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Phone recordings

bentkbentk Posts: 1,219Pro, 2.0 PRO
Hi all!

There is something i noticed the other day that i wanted to share.

Sometimes i make a quick recording on my phone (iphone 6S) to check my pitch, tone etc. but it was not representing my voice that well at all. I thought i sounded pretty weak on those recordings, almost 'whimpy' to my own ears. However, this was not the case when i did a quick recording through the Shure SM58 i use for rehearsals and my Focusrite Scarlett i2. It sounded fuller, more powerful, and not 'whimpy' at all.

I wanted to share this because those phone recordings were disheartening for me, but weren't fair. My wife already told me that those recordings did not sound like me at all, but i had to 'check' with a better microphone.

Of course i have sung through a microphone many times, and i know how i sound, but those phone recordings just got the better of me. I started to doubt myself. It's silly, but i felt the need to share this.

It might also partially be the app that i used (voice memos or something, standard on an iphone) that makes it worse, but i can't really recommend anyone using a phone mic anymore. Unless you have a better mic, because my phone is also almost 4 years old now.

Thanks for reading.

All the best,

Ben

Comments

  • BarbieLynnBarbieLynn Posts: 502.0 PRO
    I totally get what you're saying. It can pull the confidence rug right out from under you, hearing yourself on crappy equipment. I have to be choosy about where I sing karaoke due to the same type of issues. I KNOW I don't sound THAT bad.. yet through some karaoke set ups .. I noticed the folks running the show would adjust settings so their friends sounded great, but anyone else sounded like crap. Not fair!
    I found that an open mic session is much better, because at least there, they WANT you to sound great!
  • blondiewalesblondiewales Posts: 417Pro
    It definitely depends on your phone mic and environment. I used to have the same experience, but then I got used to always using my phone as a recorder.

    Now I sound fine on my phone, but sometimes miss details that I hear on a better mic. It's funny how that works.

    I will say that I have friends that sound good on anything. I think as you improve your voice and tone, this gradually becomes the case.

  • DogMeatDogMeat Posts: 2132.0 PRO
    I can definitely relate to that @bentk.

    Similar effect is also present when listening to your own recording. May sound good blasting on good speakers or headphones, but try some crappy speakers and play really quiet. Makes you humble when you realize every small nuance of the volume and pitch. Good way to test your recording.

    End of the day i think it's all about experience, and we need to sing in all kinds of places (and setups) to feel more comfortable.
  • bentkbentk Posts: 1,219Pro, 2.0 PRO
    edited September 24
    @blondiewales

    I think you are right. But since I noticed the difference, it's pretty significant. And i am talking about no EQ or effects etc. I Compared both the phone and mic setup 'naked'. The phone recording seems to lack 'power' or sound a bit more shrill/weak, when actually it's not.

    What phone do you use? and which app? Just curious.

    So since the difference is significant in MY case, i am using my mic to check my voice. But without EQ and effects as i said, to hear everything clearly and to be fair.

    Now what also doesn't help, is being my own worst critic. But i guess most of you can relate to that.

    All the best,

    Ben
  • blondiewalesblondiewales Posts: 417Pro
    @bentk Yeah, it definitely depends on a bunch of variables, like the recording room for both the phone and the mic. I have a Samsung Galaxy S8, and I use the SmartVoiceRecorder app. It allows 44.1khz recording but I usually don't use that.

    I will say that a phone recording is closer to how other people hear you when you sing into a room. Studio recording is awesome, but the mic captures details we usually don't hear, because it's basically like singing directly into someone's ear. In addition, there's a "proximity effect" that happens when you're close to a mic where the bass increases. This might be the power boost you're talking about?

    I'd be curious to hear some quick audio examples from your phone and your recording set up.
  • bentkbentk Posts: 1,219Pro, 2.0 PRO
    edited September 25
    Well first of, i might have exaggerated it a bit in my initial post, but it was to get the idea across. You are right about the mic picking up more than you can hear, but in my case i am sure that the phone recording does not sound like what people hear because i let my wife compare. Lucky for me my wife gives super honest comments, believe it or not. It's not the ultimate benchmark, but it clears a few things. The phone recording simply didn't do it justice i guess.

