Self-recording on android with decent quality - USB interfaces?

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marccromme
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Self-recording on android with decent quality - USB interfaces?

Post by marccromme » Sat Mar 31, 2018 4:19 pm

I tried several times to record myself (bass trombone and Eb tuba) with an android phone, but the recordings really are bad. Tried also an external small microphone, which mad as bad a result as the internal mike.

Are there decent USB microphones that do work together with an adroid phone? Or do I need to buy an USB soundcard (like scarlett 2i2 or similar) plus a decent condenser mike to get it working reasonable well? Would that setup require a (linux-debian) laptop, or would it work with an adroid phone? Should I use a clip-on mike like p.bone Ovid?

My budget would be anything from 100 to 300 $ max. any guidance is welcome ...
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Re: Self-recording on android with decent quality - USB interfaces?

Post by Neo Bri » Sat Mar 31, 2018 5:13 pm

Interesting question. I'll be watching this topic.
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Re: Self-recording on android with decent quality - USB interfaces?

Post by bigtiny » Sat Mar 31, 2018 6:12 pm

marccromme wrote:
Sat Mar 31, 2018 4:19 pm
I tried several times to record myself (bass trombone and Eb tuba) with an android phone, but the recordings really are bad. Tried also an external small microphone, which mad as bad a result as the internal mike.

Are there decent USB microphones that do work together with an adroid phone? Or do I need to buy an USB soundcard (like scarlett 2i2 or similar) plus a decent condenser mike to get it working reasonable well? Would that setup require a (linux-debian) laptop, or would it work with an adroid phone? Should I use a clip-on mike like p.bone Ovid?

My budget would be anything from 100 to 300 $ max. any guidance is welcome ...
Wow....you're really opening up a can of worms here. I'm not sure whether the mobile phone audio tech is really up to doing quality recording, but if it is, then certainly using the onboard mic would suck. it sounds like your phone has a USB interface, so I would say that you need AT LEAST a good quality USB audio interface box. You can use any decent mic with that, as long as the interface has the proper support.
I wouldn't go that route myself. A linux laptop with Audacity would work well, but I don't know what kind of audio interface boxes or cards are supported with linux. (Please...I don't want to fight about computers and oS'. I LIKE linux, but the audio industry has offered very little support for the platform). So if you have a reasonably powerful linux laptop or desktop and can find a high quality Audio Interface for it, I'd go that route. I think you'll probably get much better results.
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Re: Self-recording on android with decent quality - USB interfaces?

Post by PaKETaZ » Sat Mar 31, 2018 6:26 pm

I personally use this mike.
I have it all the time in my backpack, with my dayly accessories (headphones, external battery, tablet, notepad, pens, several cords, wallet, etc.).

Very convenient, small enough and a very decent sound. Perfect when I have a quick idea to record or it even lets me recording multi tracks with Cubasis on my iPad.

When I have to do legit studio work, I know where finding legit studio microphones.
But this one is always at hand and does a good job!
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cozzagiorgi
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Re: Self-recording on android with decent quality - USB interfaces?

Post by cozzagiorgi » Sun Apr 01, 2018 1:28 am

Can we hear anywhere how this mike sounds for you?
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Re: Self-recording on android with decent quality - USB interfaces?

Post by marccromme » Sun Apr 01, 2018 4:40 pm

PaKETaZ wrote:
Sat Mar 31, 2018 6:26 pm
I personally use this mike.
Thanks for the pointer - this iRig mike seems the easiest solution I have seen so far. I intend only to use the recordings for self study purposes, so it seems to do an adequate job for that. I'll check it out.
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Re: Self-recording on android with decent quality - USB interfaces?

Post by marccromme » Sun Apr 01, 2018 4:48 pm

bigtiny wrote:
Sat Mar 31, 2018 6:12 pm
Wow....you're really opening up a can of worms here. ...

I wouldn't go that route myself. A linux laptop with Audacity would work well, but I don't know what kind of audio interface boxes or cards are supported with linux. (Please...I don't want to fight about computers and oS'. I LIKE linux, but the audio industry has offered very little support for the platform). So if you have a reasonably powerful linux laptop or desktop and can find a high quality Audio Interface for it, I'd go that route. I think you'll probably get much better results.
I have done some reading on using Adour on Ubuntu systems, and have got Jack+Adour up and running on my Ubuntu box on a low-latency kernel. So far so good.

Only problem is that I have yet not figured out which USB card to buy, it's hard to figure out the level of Linux compatibility they do support. Need to do some more reading on https://linuxmusicians.com/ which seems a fine resource.

I'll be back when I found out .. thanks for the input.
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Re: Self-recording on android with decent quality - USB interfaces?

Post by Bonearzt » Sun Apr 01, 2018 5:57 pm

Honestly, IMHO, the Zoom products will offer a much better interface than your phone at seemingly reasonable pricing!
https://express.google.com/product/9602 ... AQod4wABgw

I've played a little with an H4, and with my insignificant knowledge & experience, it's amazing!!!
Worth looking at!

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Re: Self-recording on android with decent quality - USB interfaces?

