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Thread: Smart Phone Microphones

  1. #1

    Default Smart Phone Microphones

    Does anybody have any experience with external smart phone mics? Looking for any recommendations.

    Sometimes I want to record a song idea or record a guitar part to play over, but I don't quite want to take the time to open up Pro Tools and set up a mic. I'll use my phone, but the built-in mic is just terrible. I was looking into whether I could get a better mic in the $75-$150 range. I'm not looking for anything great, just a reasonable improvement over the built-in one. Good enough for doing the things I described above. I've found quite a few options, but without being able to try them out with an instrument, they are hard to judge.

    In addition, I study acoustics, so I'm often interested in recording interesting sounds and things I come across, so something compact and durable that I can carry around regularly is a bonus.

    Thanks!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Smart Phone Microphones

    This isn't so much a mic recommendation... It took me a bit to figure out I needed to be in Airplane mode to stop interference from the phone. This happened with some good quality mics.

    As appealing as a mic for the iPhone is, A small dedicated digital recorder would be my first choice. The Sony ICD-SX2000 (cool iPhone app for it) is on my want list.
    Robert Fear
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  3. #3
    F5G & MD305 Astro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Smart Phone Microphones

    Well I use the ireg pre to connect my usual mics into the smart phone for quick video recordings. Its a very economical way to go with pretty decent sound. Then I can upload direct from smart phone to FB or utube, whatever.
    No matter where I go, there I am...Unless I'm running a little late.

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    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Smart Phone Microphones

    My son has coopted my iRig stuff for all his demo recordings, i never get to see the pre or the HD anymore.
    The results he gets are only limited by whichever mic he can get his hands on at the time.

    A colleague in London is using one of these Zoom IQ6 on her iPhone & it matches my H4n sound for quality
    An amazingly compact way to operate, she always carries it with her, & uses it for interviews where sometimes it gets used as the broadcast sound
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    With these it’s important to look to your mic placement though. People often leave them down near a desk or something and you’ll get quite a harsh edge to the tone if you do that. Consider a mini tripod & holder if you want to get more realistic results.
    Eoin



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  5. #5
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Smart Phone Microphones

    I know smartphones are taking over the world, but in that price range, I still think a pocket recorder makes more sense that trying to do it with your phone.

    You can get a Zoom H2n for $160, with decent stereo mics and recording quality. Then just dump the files to your computer, which is easier than transferring files from some phones.

    I use a Zoom H5 for quick recordings or video capture, which is a little more at $270, but you have the option of plugging in external mics with phantom power if you need it.

    A separate pocket recorder isn't as handy as doing it from your phone, but there are many advantages, one of which is that you're not draining your phone battery when recording!

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    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Smart Phone Microphones

    Another plus for separate small recorder.... this will allow you to get the mics into the best possible position (concealed if necessary) and you can then use your 'phone for something they do really well these days: grabbing quick videos. All you need to do them is post-synch them. Best of both worlds.

    I have really tiny (quite old now) Tascam 'pocket' recorder that uses micro-SD cards. Weighs almost nothing and the built in mics are not bad at all. You can also use a Lav mic with it. Quite handy in such situations...
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  9. #7

    Default Re: Smart Phone Microphones

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    ... Zoom H2n for $160, with decent stereo mics and recording quality. Then just dump the files to your computer, which is easier than transferring files from some phones.
    Zoom H2n also lets one choose "Lo Cut" filter while recording - to me it seems like that helps to reduce low-pitched household background noise such as heating/ventilation systems, fans, fridges etc, if trying to record in a non-ideal non-studio situation.

    There's also another Zoom H2n setting that one can use, called "Limiter", which as far as I can tell helps a little bit to prevent distortion and too-loud spikes (I don't know the proper terminology, I'm just a hobbyist) when using manual recording level.

    I've only just started using the Zoom H2n quite recently, so I may not be describing these things accurately, but in any case I like the way it records, wish I'd bought one a lot earlier instead of putting it off so long.

  10. #8

    Default Re: Smart Phone Microphones

    Lo cut helps when you have undesirable noise going on below 80hz. It does thin the tone though. There is a lot going on below 80hz that you do want. This one depends on what you are recording. If I am doing a whole group, I try to avoid the lo cut unless I really need it. I can always do this later when mixing.

    The limiter is another tough call. If you have some control such as a multi-track studio type recording, you are better off without it and just keep the levels in check. If you don't have a lot of control over the recording situation, or player, then the limiter is almost mandatory. Better to have the limiter degrading your track, vs. entirely losing the recording.

    If you are dumping the tracks to a computer for further editing, you may have access to a really good noise plugging where you can actually sample the room noise, fan, whatever, and do a much better job of removing just the undesirable noise.


    I am such huge fan of low cost portable recorders. I resisted them for a long time, but find that I get so much more done, that I would have never bothered with if I had to drag along a rack of gear and a laptop.
    Robert Fear
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  12. #9
    Registered User SincereCorgi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Smart Phone Microphones

    I've had a lot of good luck with the Apogee MiC, but it might be $100 or so above your preferred price range. I don't know that I'd recommend it over the Zoom, but it's more of a just-a-microphone than a whole recording unit, so I think it's easier when recording directly into a phone or iPad.

