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Mobile phone external mic set-up assistance (3 Viewers)

simple

Inglorious Bustards
Hi does anyone know of a good external mic set-up for recording / listening / broadcasting live bird song / calls via an iPhone 11 pro max to a live audience on zoom?
 

Jon.Bryant

Active member
I was recently thinking a similar thing - well whether I could use my iPhone with an external mic to record birds, without the live broadcast element.

Directional mics that plug directly into the iPhone don't seem to be that impressive, and also I think you would be hard pushed to have a zoom call, while trying to point a directional mic clipped into the iPhone at a bird!

I am really looking for a system where the mic is linked wireless to the iPhone, so that I can get the mic closer to the source, but still control recording levels. I therefore started off looking for Bluetooth devices.

The first option I stumbled across was an action Bluetooth mic - the Insamic. The Instamic looks to be fun (if you can work out where to buy one!). I assume that you could place the discrete and really tiny recorder/mic close to where action may occur (say a birds song post, a feeding station, or a nest - avoiding disturbance!), and be stood 20m away listening to the audio via Bluetooth. I have not been able to find any info on the mic sensitivity, but assume it would not be so good for picking up wider environmental sounds, like a dawn chorus. I recall a birder telling me he had had fun with a waterproof speaker, throwing it on a piece of string into a marsh to temp out a flufftail. As an action mic, the Instamic Pro is apparently water proof IP7 and really tiny. I am not advocating chucking it into a marsh, but there are probably places the mic can go that other equipment can't. As the device also records at up to 96KHz 24bit (in mono or stereo versions), there so seem interesting options for being inventive. I would be interested if anyone has tried using the mic for getting up close and personal to wildlife.

The next device I cam across was the Rode Wireless Go II, which may be more versatile (but is a more expensive) option. This is not a blutooth device but is a two wireless transmitters and a receiver, the latter of which can be connected to an iPhone through a bespoke USB to lightning cable - the Rode Wireless Go II is an MFi-certified USB-C microphone . It seems to be advertised as a Vloggers mic. The transmitters have built in microphones, but as per the Instamic, I imagine that these will not be that sensitive and basically would only be of use if you can again get the mics really close to the subject. In adverts the mics are shown attached to the presenters clothes like a lavalier. Again I can't get any info on the sensitivity from the supplier. You can however plug in external mics to the transmitter through a TRS 3.5mm jack. Rode reference plugging in a lavalier (which would not be much benefit), but I am hoping that you could also plug in one of the Sennheisser K6 mics, which have their own power - obviously the 3.5mm jack will not provide phantom power, which some mics require. The interesting thing with this setup, is that the connection range is up to 200m with direct line of sight. The twin transmitters can be combined into a stereo signal, so I think in theory you could have a stereo setup for a dawn chorus, and be sat well away presenting the broadcast. I say the option is expensive, but it is much cheaper than a professional radio mic set up, and you don't have all the mucking about of applying for a frequency band for transmission, which I understand you need to do with some professional gear.

In a moment of madness, I have recently bought the Rode Wireless Go II, which is now in the post. When it arrives, I will give it a spin and report back on the pros and cons. Hopefully I will be able to record somethings with the mics hidden, but up close and personal to the source, and also get the K6 system to work with the as a remote setup. The former would be great, as I then could have a lightweight setup to use with my phone, for speculative recordings - clip the mics into the undergrowth or bushes and wait to see what comes close!.

Regards

Jon Bryant
 

Jon.Bryant

Active member
Just looking at the Sennhesiiser line up and noticed that they seem to have revised their offering for vloggers etc. It would be interesting to know if anyone has tried the MKE400, which seems to be a reasonably sensitive compact shotgun mic. The only problem is that it seems to to use as 3.5mm input socket on the phone. As the iPhone doesn't have a 3.5mm socket, you would need a workaround - I think there are lightning to 3.5mm input conversion options on the market.
 

tconzemi

Tom
Supporter
Europe
3.5 mm input to lightning is +/- 10 €, ATENTION, you must first plug in the microphone's jack to the adapter cable and then the lightning into the Iphone, if you do it the other way round, the Iphone will not recognize a microphone
 

Rharshaw

Member
United States
Just looking at the Sennhesiiser line up and noticed that they seem to have revised their offering for vloggers etc. It would be interesting to know if anyone has tried the MKE400, which seems to be a reasonably sensitive compact shotgun mic. The only problem is that it seems to to use as 3.5mm input socket on the phone. As the iPhone doesn't have a 3.5mm socket, you would need a workaround - I think there are lightning to 3.5mm input conversion options on the market.
Yes, Apple sells a lightning to 3.5MM dongle. Many threads about aftermarket dongles not working fully.
 

