The first set of audio tests on mobile equipment

We’re still undecided on audio hardware. Because it’s a class situation, we’re trying to keep it inexpensive for the students,  so we’ve ruled out the $29.99/copy Hindenberg Field Recorder and $29.99 Report-It apps. We’ve been doing some testing and it’s incidentally given us some good examples of the differences between the varied mic configurations.

Ryan Famuliner, the assistant news director of our NPR affiliate, KBIA, is teaching the class with me and has been doing evals of audio software. It’s his voice you’ll hear in the recordings and the comments under each configuration are his. All of the samples were done using Tascam’s PCMRecorder app on a 16GB iPad Mini or a 16GB iPhone 4, as indicated.

Test 1: iPad Mini internal mic

Test 1a: iPhone 4 internal mic 

Comment:  Not terrible quality, but audio loses some richness. Could definitely be usable for natural sound purposes or for interviews in a very quiet setting, but not optimal. Omnidirectional which can be an asset or weakness of course.

Test 2: Mikey Digital mic, (connected with a 30-pin-to-Lightning adaptor)

Test 2A: Mikey Digital mic on an iPhone 4 (using the mic’s native 30-pin connection)

Comment:  The richest audio of all the options, IMO. But along with that, will be difficult in noisy settings. Also the floor noise has a high pitched frequency to it, not sure what that’s about. One major takeaway –  wind noise will be a problem.  Ryan points out that there are windsocks to reduce that, and we can also low-tech it with a sock.

Test 3: Wireless mic through the iPad Mini headphone jack

Test 3a: Wireless mic through headphone jack of an iPhone 4

Comment: Audio is a little hollow but not much floor noise.

Test 4: Wireless mic through the input on the top of the Mikey Digital unit connected to an iPad Mini

Comment:  I think I prefer this to the one plugged through headphone jack. It records quiet, but when boosted sounds better IMO. Audio isn’t a rich as with the Mikey, but it’s also easier to control.

Test 4a: Wireless mic through the input on the top of the Mikey Digital unit connected to an iPhone 4

Ryan and I have plans to do a large multi-environment test with different hardware/software configurations in the next few weeks. We’ll post the results here after they happen.

Note: The preference for our spec is that the app:
— handle multiple tracks at once
— be able to record and edit within the same app
— be able to export the file as a .wav, .mp3 or directly to something embeddable, such as SoundCloud.