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Could I get away with using my smartphone for audio recording?

Once upon a time, if you wanted to use your mobile phone as a digital voice recorder, you would have to suffer the penalties of having poor quality, possibly tinny sound. However, now that smartphone technology has moved on, these devices are proving to be perfectly acceptable alternatives to standard audio recording equipment, in certain instances.

So here's the big question: Could you get away with using your smartphone for your next project?

Recording better audio with a mobile device

The answer really does just depend on the type of project you are undertaking. Some people turn to their mobiles to record audio when they are shooting something where high-quality sound is not as essential as the content itself. For example, if you were making some form of educational piece for students or fellow teachers, audio that doesn't sound straight out of the latest blockbuster Hollywood flick won't be as necessary as a clear speaking voice and interesting content. 

Other projects you could use smartphones as an alternative include:

  • Quick vox-pops
  • Web content, vlogs and so on
  • Creating a music scratch track
  • Podcasts
  • Radio interviews

Before you set out to record with your new iPhone or Android device, however, consider these tips to help you get the best possible sound.

You might not realise it, but you can purchase a range of RØDE microphones for smartphone use.

Invest in mobile-friendly sound equipment

You might not realise it, but you can purchase a range of RØDE microphones for smartphone use. This includes the RØDE i-XY, which you can combine with the RØDE Rec or RØDE Rec LE iOS app to capture audio up to 96 kHz. 

For more intimate sound from a single speaker, consider also the RØDE smartLav+, which is a broadcast-quality, professional microphone that can plug into a standard TRRS input jack.

Lastly, the new directional shotgun mic, the RØDE VideoMic Me, is also a viable option if you want to mic up an on-camera conversation utilising a boom pole.

Consider format and space

As you are recording on a mobile device, you will likely find memory space more limited. Before you go to shoot your project, it's of the utmost importance that you double check your phone has enough memory free (that isn't taken up by thousands of mobile games). 

If you are limited for space, it might be tempting to try and record in an MP3 format, but this will create lossy, compressed audio. Utilising WAV or AIFF files will give you a better sound, even if it takes up more space.

Be careful of interruptions

Lastly, don't forget that you are recording using a phone, which means at any point you could be texted, called, instant messaged or interrupted in any other number of ways. If you don't need an internet connection, it would be worth switching your smartphone-turned-voice-recorder into airplane mode.