On a side note in a recent post I had mentioned the thought of possibly using an external mic for recording audio and video as well as plugging a guitar directly into my Galaxy S3 and recording that way. Though a lot of this isn't breaking news, I did some research and thought I'd share the links and what I found with you in case you'd like to read up on it yourself.
If you are just here for some info on using your mobile device for a DAW then skip down past all the video/AV stuff in this post.
Apple from what I'm reading and video's I've seen, pretty much have using your apple mobile device, be it a tablet or smart phone, as a DAW or for AV recording down pat. Be that as it may here is a video showing using a mic interface device for recording video, which also could be used for your favorite iPhone DAW app using an iRig adapter.
Android on the other hand at this point at any rate, is somewhat behind to say the least. This doesn't mean it can't be done. Or that you can't use the above iRig on a Android mobile device, you can. But for better quality, at this point from what I'm reading and others have tried, you'll want to do it differently than the above method. Again, you can do it the above way, but this is not the preferred method to get the highest quality recordings. For DAW or Video. We're/I'm going for quality as well as functionality.
Since I have an Galaxy S3 and it's what I'll be using, that's what I'll be talking about in this post. And to summarize right off the bat the method to the maddness it's quite simple.
Headphone jack will be used for headphones. Either straight out or through a small amp plugged in to the headphone jack. If your audio interface has a headphone jack, some apps will auto use that jack output instead.
Audio input will be through the usb input on your mobile device. The S3 has a micro usb input. So we'll use a OTG Micro-USB to Female USB to a USB hub. Mic's, Midi or Mixer, or Audio interface plugged into the USB hub.
or Mobile Head - if you will. For myself, as mentioned, the head I'll be using is the Samsung Galaxy S3, the I747 model to be specific. If you would like to know the difference between the S3 I9300 and the S3 I747 Geekaphone.com has a nice comparison chart of both. The main diffence saddly enough is my S3 (I747) is only a Dualcore while the I9300 is a Quadcore. Just finding out myself, mark that as one more line of bs told to me in S.Fl when purchacing the S3. (I was told it was a quadcore when I asked). Anyway. The quad-core is preferred for these type applications or if you are going for the S4 or S5 get the eight core if you have a choice.
Mounting your Mobile Device
If you are going to be recording video, or taking photos for that matter, your going to want to mount it on a tripod or similar device. Let's take a look at some of the options.
DIY Tripod Mount.
This something I would have done had I not been in the middle of relocating. They don't require much as far as tools and there are some really easy and sturdy mounts. Some you modify a case others you don't. Do a search and you'll find plenty.
Here is one posted by b00mb00mchuck for a Note3 over on the XDA Developers forum that shows how simple they can be to make. If you can't make this, go buy one.
Kracken A.M.S. Case by Trident.
Available for S3+ and iPhones.
Cost at this time was $35 for both case and mount.
Since I'm in the middle of relocating, I choose this one just to get me started sicne it had good reviews. First you need the case which allows for accessories to be added. One of those accessories you can get is called the Kraken A.M.S. Tripod Mount. Wall-mart sells the Kraken online only, in all colors, except black (of course). Which if you don't already know, for video/photography, if you can or have the choice, get black. Otherwise you will want to flock the camera lens area flat black before using it to eliminate any glare potential.
Below you can see a video demoing attaching the tripod mount to the case on the S3 and there is one on Youtube showing it being used with an iPhone by Trident.
There may be others out there, and from what I've seen thus far there are new ones coming out all the time. Do a Google search and make sure it fits your phone.
Velocity Clips universal mount and accessories for smart phones.
Not a bad choice from what I've seen. Below is a demo video with it being used with an iPhone but any phone will work with it. There are many other attachments you can use with the clip Velocity sells for it as well as chest mounts, helmet mounts etc. etc. The prices vary but at the time of this writing, from Velocity you can pick up the Clip / Adhesive Mount for $39 bucks.
Single Lens with mount
Paxton 14x Zoom Camera lens + Tripod + Case
This caught my eye, and though I have no idea how good of a lens it is, I felt it worth including as an option since it does include the tripod and case and lens all in one shot over at NewEgg for $34 bucks. And if it will mount to one tripod, it'll mount to others. It might prove a nice tool to have for the collection.
My choice would be...
BeastGrip which is a 3D printed universal mount, made in the USA. And was successfully funded last year (2013) on KickStarter. And one I'm definitely looking to get for myself. Not only is Beast Grip a universal mount but also allows for several additional lenses to be used with your mobile device. And it's only $75!
|List of lenses you can use thus far with the Beast Grip as of Sept 2014.|
What to see what can be done with your Galaxy or iPhone using the Beast Grip? Then check it out the video shot primarily with the Beast Grip using both an iPhone and the Samsung S3 for this linked video.
