iPod docking machines for backing tracks

Thanks to Brian for this question about iPod docking gear for playing backing tracks:

Hi Kenny
I’m looking to purchase an ipod to play my backing tracks on stage.

I am a singer/acoustic guitarist. Can you recommend a half decent model (nano / touch etc.)

I was also looking at hooking the pod up to either iMultiMix 8 USB or Alesis Jam Dock or Alesis iMultiMix 9R.

Can you give me your professional opinion/advice on which of the above three Alesis models you would consider to be the most suitable for my needs?



Hi Brian
I would tend to go for the most up to date model when buying an iPod because it will have the newest firmware installed and any bugs present in previous models will have been detected and ironed out.
Probably the iPod Classic or the iPod Touch would be my favourite choice for backing tracks.
The size of the hard drive inside the model you opt for is up to you and will depend on how many songs you want your iPod to hold.

The only thing I would suggest though is that you buy the biggest hard drive model you can afford because you’ll be amazed at how quickly you fill it up with music (not just your backing tracks) so bigger is definitely better.
For example, I made the mistake of figuring that as long as my iPod could hold a couple of thousand backing tracks, that would be fine for me. I soon found myself giving my partner my almost new 30Gb model and buying a bigger 80Gb model (which I’m now beginning to fill up too, so a 160Gb model will be next)!
To be fair, I travel a fair bit so I’ve put a whole load of mp4 movies on it for watching on the aircraft so the movies are taking up a big chunk of space. But still, be aware that you’ll most probably end up using up more space than you intended, so my suggestion is always that you buy an iPod with at least double the space you think you’ll need…
Regarding the 3 pdf instruction manuals you sent through for the Alesis iPod products, it’s impossible to tell which is best without actually hearing and testing each one.
The most important thing that any iPod dock or interface needs to do is put out a good quality sound and be easy to use on stage. So no matter how good these machines may look on a spec sheet, you really need to hear each one through your PA system and use them at a gig to see how good they sound and perform.
I’ve used many Alesis products over the years and like their quality, robustness, and on stage usability. Don’t take that as a recommendation though – I haven’t tested any of these particular models you mentioned so I urge you to try before you buy.
From a quick glance, I like the look of both the iMultiMix models, but the JamDock doesn’t appeal to me because it is more a machine for practice rather than a professional product. For example, the JamDock appears to only let you adjust the volume of the iPod and the volume of the guitar and doesn’t give you any control over important stuff like eq etc. The JamDock would be no use on stage at a gig in my opinion.
Again though, I must stress that you’d really need to hear all three and try them out before you could make a proper informed decision.
Hope this helps…