Post by tbathras » Sun Apr 01, 2018 6:02 pm

Bonearzt wrote:
Sun Apr 01, 2018 5:57 pm
Honestly, IMHO, the Zoom products will offer a much better interface than your phone at seemingly reasonable pricing!
https://express.google.com/product/9602 ... AQod4wABgw

I've played a little with an H4, and with my insignificant knowledge & experience, it's amazing!!!
Worth looking at!

Eric
I have an H2n that's pretty nice - you can also run it as an audio interface, so with a USB OTG adapter you might be able to run it as a Mic for your phone if you'd rather record right to the phone and not the SD card in the Zoom.

I have a Shure MV88 for my iPhone and like it, but seems it's not available for Android, though.
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Re: Self-recording on android with decent quality - USB interfaces?

Post by PaKETaZ » Sun Apr 01, 2018 9:56 pm

Here a very short sample done a few months ago while testing my mike.
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/kwyf7l6if7e2 ... GFnEa?dl=0
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Re: Self-recording on android with decent quality - USB interfaces?

Post by marccromme » Sat Apr 07, 2018 7:42 am

marccromme wrote:
Sun Apr 01, 2018 4:40 pm
PaKETaZ wrote:
Sat Mar 31, 2018 6:26 pm
I personally use this mike.
Thanks for the pointer - this iRig mike seems the easiest solution I have seen so far. I intend only to use the recordings for self study purposes, so it seems to do an adequate job for that. I'll check it out.
Hmm. The other posts did reach me too late, I have ordered and received an iRig Mic Studio last week and have tested it with my Android MotoG phone as recording device. The tonal quality of several recordings with mike near the bell of my Eb tuba where not much better than plain android recordings.

It was hardly worth the investment .. I'll try some other day with iRig+Ardour+Jack on low-latency Ubuntu kernel and report back again ...
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Re: Self-recording on android with decent quality - USB interfaces?

Post by Neo Bri » Sat Apr 07, 2018 8:02 am

Bummer.
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Re: Self-recording on android with decent quality - USB interfaces?

Post by PaKETaZ » Sun Apr 08, 2018 8:22 am

marccromme wrote:
Sat Apr 07, 2018 7:42 am
marccromme wrote:
Sun Apr 01, 2018 4:40 pm
PaKETaZ wrote:
Sat Mar 31, 2018 6:26 pm
I personally use this mike.
Thanks for the pointer - this iRig mike seems the easiest solution I have seen so far. I intend only to use the recordings for self study purposes, so it seems to do an adequate job for that. I'll check it out.
Hmm. The other posts did reach me too late, I have ordered and received an iRig Mic Studio last week and have tested it with my Android MotoG phone as recording device. The tonal quality of several recordings with mike near the bell of my Eb tuba where not much better than plain android recordings.

It was hardly worth the investment .. I'll try some other day with iRig+Ardour+Jack on low-latency Ubuntu kernel and report back again ...
Sorry to hear that... Very disappointing. I personally think it’s a very convenient way to record everything everywhere with a pretty good quality. Though not the studio quality, sure.

I use it with iPad Air 2 through Cubasis and with iPhone 6 through Music Memos and video camera.

I really hope you’ll find a way to make profitable your investment.
-Julien-
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marccromme
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Re: Self-recording on android with decent quality - USB interfaces?

Post by marccromme » Sun Apr 08, 2018 2:55 pm

Thanks, PaKETaZ, I think I will. Probably I need more experimentation with other recording software on android phones, or maybe other settings for ogg compression. Or try to hook it up on my Linux laptop with low-latency kernel .. I'll report back when I have found out of anything.
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Re: Self-recording on android with decent quality - USB interfaces?

Post by ghmerrill » Fri Apr 13, 2018 8:20 am

I went through the whole self-recording thing a couple of years ago when I switched from Eb tuba to mainly bass trombone. I've never tried the cell phone recording route since I just don't like messing with the phone for "non-phone" functions (beyond some web access, texting, etc.). I also don't like to put the phone "at risk" in minor ways like balancing it on a music stand, having cords running to it, or whatever. So I don't use it as a tuner, and I don't use it as a recorder. Also, I'm not at all convinced how good it is as something like a tuner. Our piano tuner told us he finds the phones apps useless for tuning piano -- but maybe that's just piano. I prefer one of the small dedicated tuners like a Korg 50, or a larger Tascam I've got attached to my home practice stand.

I also tried (with a high quality external mic) recording on my Windows notebook, and that worked fine in terms of the audio and recording/editng itself. But it was SUCH a pain to start, stop, pause, etc.

For recording, I eventually settled on a Tascam DR-05 (http://tascam.com/product/dr-05/). It's relatively inexpensive and seems to work very well and is quite versatile. It took me a bit to get used to (partly because I really did sound that bad!), but I've found it to be very good and useful. The built-in stereo mics certainly work okay, and it easily accepts an external mic (of which I have a couple). To me, the UI sucks -- but the UIs on all these handheld things suck (which may be an advantage of one of the phone apps where the UIs seem to be better and don't have the appearance of being designed by hardware engineers).