Money is no Object Mount.
I don't know where you can actually buy this mount, but if you have the money, and if you want to go all out you can always build/buy a Pro rig like they did for shooting the movie "Olive" with a smartphone as seen below. What every band wants at their jam session!
|Olive, a full-length movie, was shot by Patrick Gilles and Hooman Khalili using a Nokia smartphone fitted with professional film lense|
Okay - so now you have your Android phone or tablet and your case and figured out how you want to mount it so you can take good pictures or video or just use the mount for a stand to make it easier to use as a DAW. It's now time to get some mics, hubs, audio or midi controllers added to it.
In order to do that... we're going to go through the Micro USB port for audio/ midi input and use either the controller earphone jack or the one on the mobile device if your controller if you use one doesn't have a dedicated headphone jack. In order to do that, we need cables, but not just any cables will do.
So stop here and jump over to this page and read this first!
Audio Recording with your Smart Phone by WildMountainEchos.com is a definite must read. Includes a lot information on connecting external mics to your smart phone, both Apple and Android. As well as some warnings about bricking your phone if you use the wrong cable or connector... Personally, I don't want to brick my S3, so I'm glad I read it and so you don't brick your phone - read it. Then come back... and don't worry, this page will still be here when you're ready to finish reading it.
Having read the above, now we can look at some cables as recommended by Wild Mountain and others for using the MicroUSB port for an audio in port for both Video Recording and as a DAW.
I picked up a Micro-USB to USB female by StarTech.com from Tiger Direct for $10 bucks
(see image below)
Now Tiger Direct as well as others do have the one I really wanted by CTG (Cables to Go) which you can purchase from TD online for $2.99. (see below image)
The nice thing about the above is the 90 degree Mirco USB connector. When recording Video I can see this coming in real handy. Less strain on the Micro-USB port.
The cable you might want to get as well, as I do, is the Y - Micro USB to Female USB cable. Such as seen below
Valarm which has a charging circuit in it, but they are currently sold out till October 1st. But not to fear as they aren't the only ones selling this cable, such as this one over at NewEgg by Baaqii which looks to be the exact same thing for Samsung phones for $5 and it's in stock. Or there is always Amazon
I would like to try a Micro USB to Mini USB since I'd like to plug into a powered usb hub. A c able like that would allow it to be plugged in directly to the hub with-out the need for a second cable connecting the two together. Would it charge the phone at the same time...? I'm not sure, I don't know if the 5v would go to the phone as well as to the devices plugged into the USB ports. That's something I'll look for in the future.
Okay now that we have the cables you can hook either a usb mic and start recording for DAW or for Video. You can hook a USB hub either powered or not. You can hook some DAC's up to it. You can hook some Midi controlers up to it as well. Which Mics, Controlers, DAC, Mixers you prefer to use or will actually work, that you need to research the individual gear. Some have been tested to work by some software dev teams or individuals like yourself to see if they work. So check or test it yourself and see. Either way, it's time to look into some software to do what we want. Either for AV or DAW. Lets start with...
Cinema FV-5 Lite and Cinema FV-5 Pro
Cost for Lite: $0.00
Cost for Pro: $4.99
This is actually the only video recording app I found that allows for an external microphone. I've played with the Lite version a bit, so far I really like it. The Lite version is a fully-functional version without any time or feature restriction: it just limits the maximum length of the individual clips you can record.
Here is a couple sample videos using Cinema FV-5. The first with an external microphone:
The video below was done using Cinema FV-5 on a Nexus 5 device and edited using Sony Vegas. Some fairly smooth focus mentioned at 0:49 - 0:56.
There are other video's shot using Cinema FV-5 just give a quick search on YouTube to find them if you're interested in seeing more.
Audio MultiTrack Recording
There are several apps out there that offer multitrack recording ability for mobile devices. I'm going to touch on a few of them starting with single track and moving on up to 8 track.
Single Track Recording/Mixing
There are single track recorders like the stock Voice Recorder that came with my S3 with the added ability of recording in different qualities such as AAC or PCM with limited control and editing. And then there are a few that are like an old tape recorder with a few more features and control as well as some editing abilities.
These are a few I found and tried thus far.
HD Audio Recorder Pro
HD Audio recording using AAC audio encoding or 16bit PCM encoding. Saves to the .wav container. I haven't tried this with an external mic.
Audio Recorder by Sony Comunications
Sony's recorder for android is a basic recorder with a few more audio quality options. Saves to the .wav container.
Field Recorder by Pfitzinger Voice Design
I haven't tried this one, but it does look interesting. It records both mono and stereo and external microphones are supported according to the developer. I couldn't find what formats or quality controls or abilities it has, but it does have some interesting features. Such as Headphone monitoring and others.
