Record, Edit & Send an Audio Interview from an iPhone

There’s no magic to this: you are able to pick up an iPhone from the shop and record, edit and file audio that is broadcast quality without installing a single piece of software.

The first piece of software you’ll need is called Voice Memos.  It comes as standard on iPhones (though not on iPads).  When you open it up, the first screen you’ll see is this one. recording


Just press the red button and it starts recording.  As you speak, the app writes a waveform out as it records.  To get the best quality sound direct the mic (on the bottom of the iPhone, near the Home button) towards your mouth – about 20cm away.  If you’re interviewing someone try to keep movements to a minimum so stand close to your guest.  Two golden rules:

1. Don’t worry about invading their body space (but be aware that you are doing and be prepared to step back a bit if they’re unhappy). Culturally, it may be better to stand next to each other rather than facing one another (it stops the invasion feeling).

2. Clean your teeth and carry a packet of mints around with you!

To stop recording you simply press the red button again.  This is, in effect, like pressing “pause” because you can press the red button again and it starts recording again.  If you’ve finished recording you should press the word DONE.  Beware – until you do this it isn’t saved.  You could lose the whole interview.  So, press the red button and it brings up a dialog box to give your recording a name (the recording is date and time stamped so you can see when it was recorded).

The screen will then change to this one.

photo-214x380If you click on the play icon it’ll play from beginning to end.  If you’re happy with it you can click on the SEND icon below the play button and it’ll then give you the standard choices to send the file – Messaging it or Emailing it.  As long as the file is under 10mb in size that’s all you have to do – that equates to 14 minutes (and not a second more!) of audio.

But what if you want to do a bit of editing?  Well, if you feel like getting your hands a bit mucky you can ‘top and tail’ the audio – sending just the bits you want. Press the Edit button and you’ll see the waveform.  Now tap the Crop button (it’s blue and on the right hand side).  The blue playhead turns into two red edit handles, one at the beginning of the clip and one at the end. Once you’ve arranged them to your liking, tap Trim.  It gives you an option to Trim Original or Save As New Recording.  It’s up to you which you choose but saving as a new recording keeps the original there for ‘versioning’ at a later date.

The ability to email out your edited audio means, as a reporter, that you can send your finished item to the producer back at base.  In effect, that’s all that Mobile Journalism is.  Don’t believe anyone who tries to tell you it’s hard.  It isn’t.  Welcome to the club.

4 thoughts on “Record, Edit & Send an Audio Interview from an iPhone

  1. Dear Nick,
    I was in touch with Rory Cellan-Jones and he suggested I contact you as a user of the LUCI LIVE app. I am working with RTE on improving the reliability of real time audio contribution via mobile networks. Have you got comments of what should a user do and not do on using the LUCI LIVE? As the use of the app is a data call, have you tried the HD Voice which is a voice call into the BBC with the appropriate codecs and what is your experience of the HD Voice quality and use as against the LUCI LIVE app?
    Best Regards,
    +353 87 289 0879

    1. HD Voice is great in theory but is fraught with problems – network to (same) network, drop down to standard quality if network connectivity is an issue (if you move around). Luci is the same as any voIP client: it’s all to do with connectivity. Reporters HAVE to get used to the idea that they check the connection first – before they even *think* about what they’re going to say. It’s a total mind-set change & some can’t get to grips with it. For me: I turn up at a story. I speedtest, look around (literally…) at likely network congestion (Old Trafford at half time? Not a good idea), speedtest again and again until I know I’m going to be safe. Then I start on the journalism. Yes it’s a compromise.. but what are the choices? Buy in a sat truck? Not likely to happen tbh these days.
      There is lots and lots of work going on at the BBC into ways to make connections more robust. I’m testing something out at the moment and should be in a position to blog about it in a week or so. Mum’s the word for now, however!


  2. Hello Nick,
    What mic would you recommend for my iphone for radio feature work (interviews outside/inside, actuality, voice track). A classic reporter’s mic plus some lapel mics? Any particular models? Can they plug in directly? Thanks for all your advice.
    Tim Friend, ex staff BBC, ITN, Sky News, now freelance.

    1. for interviews outside I’d suggest the internal mic of the iPhone if you can buy a 50mm windshield to slide on the end of it. Maplins sells them. the internal mic really shows its shortcomings when it’s inside, however. It’s a very flat response (aka DULL!). I’d look at two pics: the Shure MV88 or the iRig Mic HD. Of the two the Shure is better in wind when it has the deadbeat windshield on it.. but with a couple of 50mm windshields on it, the iRig is good too. Links, by you, on the internal iPhone mic are useless unless you do them outside with some street atmos. Just using the internal mic indoors for your own links will sound awful. Might be worth investing in something like a Rode NT1 and a vocal booth and an iRig Pro?

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