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iphone in built mic, what is it and why does it sound truer to my voice than .. Ribbon Microphones
Old 18th July 2014
  #1
Gear Nut
 

iphone in built mic, what is it and why does it sound truer to my voice than ..

Hey guys, here's an interesting question I've pondered for a while. I've got a recording set up I like (rme gear etc) a couple of nice mics and general workhorses. Reasonably happy with some of the sounds I'm getting. Something I've noticed though is that I quite like the sound of my voice recorded on an iphone 4 or mac book pro just using the inbuilt mics. Yes, its obviously more low fi and there is that tunnel tinny quality but generally in terms of the frequncies it seems to be a truer representation of my voice. I looked up the frequency response and it's pretty narly! iPhone 4 Audio and Frequency Response Limitations

I'm wondering what kind of mic is the tiny inbuilt mic in an iphone. Is it just a tiny diaphram condenser? There seems to be no info on the net about what kind of mic this actually is. What would be a similar sounding mic but more cleaner sounding in the realm of pro recording mics? I've tested many mics and used a whole bunch of different mics in studio recordings. I do like the old vintage neumans and also a fan of plain on dynamics like sm57! Everthing in between seems to miss the mark for me expect for vintage clones like Flea and Wagner.

Anyone got any ideas as to why I might like the iphone sound on my voice and what mic to go for then?

Thanks guys
Old 20th July 2014
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

I noticed the same thing with a cheap practice mic I made for a friend for their ipad using a small condenser mic capsule. Had a very natural sound despite some obvious flaws. I wonder if it's the pickup pattern rather than the frequency response that makes it sound natural? Maybe try some pro omni mics? Your room will be more noticeable though, obviously.
Old 20th July 2014
  #4
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rogernotroger's Avatar
 

I made a whole spoken word album with the mac book pro mic, and I liked it.

Does anyone make a larger version of these mics?
Old 20th July 2014
  #5
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heyokay's Avatar
I've often thought this! I'm not sure whether they're really natural/neutral sounding mics or if they're doing something crazy that suits my voice. But either way both the iPhone/iPad and Macbook mics are criminally good for what they are. Sometimes the compressors in dictaphones can be really sweet sounding too!

I'm guessing in the Macbook they're somewhat omni, but thats really just a guess. Obviously there's not a lot of bass being captured, but the mids are really pleasant sounding, and overall they sound quite open and crisp. Finding a higher fidelity mic similar to them would be interesting!
Old 20th July 2014
  #6
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Arichlsss's Avatar
I think your digging on the compressor in the iPhone as well. I record song ideas all the time and often I'm chasing down the emotion of the iPhone recording for the final production
Old 22nd July 2014
  #7
Gear Nut
 

Guys yes! Thanks! This is an interesting conversation. Hadn't thought of the omni factor that might make sense. I know Goytea used inbuilt MacBook mics for some of the bvs on his hit album. Any tips on this? On my
Soundcloud I've got 2 latest tracks using my condenser and dynamic mic as a combo. I like the guitar sounds but my voice.. I can never nail it!! Sounds like its piercing my brain at some mid frequency somwhere. I wonder if I bought a high end condenser and put it in omni if that would do the truck. I've played around with eq and compression but still can't get the vibe I want. If you check out the latest 2 tracks on my sound cloud compared to some of the live ones you can hear how different my
Voice sounds. Any tips would be warmly welcome
https://soundcloud.com/rachael-byrnes
Old 22nd July 2014
  #8
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Seditionary's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeepRedBells View Post
Hey guys, here's an interesting question I've pondered for a while. I've got a recording set up I like (rme gear etc) a couple of nice mics and general workhorses. Reasonably happy with some of the sounds I'm getting. Something I've noticed though is that I quite like the sound of my voice recorded on an iphone 4 or mac book pro just using the inbuilt mics. Yes, its obviously more low fi and there is that tunnel tinny quality but generally in terms of the frequncies it seems to be a truer representation of my voice. I looked up the frequency response and it's pretty narly! iPhone 4 Audio and Frequency Response Limitations

I'm wondering what kind of mic is the tiny inbuilt mic in an iphone. Is it just a tiny diaphram condenser? There seems to be no info on the net about what kind of mic this actually is. What would be a similar sounding mic but more cleaner sounding in the realm of pro recording mics? I've tested many mics and used a whole bunch of different mics in studio recordings. I do like the old vintage neumans and also a fan of plain on dynamics like sm57! Everthing in between seems to miss the mark for me expect for vintage clones like Flea and Wagner.

Anyone got any ideas as to why I might like the iphone sound on my voice and what mic to go for then?

