flickr foto
Audio Toy
iAudio and Shuffle
available on my flickr

My new iAudio U3 is so tiny and light you’d think it might float away.. but it can carry 1 Gb of stuff. Here is relaxes next to my Shuffle

My iAudio U3 MP3 player/recorder prompty arrived and I am just starting to play with it.

I got this model given the phase out of iRiver models that work with Mac OS X (the T10 lines are Windows only). It is tiny, tiny, a tad heaver than my Shuffle and light (no battery, it recharges via USB).

Moving files to and from are easy, as it mounts as a desktop drive via USB 2.0 connection, so no funky middle software needed. The audio sounds very good, decent bass, so as a player, it is great.

I’ve only done limited testing with the recording– the process is easy (buttons and menus a little more clear to use than iRiver). It may have a little more background noise, and you definitely want to not touch or move it whiole recording with the built in microphone.

My biggest disappointment is the file format it records audio- it is WMA only, so I am left with using shareware to convert these files to something I can use to edit on the Mac. It’s not mentioned at all in the docs– there is some ‘Jet’ software that is Windows only for converting copied files to pther formats (I can always do this on the XP side of my MacBookPro, but that is seemingly a risky venture).

So I have the nifty little device (1 Gb capacity, and because you can move any file, it can act as a thumb drive) but need to push it through some more paces.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Did you know that you can use the free VLC Media Player–available for Mac, too–to convert between sound file formats? It’s pretty straightforward with the wizard and I’m sure you wouldn’t have any probs figuring it out. However, here’s a quick overview of the process:

    1) Run VLC Media Player
    2) Go to FILE: WIZARD
    3) Choose Transcode/Save to File
    4) Click NEXT
    5) Click Choose
    6) Flip to the FILE tab and then choose the file (*.wma)
    7) Click OK then NEXT
    8) Choose TRANSCODE AUDIO then choose your preferred output format (e.g. VORBIS for OGG files or MP3)
    9) Choose Bitrate desired (64 works fine)
    10) Click NEXT then NEXT again at the Encapsulation Format window
    11) Type in the path to save the file to and the filename (you can browse to the desired directory if you like)
    12) Click FINISH

    Hope this helps…and VLC is FREE, not shareware.

    Let me know how it works out for you! We’re buying about 100 iAudio U2s for podcasting/digital storytelling work in my school district this summer (digital storytelling academies).

    Take care,
    Miguel Guhlin

    P.S. You don’t mind these long comments do you?

  2. Thanks Mguel. I had a much older copy of VLC on my other computer that lacked the conversion features. I had a quick go with the new version you mentioned above (that’s quite few steps, calls for some Automator action??) but had no luck creating a file (I got a final confirmation an MP# would be generated but the file never appeared (??)

    I’d be very curois to here more about your school’s storytelling projects, something I always have an interest in learning about. You’re in Texas, right? Email me offline as I will have a few trips Texas way between now and the end of the year.

    And no, long comments are never, ever, ever a problem!

  3. Ugh, VLC was a bit complicated to use, I hope your folks can do better than me. I just paid $10 sharewaire for EeastWMA, drag and rop, Universal app for INtel Mac.

  4. Hey, Alan. Hope to see you next week at the Digital Storytelling Learnshop.

    I just bought the MicroTrack MP3 recorder.

    If/when you want to upgrade your device again I highly recommend it. It costs more (lists for $399) but records direct to MP3. It’s also bigger and possibly less sexy, but not by much since it matches the titanium finish of my PowerBook.

    I am impressed by the recording quality of the little, cableless mic that comes with it, but of course you can also connect your own mic as it has a line level input. It records to Compact Flash media. I’ve got a 4GB CF card, but you can get up to 8GB. Drag and drop transfer to the computer via USB. The big plus for me is you can visually monitor your audio levels and adjust them so you will always know if you are in danger of clipping and be able to correct it. And it is super easy to use – the interface is a joy. I haven’t actually opened the manual yet and don’t forsee the need.

    I did locate an online price of $338, and showed that to the guys at Guitar Center over at Desert Pavillions. They price match, so they gave it to me for that price. We may test it out at the learnshop. If you turn up, you can play with it.

    Best Google search term to quickly bring up the lowest prices: “microtrack 24/96”
    TinyUrl to that search:

    Mark Nelson’s O’Reilly review:

    I’m not trying to convince you to return your U3. Just tossing these links in for those who may want to consider it – your site may be getting hit by those doing some research.

    Also for future reference, Marantz makes an mp3 recorder, too. Theirs is $500 but has the advantage of XLR inputs for professional grade mics. Interface looks more fiddly though, and it’s the size of my cassette-playing Walkman. How old school. :)

    Hope to see you soon.


  5. Thanks Cheryl- those are awesome leads… I think I might go for one of those MicroTraks, and in the same price range, the Edirol R-09 looks worthy as well.

    Also, from the article
    Seven Steps to Noise-Free Digital Audio I am quite interested in the USB mexier device form Roland, the UA-4FX, that handles multiple sources, and does the anaolog-DV signal cleanly away from the interference that happens on a laptop (at least that’s what I got from the article).

    I still am an audio nOOb!

    Hope to see you tomorrow for some good digital stories!

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