[REVIEW] honestech Audio Recorder 2.0 Deluxe

audio-recorder-20

The box claims that honestech’s Audio Recorder 2.0 Deluxe will let you, “With just a few clicks, convert your analog music into digital formats including mp3s and audio CDs.”  Well, it honestly takes more than just a “few clicks”; after all, you have to find those analog formats and find a working player and get it all connected.  Once that’s done, though, the box is right – it’s a pretty easy process.

I’ve recorded audio into a computer many times before.  I worked in radio for over a decade, and part of that time saw the conversion from older analog formats to digital ones, including many hours spent recording audio into a computer.  That experience taught me that you really need to have decent equipment if you want a decent recording.  Just plugging a tape deck into the “audio in” jack that came built-in to your computer is not likely to produce quality results. You get buzz or hiss or hum or some other form of audio distortion, and most PCs do not come with decent recording and editing software.

All of this experience has meant that I’ve shied away from doing much analog-to-digital transfer at home.  I don’t have the right equipment or software and don’t feel like shelling out the money it would take to do it right.  There is, however, a device/software package now on the market that changes that.

Honestech sent me a copy of their Audio Recorder 2.0 Deluxe package for review.  It includes the Audio Recorder 2.0 software and a MUZBOX USB device that captures audio from a standard stereo RCA connection, as well as a selection of cables and adapters to make the necessary connections.  Let’s start with looking at the hardware.

audio-recorder-20-deluxe-screenshot1The MUZBOX itself is small and powered via USB 2.0,  so you don’t need an external power cord.  A standard USB cable is included, as are a stereo RCA cable and an adapter to use the RCA cable with a standard stereo mini plug, the kind used for most headphone jacks.  I was impressed that the RCA cable was long – I’m guessing it’s a 6 ft. cable.  That’s longer than what usually comes with your VCR or tape deck and makes it much easier to find a spot near your PC to place your analog device. I was also impressed that the connections on the cable and the MUZBOX were gold, which provides for a better quality connection.  The drivers for the MUZBOX are included with the software; once I had them installed, I connected the MUZBOX and instantly had audio coming into the PC.  Not only did the MUZBOX work easily, it worked well.  The audio was clean and clear, nothing like any previous experience I had with recording audio at home.  The hardware gets an A.

The software is honestech’s Audio Recorder 2.0.  It includes both a “Wizard” mode and an advanced mode for recording.  I gave each a shot.  In wizard mode, you are guided through a few simple screens  (pictured at right) to test your connection and set your audio level, then you begin recording.  When you’re done, you go instantly to burning to CD.  It’s a very easy process. I only ran into one hiccup – I selected “Auto Split” without knowing what it did.  Come to find out, the Auto Split feature detects silence in the recording and starts a new track for your CD.  That’s great for music… but I was recording spoken word.  Every time the speaker paused, I got a new track number.  I ended up with seventy some tracks, which was a little awkward.  Maybe next time I’ll read the directions first.

Since I didn’t want to deal with all of those tracks, I tried again, this time using the advanced mode.  The advanced mode is pretty basic as audio recording software goes and I found it easy to navigate.  I set up my recording, including a noise reduction option which worked better than the Dolby noise reduction built-in to my cassette deck.  Everything went smoothly for the first thirty minutes or so.  Then I started getting some weird stuff – the audio would stop suddenly, even though it should be continuing.  I had to stop the recording, stop the tape, then start both again.  This continued every five minutes or so until the end of my cassette.  I’m not sure if this was a USB issue or a driver issue or what the cause was – if I’m going to continue using this device, I’ll need to get that figured out.

Overall, the experience was a good one. The honestech Audio Recorder 2.0 Deluxe package offers a simple process that produced good results.  For the price, $79 MSRP, you get a good combination of hardware and software that almost any novice PC user can utilize to get their analog audio into their PC or onto CDs.  There were some bugs in my experience, too, so proceed with that in mind.

Your Daddy Time: Worth It or Wasted? Worth It! 3/5 stars

Available from honestech: http://www.honestech.com/main/AudioRecorder20Deluxe.asp

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6 Responses to “[REVIEW] honestech Audio Recorder 2.0 Deluxe”

  1. dave marshall
    September 23, 2010 at 7:49 pm #

    22 sept. 2010, I bought a honestech audio recorder 2.0 deluxe. I hooked up all wires as per dia. & or pictures. Usb 2.0 cable from laptop to muzbox. Rca white & red 6′ long cable from cassette player out, to muzbox white & red in. When I plug the 6″ Y connector in the ear phone jack, the white and red female rca connectors at the other end of Y connector, have NO where to connect to. Look at the picture carefully. It shows the red & white cable coming out of the line out at back of cassette player to what looks like a 2 point open circuit connector. The whole system fails to go forward .

    From what I see, I’ll neen a rca cable with a red & white connector on one end & 2 red & white connectors on the other end.

  2. Ben Martin
    September 24, 2010 at 3:01 am #

    It’s been over a year since I reviewed this product, but as I recall, you can use either the headphone jack as a source OR the RCA output as a source, but not both. I think that’s what the diagram is supposed to illustrate, though it isn’t explicit in doing so.

  3. Jan
    December 19, 2010 at 12:51 am #

    Ben,

    In your review of the Honestech Audio Recorder 2.0, you wrote that you have years of professional experience working with audio recording, and that you’ ve also got experience recording audio to computers. My professional background is as a TV writer/producer, so my strength is not on the operations side. I would appreciate it if you would you try to answer a few questions for me about using my own Honestech Audio Recorder 2.0.

    Like you, I was skeptical about this product to begin with. Previously I’d bought one of those USB turntables that can also do pass throughs from portable audio devices. The problem is that when I actually tried to use it today to transfer several hours of audio from my portable audio device, the turntable introduced very objectionable background noise.

    So, I installed my Honestech Audio Recorder 2.0 which I’ve had for quite some time but never used. To my pleasant surprise, the sound that appeared on my computer was crystal clear. The problem is that I’d prefer to use the “Advanced Mode” but neither the manuals nor the Honestech website explain the optional settings, other than how to access them.

    For example, there is one window accessed by choosing “Settings” that is entitled “AudioInputMixer Properties.” Within that window is something called “Pin Line Input Mix.” By moving its slider up from its apparent default position of all the way down, I can significantly increase the recording volume. I can accomplish the same thing, which I need to do to bring up the audio level on the VU meters, by moving the basic volume slider in the Honestech software. Which should I use and why?

    Likewise, should I leave the “Format” as 44100Hz 16bit Stereo” or should I change it to something else?

    Please help. Thanks.

  4. Ben Martin
    December 22, 2010 at 1:18 am #

    Jan -

    The “Input” slider adjusts the sensitivity of the input, while the “Volume” slider adjusts the amount of amplification the software ads to the input signal. Both have the potential to increase the signal to the VU meter; I generally favor increasing Input over Volume, but I would try listening to each and go with whichever sounds best for the source you are using.

    The format you mentioned is the same quality level as an audio CD, so it’s a good one to stick with if burning the audio to CD is your goal. If you are just intending to create mp3s, you could adjust that format down, but I would sample it first and make sure the sound quality still matches your expectations.

    Good luck!

  5. Ron Landry
    July 22, 2011 at 4:01 am #

    Can’t seem to get the Edit Mode to work at all, just crashes even after I removed and reinstalled this product. 5 thumbs down. Booooooo…..

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