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Company Solicits Feedback on Next-Gen Recorder 157

An anonymous reader writes "According to a multimedia device vendor has asked the open-source community to help define its next product, a Linux-based handheld portable media player/recorder (PMP/R) featuring audiophile-quality sound. The new product is a successor to the popular Neuros 442 PMP/R. Neuros has published the specs for a development board it calls the first prototype, and has asked hackers, open-source software authors, and others to review and weigh in on the design, which is expected to be finalized in the near future."
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Company Solicits Feedback on Next-Gen Recorder

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  • voice recorder (Score:3, Interesting)

    by richlv ( 778496 ) on Wednesday October 19, 2005 @06:46AM (#13825145)
    on a similar note, anybody knows about a good voice recorder that would compress to an open codec, allow removable storage (ideally - cf, so that it is interchangebale with photocameras ;) ) and would not suck feature-wise ?

    and, on a funny note - from the linked article :

    "More details, including a downloadable 18-page Word document describing the current development board specification"
    • ideally - cf, so that it is interchangebale with photocameras

      Many 'cameraphones' use SD or MMC, not CF (tho I bet yours does :)

      At any rate, I found I use a wireless connection (wifi, bluetooth, IR) for exchanging info wiht my phone more then that I use a removable memory card.. its usually just a lot easier that way.
    • On the voice recorder issue, why not gin up a plug in for Win Amp or something like that in order to allow transcription of the recorded voice note? You could use a standard USB pedal to control speed, rewind, etc. Voice recording is great and all, but for instance with my Treo, the big issue is getting the recording to my secretary and having her transcribe it.
      • i'm not sure i get what you are suggesting :)
        i'm looking for a portable voice recorder that would support external media, record in an open format, have reasonable features (maybe even an open firmware ? ;) ), usb connection as a block device, good battery life.

        i want voice recording only, not some integrated fancy video recording or photocamera.

        from what i have seen, none of digital voice recorders satisfy these requirements. if there was one available for a reasonable price, i sure would surely buy it.

        i h
        • Although I'm aware it doesn't satisfy your requirements, I thought that I would point out the Olympus digital recorders as others may find them suitable.

          I can't speak about their newer ones, but I have a rather old (16MB I think) one and it works well with my Mac. Unfortunately it uses a rather strange proprietary codec, but the software will convert it out to an uncompressed AIFF or WAV file, which is how I archive everything.

          It is irritating though given their large potential capacity these days that they
          • i have extensively searched what olympus offers, as they are regarded one of most experienced voice recorder manufacturers.

            and mostly manufacturers support mac & windows. i would prefer open formats for everything, because having proprietary software/drivers guarantees their unavailability in some time and unability to run on newset systems (lib/kernel changes have made a lot of older software/kernel modules very, very hard to use if possible at all).

            besides i am not sure wether there is any software at
  • by torpor ( 458 ) <ibisum&gmail,com> on Wednesday October 19, 2005 @06:49AM (#13825153) Homepage Journal
    {disclaimer: i work for a pro digital audio company.}

    as a long-time linux hacker, musician, synthesist, and audio geek, this device screams out for one thing: MIDI.

    yes, thats right, MIDI. give me a way to control it from a MIDI keyboard, give me a compiler onboard, stand back and watch the new softsynth plugin realm expand beyond that of VST et al..

    course, i've got my own plans for such things too, but i'll save that for a future /. thread ..
    • yes, thats right, MIDI. give me a way to control it from a MIDI keyboard,

      I'll second that, provided it also gets a half-decent audio line in capability (hint: no ALC).
      I'm using a Boss BR-532 as a portable recording deck, and while it gets seriously good sound (I'm mostly using it for off-cam sound on video shoots), it's bigger than a lot of the Mini DV cameras out there.
      • Yes, I second this. MIDI-in, or any other kind of "pro" features, would only be worth anything if they came after having a high quality and easy to access audio inputs.

        For me that screams balanced inputs. What would really be nice would be dual XLR (D3F) connectors with switchable phantom power, but I understand that probably drives up the price a lot and isn't useful to a lot of average consumers. (Essentially what you'd have then is this device [], which costs a bundle and for good reason.) So I would settle
    • I don't think MIDI I/O is going to be available on a consumer portable device. You are basically asking for a pro feature, and I don't think it makes sense to have extra hardware and ports that less than 1% of the device's purchasers will use.
      • MIDI can be added to this device as long as usb-midi.o is onboard, or at least as long as the ability to load modules supporting devices plugged into the USB Host port is not crippled in some way.

        i've already got a Virus TI being run by my Zaurus.. it wouldn't take much more to add such devices to Archos, as long as they were open enough about peripheral support .. and thats really my point.
        • What you need in terms of USB host is USB on the go []. That, the midi driver and a USB <-> midi dongle [] will do what you're proposing.

