If you're a musician, amateur podcaster, or college student looking for a way to capture CD-quality recordings on your iPod, the Belkin GoStudio is an all-purpose solution with some impressive bells and whistles. The GoStudio is not without its flaws, but at $120 you're likely to take its shortcomings with a grain of salt.
The Belkin GoStudio's relatively professional features and thoughtful design lay in contrast to its toylike construction quality. Fortunately, placing your iPod in the GoStudio's dock lends the accessory some classiness and reassuring heft. Molded dock inserts are included to provide a snug fit for your fifth-generation iPod, iPod Classic, or third-generation iPod Nano.
The GoStudio measures 4 inches wide by 2 inches tall by 7 inches long, making it small enough to hold in one hand, yet too large to fit in your pocket. The large dial on the face of the GoStudio provides a simple way to adjust recording input levels, which are indicated by dual LED meters above the dial. Around the GoStudio's main dial you'll find various switches for channel gain type (high, low, auto, off), mono/stereo modes, limiter activation, low-cut filter, and input source (internal mic, XLR/TRS input, 3.5mm input). A smaller dial for headphone volume is located near the bottom edge of the GoStudio, along with a 3.5mm headphone input, a power switch, and a built-in speaker.
If the GoStudio has one feature worth fussing about, it's the pair of professional XLR and 1/4-inch audio jacks located on the top edge of the device. The capability to directly record from an external microphone or mixing board over a XLR or 1/4-inch connection without needing bulky, awkward cable adapters is a feat few portable recorders can brag about in this price range. Connections for DC power (adapter not included) and 3.5mm stereo line input are also included on the top edge of the GoStudio.
For those moments when professional external microphones are overkill, a pair of omnidirectional condenser microphones are set into the sides of the GoStudio, which rotate 90 degrees to face forward or backward. The bottom of the GoStudio contains a battery compartment and tripod mount.
The Belkin GoStudio includes a breathtaking array of features compared with most recording accessories made for the iPod. When held up to a standalone portable recorder such as the Zoom H2, however, the GoStudio is relatively crude.
For better or worse, the majority of the GoStudio's recording features are controlled via hardware, with very little left to the iPod beyond setting the recording resolution (high/low) and starting or stopping the recording. Unlike iPod recording accessories such as the Gemini iKey, recordings made with the GoStudio can be browsed and replayed immediately over your headphones or the built-in speaker. Unfortunately, the GoStudio's lack of software features makes it impossible to split or edit GoStudio recordings directly, and without a pass-through USB connection it can be difficult to dump recordings to your computer without an iPod cable.