Thanks guys

Maybe sounds more natural as surprisingly, that frequency graph looks very flat... just no low end.
Old 22nd July 2014
  #9
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Seditionary's Avatar
 

PS -- you should check out ribbon microphones as they generally have a flatter frequency response.
Old 22nd July 2014
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

Yes the later models iPhone frequency response is actually very flat where it matters for voice, the gnarly bits are outside the vocal frequency range. And as someone else suggested, the iPhone mic probably has a fair bit of compression on it. It's a miniature electret condenser.

Listening to the latest track on your Soundcloud, I wonder if you need some more vocal compression or volume automation to tame the peaks when you let rip. You have some strong frequencies pop out in the sensitive hearing area(eg 1.6 and 2.2k on some loud notes) and these might be what you are hearing. I guess you could try some multiband compression, but that's not something I'm experienced in using. You could maybe also try automating some eq in the troublesome sections if you are patient enough.

It would be an interesting experiment to record a vocal take with the iPhone near the pro condenser and load the two takes into a DAW and compare them.
Old 22nd July 2014
  #11
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rogernotroger's Avatar
 

Copy and paste the vocal track.

On the copy, boost the troublesome freqs, pull down the rest. Mute the track, but send the output to a sidechain compressor on the main vocal. Experiment with the compressor. It should now be controlling those peaks a bit.

Hope this helps.
Old 23rd July 2014
  #12
Gear Nut
 

Hey thanks guys some good ideas here. I'll record a sample of my voice on the iphone and with a condenser and dynamic as close as possible and upload the samples here. you can see what I mean
Old 24th July 2014
  #13
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Well, guys, welcome to electret omni world! True, they often sound the most natural way, especially the good ones, those used in measurement mics and lavaliers. With a good (read: clean) preamp these little mics can do wonders on any sound source.

Recently i made a lavalier with a small capsule borrowed from the old phone for use with my friend's cello, and man, that one is sounds plain awesome, but i made my job on choosing capsule with the most linear FR.

Sanken COS-11 lavalier is just excellent on many acoustic instruments, just need to find a right placement.
Old 24th July 2014
  #14
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zvukofor's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seditionary View Post
PS -- you should check out ribbon microphones as they generally have a flatter frequency response.
Not true, ribbons have the most natural roll-offs at the extremes of the spectrum, so they sound very natural. The most linear ones are still small electret omnis, that's why they used in sound measurement equipment. And they are the main detail in the recipe of very real sound of Earthworks microphones.
Old 25th July 2014
  #15
Great thread. I took my iPad and a few pieces of hand percussion to Mathiessen state park to record samples in the dells area. The acoustics are pretty impressive. My Apogee One was having battery issues so I used the built in iPad mic. Here are the dry samples- https://soundcloud.com/ttvw1/parking
Old 25th July 2014
  #16
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spacegodzilla's Avatar
 

Last winter I was trying to record a song that I had taken videos of on my iPhone. We ended up just using the audio of the video in the song.

I know it doesn't sound like high quality and all but I wonder sometimes if I just get so used to hearing it from the phone that no matter how I record it any other way it just won't sound right to me. Ya know? Like the video on the phone was the song as I knew it and everything else was wrong. I dunno.
Old 26th July 2014
  #17
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I made a whole spoken word album with the mac book pro mic
Old 18th August 2014
  #18
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Seditionary's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zvukofor View Post
Not true, ribbons have the most natural roll-offs at the extremes of the spectrum, so they sound very natural. The most linear ones are still small electret omnis, that's why they used in sound measurement equipment. And they are the main detail in the recipe of very real sound of Earthworks microphones.
Here is a Ribbon microphone graph of a Shure Model 300 Ribbon --



Here is an Omni microphone graph of a Shure Model 181 Omni --



Used Shure in order to compare apples to apples. Which looks more flat to you? The ribbon microphone looks to have a more flat frequency response to me... Anyhow, it depends on the microphone -- electret omnis are flatter than many other microphones, but some have a boost about 5khz, where ribbon microphones often roll off... but again, depends on the brand and model of microphone.
Old 18th August 2014
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zvukofor View Post
Not true
Just to humor you some more... Here is a very small Shure lavelier frequency response from the Shure SM11 --



Here is a bigger omni, the Shure PG 185 --



Again... when the Shure ribbon microphone is set in M mode... It is much flatter than any of the omni mics... I've found other graphs that the built in Apple mics have a bit of a boost after 5khz... which many omnis have, but there are ribbons that boost past 5khz too. Was just stating that a ribbon microphone is often the most flat frequency response and often most natural sounding and true to a real voice Something about the mechanism of a ribbon & magnets, just makes a voice sound natural... even though I do also like large diaphragm condensers on vocals (which are typically anything from flat). But I do really love ribbons on vocals and they are very flat & they even make them with boosts in the high mids if that's what you're after...

