recording

Is the iPod Touch another Nail in Flip's Coffin? (HD Video Recording)

HD Video Recording on the iPod TouchWith Apple's introduction of the latest iPod Touch (which now includes an HD video camera on the back, and a VGA-resolution camera on the front), I believe that products like Flip's portable video recorders and Kodaks line of dedicated video recorders are going to decline in popularity to an even greater extent than they did after the iPhone 4's introduction.

Many of those who would want to use the Flip/other video recorder are also those who already have, or would like to have, an iPhone or iPod touch (at least, in my experience).

Portable, Professional HD Video Recording with the iPhone 4

Please read this article for background/more info: iPhone/iPad external microphones

I am now pretty confident in my portable video/audio recording solution using my iPhone 4. Everything I need to do on-the-spot interviews, B-roll filming, and even more advanced shooting, I can fit in my iPad's bag.

Portable Recording Studio with iPhone 4

Here's my basic setup - everything I need (with the exception of the iPhone 4), I put together for under $100:

DIY $10 iPhone 4 & 3G/3Gs Tripod Adapter/Case

Please read this article for background/more info: iPhone/iPad external microphones

[Update] Here are a few other commercially-available tripod mounts:

In earlier posts, I've written about my new highly-portable audio/video recording setup, using an iPhone 4 and an external microphone. Getting great sound is half the game, when it comes to video recording. The other half is a stable platform by which to record. (Yet another half—making more than a whole—is good content to be filmed... and great editing...).

iPhone 4 in DIY Tripod Case/Adapter

After watching this video on YouTube, I was inspired to make my own DIY tripod case/adapter for my iPhone 4. And, in lieu of making a video about it, I figured I'd just give a quick step-by-step of the build, along with a parts/price list, like I did for my DIY Blue/Greenscreen Backdrop.

About Catholic Car Wash

Catholic Car Wash is a video podcast started in 2010 by myself, Jeff Geerling, just before the start of CNMC MMX. This podcast focuses on small snippets of Catholic teaching, and typically lasts less than 3 minutes (the length of a car wash).

Toyota Camry and Catholic Car Wash

All episodes are recorded inside an active car wash, most often in my 2007 Toyota Camry. Episodes are recorded with an iPhone 4, along with (usually) an external mic (setup instructions here).

Get Social: Catholic Car Wash on Facebook | @CatholicCarWash on Twitter

Using a Lav Mic with the iPhone 4 - HD Video/Audio Recording!

Please read this article for background/more info: iPhone/iPad external microphones

Formula for success: iPhone 4 + iPhone TRRS Mono Mic Input Adapter + RadioShack Lav mic

Using this setup, I am able to record interviews on the go on my iPhone, without carrying around a mess of equipment. This rocks. Here's a picture of my entire on-the-go interview kit:

External Microphones for iPhone 5s, 5, 4S, iPad and iPod Touch Audio input

iPhone 5 with Microphones and Input Adapters
A few of the many microphone options to make your mobile recordings better.

Note on iPhone 5: Right now the only confirmed way to record stereo on the iPhone 5 is with the GuitarJack Model 2 and an Apple 30-pin to lightning adapter. All other headset-jack based solutions work as well as the iPhone 4/4S!

To dramatically increase the quality of the sound you record on your iOS device, you should use an external microphone or mixer, or a direct line input.

You can use external microphones/inputs with any of the following iOS devices:

  • iPad (audio recording), iPad 2/new iPad/iPad mini (audio or video recording)
  • iPhone 3G, iPhone 3Gs, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5 (audio or video recording)
  • iPod Touch (3rd/4th/5th generation) (audio or video recording)

Skip to: Recommendations | Details

Video: iPhone External Mic Comparison

(See also: iPhone 4/4S External Microphone Comparison, listing of mics and adapters used in this video)


My Recommendations

Software - App Recommendations

  • iPad: Use GarageBand. It's not expensive, and is awesome for recording and editing.
  • iPhone/iPod Touch: Use FiRe, FourTrack, or even built-in Voice Memos.
  • Camera/iMovie (Built-in) - Quick and simple to use, can lock focus, but has very few settings/features. Handles different audio inputs, but without much configuration or level control, and no monitoring.
  • For Video: Although the built-in Camera app is pretty good, I prefer FiLMiC Pro, which allows focus, metering, and white balance lock/unlock, and has a built-in audio meter. No audio play-through yet (as far as I can tell).

