I remember the first time I read about a certain handheld recorder in a microphone package. I had just gotten my first real job in the industry, filling in over the summer as a mid-day regional radio host. A lover of field work, I was looking to invest in some pro-level equipment of my own, and the all-in-one form factor of that mic-style recorder really caught my eye. Here was a product that combined a pro-spec recorder and a mic, but not in a boxy enclosure, in an actual tube-shaped mic body.
Reading the spec sheet however, I quickly realized there were several drawbacks. First, there was no removable storage. Second, the capsule was fixed, resulting in a more limited unit overall. I ended up not buying that unit myself although I did use one quite a bit when the station where I worked eventually bought a couple.
Why mention all this? Because the Yellowtec iXm is a similar concept, except Yellowtec got it right.
The iXm combines a digital recorder with a mono microphone, in a familiar handheld format. The unit itself is really well built - all metal by the looks and feel of it and everything feels really sturdy. It's a bit on the heavy side for extended sessions in handheld mode but that's a natural consequence of the all-metal body.
The controls are streamlined. On one side is the record section, comprised of one button for record and one for stop. There's a pre-record buffer that captures whatever has been said in the last 30 seconds.
There is no metering anywhere, and the only indication that you're recording is a solid red light. This is a bit uncomfortable at first, but once you realize the unit takes care of all the gain adjustments - and does a good job at it - you can stop worrying.
|Performance at a glance|
|◊ All-in-one form factor |
◊ Interchangeable mic heads
◊ Intelligent leveling
◊ Record buffer
◊ Removable storage
On the other side of the body is the playback section. Here we find the usual play, stop and skip buttons. All buttons also double as configuration controls, such as turning the unit on and off, and putting it in different modes. It may not be the most intuitive approach, but the manual explains it all fairly well.
On the bottom there's a line in and a headphone out, both on 3.5mm jacks. There's also the SD card slot and a battery section for three AA cells. The unit has a rechargeable battery built-in, but the ability to use regular alkaline cells as well could be a lifesaver when working away from a regular power source for long periods of time. Yellowtec claims a maximum total battery life of 14 hours.
- continued on page 2