Professional audio quality that is portable, affordable?
April 20, 2017 7:20 PM   Subscribe

I am about to do a series of interviews where I need excellent audio quality in a highly portable format--preferably with stuff I already own. Will the following set up work?

We're an Apple household. In addition to a 2012 iMac and a 2012 Macbook Pro, I have an iPhone 5s, a 1st gen iPad mini, and an iPad Air 2. I also have this Blue Yeti USB mic, which I have happily used with my Macs for recording educational videos and conducting video conferences. This summer, I am going to be conducting a series of interviews to put together an oral history of a dying religious sect. Some of the people I will talk to are now quite elderly, and we will be in their houses and retirement communities. So, basically: I would like to get clear recordings of people whose voices may be quite frail, and because I'm on a tight budget, I would like to do it with equipment I already have. I could set up my MacBook and the Blue Yeti mic, and I know that would work fine. But I would like to have a more flexible setup that doesn't take up as much space. What I want to know is: can I hook the Blue Yeti mic up to my iPhone or an iPad and get similar good results? This post on LifeHacker says a powered USB Hub will do with trick. Is that right? (It seems to me that I could easily power my phone and the mic that way, but I'm skeptical that the phone will receive audio input from the microphone.) If that's actually possible, will this one work? Or is there a better solution I'm not thinking of?
posted by Pater Aletheias to Technology (4 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I was skeptical, but it sounds like it could work. You probably need the Lightning camera adapter, which is different from the normal Lightning charge cable. (Lightning male to USB female instead of to USB male.) Then the AC-powered hub (necessary to power the USB mic) plugs into that, and the Yeti into the hub.

Still, it's something that could get screwed up by an iOS update, or only work with some apps. I'd suggest something made for the phone (ex 1, ex 2), or bypass the phone and go for the perennial suggestion of a Zoom H4N, which wouldn't require a wall outlet like the mic-hub-phone setup would.
posted by supercres at 8:41 PM on April 20, 2017

Best answer: I use the new USB 3 Lightning Camera Adapter (USB + lightning ports) with a standard iPad brick charger to record credible demos on an Air 2 using a Blue Snowball microphone. Garageband recognizes a USB mic is plugged in right away. For portability and ease of use I highly recommend the affordable little "Multitrack DAW" recording app, it scales nicely for phone-sized screens. The Air 2 can actually record 24 bit / 96k audio through the lightning port if there were ever a reason to do so! Sound quality is really very good.
posted by Lorin at 9:37 PM on April 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Id forego using the laptop rig at all for recording direct, sorry to say. This set if recordings sounds like you want to get it right, right away. Get a true pro handheld recorder. I personally like the zoom h6. Which comes with a dual stereo mic, a mono/stero ball mic, 4 additional xlr inputs for adding your own mics (say a boom or a lavalier) has phantom power, uses regularly batteries so you can keep recording all day with a moment to change batts. and records to high res 24/96 wav files. Files can be transferred via sd carf ir usb to your laptop.

I would mic by placing the unit far enough back and with high enough gain to catch the stereo of them speaking in the room, and a little clothes rustle etc. Then plug in any cheap wired lavalier mic and mic them close with that to get just pure voice. You can decide later to keep on, the other, mix or cut between them.

They also make other mic pods ranging from 69-99 which include a shotgun mic (for getting close up aound of a person from further away) and one that just has a wack of xlr inputs.

No link since you can buy for $349 from amazon, so use the mefi amazon affiliate link.
posted by chasles at 5:12 AM on April 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! Special thanks to Lorin--it's great to hear from someone who has actually done what I'm trying to do.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:42 AM on April 21, 2017

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