Gone are the days where you need to spend a fortune on good field recording gear! Smartphones have a built in microphone that has the potential to produce some excellent quality audio.


You don’t have to own the latest model of field recorder to capture great audio on location. Most people walk around all day with a little recorder in their pockets and they don’t even realise! Here are 6 common problems that face content makers who record audio using their smartphones…SOLVED!

1. Sounding far away from what you’re recording

Nothing stands out more in an audio recording than sounding like you are far away from your source. It’s pretty easy to make this mistake when recording on a smartphone because you wouldn’t normally be used to putting your phone very close to something.

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Your thumb should be at your chin and your phone should be at your pinky | CMTO

If you are recording the voice a good guide is actually the shakka! Make a shakka symbol like you’ve just caught the biggest wave, put your thumb on the bottom of your chin. The microphone of your smartphone should be where your pinky is, facing towards you. 

If you’re recording someone else talking or the sound of something. Get nice and close! Don’t be shy. Watch out though. Smartphones aren’t that great at dealing with super loud noises. Luckily we solved the clipping issue.

2. Distorting/clipping

Clipping or distoring is a huge issue when it comes to recording on a smartphone. Their microphones are good quality however if the sound source is too loud, your smartphone will compensate by either distorting the sound or softening the sound to the point where you can’t hear anything. 

A quick solution to this problem is bringing a roll of masking tape with you and if you know you’re going to be in an area that is going to get loud, cover the microphone of your smartphone with the tape. It will create a barrier between the mic and the sound and reduce the risk of distorting!

3. Getting notifications
Ok let’s face it, we’re all pretty into our various social media pages.. oh and we also have a LOT of friends. Do yourself a favour and switch your phone to Aeroplane mode when you’re recording audio out in the field. It will save you a lot of hassle down the track. 

 

4. Handling noise
The sound of you touching the microphone can be super distracting for the listener. There should be nothing in the way of the sound and the ear of the person you’re telling the story to. To eliminate handling noise, try recording your audio using a selfie stick.  Otherwise, placing your smartphone on a stable surface is a good option. 

5. Wind noises
The sound of wind blowing… relaxing. The sound of wind blowing across a microphone…annoying. It’s arguably the most important accessory you can get when recording using your smartphone. Two ways you can deal with this issue are by covering the microphone with masking tape or by making your own wind sock. Alternatively you can reuse one made for a regular microphone

6. Unchangeable audio levels
The worst thing about recording audio using your smartphone is that you cannot physically change the input and output levels of the audio like you can with ordinary recorders. A way to get around this issue is by carrying around headphones. That way you can monitor your levels and physically move the recorder towards or away from a sound source. 

Some extra tips
Try using an external mic if you wanna get fancy with it. Roderec is a good microphone and recording app combination put out by Rode.
ABC Open wrote an article on recording tips using your smartphone.

Resources

Don’t stop there! Here are more ways you can use a smartphone to capture great content.

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