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Entries in mic (3)

Wednesday
Jan182012

Beau Weaver reviews the Tascam iM2 mic for iOS devices

Hello from Nerdville;

Finally a super portable microphone for iOS that, with some care, and in a decent sonic environment can produce voice tracks on your iPhone or iPad that are actually air-able.  In fact, if you take time to listen to my line by line comparison audio file I have posted here, you will be pretty damn impressed.  You can hear the difference, but by the time they finish with post, it will be more than adequate.
The mic is the Tascam iM2 for iOS. It's about 80 bucks!  It connects via the 30 pin connector.

im2_with_iphone_grey.jpg

Caution: there is another Tascam product that you do not want (the Tascam iXZ) an iOS audio interface with XLR and phantom power..... but sends analog audio through the 1/8th inch mic/headphone port.  Bad bad bad!  That mic port has a radical "telephone filter" eq baked in, so there is no way to get broadcast quality audio through it.  No no no, fluffy.  You want the Tascam iM2!

NOTE:  George tested the iXZ with an iPod Touch with good results, but it's lousy with the iPhone. 

The audio app you use to record is TwistedWave Mobile for iOS.  
It makes rough editing quite easy, and it will export to Dropbox, memorized FTP folders, and, using a nifty workaround, allows you to send a link to an .mp3 file on Twisted Waves webserver.   Apple will not allow native export of .mp3 due to their contracts with record companies, and their general control-freak nature!
So, Twisted Wave allows you to send an uncompressed file up to their server, and creates an email with the link from which your client can download the .mp3.   However, remember, uncompressed audiofiles are huge......so, you will want to upload only the buy takes, or plan to sit there forever, especially on a 3G connection.  Hopefully, you have found a Starbucks.   I think a better option is using AAC files...which are better quality than .mp3........and most digital audio workstations will read them.  Email or FTP.
I have posted a line by line comparison audio file of a couple of scripts, recorded simultaneously in the studio on the 416 and the Tascam.  I compare my home studio with the 416 to the Tascam iM2, and the built in iphone mic.  I did no processing, except clipping out breaths.  

                                        Check out this WAV file (to download to your desktop)

                                        OR this MP3  (this one will stream in your browser)

 

After the line by line comparision, you will hear the complete reads all the way through.....  1:   416  2:   Tascam iM2  3:   iphone built in mic.    I am favorably impressed.

 

I set the volume almost wide open......with the limiter on the iM2 switched off.  I worked it about 5 inches away to the side, at about a 75 degree angle, to minimize plosives and wind.   I have ordered an extension cable, so that I will be able to read a script off the iPhone while recording.

 

You really  have to be careful to hold the mic very still....it is very sensitive to movement and wind.  Note: switch the iphone to "airplane mode" or you may pick up some RF noise, and be disturbed by notifications.   

 

In either case, iPhone or iPad, you can start recording and multi-task.......that is, switch to the email client.....by double clicking the home button, and selecting the email icon.  Twisted Wave will continue recording in the background with no problem, and will indicate this by the red bar notification at the top of the screen.  You then return to TW  at the end of your read by double clicking on the home button and selecting the TW icon.

 

You will not want to try to narrate a documentary with this, but certainly for tags and short promos.......it's not bad at all.  And it may save your client's bacon when you are nowhere near a studio and they have an emergency.   I had equally good results on the original iPad.

 

There are a couple of other interfaces in the pipeline that will allow us to use the 416 in the field with iOS ......but the ship dates keep getting pushed back. 

 

In the meantime, for 80 bucks, and something that is truly pocketable, this is not bad at all.

 

 

As always, 

 

 

 

Beauregard

 

 


 
Wednesday
Nov022011

QUICK REVIEW: TASCAM iXZ iOS device audio interface

The Tascam iXZ just popped up on my radar.  

I don't usually buy new gadgets for which I haven't read a review previously, but at $50 I couldn't resist.  So I figured why not be the first to review this affordable audio interface and see how well it works?

