Are smartphone microphones really good enough to make field recordings with?


#1

I’ve watched a few videos on youtube and read some pages on the internet about field recording that says that a smartphone microphone is good enough to use to record sounds with. I find it hard to believe this because the purpose of a phone microphone is to record the voice which means they should have no reason to use anything fancy that a phone wouldn’t need that would make them cost more. What would be good enough to record voice on a phone would be different to what would be good enough to record sounds. I don’t know if it’s just the popular phones like iphones and Samsungs that have good microphones, but I find it hard to belive that every smartphone would have good microphone quality unless they use the same microphone hardware. When they say your smartphone is good enough, do they really mean all smartphones? Even non-flagship ones?


#2

‘Good enough’ is pretty relative. What they really mean is ‘better than nothing’.

Most people aren’t going to walk around with a field recording setup, and it’s nice to be able to capture interesting sounds when they come your way, especially if they’re transient. Convenience often trumps quality, and the quality of smartphone mics is surprisingly decent these days - that’s true for all smartphones, as the MEMS mics they use are all the same. That said, they’re tuned specifically to the range of the human voice, so you end up losing a lot of lows and highs. If I’m just going to process it a bunch later, that often doesn’t matter.

I never hesitate to record something on my phone if it’s the only option. It often works out fine, sometimes it doesn’t (not enough content or clarity of the frequency range I was going for), but for the effort it’s almost always worth trying.

If you’re serious about field recording, you absolutely should invest in something like a H4N or DR-40, possibly with external mics that suite your needs. The quality difference is huge compared to a cell phone and you often will end up with more options for post-processing and hear things you might not have heard with your ears, much less the cell phone recording. But not having one shouldn’t stop you from trying.


#3

I’ve field recorded once with a flip phone.


#4

For my purposes, my phone is good enough. However, field recordings aren’t at the center of my art, they’re often either heavily processed or the background layer to the background layer in my music.


#5

That’s the key, right there. You want the right tools/instruments for the music you make - the same way you wouldn’t use a $100 plastic guitar if your music was death metal, you’ll buy field recording equipment if it’s something that you deem essential to your music.


#6

You could always snag a cheap condensor mic for your phone, I might have better rejection outside the signal pattern it picks up. This one is 25 bucks usd on amabezon


#7

simple answer : no


#8

Alt simple answer: Yes


#9

Logical answer: Use one if YOU think the quality of the recorded sound is OK for what you’re doing…and that’s something only you can know, though the opinions of some will differ to your own.


#10

I agree with this. Like if you are just recording “pots and pans” home percussion sounds I REALLY can’t see spending money on a field recorder (although I imagine there are some very serviceable inexpensive ones that are better than a smartphone these days).

I’ve recorded home percussion and vocal phrases for dance music on a smart phone and it was absolutely fine.

I’ve used my field recorded as a line level recording device more than a field recorder by far.

On the other hand if you are making foley recording based music, then yea, spend a hundred or so on a field recorder…