Use the Play Store 2 hr return to test it out on your smart phone this is one to take a gander at for sure before dismissing it.
TapeMachine Lite Recorder and TapeMachine (pro version) by
Cost of the Lite version: $0.00
Cost of the Pro version: $4.35
Getting closer to what I was looking for as a single track recorder. It has gain control and editing abilities.
The lite version is pretty much worthless for doing anything as it is limited to 1 minute of record/playback time. But the "pro" version does seem more promise in it's abilities. Supports WAV, FLAC, AIFF with additional support in the Pro version for OGG and MP3. Here is a demo video showing some of it's features below.
RecForge Lite and RecForge Pro by Dje073
Cost of ReForge Lite $0.00
Cost of RecForge Pro $3.99
RecForge II Lite and RecForge II Pro by Dje073
Cost of RecForge II Lite $0.00
Cost of RecForge II Pro $4.10
I put all the ReForge Audio recorders together as I haven't gone through all the differences between ReForge I and II yet. You can check them all out via the links above on the Play Store. That said however I did play with the Lite versions a little and they are very limited, as a matter of fact you can't do much with them except save the project file. They seem to be just "look see" versions of the Pro version. For me personally, I find this type of lite version or demo version a complete waste of time. It does nothing. Give me full with a time limit or less featured truley free over an overly restricted demo version any day of the week.
If you are still interested, from what I read thus far the Pro version supports the following audio formats.
- 8, 11, 12, 16, 22, 24, 32, 44 and 48kHz
- mp3, ogg, wma, opus, flac and wav
- from 32 to 320 kbps
- mono / stereo (mono x2) / "true stereo" (cf supported devices)
- Disable AGC (Automatic Gain Control) for better audio quality
- Manual gain adjustment
All have editing and gain control.
2 Track Recording/Mixing
TwoTrack Audio Recorder Free by Motekulo
Cost: Obviously $0.00
Two track audio recorder that allows overdubbing and mixing to a stereo master track. You can record something, then "bounce" (mix) it to the master track, then record something over that, mix it, and keep going until you have all the parts you want.Records in 16bit 44.1khz wav file format.
4 Track Recording/ Mixing
J4T Multitrack Recorder by Jaytronix
A small compact 4 track Audio recorder with some editing capabilities. Bounce tracks to open track, import tracks, add effects. I don't know what file format or quality or bit rate this app it records at. I would hope it has some variables though it does state you can import/export your songs (MP3/WAV).
8 Track Recording/mixing
Audio Evolution for Android by eXtream Software Development
cost is €5,75 - $7.85
This looks very promising as a DAW system. Made for Android, they also have a Windows version as well. They have also written a custom propriatory USB Audio Driver for their audio apps which you might want to read about. Supported are mono and stereo streams, 16-bit and 24-bit and any sample rate that the device provides. They also go over which USB cables to use and more importantly, which not to use.
Has Midi support, latency correction, realtime effects and support for over 250 usb audio/ midi interfaces for starters. To many features to list here.
FL Studio Mobile 2 by Imageline
Audio tracks - Import WAV/MP3/AAC/AudioPaste & iPod library.
Wave editor - Cut, trim, normalize, reverse, fade in/out
Multi-tracking - Up to 8 track simultaneous recording
And way too many more features to list here.
24 Track Recording/Mixing
Recording Studio Lite and Recording Studio Pro by Glauco
Cost of RS Lite $0.00
Cost of RS Pro $3.99
Developers states you can record up to 24 audio and/or virtual instrument tracks. Audio can be recorded via internal or external microphone. Offline mixdown: Stereo mix individual tracks. Uncompressed audio format 16bit stereo/mono, 48khz.
You might find this usefull - you might not. It's a tool for calculating stereo microphone setups and checking signal levels in a recording chain. It consists of two modules: A Recording Angle Calculator and a Gain & Level Calculator. Depending on what you are recording, this tool might come in handy.
When it comes to using my S3 for recording either video or audio, I really don't want to go crazy. I want it to remain "small", "extremely portable". personally, I don't want anything too outlandish, I want to keep this a nice neat small and very portable set up. Something that can be carried without having to back pack it. I haven't figured out exactly how and what all I'm going to "carry with" for my portable set up. And that is something you will have to do for your self as well. It will depend greatly on what exactly you want to record or plug-in to your phone and use it for. It's something I'll have to figure out as I go along and see what works, what I have to have and what I can do with out.
Keeping total package size in mind, take a look at the following...
MixerFace. It works with both iPhone and Android mobile devices. At the advertized price tag of $699 for this interface... well...I'll keep my opinion to myself for now, but the video demo does illustrate the advantage of using an external mic(s) with your smart phone. And once the audio is mastered, with good mic placement it can make all the difference in the world.