I find the dedicated handheld recorder to be a more convenient, successful, and even economic solution than trying to make the cell phone do double/triple/... duty. There are some threads on Dave Werden's forums about choosing and using these things as well.
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Re: Self-recording on android with decent quality - USB interfaces?

Post by ExZacLee » Fri May 11, 2018 1:46 pm

marccromme wrote:
Sat Apr 07, 2018 7:42 am
The tonal quality of several recordings with mike near the bell of my Eb tuba where not much better than plain android recordings.
I'm assuming you're listening through headphones or speakers, because if you're just using iPhone speakers everything will sound like crap regardless of what you use to record.

How close to the bell are we talking here? That might be your problem right there.

There are a few factors that are going to go into producing a decent sound (relative to the equipment you're using).

1) Location relative to sound source and recording level - when I record, I often have to use two microphones because of the huge dynamic range I exploit in my solo playing. I'll have a mic for close playing, usually a nice warm large diaphragm condenser (LDC) like the AT4050 or a ribbon like the Royer R121 - because at low volumes I can get a nice warm sound, and get close to take advantage of the proximity effect (if you've listened to Watrous you've heard this effect.) When I push the volume to 11, the SPLs will cause distortion on the closer mics and that's why I have a dynamic a little further away (usually more than a couple of feet). I usually use a plain old SM57 for this.

Here's the issue you'll have with tuba if the mic is right by the bell: It's going to be too much for pretty much anything you're using with your phone unless the recording level (gain/trim/preamp level depending on software) is pretty low. If you can't adjust the gain, you have to adjust your distance from the mic - for giggles try placing your phone on a music stand and recording yourself from 5, 10, and 15 feet away. Notice any difference?

I just looked in my iPhone - it's set up to record voice memos, so anything above a pp on my horn is going to distort like crazy unless I'm pretty far away. It's also going to pick up a fair amount of "room" sound, so without some signal processing it's not going to sound anything like a professionally produced recording.

I also don't know if there is a way to adjust the gain of the mic without downloading 3rd party software - I can't see anything at a glance. I did find a "trim" feature but it's not "trim" in the audio sense - it's just a way to trim the length of the recording. My phone came with Garage Band, so if I had to record myself using my phone I'd probably start there first.

2) What mic are you using? Phones (and most of their attachments I'd assume) are going to be using small diaphragm condensers. Small diaphragm condensers (SDCs) aren't the best at picking up lower frequencies - and you're trying to record an Eb tuba. SDCs accentuate higher frequencies - they're great on brass sections when you want "punch" (i.e., strong and percussive articulations) they are great with flutes, nice for more "string" sound out of an acoustic guitar, and are most often used as overhead drum mics because of the way they capture cymbals. Putting one by itself right on a tuba would be difficult to use - it'll make the articulations more present and make the sound "punchier" (useful in New Orleans brass band type applications) but you're going to need to turn the recording level way down or it's going to distort. If you want a nice warm classical tuba sound, it may not be best for that. That's all you got? Get it far away - or turn the gain down (see above.)

3) What room are you recording in? It's hard to get a decent tuba sound in a small room. I recorded some sousaphone in a small room (not much bigger than my closet) for my masters degree album project. It didn't work very well - I used a LDC and had no problem getting a good clean (undistorted) signal but the room sounded like hell. You need some space to get a good tuba sound. Do you have a large room, like a concert hall or a church that you can set up in some afternoon? Experiment - like I mentioned above, you need to try getting some space between you and the microphone. In a good space, it's easy to get a good sound.

4) Placement. This is the same concept as point one - placement. Google "microphone placement for tuba" and you'll find a bunch of articles, some very well informed, some not so much. You;ll see some pictures where the mic is about 2 feet away - but you'll also notice it's most likely a LDC (and they have gain control) - you may see some pics where the mic is practically in the bell - that is not recommended unless you're going for a very specific sound that you're not going to get going into your phone. Microphone placement is everything. It's the first and last bit of being able to make the best recording possible with whatever equipment you have. Look at photos of some early recording sessions. You'll notice bands set up according to the general loudness of their instrument - drums usually furthest back, although some of the recordings with Louis Armstrong he's a good 20 feet (or more) behind the band - practically in the other room! His sound was just so damn dominant and overbearing that in order to not distort the recording and just have it be all Louis and some other noise, they had to move him wayyyyyyy back. The main thing you want to achieve first is a good clean distortion free capture of your sound. This starts and ends with mic placement. If you can figure that out, the other stuff will be easy.
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Re: Self-recording on android with decent quality - USB interfaces?

Post by marccromme » Sun May 13, 2018 3:53 pm

Thanks, ExactLee .. good thoughts. Yes, it's a pretty small room, I can't change that easily. I will experiment more with placement longer away, but I can't make more than say 2-3 meter away from bell.

I had yet not the time to fuzz around with low-latency kernels on my Linux box and rig up the iRig Mic Studio 25mm condenser with it, but I (hopefully soon) will try that combo.
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