Location interface

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by Carlos E. Martinez, Jan 8, 2016.

  1. Carlos E. Martinez

    Carlos E. Martinez Active Member

    As my field of work is location recording, the lighter the equipment the better.

    So I'm looking into available ways to use a smartphone using Android as an at least 2-channel recorder.

    Forget about the phone mic input. Even if it can be used on certain circumstances, it's quality is very poor.

    So you need some sort of interface, that can convert two XLR or more inputs into a micro-USB plug, and use some software on the phone to set levels and all.

    Has anyone tried this with good results?
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

  3. Carlos E. Martinez

    Carlos E. Martinez Active Member

    Well, of course I know that alternative. That's the one I use now. Double system recording.

    That's also why I want to know what can be done with a phone, adding a preamp for the mics. It has to be balanced.

    Rode mics for unbalanced inputs is not a path that attracts me too much. I already have better mics than Rode's.
  4. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    I'm aware of this iPad app that meets your criteria, with the exception of be Android based.

  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    (@audiokid )

    Don't get pissy and snap at Audiokid.

    Chris was merely trying to help you based on the limited info you provided.

    Take a step back and relax...and try to realize that we don't just "automatically know" what you know; as your post didn't provide a great amount of detail as to what equipment you had or didn't already have, what you've already tried and what you haven't.

    We're a pretty knowledgeable group here, and glad to help when we can, but we're not clairvoyant ... so cut us a little slack, okay?

  6. Carlos E. Martinez

    Carlos E. Martinez Active Member

    Well, if I got pissy and if Audiokid feels I snapped at him or mistreated him, here go my apologies.

    Sorry I didn't inform more on myself, but I think I was clear on what I intended or wanted to do.

    I interact on several forums, so I tried to be clear, specific and objective. I re read the initial mail, and the info to work with it's all there.

    1) Light location equipment
    2) 2-channel (or more) Android Smartphone recorder. Android because it seems to be the most popular.
    3) Input through USB, as the other is limited by internal electronics.
    4) XLR inputs.

    AFAIK there's only one box that does that, for now:

    link removed

    Maybe there are others I do not know.
  7. Carlos E. Martinez

    Carlos E. Martinez Active Member

  8. Carlos E. Martinez

    Carlos E. Martinez Active Member


    That is more like it, even it's for iPad and might not work on Android. There are many similar options, like this Focusrite 2i2


    They are bulky though and designed to be powered from laptop or external battery. Things get too big.

    Some tablets now work based on Windows 10, and it's getting into smartphones too. That might solve the program issue.
  9. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    The 2i2 is a solid, clean-sounding, budget pre/i-o. Presonus also makes budget model preamps as well; both are very similar, in price and in size.

    Either would suffice for condenser mics, but both would be shy on gain if you ever wanted to use it with lower-output dynamics ( SM7, RE20, etc) or with ribbon mics (nearly all), but, being that you're into location recording, I can't see where that would matter all that much to you.

    Although, if the opportunity would come up where you did want to use mics like these, you could always pick up an inline preamp booster, that connects between the mic and your pre/i-o; these devices tap into the 48v phantom power that's now available on most every modern preamp; and then converts that voltage into extra available gain for mic(s), up to +25db.

    The CloudLifter CL1 is the more popular of the inline boost devices on the market, but the Cathedral Pipes Durham does the exact same thing, and it's about $ 70 less than the CL .

    These boosters are also often used to compensate for the gain-damping that can occur due to lengthy cable runs.

  10. Carlos E. Martinez

    Carlos E. Martinez Active Member

    A step in the right direction. A bit large and not really too portable.

    Never tried the Focusrite or the Presonus, so I can say nothing of the preamp quality in itself.

    There's another article that talks about the potential problems that might happen with phones & tablets USB interface.


