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Portable Recording information
When it comes to making professional-sounding recordings on location when you're not surrounded by racks of recording equipment, you're going to need more than just a smartphone. In our Portable Recording department, we have plenty of ultra-compact and portable tools, each designed for producing excellent recordings on-site, no matter where you are.
Portable Recorders: Professional Recordings on Location
While you might have a studio decked out with the best acoustic treatment, the best microphones and a rack full of crazy-expensive preamps, if you need to record on location, you won't have any of it. Maybe you want to add the sound of busy traffic or birdsong to the intro of a track. Of course, you could go looking through some folie and sound effect libraries to see if you can find what you need, but it's always going to have more depth if you make the recording yourself. And for that, you'll need some specialised equipment. The same goes for capturing interviews, dialogue or live music on location.
Recording on the Move
Depending on what you need to record, a smartphone can sometimes do the job. But if you need to keep things professional, then you'll need to add some more professional gear. Luckily, you can now get real condenser microphones that can be plugged directly into a smartphone. Or, you could go all-out with a field recorder, which can range from the simple to the extensive, where some models come fitted with high-quality microphones - sometimes in a stereo configuration, and some with microphone capsules that can be swapped out so you can customise the sound for the job. If you don't necessarily need something handheld, then there are also plenty of portable stereo recorders.
Some voice recorders can look a lot like a field recorder but because they're not designed for making studio-quality recordings, they usually come fitted with simpler microphones. Voice recorders are designed for capturing meetings, interviews or sound bites that are then transcribed or written up into articles later. Since the built-in microphones aren't as professional as field-recorder microphones, voice recorders are often much cheaper. And you don't need to be a sound engineer to operate one.
Dictation & Transcription Recorders
A dictation or transcription recorder does a little more than a voice recorder. These devices record speech, whether it's during a meeting or interview, and often come including software that can be used to automatically transcribe the audio into text, saving masses of time.
Mobile Recording Interfaces for Your Phone
Audio interfaces are both professional and home-studio essentials, since they can be used to plug a microphone or even a guitar into a computer to record to DAW software. Since smartphones are essentially pocket-sized computers, you can now get mobile recording interfaces which are ultra-compact audio interfaces designed specifically for smartphones, so you can plug a studio-grade microphone directly into your phone to make studio-grade recordings on the fly - ideal for vloggers and podcasters.
Android & iOS Compatible Microphones
If you use a USB microphone then you don't even need an audio interface since you can plug it directly into your laptop or desktop. These days, you can even get Android and iOS microphones which are specifically designed to be plugged into a compatible smartphone and don't need any kind of external audio interface or mobile recording interface, since they come with one built in.
Reporter microphones are specially designed for journalists. The longer body enables the reporter to hold the microphone at a comfortable distance from the interviewee, and to quickly switch between different speakers. These microphones also have an omnidirectional polar pattern, meaning that any environmental sound is captured as well as the voice of the interviewee, giving the recording context. And, since reporter microphones are often used outdoors and need to be able to withstand the elements as well as a bit of abuse, they tend to be pretty robust.
Why Video Cameras Are Better Than Smartphones
If you make music, whether you're part of a band or you're a solo artist, getting a music video up online is a must. We live in a hyper-visual culture, so platforms like YouTube are a great tool for getting your work out there. While any smartphone will have a camera, the quality still doesn't come close to that of a real video camera. The difference lies in the image resolution. A professional camera can record in extremely high resolution, which a smartphone camera can't compete with - simply because that just wasn't what it was made for.
Multi-Track Recorders: An All-in-One Studio
Multi-track recorders are standalone recorders, so there's no need for an external audio interface or even a computer. Simply take your recorder on location, whether it's a rehearsal room or another space, plug in your microphones and instruments and record directly to the internal memory of the unit. Generally, the number of tracks you can record at the same time is limited to around eight, but some models will also have extensive internal tracks, so you can add more tracks later. A multi-track recorder is basically a portable recording studio and mixer in one - ideal for people who prefer to work without a computer. And once you've finished, you can always load the tracks you've recorded into a computer to edit them.
What's a 19 inch Recorder?
A 19 inch recorder is a piece of recording equipment that can be rack mounted. Most 19 inch recorders are designed to make stereo recordings, so they're used for really specific production jobs, like recording live performances. There are also 19 inch recorders that feature loads of channels to support really big professional recording projects. You can make these recorders more portable by mounting them in something like a double-door flight case.
How Are Recordings Saved?
Some recorders come with a built-in memory, which could be a RAM and/or an HD/SSD, and from there, you can hook your recorder up to your computer to transfer the files. Some recorders don't have any form of internal memory, so you need to insert a microSD card or standard SD card or USB stick. External memory devices are handy, since you can not only use them to back up a project, but say you've made some big recordings using a field recorder. Then you can easily hand your SD card over to the sound engineer for post-production. Most computers also support various different memory devices and USB gear, and if your model doesn't, you could always add a card reader or USB hub.