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iPod as recording device

My mom is a children's choir conductor and I'm posting on behalf of her (I'm a little more computer savvy). She is wondering how well an iPod Touch functions to record music. Some specific questions I have:
 
(1) Does it have a record function?
(2) Does it have a built in microphone? Is it any good?
(3) Can it accept an external microphone?
(4) Can you set a fixed level? Alternatively, does it have an ALC that doesn't mess with the dynamics in an unnatural way?
(5) Can a non-computer savvy person easily learn to use iTunes to download and organize their recordings?
 
Also the iPad would be a possibility, but the iPhone might do everything I need for less money.
 
Mike
Replies (7): Threaded | Chronological
on July 29, 2013 4:17pm
The "Zoom" recorder might be much better, at a relatively modest cost.   Pretty good sound qualtity built in pretty good microphone, and accepts an external mic.   Using iPod would be questionable in terms of sound quality, even if possible. 
on July 30, 2013 3:44am
You might enjoy a trip to an Apple store. I bet 3 or 4 of those blue-shirted folks would show you all the features of several devices. I do know that the built-in microphone on my Mac laptop is quite good.
 
Tom
on July 30, 2013 7:17am
Mike, William's suggestion of the Zoom recorder is a good one. My studio now owns six Zoom H4n recorders, and I love them. However, if you're looking for the availability of more funtions, the iPad or iPod should work just fine. Keep in mind that the device actually doing the recording is merely a scribe, writing down the information sent to it. It is the microphone that captures the sound and the preamp or other device that converts it from an analog to a digital signal that makes the difference in quality. There have been dozens of new recording accessories released for the iOS system in the past few years because it is becoming a very popular platform.
 
Yes, an iPod Touch with a decent microphone, designed for use with it, is a great solution for this application. You can visit a retail audio site like sweetwater.com to visit your options. I'm particularly fond of Sweetwater because their sales technicians are SO knowledgable. They can set you up with something nice.
 
I should also point out that I found myself in a sort of impromptu concert situation on a recent tour with my choir and wanted to record it. So I just stuck my iPhone on a table and had it record with the internal mic - and the sound was actually quite good. No extra equipment at all!
on July 30, 2013 7:36am
I use my iPhone to record my choirs all the time. The iPod touch should already have the Voice Memos app on it. There is a mic on it and it records surprisingly well. The real consideration is where to place it- it will pick up whatever singers are closest. I find the best success in putting it smack in the middle of the kids singing in a circle.
Emily McDuffee
on July 30, 2013 8:35am
Mike and Mom,
 
I have just purchased a 5th generation Ipod touch and plan to start using it for this purpose (among others).  I know it has an internal mic.
I will soon  be exploring the quality and features.
As with any technology, the newer the device, the more features and quality.
I know that with the ipod touch you can make mp3s as well as videos.
A key question would be:  how do you want to use these recordings?
 
Michael Kesar
on July 30, 2013 10:45am
My university choir was on tour once, and I decided to place my iPhone in the balcony of the church we were performing in to record the concert (on Airplane Mode, of course). The multiple thousand dollar professional setup we normally use was also employed there. It turns out that part of the recording done on the professional equipment was compromised when the AC came on unexpectedly and caused a hiss on the mics. We listened to the recording from my iPhone, and found it to be surprisingly similar to the quality of the professional recording equipment. The recording ended up on a disc we have for records, among other recordings with the professional equipment, and I can't tell the difference. 
 
Furthermore, it was quite a simple process for me to load the file onto my iTunes app on my MacBook and import and cut it in Audacity (a well-known, free audio editor), and then export it as whatever type of file I wanted (AAC, MP3, WAV). iPhone seems like a viable recording device, and I estimate that it is due to the microphone which is designed to capture the subtleties of the human voice, to make phone conversations discernible. 
 
Do consider the iPhone or iPod touch (some research to determine if the mics are different might be necessary. The device does not have an alterable level, but will not alter the dynamics. It will record the actual sound at the actual levels, but it will clip in extremes, as there is no condenser.
 
Carter L. Collins
Applauded by an audience of 1
on July 31, 2013 8:08am
Thanks, everyone. It sounds like the iPod Touch could work. These recordings are meant for memories of special events, or learning through feedback. Quality is nice, but just as important for my mom is ease of use. I know she will like using iTunes to download and organize recordings.
 
I'm not clear on whether the iPod touch has an automatic gain control, manual gain control, or fixed gain. It sounds like Carter is saying that it has fixed gain and can go into clipping if the signal is too loud, which is a bad thing. And there's no way to turn down the gain? An automatic gain control would be best, as long as it operates gently and doesn't disturb the perception of dynamics too much.
 
Mike
 
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