Imagine for a moment that you''re a reporter for a local FM talk station. One day at lunch, you''re at a diner on Main St. enjoying a BLT. Suddenly, a transit bus collides with a stopped car right in front of the diner. Then, another car runs into the bus! The next thing you know, there is a major traffic event downtown. As you pick up your iPhone to call 911, you notice it''s 12:51, nine minutes until the next news break. The only thing you''ve got is your cell phone. There must be an easy way to file a report with full-bandwidth audio. Incidentally, there is. The Mikey from Blue Microphones snaps onto your iPhone, enabling crystal-clear stereo audio to be recorded and quickly uploaded to an FTP server. It''s very easy to install and understand. The only thing that is hard to understand is that you''re preoccupied with audio quality during a disaster like this!
By the way, nobody was injured in the accident. It was just a nasty fender-bender, and your report sounded fantastic. Now we can talk at ease about Mikey. It will work on most generations of the iPod Touch, Nano and Classic, and the iPhone (an iPhone 3G, was used to test for this article and the results were perfect). The mic itself will plug into the port on the bottom of an iPhone or iPod, and it has a handy USB plug on the side. This serves as a power port to power the device since Mikey is using the power port. A 3.5mm jack on the top is an input for recording audio from stereo sources, like the output of a CD player, for example. When the 3.5mm jack is active, Mikey''s microphones and sensitivity switch are bypassed. A three-position sensitivity switch allows for attenuating the microphone depending on source SPLs. Mikey swivels 230 degrees to allow for proper placement. As a handheld mic, tilt it back to emulate the pickup pattern of regular handhelds. If placed on a desk, tilt it forward to face the sound source. Two transducer-type pressure gradient cardioid condenser elements live inside the mic capsule with a frequency range of 35Hz to 20kHz. Mikey''s output sample is 16-bit, 44.1kHz.
Put into use
Given the nature of radio, Mikey would most likely find the majority of its use in on-location interview situations. While testing, it was used as a handheld mic and moved back and forth between the two voices. It was also placed on a table between the two voices. Mikey works extraordinarily well as a handheld mic, especially in the area of rejecting handling noise, and of course, overall frequency response. However, the on-table placement was the most interesting. While Mark (our production director) and I chatted back and forth as if conducting an interview, I placed Mikey between us about 2' away. We talked normally and found that off-mic proximity issues were hardly, if at all noticeable. The sensitivity setting was on the middle position and levels were perfect. The stereo nature of the recording also allows for phenomenal capturing of nature sound. The stereo image is reproduced very accurately. Operationally speaking, the easiest part about Mikey is that the iPhone (3G is this case) is immediately recognized by the device. No driver or software installation is necessary. In addition, Mikey is more than just an interview microphone. The stereo configuration makes it very handy for recording music. When placed in front of guitar, a warm, clear and full response is reproduced.
|Performance at a glance|
Simple interface with iPod and iPhone
Stereo cardioid pattern with 35Hz to 20kHz response
BlueFire app for easy recording and file management
3.5mm jack for plugging in external sources
BlueFire is a downloadable application available for iPods and iPhones that provides an easy-to-use recording and playback interface. Familiar transport features and file management via FTP make recording and sending audio very efficient. As an example, in an environment with Wi-Fi, a 50-second interview was uploaded using BlueFire''s FTP feature. The file was ready for download within seconds of pushing the stop button. It was stunningly fast. Also within BlueFire are the adjustments for mic gain and quality, plus several nifty features like timed recording, level thresholds and indexing (great for marking time in an interview). A level meter is displayed right under a big counter displaying minutes, seconds and frames.
We live in a time when audio recording devices are getting smaller. In addition to recording, other developers have created apps for iPhones that allow for IP-based RPU connectivity. Not only does Mikey complement recording technology, but now full-bandwidth audio can be captured, edited uploaded and transmitted live from a cellphone. Blue Microphones has aided the process immensely. Mikey transparently and cleanly captures stereo audio and the quality is tough to match.
Wygal is the programmer and engineer for Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA.
Editor's note: Field Reports are an exclusive Radio magazine feature for radio broadcasters. Each report is prepared by well-qualified staff at a radio station, production facility or consulting company.
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