Your phone is very smart. With Angry Birds, Facebook and mobile office applications, it’s all too easy to forget that some of the features we use most were often available on those very old mobile phones as well. Obviously, that includes calling and texting, but recording audio isn’t a cutting-edge technology either.
Nevertheless, recording audio with your smartphone or tablet hasn’t always been a walk in the park. The microphones traditionally found in mobile devices weren’t something to write home about. With HD cameras, the need for better audio is put in a new light.
Even now, with ever better technology in our pockets, recorded audio is often of inferior quality; choppy and with a low tolerance for loud and chaotic environments. Below are a number of tips to get better audio recordings.
1. Eliminate Distractions Coming From Your Phone
While using your smartphone or tablet to record audio, you shouldn’t forget it’s a multifunction device. Nothing is more distracting than an instant messaging conversation intruding upon your recording, with shrill notifications making the main subject ineligible.
So before you hit that record button, make sure you strip your phone or tablet from the ability to intrude, by turning off its phone and messaging capabilities, or (at the very least) the audible notifications.
2. Properly Configure Your Phone
If your mobile device only has a big record button you can skip this step, although it might be time to download a more versatile audio recording application. However, most often even the simplest of recording applications have a few settings you can play with.
Regardless of the microphone housed in your device, you don’t want to lose data through over-compression. Quite often, the recording quality of these devices is set very low to preserve storage space. If you know you have enough memory to hold the recording, crank up the recording quality—you can always compress the audio during post-production.
3. Take Note Of Your Surroundings
Every room and situation is different. It’s easy to overlook those little sounds that are all around you. You get used to recurring and environmental sounds even after being only a minute in a room. Before you start recording, take a moment to look at (and listen to) your surroundings.
Better yet, take a short recording to sample the sound in the room; you can keep the file to patch up irregularities in the sound during post-production. These sounds usually become apparent when you listen to the recording after the event, but a little advance care can take you a long way.
Are you able to walk closer to the subject of interest? Do so! Are you standing close to a distracting source of secondary audio, like an AC unit, a window, or a doorway? Try to scoot over! If you’re interviewing someone, or recording a meeting, put something soft underneath your phone to lessen the sound of mouse-clicks, elbowing and water glasses that are put down.
4. Plug In An External Microphone
Although the built-in microphones are getting better with every release, there’s only so much you can put in a phone. Depending on the regularity with which you record, and the quality is expected, a smartphone or tablet might just not suffice.
Luckily, a lot of devices also have a microphone jack (or an output jack that doubles as an input jack). You can purchase an external microphone to plug into your smartphone or tablet, and increase the quality tenfold. Not only do you get more clarity, microphones with sensitivity control give you the flexibility to make great recordings in quiet and chaotic rooms alike.
5. Use Tape To Record In Loud Environments
The microphone on your smartphone or tablet likely isn’t intended to tape the live performance of a band or the speaker at a conference. Rather, they’re supposed to be used as dictaphones. Those microphones are attuned to a specific (and rather narrow) range of sound intensity.
When you’re recording a particularly loud event, like a performance, the sound may well be beyond the microphone’s sensitivity range, meaning some of the sound simply doesn’t register. By using a bit of tape and placing it over your device’s microphone (making sure there are no creases or air bubbles), you can mute the input and record sounds that would otherwise be beyond a microphone’s sensitivity range. Different kinds of tape render different results, so experiment with using regular, duct, and paper tape.
Do you have any smart tricks up your sleeve to record audio with your smartphone or tablet? Let us know in the comments section below the article!
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