Hands-on review: Olens' MiCorder offers vinyl, tape conversion to mp3 for dummies

(Dave Molter | Posted 2010-11-25)

Hands-on review: Olens' MiCorder offers vinyl, tape conversion to mp3 for dummies

It’s the digital age, and the collective weight of the vinyl LPs and 45s as well as cassette tapes and — dare we say it? — 8 track tapes lying unplayed in basements around the world must surely be well into the millions of tons. Sure, there are devices and applications available that allow you to convert recordings to digital files, but many of them require the purchase of a USB turntable or other audio interface and software and the use of a computer. For technophobes, the process can be daunting.

That’s why I was pleased to hear about the new MiCorder from Olens Technology, a highly portable and highly affordable device that makes it possible for anyone who can operate an iPod to transfer those treasured recordings to digital files.

About the size of a deck of cards, MiCorder is a combination recorder/player that records from any audio source that has a stereo earphone output simply by connecting a stereo headphone cord between the device and MiCorder. MiCorder converts the sound to mp3 format and stores it on an SD card, all without involving a computer — and all for under $80.

After an initial two-hour charge period, using MiCorder couldn’t be simpler — plug the included stereo cord into the output of your playback device or system, then into the line in jack of MiCorder and press the Record button once to enter Record mode, once more to begin recording and a final time to store.

Files are saved in folders and can be played back on MiCorder. In addition to the stereo cord, Olens had thoughtfully included in the purchase price ($79.99) a set of earbuds, a USB cable for charging and connecting MiCorder to a computer and a 4GB SD card for storage (MiCorder accepts SD cards up to 8GB).

MiCorder has a familiar LCD screen and a very iPod-like set of controls for managing recording, file selection and playback. Once stored on the SD card, files can be renamed or otherwise managed by inserting the card into a computer, which will recognize the card just as it does with a digital camera card. In Playback mode, MiCorder also offers EQ, Repeat and Shuffle.

Note: Unlike some digital recorders, MiCorder doesn’t offer the ability to designate individual tracks while recording — LPs or tapes will be recorded as one continuous track unless you stop recording after each track, save, then record the next track. However, if you record entire tapes or sides of an LP uninterrupted, you can transfer the files to your computer, then import them into an editing program (such as the free Audacity), and name individual tracks. Then transfer the tracks back to the SD card, and MiCorder will be able to provide Shuffle between individual tracks.

One minor quibble — although capable of playback as well as recording, MiCorder doesn’t include a belt clip or case for use while jogging. However, MiCorder will fit in the pocket of a shirt or shorts and, weighing just 3 ounces, is highly portable.

The bottom line
Just in time for Christmas 2010, MiCorder offers a great stocking stuffer or under-tree gift for anyone who likes music and has vinyl or taped music that they currently can't play on a portable mp3 player. The price ($79.99) is right, and recording and playback couldn’t be easier. For those who have a sizable collection of LPs, 45s and tapes they’d like to have in a portable format, MiCorder is the perfect solution.

MiCorder is available from www.olenstechnology.com and select retailers, including www.hammacherschlemmer.com.

Dave Molter ("Laklander") is Managing Editor of Music GearReview.

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