Clint on Tech: Episode 1, iPod Linux Recording

I’ve been wanting to start a new series of “Shows” where I cover tech topics of interest to me. Today, I’m covering using your iPod as a recording device using a free distribution of Linux for the iPod called podzilla. It’s very simple to install and use, and it will turn your normal headphone jack on your iPod into a Mic or Line-level recording input. Unfortunately, there’s no gain control, so recordings come out a bit quiet on my microphone, but you can adjust it up a bit in post-production without distortion. It’s definitely good enough for voice, not sure about music quality. Definitely worth it for an on-the-go recording solution.

Click here for video. [ QuickTime ]


10 Comments on “Clint on Tech: Episode 1, iPod Linux Recording”

  1. richard says:

    This is really interesting, because I have this same problem.

    1) The audio on the mic sounded different, but not better to me. Is this just a matter of tweeking some settings?

    2) There is the issue of synchronizing the video with the audio still, unless there is somewhat that the recording of the two is synchronized in some way in the recording. I’m wondering about that.

    … thanks for letting me know about this … Richard

  2. Clint Sharp says:

    Ah, but it was better, at least to me. Now, I did absolutely no tweaking on this, and problem with the Linux recording option is that you have no gain control! It records fine from Mic-level inputs, but it’s incredibly quiet. I should have pulled it into GarageBand or someother such audio-processing product and upped the gain on it a bit (hopefully w/o too much distortion). I mentioned this in the blog post about the quietness (gain control).

    Notice though, in the background throughout the entire video you can hear the dryer running. There’s lots of ambient noise in my house that the camcorder microphone picks up. The prosumer mic that I used (a Shure SM-57), does an excellent job of picking up just what it’s supposed to, a voice or an instrument.

    Synchronizing the audio with the video is a little tough. The problem is, I can’t lock the audio and video together on the timeline in iMovie! What kind of shit is that? Every time I change something the video moves but the audio doesn’t. Annoying. The best way around this is to split the audio and the video at the beginning and end at the same points that way it’s easy to re-align them. Also, as Bre from says, it’s best to clap or make some sort of noticeable noise and motion that makes it easy to synchronize the audio and the video. You also have the camera audio still to synchronize with as well.

  3. richard says:

    Thanks for explaining! I will look into this. As for the difference in sound, yes, mainly it was just a volume issue, so it’s good to know that it sounds like this is easily solved.

  4. I liked you using the mic cuz you couldnt hear any other noise in the room. Though, one problem with the Shure SM-57 is that there’s no pop filter. The t’s and p’s are especially loud.

    Other than that.. HOORAY for mics! i think it makes the vlogs a little more personal cuz its like you’re in you’re own little bubble.

  5. Dooser says:

    MiniDiscs work really well. Even for music. I got a used one online for about 100$. Wanted to record some live shows. Got these mini-powered mics:

    Worked amazingly well at a They Might Be Giants show I went to.

    Shure 57’s work very well, but with a 1/8″ plug? I think for my new camera I’m gonna get a shotgun mic; Audio-Technica 897.

  6. Markus Sandy says:

    see, much of this would be a good podcast – your discriptions are great even if in car – can always refer to vid for better view

  7. bre says:

    Nice video post. I like the way you showed how you did everything. Does your ipod record to mp3? I assume that you can export it easily without having to wait for it to import. My minidisc records great, but I have to sit there while it plays back into garageband. It makes me want a digital recorder.

    One downside to using the mic in the headphone jack is that you can’t listen to what you are recording as you record it, just in case you accidently wreck your mic by tieing it into a knot. (I’ve done it.)

    I’ve got the latest imovie, but it still has the same audiosync problems. I’ve got a workflow to get around it, but it’s a pain in the butt. I extract the audio, and then cut everything so that it all fits together. If I make a cut shot during the audio, then I make breaks using the “apple t” command and make sure that the amount that I am taking out matches the amount I want to put back in for the cut shot. There is a command for linking the audio to the video, and I use it, but I don’t really think it does much. I end up using the undo command a lot.

  8. Doug Bradley says:

    Hey Clint, I’m sorry I’m just now getting to watching this; I’m a few days behind on watching vlogs.

    Two things to say here. I agree although the sound was quieter it was better. The sounds around the house were eliminated and all that could be heard was you. Another option for doing naration or voice overs using your PC is a free program called “Audacity” ( ) This is a program used by several podcasters that not only allows you to record any audio source on your PC to .mp3 and other formats but it also allows you to tweek the audio as well. Once again though using a good powered mic is essential.

    Second… I’m really glad you are doing your vlog in this manner. I think vlogs with a message/purpose will be the ones that really take off and will take video blogging to the next level. EXCELLENT!

  9. adam says:

    Nice pilot.
    Will it be picked up for a full season?
    I say greenlight it.
    Jesus that’s disgusting language.

  10. sebastian says:

    ok, I did everything you asked me to do, was close to calling you my hero, but somehow there are no audio controls when in the Linux mode. What am I missing?

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