Review: ADS Tech Instant Music

Move your music from tape or vinyl right into your Mac (January 24th, 2006)

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Product Manufacturer: ADS Tech

Price: $49.95 US

The Good

  • No external power supply needed. USB 1.1 and 2.0 compatible. Easy to set up and use. Compatible with a wide range of software.

The Bad

  • No included upgrade path to latest version of CD Spin Doctor. Apply Filter option unstable in shipped configuration.

I am a part-time Club DJ, so I sought an easy way to convert some of my old "Beat Mixed Tapes" on cassette and reel-to-reel to a digital format for burning on CD and listening on my iPod. Instant Music for Mac includes all the software and hardware to make that task very easy and simple.

Everything You Need In the Box

Instant Music for Mac comes with a 6-foot USB 2.0 cable, 6-foot RCA audio cable with a Turntable Grounding Wire, 3.5 mm Stereo to RCA adapter, the Instant Music Device, plus a CD with Roxio's CD Spin Doctor 2.0 software. Also included is a fairly good Quick Start guide on how to use all of the equipment.

I installed the CD Spin Doctor Software and proceeded to connect the Instant Music device to my tape deck and Macintosh. The connections are clearly marked on the back of the unit and very intuitive. I plugged the tape deck to my Audio In jacks on the device with the included RCA cords and the USB cable became my Audio Out to my Mac. If you have digital devices, SPDIF connections are available for TOSLINK inputs from DVD players and other devices. If you want to record from Vinyl you may need some type of Pre Amp device to get the signal up to Line Level.

Rear of Instant Music
Back View of InstantMusic for Mac

A double-click of Roxio's CD Spin Doctor brings up a dialog that asks if you wish to do a New Recording or Open a previous Project or Recent File. With a new recording, if everything is hooked up right, the panel should say Ready To Record. Some settings are turned off by default, to avoid Feedback Loops, so a Visual Check of the VU Meters and a click of the "Play Input Through Speakers" and I was all set to Record. If you are converting pre-recorded material (LP's or Cassettes) and you know the time or length of the recording you can have CD Spin Doctor automatically stop recording after a preset time interval from 5 to 120 minutes, so you don't have to baby sit the project in real time.

After recording, simply click the OK button and CD Spin Doctor gives you a Waveform of the AIFF file. You can now use Spin Doctor to Auto Define Tracks (search for gaps between songs to define them as separate songs), or if you have Roxio Toast installed, you can also send your recording to Toast with a single click. You can also tweak your recording by applying Filters to improve the sound quality, such as removing popping or hiss noise, or adding equalization (EQ) to compensate for distortion. I did have a problem using the Apply Filter Option under OS X 10.4.4, it crashed the application, but CD Spin Doctor has an Auto Recover option of the last file just in case this happens. Roxio does have a 3.0 version of CD Spin Doctor, but upgrade discounts were not readily apparent on their website.

Versatile Product

The good thing about Instant Music for Mac is that you are not limited to using the device with just CD Spin Doctor. The Instant Music Device uses a USB Audio Codec that is built into the Mac OS. I was able to use the Instant Music Device with Peak, Amadeus II, Audacity, and GarageBand. If you are thinking of doing a Podcast, this device will make it simple and easy to get those audio sources into your Mac.

Overall, ADS Instant Music for Mac works as advertised, although the bundled CD Spin Doctor 2 had a few glitches with Apple's latest OS, but overall meets the needs of most users, if you have good quality recordings and don't need Filters or Equalization. I did use CD Spin Doctor 3, bundled with Roxio Toast 7, as a side test, and it fared a little better. The ADS Instant Music Device is worth the price alone because it can be used with several Shareware and Freeware applications as well as commercial software to get sound into your Mac.

System Requirements:
  • Power Macintosh G3 or later (G4 recommended)
  • Mac OS X 10.2 and up
  • QuickTime 6 or later
  • CD burner - for creating MP3 and audio CDs
  • Available USB port
  • iTunes 4.6 or later
  • Audio Pre-Amplifier may be required for older turntable devices
  • Also available for Windows computers

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Art Payne


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