As a professional sound designer, the concept of using field recorders to capture sound in non-studio environments has been a highly valuable method of acquiring new sounds and samples. In the past, I’ve used devices such as the Zoom H5 to capture sounds in the outdoors, in empty warehouses, subways and more. These sounds were generally recorded using the standard microphone attachment and windscreen for quick sampling scenarios.
The great thing about modern handheld recorders is that they generally allow for storage via an SD card. The downside of using a handheld field recorder has always been the file management and recall ability for the recordings. When using a field recorder, in most cases the device gives the recording a very generic name and organizes it in a nondescript directory. Searching for that “cool metallic hit” you recorded an hour ago could require you to audition tons of samples before reaching the sound you were looking for (Good luck with that!).
A few years ago I started using my iPhone and iPad for outdoor field recording and sampling which has completely opened up new opportunities for sound capture, sound design and sound cataloging in my production workflow.
For general sound capture, recording and cataloging, I use AudioShare for iOS:
AudioShare is a very flexible audio recording application that allows me to use the built in microphone on my iPhone as well as USB/Lightning microphones such as the Apogee Mic, and even class compliant audio interfaces such as the Komplete Audio 6 with dynamic microphones connected.
When I’m looking for something quick and dirty to later record into my sampler, the iPhone’s built in microphone gets the job done. When I want to create a bit more of a sophisticated setup, I will break out the class compliant audio interface and a mic of my choice (especially if I’m near a power source, more on this later).
What I love the most about using this setup is the ability to quickly audition, label and edit sounds as I capture them. No more searching through long lists of generically named files; the content appears as I’ve named them (or named with timestamps if I don’t name them).
Audio share also supports folders, Dropbox import and export to iCloud. This makes it extremely easy for me to use my iPad/iPhone to capture sounds in one environment and transfer them to my main computer for use in my DAW, Korg Gadget or in my hardware samplers.
All of my iOS devices have AudioShare installed, as it is an indispensable content creation and management tool.
Note: If you already own a Zoom H5 field recorder, you can use it as a class compliant audio interface with your iOS device. This would allow you to make use of the interchangeable mic system and the mic line inputs on the H5, while using your iPad for cataloguing and storage.
Essential Peripherals for Using an iOS Device for Field and Mobile Recording
(Note: Below you will find a list devices that I personally use in my setup along with affiliate links to purchase those products or similar products directly. I receive a commission when you use these links to purchase so please consider this as a way to support this site.)
This adapter is an absolute non-negotiable for any sound designer, producer or audio fanatic looking to record high quality content using their iPhone or iPad. This adapter enables the iPad to connect to class compliant USB audio devices such as an audio interface or a microphone, all while being connected to a power source.
I currently use a 20,000mAh powerbank by Vinsic which is no longer being sold, however I highly recommend a powerbank if you plan to use an audio interface or USB mic in the field. The 20,000mAh powerbank provides my system with enough power to support my Komplete Audio 6 while connected to my iPad without the use of a wall power supply. (*Note these powerbanks don’t provide enough power for phantom power operation. If you anticipate using a microphone with phantom power, it’s best to do so with a power outlet nearby).
I own the original Apogee Mic 96k, however the new version adds some significant design improvements including a headphone output for monitoring. This microphone is not necessarily what I would use for outdoor recording, however it’s great for recording in a more controlled environment away from elements such as significant wind and background noise. I’ve used the Apogee Mic for recording percussive elements in my kitchen, bathroom and other unconventional areas at home.
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