  13. #10

    Default Re: Smart Phone Microphones

    Quote Originally Posted by Folkmusician.com View Post
    ... If you are dumping the tracks to a computer for further editing, you may have access to a really good noise plugging where you can actually sample the room noise, fan, whatever, and do a much better job of removing just the undesirable noise. ...
    I'm thinking that Audacity freeware stuff is not in the "really good" category of plug-ins when it comes to sampling noise and removing it... I tried that feature in Audacity a year or so ago, it just made the music sound weird and distorted.

    Maybe I was doing it wrong, and also starting out with too-low a quality of recording where the noise-to-music-ratio was not favorable (quiet instrument, loud rumbly background noise, maybe not much hope for that).

    This is why I usually prefer electric instruments that have magnetic pickups, they're easier to record without capturing any background noise... I can have someone sitting across from me carrying on a conversation and it doesn't get captured by the magnetic pickups. For my little hobbyist home recordings I just run a line from the amp's line-out into Audacity (or, sometimes, the Zoom's line-in and then transfer to Audacity to stick the tracks together if there's more than one instrument). But, I do have some acoustic instruments here as well, and once in a while I want to record something with them. The mandolin and the very quiet little mini classical guitar currently both have piezo pickups, the banjo doesn't have any pickups but I seldom have any need to record it, so I can wait for a quiet moment and hope the furnace and fridge don't come on. Lol.

    Anyway, thanks for the tips and the other info about Lo Cut and Limiter, good to know. I have much to learn...

  14. #11

    Default Re: Smart Phone Microphones

    I have been using iZotope RX with really good results. I guess it is the other end of the spectrum from free. I've played around a bit with Audacity, but never really jumped in. The Noise Reduction tends to work best with constant noise, hiss, etc... If there is a good silent section to sample, I can significantly reduce it. If it is really prevalent or something the NR doesn't excel at, then it is more light reduction, and see if I can save it with EQ. Pops, clicks, and random noises are edited individually. All this works best if the recordings are tracking in the highest resolution. 16bit doesn't stand up to heavy editing very well.

    In your situation, low cut might be the way to go. Especially if there are no drums or lower register instruments involved.
    Robert Fear
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    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Smart Phone Microphones

    RX is excellent....used in movie dialog all the time. Very powerful and transparent.
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  17. #13

    Default Re: Smart Phone Microphones

    RX is excellent....used in movie dialog all the time. Very powerful and transparent.
    That is mostly what I am using it for.
    Robert Fear
    http://www.folkmusician.com
    1-800-493-4922

    "Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don't.
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  18. #14
    Player, luthier, tech Andy Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Smart Phone Microphones

    If you've got an iPhone, check out the Shure MV88. (disclosure: I do work for Shure so I'll not say more than "check it out!")

  19. #15
    Registered User Hallmark498's Avatar
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    Default Re: Smart Phone Microphones

    Plug your headphones into the smart phone and record that way. I will try the airplane mode and see if its any better.

  20. #16

    Default Re: Smart Phone Microphones

    I didn't do a whole lot of testing (other than airplane mode on and off), but I believe it is the wifi causing the interference. I had the same problem on a nice Sony Camera when the wifi on the camera was enabled. It is worst with a Giant Squid Lapel mic I use, but I did notice it on some other mics as well.

    I have another camera that I regularly use with an iPad connected via wifi as a monitor/remote. This one has no problem at all, so it is not just the mics, but also the level of shielding/design of the device.
    Robert Fear
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    "Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don't.
    " - Pete Seeger

  21. #17

    Default Re: Smart Phone Microphones

    It has seemed to me that if the goal is just to preserve some idea or play along with a track for practice, then the mic, at least in the iphones of recent years, seems fine.

    If the goal is to make a better recording, then even the cheapest of recorders with XLR inputs +phantom, and there are good ones at $100, seem a better idea than an iphone. But if the phone is the desired place to record than something like the iRig that folks have mentioned seems the answer at $40ish. I have not used one for the reasons I just mentioned, but I suppose that it represents a savings of $60 or so over buying a digital recorder from tascam, marantz, zoom, et c.

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  22. #18
    F5G & MD305 Astro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Smart Phone Microphones

    The advantage of the ireg for me is that I am usually after a quick and simple way to record decent sound to a music video recording for posting to FB/utube or use as a promo for gigs. So getting decent sound on the actual smart phone recording for a direct upload from the same phone saves a lot of time and trouble. The video is way better on the smart phone than say a zoom q2n and with my condenser mics and the ireg I presume the sound quality is at least as good.
    No matter where I go, there I am...Unless I'm running a little late.

  23. #19
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    Default Re: Smart Phone Microphones

    I bought a cheap lapel mic ($10?) for recording jams I am very pleased. the cord and extension allow me to place the mic strategically distant from the louder instruments while the phone stays within reach.
    I also notice a great sound quality improvement by loading a different Voice Recorder app on my Android phone. Voice Recorder by Quality Apps version 22.23.3321. Great adjustment capability and a pretty good editing suite in this app.

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