It seems that recording professional audio into an iPhone was never part of Steve Job's master plan.   

While we wait for the ultimate audio interface that connects to the iPhone via the dock connector with a digital signal, other products some to be coming along to fill the gap.   The Tascam iXZ is the first one I've seen that really boils the features down to the basics in a very portable package, while still accepting a phantom powered studio condenser microphone.  

The iXZ's multifunction XLR/phono combo jack will allow connection to a standard 3 pin XLR mic cable, or to a 1/4" guitar cable.  It provides 48V phantom power at up to 5ma, enough for many modern mics.  I metered the XLR connector and sure enough there's about 46V DC with a fresh pair of AA alkaline batteries.  It's enough to power my Audio Technica AT3035 microphone with appearant ease.  There's a variable input gain control dial, which isn't calibrated.  It also has an 1/8" mini headphone jack for playback purposes.  Sadly, it doesn't provide a "Zero latency monitoring" function to listen to the mic in your headphones while recording.

The iXZ does not come with any software, which is just fine with me.  I'd much rather not waste time with some inappropriate for VO bundled application.  Buy TwistedWave from the app store for $10, plug in the iZX into the headphone jack, plug in your mic, power it on, engage phantom power, hit record, set your levels, and you're recording.  TwistedWave is incredibly feature reach for an iOS app, even providing the ability to process the audio through effects and FTP files.  It can also deliver MP3's via their own server, a necessary workaround since Apple won't permit encoding to MP3 on an iOS device.  

But does it work?

That depends on what you want to use it for.  If your intention is to replace your Macbook or other laptop and audio interface with this unit for all of your work, I wouldn't go that far.  Take a listen the this recorded sample using an Audio Technica AT3035 studio condenser mic and judge for yourself.  CLICK TO PLAY

It's definitely quite useable for making an audition happen while traveling.  And with proper noise gate settings, you might even pull off a job here and there in a pinch.  Here's the first segment of the previous audio sample after processed with a noise gate in TwistedWave.   CLICK TO PLAY

NOTE:  Beau Weaver tested with an iPhone and DID NOT get the same results we did with the iPod Touch!  The audio quality differed.  In his audio test he records first with his home studio system, next with his Sennheiser 416 into the iXZ, then with the iPhone mic.  LISTEN TO HIS TEST

I did test it with my T-Mobile MyTouch 4G phone, and it DOES work.  However, my phone's recording quality was no where as good as the iPod Touch's.  A good deal of the recording quality is thanks to the iPod itself.

To summarize, here's a Pros and Cons list.

PROS:

 

  • Cheap, only slightly more than an XLR adapter cable to connect a dynamic mic 
  • Very compact and light
  • 15 hrs on a pair of AA batteries when using phantom powered mics
  • Works better than the price would imply
  • Will work with an Android phone, as well as most all Apple iOS devices

 

CONS:

 

  • A tad bit noisy (no worse than a Blue Snowball)
  • No "zero latency monitoring" for headphones while recording
  • Connects to analog line input instead of digital dock connector
  • Very short cable to connect to device, making it hard to read a script from your phone while holding it

 


Tascam iXZ and iPod Touch 4th gen

Wednesday
Jun152011

Notes from the Field: Shure PG27USB and an iPad with Twisted Wave

Yes, it can be done, folks.

 A new client of ERS, James Lumley, surprised me with some audio samples he recorded with a Shure PG27USB and an iPad.  The trick to making it work?  A good quality powered USB hub.  In James' case he found a Belkin that provided the best results.  No, carrying around a hub and power supply with your iPad isn't exactly what comes to mind when portability is the primary motivation, but just to see the results are so positive is a good sign.  

I took the audio and massaged it in Twisted Wave and created a Stack that makes his recordings sound much more polished and audition worthy.  If you aren't applying any kind of tasteful processing on an audition, I think you're going to want to start soon.  As competitive as it is, your great audition may sound flat in comparison to the next one on the list if you don't.  Want assistance?  We've got you covered.

Here are the before and after files, with the processed version name tagged with "Geo".