Turning my iPhone into a voice recorder?
November 12, 2010 11:48 PM   Subscribe

I want to turn my iPhone into a broadcast quality voice recorder (for radio). What's the ideal setup?

I record interviews for a community radio show and want to avoid having to book out the station's hard disk recorders (annoying!), so I've been thinking about acquiring a set up to record interviews on my iPhone, but that is good enough quality for radio broadcast. Is this a crazy idea?

I've heard that the Retro Recorder app is the best one to record with (feel free to chime in) but now I need a kickass mic that will attach to my iPhone. Any suggestions would be hugely appreciated!!
posted by mooza to Technology (6 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Personally I'd invest in a dedicated portable recorder for better quality, reliability, battery life, and easier transfer of files off the recorder. Something like the Roland R-05 or R-09HR would seem to fit the bill, but I'd talk to your station's technical staff about their specifications. I have the older version of the R-09 and it's a fantastic little recorder. It takes AA batteries so you can use rechargables if you want, but you can always scrounge up some spares if you need them in a pinch. These things are pretty small too, so they aren't nearly as cumbersome as lugging around a big hard disk recorder.

Plus, if you have a dedicated recorder, you can use your iPhone to glance at notes, look something up, or check a detail from your email while you're recording.
posted by zachlipton at 12:08 AM on November 13, 2010

This is perhaps retrofitting a device to a purpose it is not well-suited.

For one, there is no easy line-in or mic connection. Two, the iPhone and similar devices are a bit underpowered for transcoding their internal audio signal to AIFF or the like, so battery life will be poor. Three, it can be difficult to get data off the device unless the app supports Personal File Sharing through iTunes, which not all apps do. Looking at the Retro Recorder specs, it's unclear if the developers added support for this part of the iPhone API.

So zachlipton's advice is sound. If you have the scratch, HHB and Marantz make professional portable recorders. Look for ones with flash memory (most modern recorders will have this) as fewer moving parts make them more reliable road units. They all have a solid batch of inputs for nice mics, etc.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:48 AM on November 13, 2010

My husband is a radio journalist and uses his iPhone for the occasional man-on-the-street interview for broadcast, so I asked him what he used. He just uses the built-in mic on his iPhone 3 and the FiRe app set on high quality; the main thing he says is to construct a foam cover to fit over the top of the phone. I tried knitting him one but foam is better :P. He's got all kinds of Marantz and other gizmos to record with but still likes the iPhone for informal stuff. If you're not sure about the quality, you could try an audio-blind-taste-test and see how the iphone holds up against your studio's equipment?
posted by Erasmouse at 2:35 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

You want a Mikey mic by Blue Microphones (http://www.bluemic.com/mikey/) I know a professional voice talent that uses it to produce broadcast quality work. For an app, try NCH's RecordPad.
posted by reddot at 6:41 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I haven't experimented with external mics for my iPhone because the Zoom H2 is such an amazing portable recorder. I swear, I get interviews that are of indistinguishable quality from those recorded in the studio.
posted by TurkishGolds at 8:13 AM on November 13, 2010

For under $100 you can get the Blue Microphones Mikey for the iPhone or a Zoom H1 stand-alone recorder, either one providing you studio-quality recording. (The times we live in are so technologically enriched... and affordable.)
posted by exphysicist345 at 6:06 PM on November 13, 2010

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