! "Send him in."
He swaggered in confidently and walked up to me. I nervously looked down at his extended hand
hoping that I wouldn't be subjected to another embarrassing handshake episode in front of my fellow employees. Without warning, he gave me a big bear hug.
"I just want to say 'Thank You.' This [MicroMemo] changed my life."
I ushered him to my desk and drilled him for every detail about his encounter with the
MicroMemo. So here's the first Man On The Street TestDrive we've ever done. Ladies and Gentleman, I proudly present the XtremeMac Rapper's Delight.
First some backstory, the MicroMemo is a recording accessory for the iPod that contains a mono
microphone on a flexible stalk attached to a small speaker housing. You simply plug in the housing into the iPod's dock connector, press the XtremeMac logo button,
which will call up the Voice Memo software no matter what menu you're currently in,
and you're ready to start recording. It really is that simple.
"The one thing that I really dug was that the MicroMemo is powered by the iPod...I never
needed to worry about charging it or buying batteries," The Poet recounted.
The MicroMemo's recording breakdown
The inclusion of a speaker for instant monitoring and evaluating of recordings seems like a
no-brainer, but XtremeMac is the only company that manages to include one in this price range. In fact, Griffin and Belkin, who have been in this game a while,
don't sport a speaker on their comparable models. The MicroMemo's flexible stand worked well for the Poet who found that he could position the microphone at
his lips while checking his iPod's screen during the recording process.
"Being able to monitor the recording made it easy for me to know when I was getting it down,
and when I wasn't," the Poet confided. Recording is accomplished via the iPod's built-in Voice Memo software.
This new way of instantly capturing his creativity also turned out to be an efficient method
of working. "Everything is now inside my iPod," the Poet revealed, "now I can call up any of the rhymes that I recorded, with the exact same flow. No more
writing on little pieces of paper, no more transcribing it into a notebook, no more forgetting how I spit the words. This little mic changed everything."
Before giving it up to the Poet, we did get to spend some quality time with the MicroMemo. For
the price, we found the unit to be the best audio recorder for fifth-generation iPods. It is missing a couple of features including a connection port so that you
can use charge the iPod without having to remove the MicroMemo. In addition, an iPod with the MicroMemo won't fit in most protective cases, if any.
Although the Poet never used this feature during his evaluation, it is possible to record to
an iPod in stereo. The MicroMemo's microphone needs to be removed and refitted with a self-powered stereo microphone with a minijack. For most users this
application is rare and probably better served with a dedicated stereo recording accessory, but it's worth noting that it can be achieved if you wanted to
capture a musical performance or something that benefits from two designated channels.
When shopping for a recording accessory for their iPod, some consumers may be turned off by
the MicroMemo's mono microphone, and opt for a stereo model. However, in terms of a recording quality, we found the MicroMemo's mono microphone had an extended
frequency range, a lower noise floor, and recorded richer bass than any of its competitor's stereo models. Not to mention that the stereo spread on two individual
microphones less than an inch apart in this price range, was unperceivable.
Well my little experiment worked out great for the Poet who took a product that most people use
for dictating notes, and turned it into a proficient way to record his talent. If you're a rapper, or just find inspiration when listening
to your iPod, the MicroMemo is highly recommended.
The Future: It's almost too obvious that XtremeMac should debut a pro model with two microphones on
either side of the speaker base for true stereo recording. With focused patterns, the mics would be far enough apart to achieve separation, unlike competing models in
this price range. This would
instantly render products from Belkin and the like irrelevant and force them back to the drawing board. In addition, as a case manufacturer, XtremeMac
definitely needs to offer a protective case that will allow the user to rock an iPod with the MicroMemo attached in style. And finally, the speaker base needs to be beefed up a bit so the user won't fear
that one small impact will shatter the ultra-thin plastic housing.