    I have been recording some more examples and i'm becoming more satisfied with both type of recordings actually, phone and mic. I thought you made a good point, so i worked on it and listened more carefully to the recordings, which has been a good process for me. So i guess i'm happy i started this thread!

    I would however not say that the phone recording is like other people would hear you in my case. Of course, for the most part it is, but it's just too 'tinny' sounding on a mic like my phone has. And it overdrives the sound quite quickly, depending on proximity.

    Thanks!
  • blondiewalesblondiewales Posts: 417Pro
    @bentk hey man I'm glad it helped. I re-read some of my replies and I want to say I didn't mean to come off as challenging. Sometimes I browse and comment on threads between work, so it's just a quick comment.
  • bentkbentk Posts: 1,219Pro, 2.0 PRO
    @blondiewales

    I'm also a little quick with some of my threads and replies, so i understand.
    I don't think you were coming of as challenging (even if you were, it can be a good thing), you really had something to add to this thread. Like i said, i exaggerated my initial post a little, but things are not that bad. They improved a lot actually. It somehow made me review my small recordings more thoroughly, and appreciate them.

    Thinking about mic recordings again, I still think you are right that they can alter the sound to be 'nicer'. Even without EQ and effects. It's probably best to let more people judge the difference. Never have any complaints during my rehearsals, but it's also insecurity rearing its ugly head now and then.

    Thanks!
  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Posts: 1,332Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO
    Hey @bentk , It kind of comes down to mic model and placement. As you can imagine, the mic in an iPhone simply can not compare to a Sennheiser e945 (or whatever)… nor can the speaker in an iPhone compare to a set of Rokkit 6's.
    When it comes to mics, even slight proximity and/or angle differences can radically affect tone, so it is never cut and dried. An iPhone mic is an omni-directional type (i am pretty sure) and as such picks up allot of the room ambience. I am sure the frequency range leaves a little to be desired as well.
    While good for capturing ideas in the moment, I'd never base how I sound on one.
    At one point I was looking for some sort of an adapter to be able to hook up a decent mic to my phone, but I decided to just run through my Zoom R8 for recording quick drafts.
  • doc_ramadanidoc_ramadani Posts: 2,926Administrator, 2.0 PRO, Facility Management
    edited October 2
    I have a Zoom H4 and use it the same way.
  • bentkbentk Posts: 1,219Pro, 2.0 PRO
    @Furious_Phil Thanks a lot for your reply man. I have indeed discovered that many things affect the recording, as you mentioned. Even on my phone, i should try a different method, maybe put it a little further away, because i keep it pretty close when doing a quick recording.

    The zoom is also a great idea. It's probably also good to ask some people to listen to you live and the recording to give feedback. I like to have a good idea of how it compares!

    Thanks!
  • BarbieLynnBarbieLynn Posts: 502.0 PRO
    I use my zoom plus an audio technica lavalier mic. Works great.
  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Posts: 1,332Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO
    Yeah, my Zoom R8,(using built-in mics) gives me a very accurate to what I am hearing representation when placed in the center of the room you are doing your thing in.
  • bentkbentk Posts: 1,219Pro, 2.0 PRO
    @Furious_Phil So what's the usual distance between you and the Zoom R8? Are they condenser mics?
  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Posts: 1,332Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO
    I used to put it maybe 2-3 meters away from the low-level PA, if you're not using any amplification, then it can be allot closer. Also, it should go without saying, but find an acoustically active part of your house and do your basic recordings there. In my new place, I was lucky enough that where I set up my studio was also an absolute jem for natural acoustics and sweet reverb! It does this weird Amphitheatre effect where it projects and amplifies my vocals instead of dead-squashing them. Good for basic practice at least, so I can really hear the resonation bloom
  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Posts: 1,332Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO
    The internal mics are omnidirectional, which means they'll pick up pretty much everything in the room. That makes them good for, as the name implies, room mics for things like recording drums. However, they're not ideal for close-mic things like vocal or acoustic guitars. For recording vocals, your best bet - budget permitting - would be to buy a decent external condenser mic.
  • bentkbentk Posts: 1,219Pro, 2.0 PRO
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