          The main use for USB on the go (its first intended purpose) is to both
          • download images stored in your camera onto your computer (camera is slave)
          • control a USB printer from the camera (camera is master)

          You just found a new use for USB on the go! Well done :-)

    • I don't think this will sell if it has a lot of niche (pro) features that few people will use, but will add to the cost.
      However, wouldn't it be nice if it had a midi-over-ethernet implementation in software? And wireless, of course.

      I don't think the hardware is powerful enough to run many softsynths, at least not the ones using large sample libraries. I'm barely scraping by with my Athlon64 and 1GB memory-- but then again, GPO and Stormdrum have much heavier requirements than an analog emulating softsynth
    • While another poster is right about MIDI being possibly unnecessary on a consumer portable device, I would have bought it for MIDI capability. The "advanced" features of my little QY-70 are going largely unused, as it is functioning as a basic MIDI to audio device. A flexible piece of consumer kit that had midi capability would go a long way towards simplifying portable music creation.

    • If you'd read the (admittedly flimsy) hardware spec, you'd spot there's USB host support. This opens up the field for this and much more (multi-channel audio i/o, external key/mouse, handset for VOIP etc...)

  • Heh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Wednesday October 19, 2005 @06:50AM (#13825158)

    ...featuring audiophile-quality sound.

    You mean it costs five times as much, but sounds exactly the same to everybody who isn't trying to justify their ridiculously expensive hobby? :)

    • by Anonymous Coward
      You can tell. It's warmer.
    • Re:Heh (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If it's audiophile quality, it won't be digital. fullstop.

      If it's digital, it'll just be a good digital player, but not an excellent player all things considered.
      • Vinyl and tape are NOT analog. [] They're just very fine-grained digital where the noise floor overwhelms the signal at a certain level.

        I'm sick and tired of hearing audiophiles make it abundantly clear they never attended even high school physics.
        • You seem to have a misunderstanding of the word 'analog'. Maybe you shouldn't be getting your physics education from The Register?
        • Okay, it's not analog, it's digital but the sample rate is just so unimaginably high that the 'samples' are individual physical quanta. Better now?

          I think that's getting a little pedantic.

          Although I wouldn't go so far as to call myself a "physicist," since that's not what I do as my occupation (although it is my training), I'll offer my completely biased opinion that the issue being discussed in that register article is completely irrelvant to issues of audio quality and "analog versus digital" as we percei
      • Re:Heh (Score:3, Informative)

        by pev ( 2186 )
        > If it's audiophile quality, it won't be digital. fullstop.
        Er, no. Digital is fine, although higher bit-depth and sampling rate than CD-level is useful. It's the lossy compression that most of the stored audio will have that's the problem. Have you ever tried A-B'ing on a iPod or similar compressed audio player with a straight WAV/AIFF rip from CD to the MP3/OGG/Whatever compressed version? It's surprisingly noticable.

        There's a fundamental irony when 'Audiophiles' harp on about how great their 30K setup
        • I think a fair number of "audiophiles" are starting to come around in this regard. I think the knee-jerk anti-digital feelings are a result of feeling burned from the first few generations of digital equipment (including audio CD), which really were a step down from the vinyl that music lovers were used to, and who thought they were getting an upgrade in quality.

          But we do have digital technology that will surpass vinyl in an ABX test, it's just not commonly used (yet). The iPod -- which a lot of audiophiles
    • Audiophile quality? It's called vinyl.
    • Re:Heh (Score:3, Funny)

      by jcupitt65 ( 68879 )
      They should glue some valves to the side, use deep cryogenic treatment [] on the mains cable for the battery charger, and include an integrated magic chip [] to automatically fix the CDs you copy on to it.
      • Oh dear god.

        That "magic" chip is more expensive if you want to "zap" more discs with it.

        Of course, I wouldn't ever buy ANY of these devices - at least not for their intended uses. But -- just think of the manufacturers of these devices. They have to appear to "believe" in their devices they sell...