Cheers
Old 18th August 2014
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zvukofor View Post
ribbons have the most natural roll-offs at the extremes of the spectrum.
Also, again. It depends on the model... If you are missing a high boost and want the naturalness and flatness of a ribbon microphone... I guess this goes into the high end, but check out the frequency response on an RCA 77-DX Ribbon Microphone --



Some very, very good records were made with those



Old 18th August 2014
  #21
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Sorry for the rapid fire... but if you want a great ribbon sound and can't spring for the high price of an RCA 77-DX -- Beyer is making the m160 ribbon microphone still, which has a boost starting in the high mids --





It can be very good on vocals.

More high end too, but the Royer 121 sounds really great on some voices -- boosts a bit in the highs, but is very flat and does roll off on the top.
Old 18th August 2014
  #22
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zvukofor's Avatar
Well, i did not said ALL omnis have flatter FR than ALL ribbons. But, omni electrets GENERALLY have flatter FR, that is why they used in measurement equipment. Of course we can find opposite examples, but those ones are not used for measurements/test and not showing us overall image.

And, BTW, one wide 5dB boost at one freq seems less problem than a lot of peaks and dips in entire range. Yet i agree that most ribbons sounds very natural, not same situation with omni electret condensers, but of you find the right one...
Old 21st August 2017
  #23
Gear Maniac
 

Bump.

This was an interesting thread. Any more insight into what would be pro quality version of the same technology of an iPhone mic? Is the technology electret omni?
Old 21st August 2017
  #24
Gear Head
I would argue that a lot of the iPhone sound is the performance. I too love my iPhone demos. I think when we record iPhone demos we can perform better because we're not pointing ourselves at a microphone or overthinking our performance and our position. Furthermore, I'm often in the living room, kitchen, or bathroom when I record demos, and I think those bigger and more natural environments help with my vocal performance and tone.

That said, the compressor smashes things in a really nice way.
Old 26th August 2017
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cserrano View Post
Bump.

This was an interesting thread. Any more insight into what would be pro quality version of the same technology of an iPhone mic? Is the technology electret omni?
DPA? ))

No, seriously, there're a lot of mics that have very small condencer capsules.
dbx and behringer measurement mics, Earthworks (they're specialising on this type of mics), DPA, Avenson, naiant, 12gauge, Line Audio.... and a lot of lavalier mics (but they sound less linear).
Old 26th August 2017
  #26
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spambot_2's Avatar
I second the DPI and earthworks idea, or line audio on the cheap side.
Yes the mics in iphones, as the mics in pretty much every phone now I suppose, are omni electret condenser capsules made a bit more directional by their housing.
Even the 70cent lav mics you can get on ebay/aliexpress are pretty much the same thing and they sound baffling (good baffling, not bad baffling) considering their price.
Old 28th August 2017
  #27
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Ultragod's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeepRedBells View Post
Anyone got any ideas as to why I might like the iphone sound on my voice and what mic to go for then?
Stop swallowing your mics. Back up & point them upward, more similar to how a PERSON would B in relation 2 the object being recorded. This compresses it, rolls off the nasties, & sounds infinitely more NATURAL than stuffing it in the face & then trying 2 'process out' all the GARBAGE U MISTAKENLY recorded by putting things in the wrong spot. It's all a $CAM 2 $ell more gear. The PHYSICAL POSITIONING has more 2 do with the sound than $20,000 in preamp$ & stuff. U can run N E generic quality (neutral) condenser through a 'krap' guitar tube preamp with these tips & get 'neumann' type sounds with it.
Old 28th August 2017
  #28
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I reckon maybe the biggest part of the sound is the compressor/limiter. I wonder what the hell is going on there? Anyone know how details about that could be found out?
Old 29th August 2017
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nd33 View Post
I reckon maybe the biggest part of the sound is the compressor/limiter. I wonder what the hell is going on there? Anyone know how details about that could be found out?
'Mic technique' reminds me of 'guitar tracking' B.S. Instead of simply getting the distortion U want & then running it through some EQ & compression & ambience or whatever 2 emulate whatever sound U like, they peddle cabinets, mics, 'room' reverbs & 'impulse responses'. It's such a JOKE!! Like how '$tudio$' have a pile of mics, when all they need is ONE type of CLEAR mic, which U can then EFFECT 2 whatever texture U want! If U start with dirt, it's really hard 2 get variety, because the information has 2 B guessed at... like a low resolution video image. N E wayz, yes of course if U just back up & point the thing upward & from below the singer U don't usually even need compression or other things 2 make it sound realistic. But hey, Y do something as simple as moving away from the mic when U can run it through thousands of dollars of gear trying 2 fix the fukup U created by putting the mic in the wrong spot LOL
Old 30th August 2017
  #30
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zvukofor's Avatar
Limiter? Well, when recording sound with a video in a cam app - yes, but it sounds pretty ugly. When recording in a sound app - no limiter is used.
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