If you use a pocket camcorder, you’re used to crummy, tinny audio being captured alongside your HD video. So, what if manufacturers turned such low consumer expectations on their ear and designed a high-quality audio recorder that just so happens to do video -- complete with a bump to 1080p HD? Olympus’ new recorder is just that -- a capable video device for audio enthusiasts that’s unfortunately hampered by one unique design decision.
The Mac|Life editors’ favorite new pastime (besides fiddling with our Apple gear, of course) is playing DJ. Most days, we can be found at turntable.fm/maclife spinning tunes and nerding out on music while we work. But office decorum dictates that we wear headphones while rocking out. Yes, technology has made it extremely easy for Robbie to go on a Smiths bender and take the rest of us along for the ride -- but Paul’s ban on Morrissey in the office is still very much in effect, and violators are punished swiftly.
With summer in full swing, it's time to start hitting the beach, throwing BBQs, camping, and enjoying the great outdoors. These portable iPod speakers will bring musical pleasure all your outdoor activities, be they climbing mountains and sleeping under the stars, or hanging out by the pool and grilling burgers.
Yes, most of your movies and music already lives inside your Mac, and yes, the built-in speakers on iMacs and MacBooks work for watching that “Honey Badger” video on YouTube when you’re supposed to be working. But to really pump up your movies and music on whatever type of Mac you use, dedicated external speakers are a must. The sleek new Rockus 3D 2.1’s look like they pack the power to help you kick back and be entertained…but does the audio quality keep up with their lovely modern lines?
We loved the original Yeti -- especially as a terrific addition to any podcaster’s arsenal. For the sequel, Blue Microphones made a great mic even better. The Yeti Pro targets singers, musicians, and anyone who needs a studio-quality microphone that hooks to their computer. This second-gen model keeps the easy USB connection of its predecessor and adds an analog stereo XLR out so it now works with all sorts of pro gear, too.
Looks aren’t everything -- and despite the stereotypes to the contrary, this is something Mac users take to heart. Sure, our iMacs and MacBooks looks a hell of a lot slicker than those giant bricks everyone else calls a computer. But when it comes down to it, we love our Macs for how they work, not just how they look. And it’s exactly that standard that dampened our initial enthusiasm for Crosley’s Memory Master II, which packs a turntable, tape deck, AM/FM radio, iPod speaker, and CD burner into a sweet-looking retro package. Yes, it looks great -- but unfortunately, neither the build quality nor the functionality can justify the hefty price tag.
All-in-one DJ consoles usually come in two flavors: “plastic” and “plastic with tiny bits of metal to keep the plastic together.” Sure, plastic’s light, but a little heft helps when you’re adjusting faders and twisting knobs -- not to mention scratching. That’s why the Hercules DJ Console 4-MX makes a statement with the kind of build quality that’s usually seen only in pro components. It’s not just the metallic goodness we’re happy about, either -- the feel of the faders, buttons, and knobs all benefit from this upgrade in quality. While we wouldn’t recommend dropping it on the floor, it does feel like it could handle the fall better than most.
An iPod full of music is a wonderful thing…but the sound coming out of it might not be living up to its potential. SRS Labs is aiming to enhance your audio with the iWow 3D, a dongle that plugs into your device between the dock connector and your favorite headphones. It promises better listening through circuitry, including a wider, more immersive soundstage. And it delivers…sometimes.
Unlike other earbuds that you just cram into your ears, rocking a pair of JH16 in-ear monitors requires some advance planning -- and no, we’re not talking about the overtime you’ll need to clock to be able to afford them. JH Audio custom-builds each pair to fit you and you alone, which requires a trip to an audiologist to take molds of your ear canals. The molding process only takes about 15 minutes, but it involves cold plasticky goo being stuffed deeply into your ears. It wasn’t painful, but “weird and uncomfortable” sums up the experience pretty well. At $1,149, the resulting earbuds are beyond pricey, but the audio results are, well…priceless.