        Just sick what someone with a little bit of imagination can sell to someone without knowledge. Of course, we're all probably like that in some aspects....
    • by dindi ( 78034 )
      besides: if it is a digital player I would put on a digital out: coaxial or optical....

      anything that is audiophile enough for me has a digital out and connects to my amp (not so audiophile)

      or not digital at all, and then hit me with a tube amp ,,,

      but hey, LPs suck after a few plays, CDs sound artificial if you are audiophile go to the opera house or live events ....

      Hate the crowds ? No music played live of your like? I know ... back to optical + digi...
      • Actually the really important feature that few manufacturers bother to include, but which I can't imagine actually raises the cost of production very much, is an external word-clock input. In terms of digital equipment it's the single thing that you can do to increase audio quality by decreasing jitter errors (assuming you're doing the obvious things already like using the maximum bit depth and sample rate, not compressing anything), and all it requires is to string some coax cable from your clock source (u
        • by dindi ( 78034 )

          hmm i got confused.

          I did not study the digital protocols of audio transmission too much lately so what I might say might be totally BS;

          I assumed we use SPDIF on digital connections (i just assume, I use it), and spdif already has control words, that I assume can be used for sync :

          but at the end you are right and I see that a word clock is a separate device that is meant to regulate the bitstream ...

          I still do not know why such a code is not internal to SPDIF or AES ant the rest...

          interesting, you
    • Re:Heh (Score:3, Funny)

      by smithmc ( 451373 ) *

        You mean it costs five times as much, but sounds exactly the same to everybody who isn't trying to justify their ridiculously expensive hobby? :)

      You don't actually hear the improvement until you scribble all over the outside of the case in green Magic Marker.

    • Yeah... Audiophiles always sound a little whiny to me. ;)
  • Okay (Score:4, Funny)

    by iamdrscience ( 541136 ) on Wednesday October 19, 2005 @06:50AM (#13825160) Homepage
    First of all it needs a nice fin or two on it to make it more aerodynamic, we don't want this thing to be dragging. Second it needs some more LEDs.
  • What I want (Score:5, Interesting)

    by onyxruby ( 118189 ) <onyxruby@[ ] ['com' in gap]> on Wednesday October 19, 2005 @06:52AM (#13825164)
    What I want to see:

    USB 2.0 port - full size please!



    4 GB hard disk

    Flash card reader

    Scratch resistant coating

    Volume knob

    Mini joystick similiar to gamepad

    Make sure I can plug it in as a mass media drive without special drivers etc

    Line in for audio

    Rubber bumbers for shock protection

    Rubber back for good grip

    Built in modem for dial up when traveling

    • Re:What I want (Score:5, Informative)

      by Andy_R ( 114137 ) on Wednesday October 19, 2005 @07:31AM (#13825247) Homepage Journal
      Since their previous device is colour, it would be insane for this one not to be. Almost as insane as putting the 4Gb drive from your wants list in to replace the 40Gb one the old device shipped with!
      • Not so insane. The current device is pretty bulky; if someone was looking for a portable audio recorder, they might prefer a small, less expensive device.
      • Personally I would have left color screen off, since I think it's unnecessary. It's an audio recorder: why the heck does it need a color screen?

        And more to the point, what more interesting/useful things can you do with the money that you'd save by going to a monochrome display, for the same overall cost? A lot, I bet, since those screens aren't exactly a dime a dozen right now.

        I would much rather have them give me a B&W screen and a bunch of external LED-based peak-reading levels displays, instead of a
    • be a USB host (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      This: "Make sure I can plug it in as a mass media drive without special drivers etc"