Simple, one-mic setup (podcasts, one-person interviews)

Buy a RØDE smartLav, and plug it into your iPhone. If you need more than about 5' of cable (so you can record an interview with the iPhone's camera, for instance), buy a 2m TRRS extension cable as well.

Another option, which allows you to have a more flexible mic setup so your mic can be used with other equipment, is to buy a microphone and adapter to use together:

For better quality recordings

This setup will allow you to record a little nicer quality sound, especially since the VeriCorder cable or Tascam adapter boosts the signal a bit so it comes into the iPhone at the right level for more clarity and amplification:

For wireless mobility and great quality

Another option, for more freedom of movement, a perfect recording level, and much more flexibility with one mic (this is the kit I use most often now - plug the line/headphone output on the wireless receiver into the KVConnection line-level adapter):

For multiple-mic interviews/recordings

Buy a Dual 1/8" Microphone to iPhone adapter from KVConnection, and plug one Audio-Technica ATR-3350 into each jack. (If you use XLR mics, get this adapter instead).

Another couple of options include:

  • The GuitarJack Model 2, into which you can plug a stereo input source (or two microphones that go one in left, one in right channel).
  • You can get a Monster iSplitter and plug a lavaliere microphone into each side, then plug this into a KVConnection mic adapter. (See example video).
  • The Fostex AR-4i works great for the iPhone 4/4S (put one lavaliere microphone in on the left channel and one on the right), but doesn't work with the iPhone 5.
  • The Line 6 Mobile In, which also has a stereo input like the Guitar Jack.

For recording loud music, concerts, environmental sound

Right now, there aren't a lot of out-of-the-box options for recording sound in high SPL situations (loud rock concerts) or other environmental sounds. However, there are three solutions I recommend:

  1. The Tascam iM2 - a great stereo mic for the iPhone 4/4S/5 that provides a simple AB-pattern stereo microphone (that can handle up to 125 dB).
  2. The GuitarJack Model 2 (read my review of the GuitarJack Model 2) allows for padding and relatively high sound level input.
  3. A preamp or mixer in-line before the iPhone. This is more clumsy/less portable, but if you simply plug the output of a mixer or preamp into the iPhone (or a product like the AR-4i or GuitarJack), you can handle as loud of sound levels as your mixer/preamp can handle.

For line-level inputs (Guitars, Mixers, Sound Systems)

One option right now is the Apogee Jam, a nice interface for guitars and other 1/4" plug line-level inputs, that works through the Dock connector, and is specifically advertised for use with GarageBand on the iPad. Another simple option (if you want a little nicer build quality than the KVConnection adapters) is the iRig from Amplitube. Another inexpensive option is the iJAM cable from Ampridge.

KVConnection provides two nice adapters, though, which I use because they're cheap and reliable: Line-level 1/4" adapter w/ attenuation ($28), and Line-level 1/8" adapter w/ attenuation ($28)


The Details

I'll run through most of my kit for mobile recording, following along with the picture below:

Mobile iPhone 4 3G/3Gs video and audio external microphone podcasting kit

  1. iPhone 3G/3Gs/4 Tripod (instructions for building the tripod mount)
  2. Crown Sound Grabber II PZM Boundary microphone ($80)
  3. Audio-Technica ATR-3350 Powered Lavaliere Microphone ($20)
  4. KV Connection microphone-to-iPhone audio adapters (read more about them, and about available alternatives below)
  5. Spare batteries - you can never have too many
  6. Sony WCS-999 Wireless Microphone Adapter ($100 - Note: Throw out the included mic, and use the ATR-3350 with this. Only good for 10-50 ft., but nice and cheap, that's why I'm recommending it.)
  7. (NOT PICTURED: The following items have been added to my kit since I wrote this article)
    1. Rode VideoMic shotgun/condenser mic ($150)
    2. VeriCorder XLR Adapter Cable ($70)

One option for easy external audio in a pinch is to plug in your headset, hit record, and voila! You have a much better sound-isolating mic than the iPhone's built-in mic (especially over distance). The disadvantage here is that the iPhone's headset cable is pretty short.