Help with audio recordings

Hi. I recently bought an external mike for my cellphone to improve audio recordings, but it doesn’t seem to do so. It’s an iRig Mic Lav from IK multimedia. I succesfully installed the necessary app and had to buy and adapter, as the plug didn’t fit my cellphone. Does anyone has any suggestions of improving audio quality through external mikes on cellphones?
Thanks, Henk Feith

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I looked into external mics for my phone a while back, mostly looking for a directional one that would allow me to target a particular source of sound and therefore omit most of the background noise.

To be honest, phone technology now is so far advanced, that I found the phone mic itself to be more than adequate, and noise reduction with the program Audacity accomplished the job for me.

Perhaps the biggest improvement in my recordings was placing the cellphone in the chest pocket, away from keys and other “pocket noises”. I definitely recommend only doing this if you are able to button it in. I found out the hard way that my particular model of phone was not waterproof after it fell from that pocket and into the toilet!


what kinds of audio quality issues are you encountering? are you recording sounds from sources that are close or far? i’ve found that a windscreen helps with the wind noise outside. traffic noise is a little harder to deal with, but it can be removed or at least reduced in post-processing. (in this case, it’s helpful to capture several seconds of the ambient background noise to let your software know what to remove.) otherwise, you could gate or otherwise limit the range of sounds that are picked up for recording, but that’s harder to do right on the fly.

The main problem is that the soundlevel is so low that it’s hardly hearable when you play back the recording. I hoped that the external mike would improve that. The software that came with the mike allows some definition and I put incoming sound level max, but it did not improve the results. When I compare with recordings from the phone mike, they seem similar in quality.

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I use the freeware mp3DirectCut for simple cropping and volume maximization but this is a (Windows) desktop and not a phone app.

ok… i assume you’re recording distant sounds.

nature is relatively quiet. so i’m not surprised that what you’re picking up is relatively quiet. the external mic might be a little more sensitive and less noisy than the built-in microphone on your phone, but it doesn’t look like this one will give you an otherwise boosted signal. (this one really looks designed to be pinned to a lapel to capture a nearby voice. the range of sounds that it captures also seems to be somewhat limited, though good enough for the human voice.)

to get better distant sounds, you might need some combination of a microphone built more for that purpose (like a shotgun mic for distant birds) and/or a (better) pre-amplifier. depending on how much equipment you want to carry around and how much you want to spend, you may have to accept that you just won’t get a professional-level sound recording. you could also just use software to do noise reduction and boost the gain. (if you go that route, a cleaner signal from a less noisy, more sensitive mic will give you better starting ingredients. you can do a recording of some very quiet distant sounds in a quiet room to compare the performance of your external mic vs the built-in mic on your phone. if the external mic doesn’t give you better results in that kind of situation, then it probably won’t help if you’re trying to record distant sounds.)

I purchased an external mic for my iPhone and had similar problems with low audio level. I ended up mounting the mic in an aluminum reflector I had lying around for photographic lighting. Ideally it would be a parabolic reflector - it’s not - but it did markedly improve the audio and it was free. Because it isn’t a true parabolic reflector it won’t have an actual focal point which is where the mic would ideally be positioned. Neveretheless if you try this you’ll need to try positioning the mic at varisou locations to see what works best. Or by a parabolic mic for $$$ ;)

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