Rharshaw

Member
United States
3.5 mm input to lightning is +/- 10 €, ATENTION, you must first plug in the microphone's jack to the adapter cable and then the lightning into the Iphone, if you do it the other way round, the Iphone will not recognize a microphone
Good tip! I am using a Sennheiser ME 66 with K6 power module on iPhone XR; I have splitter for mic and headphone which works--I can record and playback to headphones without plugging or unplugging mic or headphones. Problem is, I cannot hear (monitor) what the mic is recording on the BirdNET app. Any suggestions for me?
 

Jon.Bryant

Active member
As an update on the purchase of the Rode Wireless Go II. The transmitters and receivers work with my iPhone. The only issue is that receiver gain settings have no effect on the USB output, so you have to adjust the recording levels through the phone app. If I am using the in-built mics (not that sensitive) I have to push the recording level as far as it will go in the app i have installed, to start to hit the red on the meters - so looks like the USB input is a bit quiet.

I can plug a ME64 (with K6 power and AA battery installed) into the receiver and it works fine - as I would expect teh signal from teh ME64 is a bit higher than the inbuilt mic. I have not tried my ME67 yet, but see no reason why it should not work. Obviously the receiver won't supply phantom power, so you need a mic with power. This means that you can set up mics with their own power remotely and record the output to your phone. I have not tried to see how far this works from - it works great when i tried up to 10m distance, and the spec says up to 200m with direct line of sight!

The only weird thing is that I cannot get the receiver to work with a Sound Devices Mix-Pre II 6, when using the USB C connection - i wonder if it is a power issue. Instead I have to use the aux-in on the Mi-Pre, which works fine. Again this means that I can record to the higher spec recorder with the mic remote and no cabling.

The transmitters have a shiny black front panel, with a couple of blue LED's that can be dimmed, but not turned off. After a few attempts I managed to get some camouflage duck tape to cover the front and partially obscure the LED's - it was quite hard getting it to stick. The tape seems to have no impact on the signal from the transmitter to receiver.

I was quite surprised by the sound from the onboard recorders on the transmitters - the recordings sound OK. You can set the transmitters to always record when the transmitter is switched on, or to record when linked to the receiver. This means in theory you could use the transmitters without the receiver, a phone or any other recording device. You could also use them with the receiver used as a trigger to start recordings. However you have no control over the recording levels - but this is perhaps acceptable for a small and travel friendly setup, for speculative trial and error recordings.

I am now looking forward to trying some recordings with the integral mics on the transmitters or ME64s attached. I think if these mics are placed near cover, with patience you could get some nice recordings of things up close. I would also like to try the M67 remotely, pointing along a place where you know birds will come - say a shingle bank with a high tide wader roost. Finally I am now thinking of ways I can hoist my mics into the tree canopy (without getting them stuck up there!).

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With regard to the question on the BirdNet app, can you alter the recording levels using the app? If you could do this part way through streaming to the AI engine for an ID, I would have thought it could confuse things. If there is no option to change recording levels, then I am not sure what monitoring the recording will achieve, and it may therefore be that the app does not include a monitoring function.

I found it hard to find a recording app where I could control recording levels, but eventually found 'Voice Recorder Pro'. I was put off by the word 'Voice' but it seems to to be all singing and dancing and doesn't seem to record over a limited frequency arrange, as per some voice recorders. The advanced recording tab has options to record in wav (PCM) format in stereo at up to 96.000Khz 32 bit ( I find this hard to compute/believe as 32 bit recorders are pretty unusual at the moment, so seems a bit unreal to get this standard of recording from an app costing £6,99! [for the ad free version]). Once you start a recording there is a slider to enable monitoring if you have headphones connected, and you can also adjust the recording level.

I haven't tried BirdNet. I understand that you can post audio files from your PC, but can you also post sound files stored on your phone? If so, an option may be to record with another app that allows monitoring, then only post recordings to BirdNet where you need an ID. If the app allows you to do this, you could get an ID in the field. If not you would need to wait to you were back at a PC to post a sound and get an ID. I suppose you could also switch apps in the field - 'what the heck is that', 'gosh BirdNet says it's an XYZ', 'better get a better recording with my other app'.

Regards

Jon
 

WRL

Member
[...] The only weird thing is that I cannot get the receiver to work with a Sound Devices Mix-Pre II 6, when using the USB C connection - i wonder if it is a power issue. [...]
@jon: Regarding the above excerpt quote I daresay that is no wonder. From what I understand about MixPre's operation it needs an "application" (like video conferencing, DAW or a streaming app) on a host computer in order to utilise the USB-C for digital audio transfer function (in and/or out). However, that is my experience (I have a MixPre-3 II) and what a read in the MixPre manual about USB-C streaming usage. But on the your Rode receiver's side there is obviously no applicable "application program" running. What do you think?
Regards, WRL
 

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