Use your iPhone / iPod Touch as a Field Recorder

Among the many tricks that an iPhone or iPod Touch can do is become a portable field recorder. Now, I know it won’t compete with professional level field recorders but if you’re looking for something to record sounds, lectures and anything else with a reasonable level of quality, the iPhone or iPod Touch can make for a decent recording device.

Your options depend on your equipment:

Before we get into any specific apps or hardware, you must look at your equipment. Obviously, iPhones have built in microphones. iPod Touches don’t. A second generation iPod Touch has an audio input through the headphone jack to accommodate a headset with microphone. The first generation (like mine) needs some outboard hardware. Also, many of the recording apps support the second generation iPod Touch, but not the first.

If you have an older iPod, Nano or Classic, you can also get in on the recording with some third party gear.

iPhone / iPod Touch Apps:

There’s a ton of recording applications for the iPhone / iPod Touch. You will need one to record audio on your iPhone / iPod Touch. We’ll look at some of the better ones and talk about their features.

iTalk Recorder (Free)

First on the list is Griffin’s free iTalk Recorder. It’s one touch button is simple to use and has three quality settings (good/better/best). Transferring files from the iPod Touch / iPhone to your computer requires the free iTalk Sync. Also allows you to add text notes to your recordings to keep them organized. Also available in a paid, advertisement-free version iTalk Recorder Premium.

HT Professional Recorder ($5.99)

The HT Professional Recorder puts emphasis on quality and clear recordings. Key features are the ability to set and change the microphone’s level, WAV file format, and audio bookmarking. Transferring files is simple via FTP or through a web browser. A key difference being that the files are transferred from your iPhone itself, and not the developer’s server.

FourTrack ($9.99)

For the musicians out there who want to use their iPod Touch as a recording device, Sonoma Wire Works’ FourTrack turns your iPhone into a virtual four track recorder. Recording at 16Bit, 44.1khz, Clip lights, Faders, Meters, Shuttle controls and Panning are some of FourTrack’s features. It’s a great way to work on musical ideas, songwriting and practice.

These applications are great for the built in microphone on an iPhone but if you have an iPod Touch or want to improve quality, you’ll need some additional hardware.

Microphones for the 2nd Generation iPod Touch:

Since the second generation iPod Touch supports audio in through the headphone jack, you’ll need something that fits. There’s two options for you here – a pair of headphones with a built-in microphone or a dedicated microphone. Which one you’ll want depends on what you are using it for. If you’re using the iPod Touch as a wifi phone via Skype, Fring or any other Voip applicaton, go with the headphone / microphone combo. If you’ll be strictly recording, go with a dedicated microphone.

A few choices are:

TouchMic MityMic – Voice recording / Interview Mic.

Stereo Headset – Hands-free Earphone with build-in Microphone.

TouchMic Handsfree – Lapel Microphone & Adapter.

Apple Earphones – Earphones with Remote and Mic.

For the First Generation iPod Touch:

Although it’s implied that there’s no audio in on the first generation iPod Touch, that didn’t stop mrnpod from discovering that it’s possible.

The downside with first generation iPod Touch is that you need a special microphone which attaches to the dock connector. Luckily, Macally makes two of them,

Macally – iVoice III

Macally – iVoice Pro.

If you have an iPod Classic / Nano / older iPod:

Finally, those without iPod Touches or iPhones can still record audio with the iPod Classic, Nano or an older generation iPod. To do this, you’ll need a microphone such as the Griffin iTalk Pro.

Improving the audio quality:

These microphones are suitable for voice recordings, or any random regular recording you might want to do. However, if you’re looking to expand into higher quality audio recording, you will want either a better microphone or something that will allow you to attach an external microphone.

Some recommended options include:

For use in conjunction with Griffin’s iTalk Pro, a special 3.5″ to XLR cable to hook up professional microphones. (Pre-Amp not included..)

For Professional Quality with an older iPod: The Pro Track by Alesis.

Note: To use the Pro Track with an iPod Touch, you’ll need to download a special app that’s unavailable in the US. It also currently won’t work with the iPhone. Not recommended with an iPod Touch / iPhone until this gets cleared up.

The rest of the higher quality gadgets I found were mainly for the iPod Classics and Nanos, the Alesis ProTrack being the only one that is compatible with an iPod Touch. However, due to the unavailable app that runs it – it’s useless in this country. Most likely this is because of the current incompatibility with the iPhone. Let’s hope they fix this and release the iRecorderPro app here soon. It looks awesome.

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