    Apparently not even a W10 phone might get a good interface.
  11. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    This could be an option for you


    I have one, in my case I use it for portable recordings with a laptop, it has the two XLR input / 2 channel 24 bit digital, computer / tab(let) modes, phantom power, hi/low z and can also be powered by 3 rechargable AA LR6 or HR6 type size batteries included with the device.
    Alkaline (AA, LR6): approximately 1.5 hours (phantom power On)
    Alkaline (AA, LR6): approximately 4 hours (phantom power Off)
    Rechargeable Ni-MH battery (AA, HR6): approximately 3 hours (phantom power On)
    Rechargeable Ni-MH battery (AA, HR6): approximately 6 hours (phantom power Off)

    It weighs in at 460 grams or 1lb 1oz and is windows / pc /mac / Ipad / ios compatable if you have one...you use the same USB connector that you would connect a digital camera to your Ipad / iphone with.

    I know in your OP you stated that you are using Android, so I found this that may answer some questions...


    which states the following :-
    "it is Android compatable straight out of the box on all modes using Audio Evolution Mobile and USB Audio Recorder PRO fromhttp://www.extreamsd.com and even native support in Lollipop (5.0) in « TAB » mode".

    I find the recording quality of this little interface very good IMO.

    The only thing I found was that the device does not come with a 9v DC power supply, they are sold seperately, and Roland very strongly recommend you only use their branded power supply so as not to void your warranty. For peace of mind I purchased this at the time of purchase.

    Now that I'm aware that its Android compatable myself, I may just do away with the laptop and use my Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 to do the task.

    Hope this helps.

    - Sean.

    -Edit : Just an idea, if you could make or find a small pouch like a soft camera case with a belt clip big enough to hold the device , clip it on your side or back on your belt, run your USB to your tablet and be hands free so therefore not having it sitting on the ground or holding it and be totally mobile for on-the-go location recording.;)
  12. Carlos E. Martinez

    Carlos E. Martinez Active Member


    A very good suggestion, thanks!

    The batteries you mention can go inside or only outside?

    After the warranty time is due, I suggest exploring other AC external supplies, which may improve the audio quality.

    Be careful with the Samsung phone. One of the articles I enclosed above mention some bricking issues with Samsung.

    The unit seems to take care of all my demands, at least on paper, and the price is quite good at B&H. It's even Android-ready.

    Size is a bit large though, as they still think of these boxes as a laptop accessory. It's quite likely they will develop smaller boxes in the near future, designed as phones or tablet companions.

    But it's something to use right away. Thanks again!

  13. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member


    the batteries fit in a compartment on the bottom of the unit, much like a potable radio would have.

    I did read your link regarding the Samsung and bricking, I have a Galaxy Tablet not a phone, I believe that is OK for the purpose but well worth the research before I plug it in.

    Here is a picture of the unit with the battery case open and the lid removed.

    Glad I could help.

    Boa Sorte.

    - Sean.

    Attached Files:

  14. Carlos E. Martinez

    Carlos E. Martinez Active Member


    Quite nice that batteries compartment! It really does remind of old portable radios! :)

    As I said, it does look as a very promising ready available option.

  15. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    I don't know the Roland product, but it looks good for your stated purpose in that it mentions Android phone compatibility in the specification. It could be that this device is the best compromise you can expect, and that you would be willing to tolerate slightly higher pre-amp noise and less than ultimate sonic quality in what is otherwise a functional solution, particularly in that it has software meant to work with your phone.

    However, you are aiming for high audio quality, so as well as the pre-amp character, you have to look carefully at how each possible product gets its input into a portable recorder. As a crude analogy, you have to be careful not to be in the position of specifying in detail a large-format console and then as an afterthought add that you need to carry it around on your bicycle. Don't rule out using a separate audio recorder if that would open up the range of choice for pre-amps.
    DonnyThompson likes this.
  16. Carlos E. Martinez

    Carlos E. Martinez Active Member


    Thanks for the remainder. I am not ruling out anything. A separate audio recorder is what I personally already use. Most of them, except for the very expensive Sound Devices types, compromise a little on mic preamp noise. Roland certainly does too.

    As I'm a bit of a DIY person, the first thing I would do is see what chip Roland is using as mic input and if it can be improved. That is usually simple to do, particularly if it's not an SMD part.

    Of course size is an issue if you are using a tablet and even more if you use a phone. Power is the second problem on most other preamps of that type, even Roland's.


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