Here we go again… the never-ending search for a hi-quality usable/sharable audio file recorded on a smartphone or tablet computer leads us to this: The Tascam iM2.
Up to this point, the Alesis iODock is the only device this reviewer evaluated that really met the minimum recording quality most voice acting pros would be comfortable sending to client…and it’s not that portable.
A caveat: ANY $3,000 microphone will not fill the bill if your recording environment sucks. So the Tascam iM2 is no panacea if you’re recording in the men’s bathroom at Target.
Having said that, though, the iM2 is the closest we’ve seen to making the grade with portable, on-the-fly, smartphone-device recording that you won’t be embarrassed to send to your best VO client.
Right now, it seems to be available only from B&H Photo. $80.
See my video below for a quick look at the device itself. My previous blog on the iM2 gives the specs. Most importantly: this device plugs into the 30-pin connector on the bottom of the iOS device (works with iPhone 4 & 4s, iPad, iPad2, and iPod), giving it the best possible shot at a decent recording since the Blue Mikey. Apple changed the internal wiring when it moved from the 3Gs to the iPhone 4, rendering the Mikey unusable going forward.
(ed. note: see a similar review of this device by Beau Weaver in the comment section of this blog)
Match the iM2 with Twisted Wave’s iPhone/iPad app for the optimal recording. Twisted Wave also gives you powerful editing and post-production tools, and lets you share by FTP, iTunes, DropBox, email, or Wi-Fi, but does not record in .mp3. Instead you can convert it to mp3 through a service online TW supports. Save in .wav, AIFF, CAF, or AAC. Not quite as good, but getting close in quality are the apps: FiRe, Monle and MultiTrack.
- The dual-positioned mics rotate so you can direct these condensers to the direction of sound.
- The unit works best when you set your iPhone to Airplane Mode, avoiding any interruptions.
- The unit is also very sensitive to movement, so you need to get a comfortable grip and not move the phone around, nor move your fingers on the unit while recording.
- To listen to what you’ve recorded, you must then UN-plug the iM2 to hear the speakers.
- The iM2 does not come with it’s own headphone jack.
- If you have the Apple-supplied earphones plugged in the phone will prioritize the built-in mic on the headset cord, and not record through the iM2.
Now the mic comparison.
I simultaneously recorded a couple of sentences holding the Tascam iM2/iPhone4 as pictured.
The Studio Projects C-1 recording was into the AA3.0 DAW through a Steinberg CI2 USB interface. That recording was a native mp3.
The ONLY tweak was a boost to the gain in AA3.0 for the Tascam recording. Even though I had the volume control on the iM2 at max, the two comparison sound waves were not equal in gain. I had to boost the Tascam recording by about 30%.
Below are the two comparison sound files. I think you’ll agree that while they are not equal, the Tascam recording — standing on its own — would probably pass muster for an acceptable audition, or even a final cut.
The first soundfile is the Tascam iM2/iPhone4 recording. The lower soundfile is the Studio Projects C-1 recording.
Pretty close, eh?
LA voice acting pro Beau Weaver has also previewed this device extensively, and his analysis is included below in the comment section. Absolutely a must-read if you are interested in the deeper technical side of this issue. Beau is very thorough in his critique.