microphone

Hum or Buzz with a Logitech USB Headset

Logitech USB HeadsetProblem: I've heard from a lot of people about hum or background 'buzz' in recordings and Skype conversations when using a USB headset (like the one I have, the Logitech USB Headset H350). Almost every time I hear someone having this trouble, they're having the problem while using the headset with a laptop.

Solution: about 99% of the time, the problem is fixed by simply plugging the laptop into a grounded (3-prong) outlet.

Review: Audio Technica PRO88W-R35 Wireless Lavalier System

Jeff's Rating: 5/5

tl;dr: A solid value for a reliable wireless mic solution. Perfect for most uses up to 35', and usually good even further away.

Audio Technica Pro-88W/T and Pro-88W/R with accessories

The Audio Technica Pro-88W lavaliere microphone system is a very good wireless lavaliere microphone system for a very low price (in comparison to most quality UHF systems). I've been able to use a wide variety of wireless gear, costing from tens to thousands of dollars, and for my money and my projects, I'm quite happy with the Pro-88W.

Review: GuitarJack Model 2 - Audio Interface for iPhone 4/4S, iPad

Jeff's Rating: 5/5

tl;dr: For stereo audio input, mic input, and guitar input, there's nothing better. Sound quality is excellent, and the unit is physically solid—almost too solid!

[Update on iPhone 5 compatibility: Sonoma says the GuitarJack works like a champ with the iPhone 5 if you use one of Apple's 30-pin to lightning connectors.]

In my quest to find the killer solution for audio recording/input on my iOS devices, I've tested a ton of different external microphones and audio interfaces for the iPhone 4/4S, iPad, and iPod Touch. One class of device—a multi-channel input through the iPhone 4's dock connector—has been elusive until just recently, when three different devices were introduced a year after the iPhone 4:

Review: Fostex AR-4i iPhone 4/4S Stereo Audio Interface

Jeff's Rating: 4/5

tl;dr: Five stars for the capabilities, four for the fit and finish. It's a great tool, but not without a few rough edges. (See note about iPhone 4S compatibility).

[UPDATE on iPhone 4S compatibility: I've heard many reports of people having trouble with the AR-4i and the iPhone 4S; my own usage indicates that there is one quirk with this combo: the wireless signals on my phone go away while plugged into the AR-4i. Example recordings with various firmwares below:

Fostex AR-4i Allows Stereo Recording with iPhone 4 and 4S [Updated]

[Update: I received a demo unit and put it through its paces: read my review of the Fostex AR-4i here. (Works with both iPhone 4 and 4S).]

Just found out about this new product through the YouTube grapevine:

Fostex AR-4i

The Fostex AR-4i is said to allow for multiple microphone input, and works with the iPhone 4's dock connector. It looks like a rather klunky device, meant more for handheld use than any existing tripod mount (unless the device has a tripod mount on it, which would be handy).

Review: iRig mic for iOS and Android

Jeff's Rating: 4/5

tl;dr: Great-sounding, reasonably-priced microphone, purpose-built for the smartphones and tablets, with few downsides.

iRig mic with HTC Evo 4G LTE

The iRig mic was introduced in 2011, and promised to be one of the best ways to get sound from your mouth or instrument into the iPhone 4, iPod Touch or iPad/iPad 2. Since then, it has been tested to work with newer iOS devices like the iPhone 5, and many Android phones. I've updated this review (in 2013) to reflect my more extensive testing since I originally reviewed the microphone in 2011.

iPad 2 - Mobile Audio/Video Recording + External Microphones

iPad 2Apple's announcement of the iPad 2 today left me speechless in many ways, but maybe the most promising and awesome announcement was not the iPad itself, but rather iMovie and GarageBand for the iPad.

One thing that I've constantly had to do for video production is lug around my Mac, a camera, cables, etc., just because there was nothing that was as easy as iMovie to quickly hash out a video, with voiceover, etc. The iPhone's iMovie app is just not good enough for me, though it's great for a quick YouTube edit.

Luckily for me, all the work I've done in testing microphones and audio input adapters for the iPhone 4 applies directly to the iPad 2's audio input. You'll still need an adapter to get the audio into the TRRS input jack on the iPad, but being able to record to 8 tracks using GarageBand is completely amazing.

The New Blue Mikey will NOT work with iPhone 4, iPad

The new Blue Mikey (2.0) will not work with the iPhone 4 or iPad. It's a big letdown for me, as I don't really care if Blue can support previous-generation or outmoded equipment with their mics.

Blue Mikey 2.0

Their CEO, John Maier (no... not John Mayer...) said their engineers are hard at work increasing compatibility with iPhone 4 and iPad. Great. Maybe we'll see the Mikey 3.0 next year sometime. I'm not holding my breath.

I guess I'll stick to my own setup for recording audio on the iPhone 4. I was really hoping this Mikey revision would allow me to leave all my cables and mics behind, and stick with the Mikey alone, but that's not the case.

XLR over Cat5 - Balanced XLR Mic-Level & Line-Level Audio over Cat5 & Cat5e Cabling

Cat5 Cable with XLR Audio Jacks

The challenge: Run two 200' cable runs for VOX (2-way communication via headsets) and an ambient microphone. Mics and headsets to be used for broadcast of major event via satellite, web, and all major local news outlets.

Limitations: Extremely tight budget for cable + installation, two weeks to install and test, 100 year old stone/masonry building, skeleton crew of volunteers.

Solution:

  • Run readily-available Cat5e (shielded, solid) network cable to two VOX/mic locations (we had a box with a few hundred feet left inside, and we bought another 500' box (extra == always better) for $100. (Check Amazon for bulk Cat5e cable).
  • Use custom faceplates with two XLR jacks—female for VOX headsets, female for Mic input
  • Cross fingers, and hope it works.