Even though you may not need a lot of advance features in an audio recorder for iPhone, when a company like Blue Microphone offers a free, more feature rich alternative application, you might as well take advantage of it. There are more than a few audio recorders for the iPhone and iPod on the market. Blue Microphone even sells four other portable recording apps, but its free option works wonderfully well, and provides useful features that Apple itself could incorporate in its Memo app.
Like Voice Memo, Blue FiRe has simple and clear start and stop buttons for recordings. Both provide pre- and during recording sound wave level indicators, and they both allow you to wirelessly transfer recordings to your desktop computer. But that’s pretty much where the comparisons end.
What makes Blue FiRe a better audio recorder for iphone is the ability to scroll through, bookmark, and set timings for recordings. When you launch Blue FiRe, it provides you with a page of instructions to get you started. It also includes a 5-minute recording of instructions that explains its other features. Listening to the instructions are not as good though as having an audio-visual manual, but it does walk you through step-by-step the features that may not be obvious when using the app.
The sound quality is great, providing settings for low (11.025 kHz), medium (22.050 kHz) and high (44.1 kHz), and you can record or export in WAV, AIFF, or CAF (Apple’s Core Audio Formats) formats.
Blue FiRe has the standard “start and stop” recording, but it includes features for doing automatic recordings without having to push buttons. You can set up the feature to detect sounds at a certain threshold level. Set it to a low threshold and it will detect voices in a room and stop the recording when very little or no sound is detected. You can even set a time to end a recording. This is great for dictating notes and recording interviews and lectures.
All recordings are automatically saved and can be retitled. An info button in the menu bar provides the time, date, file size, and length of recordings, but it also includes a feature to snap photos to capture the location of the recordings. And of course a winning app like this includes GPS settings for locations where recordings took place.
You can’t edit out audio in recordings, but you can set and re-title markers for recordings, and also manually drag the playback head and handle back and forth on the wave form to hear different parts of an audio. Blue Microphone really made this feature configurable, allowing users to set intervals for jumping to and back between markers. These features are seriously great for students, reporters, and audio enthusiasts.
With Voice Memo, you can email and send recordings through SMS; however, this can’t be done with Blue FiRe. But Blue FiRe does provide features for wirelessly exporting recordings via FTP transfer to a designated website, or even faster using the built-in web server download. Just click the browser button on the bottom left of the menu bar, link your desktop web browser to the designated URL, and all your saved recordings will appear for download in one of three audio formats. Blue FiRe allows for up to two gigs of recording time.
You can fine tune other settings in Blue FiRe and save them as your default. Blue Microphone packed lots of features in this app. It is optimized it for their portable Mickey microphone for the iPhone and most iPods. But if your portable device includes a built-in speaker, Blue FiRe still works without Mickey.
So my advice to take advantage of this free offering– Blue Microphone’s Blue FiRe [iTunes link]. You never know when such an app may come in handy. If you do lots of recordings on your iPhone or iPod, let us know what you use.