      I hope this means be able to attach to a video or regular digital camera and offload pictures/video.
    • hey! you missed out 'moon-on-a-stick'! arf!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 19, 2005 @07:04AM (#13825191)
    Main requirement for the UK is for this to be sold at a price that reflects the real dollar-pound exchange rate, instead of converting US$400 into 400 UK pounds like the blood-sucking middlemen typically do for gadgets.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    How about supporting more formats? Musepack, FLAC, Monkey's Audio, Ogg Vorbis, etc. I hate having to always convert stuff to get it on a portable.
  • I would like it to have a 6.8GHz processor [] with 1TB non-volatile Quantum-Optical RAM and a 2TB solid state AtomChip® optoelectronics drive. Oh and it should cost less than $149.99 and include a cool leather case.
  • According to Specs [], this device records to 704x240 asf. If this is as powerful as they claim it is, why not use XviD or another open source codec?
    The 40GB HDD, USB2.0 and other features all look nice, but I still think it's supported formats aren't fantastic. It has no mention of supporting things like ogg or ac3.
    Despite their claims of being open source, this device is still being marketed to Windows' users, and designed for them.
    • > According to Specs, this device records to 704x240 asf.
      > If this is as powerful as they claim it is, why not use
      > XviD or another open source codec?
      Because these will need porting to the C54 DSP core. Of course as what appears to be a fairly open project you'll be able to do that yourself independently. With the ASF codec, they HAVE to include that themselves as thats a closed codec format which you as an Open Source developer will have no access to the specs for.

      > It has no mention of support
  • The specs site says it "supports Linux kernel and later".

    PC Compatibility
    Win 98/ME/2000/XP, Linux kernel and later, Mac OS X and later

    I hope its at least kernel 2.2 - so i can put it on my webserver that has a six year uptime...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Put a volume knob that goes all the way to 11...!
  • Essential (Score:5, Funny)

    by Frantactical Fruke ( 226841 ) <renekita.dlc@fi> on Wednesday October 19, 2005 @07:40AM (#13825271) Homepage
    Must run on an ethanol converter cell - so I can drink the battery when things get desperate. A side pocket for a lemon slice and an olive would be good, too.
  • by Dekortage ( 697532 ) on Wednesday October 19, 2005 @07:47AM (#13825288) Homepage

    So if I give some good feedback, and the company takes it, what do I get in return? A demo model? A discount? Credits in the fine print? At least with OSS, my free contributions go to a free product. There are some intellectual property issues here, methinks (or else Neuros isn't taking this seriously).

    • by killmenow ( 184444 ) on Wednesday October 19, 2005 @08:33AM (#13825498)
      I think the point you're missing is they plan to release enough (all?) specs and firmware for this device. You can build your own.

      It appears to me the plan is hindered only by TI being stingy about releasing key bits about its chips. Neuros will have to make what amounts to an API to a binary driver to keep TI happy and still release the firmware as open source.

      It's a fine line to walk but I give Neuros kudos for at least daring to walk it. I've been on their mailing list for a while now, participated in some of their IRC meetings, and am impressed overall with their desire to do it right.

      Right, both in terms of making a superb audio device and in terms of keeping it open and free as in libre. They are relative newbs at the open source thing, though, cut them some slack if they mis-step here or there.
    • > So if I give some good feedback, and the company takes it,
      > what do I get in return? A demo model? A discount? Credits
      > in the fine print? At least with OSS, my free contributions
      > go to a free product.
      Well, they're just making the reference hardware. Last time I checked, contributions to the Linux kernel didn't get you free hardware, demo models or discounts from any PC vendors... Sure, it would be nice though.

    • I takes money to make and distribute hardware. They are making a piece of hardware that will be running linux, and asking linux types 'how could this be better?' What you get is a piece of hardware that is hopefully better suited to your needs than, say, a PSP.

      Just like OSS, nobody is forcing you to participate.

  • Not many mediaplayers sold here in NL support Ogg Vorbis. So support for that format in this new device would make it something for me to look at. :)
  • by skyshock21 ( 764958 ) on Wednesday October 19, 2005 @08:29AM (#13825472)
    How about the ability to exchange files from player to player? No PC needed! Do it over USB, infrared, WiFi, Bluetooth, I don't care... just figure out a way that I can beam my songs/playlists/movies from my player to my friend's iPud.
    • Do it over USB, infrared, WiFi, Bluetooth, I don't care

      How about an Ethernet plug, too? A web interface to tell my Neuros to start downloading various podcasts, schedule future recording of favorite program X on FM station 101.1 from 2:00am - 3:00am tomorrow, etc.

      I've held off buying an MP3 player for a long time, waiting for just the right feature set. The Neuros II and III looked pretty good at the time they came out.

      FM record and playback feature would be essential; I live far enough out of town wher

      • Sigh. I oughtn't post stupid questions without first checking out TFA []...

        The new device will run a Linux 2.6 kernel, according to Neuros CEO Joe Born.

