Review: XtremeMac MicroMemo (and XtremeHD AV Cables)

by James Bain May 17, 2007

I’ve always wanted to use my iPod as a quality recording device. It always seemed that this iPod thing could be the core of a very incredible portable recording solution.

I put off reviewing any earlier devices mostly because of some poor reviews and partly out of laziness being busy with other things. I’m sure glad I didn’t delay any longer. The MicroMemo is pretty much what I’ve been waiting for for all these years!

The initial reality test for the MicroMemo was seeing how far I could get without opening the manual. I’m happy to say I haven’t opened it yet.

Plugging the device onto the bottom of my Video iPod 5G (it’s available in a Nano 2G version too), it loaded its own software, reminiscent of what Apple’s FM Radio Remote does. Having instructions and controls appear on the face of your iPod unbidden really does go a long way towards building some trust from the outset. Having software that loads and actually makes sense and works helps too!

The record, pause, and play buttons for the MicroMemo on the iPod all made sense. The microphone and external source switch on the MicroMemo made sense, at least to me and surely to anyone who’s done any amount of audio field recording in their lives. The built-in, or rather removable but included, microphone has a flexible goose-neck, so you can position however you want or need. For instance, I found it performed quite well for recording from a desktop.

You’ve got two quality levels to choose from. I can’t imagine why anyone would record at the lower rate. Most iPods have more than enough room to record anything you want, from an hour-long concert down to your random creative musings, at high quality.

Getting your recordings off of your iPod is as easy as syncing up with iTunes, and you can grab your audio into GarageBand, or your audio editing tool of choice, and mess around with them there to your heart’s content.

You can, as XtremeMac promises, put on other microphones too, or take in an external line. I haven’t tested the other microphone option yet, but these two features together make my iPod now potentially the truly useful, and truly usable, quality field recording device I’ve wanted since unpacking my first iPod 1G. YAHOO!

The speakers for playback are adequate for the task at hand, but I wouldn’t expect much audio quality from something of their size. They’re meant for cursory playback, like a conventional voice memo recorder. You won’t be listening to your favourite American Idol ditties on them, but that’s okay. That’s why you have headphones (please!).

Problems? Well, there always are, but hopefully these can be corrected perfected in a second version of this incredible little device.

Firstly, I think I’d like to see some controls to check and adjust levels. The autogain that seems to be built into the MicroMemo does fairly well, but I like a bit more control over things and I can think of several instances, such as recording off of a sound board directly, where having this control would be a very good thing. It can’t be that much harder to write something that self-loads like the existing controls. I hope not. This would be an amazing feature!

Secondly, related to the first point, I’d love to be able to listen to what I’m recording as I record it, so I can be sure that I am recording something at an acceptable quality. This would be a great enhancement to the level feature suggested above.

Thirdly, the recording time is inevitably limited by the iPod’s own battery unaided. My Video iPod 60Gb is rated at being able to store 98 hours of high-quality (and awesome 1411 kb/s and 44.10 kHz) audio, but there’s no way I’ll ever be able to record all that at one go! Without any sort of alternate power option here, you’ll record as long as your iPod has juice and your external battery packs or power adapters cannot help you. I have seen pass-through charge ports on other devices and I think it shouldn’t be too hard to engineer something into the MicroMemo.

None of these points will ever prevent me from carrying the MicroMemo around with me most of the time, however. This device is something I’ve been waiting for for a long long time and now it’s here! A few tweaks would make it truly amazing, rather than just stupendous, and it’s in light of these possibilities that I give it *only* a 90%. With the suggestions carried out in a next version, the MicroMemo II would get so close to 100% that you couldn’t see light between them!


Now, XtremeMac has tons of amazing products besides the MicroMemo. Continuing in the audiophile vein, I also had a chance to try out and test some of XtremeMac’s XtremeHD AV cables.

They’ve got HDMI to HDMI, HDMI to DVI, RCA Component and RCA Audio cables, and Toslink. I don’t think there are any more you’d ever need. Their HDMI Switcher, as well, allows you to connect 4 HDMI devices to one monitor. Now that’s convenient!

It’s hard to give a good comparison of one cable type to another, without unplugging a whole lot of electronics to check on quality differences. Normally you’re so ticked off after rewiring your system once or twice that anything just seems annoying. At least in my impatience, that’s been my experience.

These cables, however, have two heavy things going for them: they are incredibly substantial and solid, and cost maybe a third of what other manufacturers offer similar cables for. XtremeMac has managed, and I’m not sure how, to come out with cables that rival anything I’ve seen, at least in specs and stats, in pro audio shops. And these cables, at $19.95 each, are simply phenomenally priced! If you’ve already spent a fortune on cables, I feel sorry for you. But if you, like me, are starting to look at possibly upgrading the old home entertainment centre, do yourself a big favour and buy XtremeHD cables. With the money you save, you can buy a stack of albums or movies and jumpstart your collection! These are a must-buy for anyone needing any of these cable types. Amazing!


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