Discover a new, inexpensive option for capturing broadcast quality voice recordings straight to your computer or mobile device.
The need to capture footage in the field for AM/FM radio segments, local news reporting, social media marketing content, and even home movies is greater than ever. There must be a better way to get professional (broadcast quality) audio for these demands without purchasing expensive gear or lugging around lots of heavy equipment. Well, there is! You can capture professional, high quality audio directly to your iPhone (Mac computer or iPad) and the equipment is smaller and cheaper than ever before. You may have tried using your mobile phone to capture audio before, but the quality delivered with this new technique is superior. Although there are several ways to acquire quality audio with many different products on the market today, one of the simplest and most inexpensive ways to achieve this is with the iRig Pro or iRig Duo from ikmultimedia.
The iRig was designed primarily for the musician market, but broadcast professionals and social media marketers have been taking advantage of this impressive tech. In addition to being able to connect a professional microphone to your mobile phone, the iRig Pro also acts as an important pre amplifier to deliver a higher quality audio signal before it reaches your mobile device. IK Multimedia's high definition pre amp design virtually eliminates noise, while offering an impressive 24-bit converter with a 96kHz sample rate, the highest quality A/D conversion. The best part is that it comes in this small and affordable package. There are other low cost, capable options that make an analog connection from a microphone to your mobile phone. The quality achieved by using the iRig configuration results in similar quality audio that was previously only achieved by using (more expensive) professional gear.
Connection and Setup
The iRig Pro makes a digital connection to your iPhone (or iPad) on one end, and connects to your microphone of choice on the other. If you choose to use a condenser microphone (these usually have a much greater frequency response and transient response) which requires 48V of phantom power, no problem. The iRig can deliver it. Additionally, the iRig comes with a cable for connecting the iRig directly to your computer via USB. The iRig requires a 9V battery that supplies hours of use and allows you to be completely mobile, offering the ability to capture audio at an event, during a breaking news story, a celebrity interview, or a child's birthday party.
Good Microphone Choices
When making a purchase decision for the best microphone, your choice depends on the type of audio you intend to capture. The subject of "the best microphone for the job" can get complicated quickly because there are so many different types of microphones for an unlimited number of situations. I'm going to simplify the process and make some general suggestions. I am also going to consider that you (like me) are budget conscious and need a microphone that can cover a wide range of situations. Here are a few microphone suggestions that will get the job done without putting you in (too much) debt. Usually the sought after audio falls into two different categories.
If you are looking to capture a single source (voice) with little or some background noise, a good microphone choice may be the Sure SM58. This microphone is a good choice because it tends to capture primarily the audio near it's head. Sound that is generated away from it's immediate "pick up zone" won't be as prevalent in your recording. This allows for you to achieve your primary goal which is to get your message across to your listeners/viewers. If you expect to capture recordings out in the field, in small crowds (low to moderate ambient noise/conversational din), or for interviews, you can't go wrong with this microphone. With the SM58, by asking a question directly into this microphone and then moving the mic to your interviewee's mouth for a response, the microphone can be quite forgiving. This little beauty is the standard among live musicians and is built like a tank. It is fairly inexpensive among it's competitors and if purchased, it will deliver years of reliable use. If you intend to use this outdoors, don't forget to use a foam wind screen to prevent unwanted wind noise in your recordings. You will not require phantom power (which is available from the iRig).
If you are looking to capture a single source (voice) with little or no background noise (like a broadcast or podcast studio situation), a good microphone choice is the Electrovoice RE20. It's not cheap, but it delivers. Since many of AVStudioPro.com's blog readers are broadcasters, I wanted to make sure it was featured. The RE20 (and it's newer version the RE320) is very common among professional radio broadcasters and has even been described by many as the "Ultimate Podcaster's Microphone." This microphone will deliver a very true depiction of your voice and is good at rejecting noises from the back of the microphone (think computer fans, disk drives, keyboard typing, etc...). You will require phantom power (which is available from the iRig).
The quest for the appropriate microphone is ongoing and vast. There are numerous good microphone buying guide articles to investigate if you are interested in diving deeper into the subject.
Optimum Recording Level
It is important to begin your recording by setting the correct recording level. Setting the level too low will make it difficult for the recipients of your final production to hear clearly. A low recording level may also hinder the optimum available quality even after using post gain adjustments. Conversely, setting the level too high can result in digital distortion, from which the audio cannot be fixed. Setting the correct level can be accomplished with the iRig in a few easy steps. The iRig includes a multicolor single LED display. When you speak into the connected microphone the LED displays either green, yellow, or red. Here are three easy steps you can take to guarantee you have a good recording level while using the iRig.
1. Connect the iRig to your mobile phone via the lightning cable adapter.
2. Connect your microphone to the iRig
3. Speak into the microphone, projecting the loudest as you'd expect to be in your recording. I like to laugh loudly which is usually a good "hottest signal" level which often occurs during recordings. Adjust the silver input knob on the front of the iRig until you get a red reading on the LED, then back down the dial a small amount, making sure the the red light never appears. I suggest getting regular yellow readings on the LED, but NEVER touching the red. It's better to have recording levels on the lower side than to even periodically reach distortion.
While achieving a good recording level is imperative, monitoring your audio while it's being recording is equally as important. Often there are unwanted sounds picked up from the microphone that may go unnoticed while listening only with the naked ear. Listening to the audio your recording (from your recording device) is recommended with a pair of appropriate headphones.
Using iRig Pro For Facebook Live
The technique described above to capture great audio is attractive on its own, but recently it has become even more provocative with the growing popularity of Facebook Live. Broadcasting a mundane Tuesday evening to Facebook Live is one thing, but when you harness the power of Facebook Live to broadcast promotional content, or special events, the marketing opportunities are powerful. While browsing today's Facebook Live streams you will quickly realize that very few people are taking the time to give their audio quality any consideration. Poor audio results in being perceived as amateur. When your production delivers high quality professional audio, (even with poor video quality), it's perceived by it's viewers as artistic and professional. That is the better way to get your message to the intended recipients.
I personally believe that we have not yet begun to see Facebook Live being used to it's potential. Take, for example, an FM morning radio show. If used correctly, I would even venture to say that the Facebook Live audience could be larger than the radio's listening audience. Don't believe me? Take a look at some of these recent FB Live Video's audience numbers.