Overdubbing with a cheap Android phone and a mini-DAW - The beginning

Hi there

Since my wife started working at home, I stopped singing :disappointed_relieved:

I asked here, and Davide and others suggested insulating panels, but the building is not mine, so I cannot apply them

I then reasoned about mini-boots, but their reliability is uncertain and certainly not sound-proof

I tried to record with Reaper into an old laptop, but its sound card was awful

Yesterday I thought to buy a mini-recorder, but before loosing a one-hundred-thousand-euro I thought to test some apps

I tried n-Track first, but I found that the quality of internal mic is awful, so:
Is worthy buying an USB mic or a headset + mic?
Or, is it better buying a mini-recorder?
And in the latter case, there are issues, e.g. sync, moving audio from a device to another?

Hey Claudio;

I can’t speak for musical recording, but I can for video production (private and light commercial)

If we start with the basics, the mic type/design will make quite an impact on your sound. While you don’t have to spend a lot of money, the audio differences are quite noticeable and should be selected based on your taste, vocal style and recording environment. (for example, I had 4-5 mics with me on a shoot) Also, you will want to take into account your “sonic preferences”. Within a given selection of 5 mics, 5 users might rank them completely differently. There are many good quality mics for generic portable devices like Android phones and pads that won’t break the bank, but you will need to dig a little and check into the actual Android hardware. It you do go for a phone based analog mic (no experience with USB into phones), be sure you get one designed for a phone audio jack…typically TRRS ( Understanding TRRS and Audio Jacks - Cable Chick Blog

The recording environment will play a big role as well. While there are post capture ways to clean up the audio, depending on your circumstances, getting it right @ the source can make a big difference.

As to stand-alone recorders (field recorders), there are some great options out there that won’t break the bank and I feel are the best choice. An oldie but goodie for about $100 is the Zoom H1n Handy Recorder. It is an older unit but a staple for many INDY and even pro producers. The UI is a bit clunky but it is small, has a bunch of great features, killer pre-amps and allows for external mics and headsets. It even has a way to mount it to a mic stand. Some might squawk about it’s age, digital resolution or lacking an XLR jack, but I’d bet a bottle of Sassicaia that they could not tell the difference 6 out or 10 times.

With regards to synching, these files are typically just standard audio files (wav, ogg, etc) but my experience with synching audio is related to video streams so I’m not sure if there are any “special” issues to consider. However, just like synching an audio source track with other analog or digital tracks in my DAW, I can’t imagine there are any real differences or issues that can’t be overcome in the mix.

Like all things creative…this is just one opinion amongst many and hope it helps. Good luck.

1 Like

Interesting… and complicated YUK

My Samsung Galaxy A21s has a 4 pin input
I have a great mic at hand, a Sennheiser ME-2
I tested it just now: it seems properly recognized, the mic input indicator goes high, but when I hit Play I hear only low-level crackles

On the other hand, with a mini-recorder I must have 2 devices:
The smartphone to listen the musical base, and the midi-recorder to sing, unless the Zoom H1n Handy is a multitrack

I must reason a lot on that, because I suspect that only high-end smartphones are really suitable to do that

About the quality, I’m not a pro and there is no reason that this system quality is higher than my PC system

For example, I recorded these songs just using a 50 € Boheringer mic and the 100 € Komplete Audio 1

I uninstalled nTrack and tested the Sennheiser ME-2 with the Samsung OEM recorder: it works like a charm!

So maybe I only have to find an(other) app that recognizes the mic properly, then I’ll buy one USB-C to mini-jack cable to connect my Sony earphones in the other socket; it’s a super cheap test

I’ll let you know if this works
Thanks for now

1 Like

The problem with the TRRS input of my phone is that:
If you connect an earphone, the internal mic becomes unusable
If you connect a mic, the internal speaker becomes unusable
This is likely because the OS thinks you are using a combo

So the first step is buying this cable

Then I’ll have (hopefully) both the Sennheiser ME-2 and the Sony earphones working at the same time, and maybe that any mini-DAW can work

I’ll let you know

@TMacD the ugreen cable is part of the solution

I tested it just now, with n-Track Pro (but the non Pro version works as well), the Sony earphones, and the Sennheiser ME-2

it is tricky to find the proper settings for input and output, but the contraption seems working, but I’ll do a real-world test tomorrow, with my voice and a base, and I’ll post here the result


It works, but the result is a crap

The mic works perfectly with the internal Samsung recorder, with low background noise and good audio quality, but you cannot listen to music while you record… And using n-Track you have high background noise and poor audio quality, not mentioning the difficulties to set inputs and outputs properly
(and the fact I hate touch-screens LOL)

I think to remember that the Sennheiser ME-2 has a low signal, and I always used it connected to a VXi mic amplifier indeed, so maybe this is why, but I don’t want to spend too much for another useless trinket, so I think I’ll buy an average headset built exactly for smartphones

I’ll let you know
The saga goes on

Today I realized I had an old cheap headset used for Dragon Naturally Speaking, so I decided to test it, and it worked!

I recorded my voice in another room and my wife didn’t hear anything

So the problem was just the low level of my Sennheiser ME-2, not the Android OS nor my device

It means I can do the job with my cheap Samsung A21s, n-Track Pro (or the non-Pro), the ugreen cable, and one decent headset, with the further advantage that the headset is way lighter than my Sony earphones, and the sound is stereo

1 Like

Actually, the headset mic level is too low, and the Android OS cannot raise that level passing through the ugreen cable, i.e. through the TRRS input, but luckily enough the USB-C input exists, so here is the solution