The Dev Audio Microcone is specifically designed for recording groups. Sporting six microphones, one for each hexagonal side. Means this device can record multi-directional audio. So in theory a company could record six employees voices individually within a meeting. Many organisations have somebody stand in on meetings and write down key chunks of information raised and quote who raised it. This little device would eliminate the need of this manual input and replaces a general one track digital voice recording microphone used in meetings too. Many benefits can be gained from this, such as understanding the context and manner of what's said, something not really possible on paper. Of course the Microcone would be perfect for group podcasting and interviews too.
The design of the Dev Audio Microcone is simplistic and very fitting for a conference room. It has six sweeping sides, that create a rounded shape, despite the very evident lines. One piece of black cloth sweeps over and hides all the microphones. The top and base of the unit look as if they're made from aluminium, however upon closer inspection it's just very hard silver plastic. The Microcone sits on surfaces very securely due to three rubber feet attached to the base. So it won't slide around from accidental contact. Overall it's a really well made device.
But what's very striking when admiring the design are the lack of buttons, well actually there aren't any. To power the unit plug it in via a USB 2.0 (a very lengthy one is supplied) cable and to turn it off, disconnect it. But this simplistic functionally is actually a disadvantage. In using the Mircocone we noticed that having to connect it via USB to power and record audio in harmony, meant a Mac or PC needed to be nearby. A notebook is the most convenient form of computer to use. But an internal power source and storage solution would have made this product far more accessible. Say an organisation decides to have an urgent on the spot meeting and want to log everything said, this might just require too much of setup process to be used.
Because the Mircorcone records six directions of sound, applications like GarageBand or Logic Studio won't be able to take advantage of the technologies. Dev Audio have developed their own software to work alongside the Microcone, called the Microcone recorder, available for Mac OS X via the Mac App Store and it's also downloadable for Windows. We used the App on the Mac and loved it. It's brilliantly designed and is exceptionally easy to use. But most importantly talks to the Microcone effortlessly. The App displays the date, time, location, participants names and seating locations. It even tracks vocal arrangement on screen in real time.
The main attraction if the software is the timeline, displaying vocal audio for each participant. It even incorporates an automatic in App purchase of a cloud voice-to-text service, for transcribing audio. A colour is assigned to each of the individual voices, making it very visually easy to locate and listen to each. The user can also turn down volume of the more boisterous speakers too and edit out unwanted recordings and people. The software makes it uncomplicated to tag key events, such as questions, decisions and actions that may have arisen throughout a recording. It's an all inclusive package, that makes managing and recording smooth and straightforward. Also worth mentioning is the Microcone App for the iPhone and iPod touch, it assists the main Mircocone App running on a computer over a network. It allows the user to stop and start recording and apply tags.
Onto audio quality and performance. We've tested the Dev Audio Microcone extensively and are pleased with what we've seen or rather heard. The question we were eager to answer before using the Microcone was would other individuals audio be heard within someone else's track. The quick answer is yes. But it's not overly evident, the software turns other voices way down and makes the targets voice distinguished and prominent. Quality is sharp, clear and defined. Each microphone records at 48 kHz, 24-bit. We have zero complaints when it comes to recorded playback results. We even tested the microphone within Garageband and recorded some guitar noodling and the results were also impressive, even though this wasn't designed for this sort of usage.
To sum up this review, the Dev Audio Microcone sets out to record multi directional audio and it does this well. The Microcone Recorder App brings these technologies to life, whilst also hosting a brilliant array of easy to use powerful features. An organisation holding frequent meetings would unarguably benefit from the Microcone.
Available to purchase exclusively through the Apple Online Store.