I think I still have a ways to go before I'd call myself an authority on using an iPhone (or similar device) to produce bird recordings, but I've learned a lot since my initial post on this topic about a month ago. Let me comment on three aspects of acquiring bird sounds on an iPhone.
1) Getting sounds into your device.
- Good: If a bird is close or loud enough, the built-in mic can capture acceptable recordings.
- Better: An iPhone/iPod/etc. specific mic can add a lot of reach. I'm still happy with the Edutige EIM-001 i-Microphone Voice Recorder– it is small (almost too small- easy to misplace) & fairly cheap and really boosts the audio. The sound quality isn't necessarily professional, but not bad for documenting & researching bird sounds.
- Best: A high-quality shotgun mic: David La Puma and others have figured out that an iPhone/iPod/etc. can be a great digital bird sound recorder if you have a quality shotgun mic to capture vocalizations. The problem is that normal mics won't record to the iPhone/iPod/etc. jack, which is designed for both input and output (iPhone headphones have a built-in mic for phone conversations, talking to Siri, etc.) An adapter is needed if you want to pipe in sound from a good mic, & fortunately these are available through 3rd party manufacturers. For example, the kV Connections iPhone 1/8" Microphone Adapter will allow input from a powered mic with a 1/8" (3.5mm) jack. kV Connections also makes other adapters for different mic types so check them out if you are looking for an input solution.
2) Selecting an app for your recordings.
- Good: Use the device's built-in voice memo app. Free, works fine.
- Better (maybe?): Use a 3rd-party recording app (free or cheap) if its features and interface are more to your liking. For now, I've settled on Recorder (free). Recordings are pretty easy to get off the phone and onto your computer. File types are limited to AIFF or MP3, probably fine for dabblers like myself.
- Best: Use a professional field recording app like FiRe 2 ($6). Link over to see the impressive list of features this app boasts…
3) Selecting sound processing software to use on your computer. I'm too far out of my league to offer much meaningful insight here. Perhaps folks with more experience can offer suggestions for us in the comments or in another blog post??
- Good: Use free audio editing software like Audacity. It has some basic filters, produces spectrograms, & the price is right! Ted Floyd has figured out some neat tricks with Audacity & I hope he'll comment on these or offer up a post on the topic…
- Also Good: Cornell's free Raven Light lets users record, save, and visualize sounds as spectrograms and waveforms. Editing options are limited, though. Andrew Spencer offers some great tips & tricks to using this software at Earbirding.com.
- Better/Best: Sound guru Nathan Pieplow extols Adobe Audition on his Earbirding.com blog & offers Audition editing tips & tricks in one of his posts. Can anyone comment on Cornell's Raven Pro or other options to consider for serious bird sound editing??
Vocalizing Canyon Wren © Bill Schmoker, Jefferson County, Colorado, March 2009