        I/O includes a 12Mbps USB host interface, as well as a USB gadget interface, a non-DMA (PIO only) IDE hard drive interface, CF interface supporting I/O, SD/MMC interface, 10/100 Ethernet, NTSC/PAL composite or S-video input, S-video output, and 10 user buttons.

    • just figure out a way that I can beam my songs/playlists/movies from my player to my friend's iPud. - iPud? A non-union Mexican equivalent?
    • >How about the ability to exchange files from player to player? No PC needed! Do it over USB, infrared, WiFi, Bluetooth, ...

      Then they could call it WarezPod!
  • hot chicks (Score:3, Funny)

    by 1nhuman ( 597328 ) on Wednesday October 19, 2005 @08:42AM (#13825544)
    "Neuros has published the specs for a development board it calls the first prototype, and has asked hackers, open-source software authors, and others to review and weigh in on the design, which is expected to be finalized in the near future."
    This is the brilliant design philopshy that will make it a wannahave for every trend consious teenager or non-geek!

    Jobs, eat yer hart out!
  • given that it runs linux and has a colour display it should be usable as pda with opie or kindof
  • by MacGod ( 320762 )
    Ha! Now, for once, if they don't include your precious ogg support, it'll be your own fault for not pushing it enough!
    • Nah, they're just like all the other dap makers these days...if it's free, you can forget it. IMO, all players should support just about any format you want by allowing you to download whatever codec your interested in. Why nobody seems to do this is a mystery to me. For codecs that have a license fee, they could charge for downloading. Viola! Everyone gets what they want we can all shut the fuck up about it.

      All I know is that I'm fucking pissed that Rio went bye-bye because that means there will be no
  • by prof_peabody ( 741865 ) on Wednesday October 19, 2005 @11:35AM (#13826967)
    This whole topic shows that there are very few audio geeks in here.

    First, here is the link to the Neuros wiki about the project: p:Neuros_III []

    This link should have been in the article itself, but the editors here are not the brightest.

    Most audio geeks who do field recording (what this device will primarily used for on the recording side) is:

    -direct to FLAC encoding
    -high quality A/D (better than sony dat or a nomad JB3)
    -digital input (many of us have better/expensive potable A/D boxes that would outclass anything consumer grade
    -24 bit 96 kHz recording

    and a few other things.
  • The Rio Karma had a lot of great things going for it. My dream unit would be:
    • Supports Ogg, Wav, Flac (with encoding to all three)
    • Efficient HDD buffering, so there are no "glitches" in recording
    • Gapless playback, at least for Ogg and Flac.
    • Optical in/outs, with a flat line-out, unlike the iRivers
    • Replaceable battery
    • Usb MSC compliance without the need for proprietary software, so it'll work in any decent OS.
    • Adjustable-band equalizer ala Rio Karma

      Size and weight are not real concerns, since these things have alr

    • I'm curious -- can you point me to more info on how the iRiver units' line outs behave? Is the line-in similarly non-flat? I have an iFP-595T and have used it for live recording off of mixers, with generally good results but I'd like to know what it might be doing to tweak the audio..
  • Maybe this is a no-brainer that is already planned, but just in case:

    If you want to record anything live, you HAVE to have input level meters, and fully functional (real-time adjustible while watching the meters) "trim" control. Nothing worse than recording a live performance to discover your trim/gain/whatever was way too low. Except discovering it was way too high!

    The device would be essentially useless without this feature.

    It'd be neat if rather than separate "mic" and "line" inputs, the same input wou
    • I agree with you completely, up until this point:

      Absolutely kick-ass would be a sort of "auto" input level monitoring and adjustment. Tricky... maybe it could be helped along with an "about this loud" button. Something you push to tell it "this is about how loud the signal is gonna be for the most part", and it ajusts the trim to put the level meters in a good spot for it... with plenty of signal, but enough headroom that a mild volume increase (or louder "impact") isn't going to send it into the red. And

      • That sounds an awful lot like Automatic Gain Control or Automatic Level Control to me. Except that rather than setting the 'median' level yourself, with ALC/AGC it uses a sort of time-average, compressing louder sounds and boosting soft ones.

        Not quite... I know what you are talking about, and agree it sucks. I was trying to think of how to do it in a way that doesn't suck, and I think came close. Part of the idea is good, so I'll happily discard the rest. I think the answer is not to autogain at all...

  • Please ensure adequate thermal shielding around the valves (tubes) so that my pocket doesn't get hot.

Hold on to the root.