Mobile Recording in General

When you are trying to learn a new song or come up with a riff I guess the best place to be is the most comfortable one like your chair at home in front of your best gear…

Recently I have picked up this research of simply improvising… well everywhere else but home!

I am very used to improvising movement while getting inspired by my current ambient and I noticed that my playing changes a lot as well if I do it outside.

Improvising is just fun as itself but I get motivated 10 times more if I can record it and share later on…

It would look something like this…

My setup from that day looked like this on the other hand.


Bass + Focusrite Scarlett Solo + USB-C cable + Headphones

So I wanted to share the minimum gear to this and what I am working with at the moment… Hoping that people can share their feedback for better/easier ways or simply get inspired to give it a try!

Minimum gear:

  • Your bass (duh)
  • Headphone amplifier ( Mine is Vox Amplug Bass)
  • Your phone with audio/mic jack
  • Audio Microphone splitter and adapter for two headphones. Something like these here

Description. You would:
1-Connect the headphone amp to your bass
2-Plug the 2xaudio splitter to the output of the amp. One goes to your phone other goes to headphones.
3-Use the audio/mic splitter to connect to the phone.

It is the lightest setup that I can think of. Also has benefits of the local rythmbox and aux input of the Vox Amplug unit. I don’t like the so many splitter cables part though…

Better gear :

  • Your bass (I never leave home without mine)
  • Your phone
  • USB Digital Audio Interface with correct connection cable to your phone, headphone output (preferably with direct monitor) and at least one input jack for your bass
    < For many current DAI and Phones connection is a USB-C to USB-C cable
    < Or simply you can have the same cable of your DAI that you connect to PC and add something like this to the end: EXAMPLE:ANDROID with MICRO USB OTG ADAPTER It goes on the phone side.
    < This only works if your phone/tablet can give enough power to the DAI if not you might need an adapter like this to supply

Description:

  1. Connect the DAI to the phone
  2. Connect the bass to the DAI
  3. Connect headphones to the DAI

You will notice that the sound is recorded only on one channel (left or right) if you don’t have proper software.

My best Gear so far

  • My Bass (Seriously you should invest into a gig bag by now)
  • DAI with 2 inputs
    • Scarlet Solo could also do this but I updated to MOTU M2 because of separate headphone volume knob) otherwise you need to record first to make a sound check and then don’t touch the volume/gain knob again. Scarlet 2i2 is also fine or Presonus Audiobox if you have that. Anything bigger would bring in power consumption issues.
  • An XLR Microphone (I prefer Mics that don’t need phantom power so they do not consume my phone dead)
  • Zoom B1 Four before the DAI for some tone shaping looping or rythm box.

Description:

Same as the previous setup but we are adding the Mic to include the ambient sound to the recording and Zoom B1 Four (or your other favorite pedals).

My dream setup would be:

  • My bass (maybe even two… surprise me)
  • DAI
  • Microphone
  • A good camera with audio in (I would love the Go Pro)
  • Phone for recording the sound separately in a good app like (USB Audio Recorder Pro or whatever I-Phone boyz are using these days.)
  • Desired Pedals
  • Wireless rig so that I can move around while playing.
  • Friends to do this together (cries in the upcoming lockdown limitations to Italy)

Description
In this setup the video quality would be off the roof and you could simply wear the camera if it was a go-pro like thing. If you are fine with audio in quality from headphone jack to the camera you already have your video there… Otherwise you would have to edit the video to add the recording later.

What I love about doing this with my phone instead of a PC is that the video quality is usually much superior and there are a ton of free apps to edit videos. My limitation with android phone however is the missing of good apps like garage band.

I could have the go-pro or any other action camera simply with the Vox Amplug and play walking around like that… Same wouldn’t be impossible with all the gear in my backpack lol…

I would love to hear if anyone else managed to record with android devices. The USB Audio Recorder Pro works great for only sound but when I record video it records microphone on one side and bass on the other so I have to convert the video to mono by hand later.

Sorry for the long post, hope you enjoyed it, learned something new and inspired by it!

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Great post. Thanks for putting all this together.

Have you considered one these… Darkglass Element?
With all of it’s connections and capabilities, it seems perfect for what your doing.

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I still kind of want one of those but it doesn’t make sense for my setup.

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Well I did not know that it can act as a usb audio interface so I guess that would be really cool yeah. Not for the sound shaping but for how compact it is…

I wish one day they can make the bass signal work on bluetooth, then I would happily pay for that thing…

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@eric.kiser Now I am convinced that it is indeed a good idea…

14:56

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The bluetooth connection is an extra. It has an AUX in also.

Yep. They’re are pretty cool company.

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Basically the best at what they do.

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@Fahri What did you have to do to get your Android Phone to recognize the Motu M2 as the audio interface for the video?

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Hey! Well that’s the fun part, I did not do anything. ASIO is a native driver in Android.

You just need an usb-c to usb-c cable if your phone has that kind of jack… Or an “OTG adapter” if you want to use the original cable of your DAI

This naturally worked for me with Scarlet Solo and Zoom U-44 and I doubt any recent usb DAI wouldn’t be plug and play like this

Neither of these devices declare that they support Linux or android but they do work…

It takes a few seconds for it to switch when you first plug in…

For recording audio I suggest Audio Evolution Mobile it has most DAW features but not free. For casual recording any voice recorder app is good enough

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Still trying to figure it all out. My Motu M2 hasn’t even been delivered yet.

I assumed you meant the DAI was detected and the input from the DAI would automatically become the audio for the video recording.

If I understand what your saying, the video and audio are two separate files which you are combining for upload and sharing.

Is this correct?

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Excellent choice!

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I didn’t get that you ordered the Motu M2 that’s fantastic!

Yes exactly!

No when I record video the audio is integrated same as recording any video with your phone. The other app I suggested is for recording audio only if you want more control on the signal.

But Motu M2 is just fantastic with the gain controls and separate volume knob for headphones with amplifier so you don’t really need to modify elsewhere…

So just the video works great!

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@eric.kiser I made this video for you

Here my passive bass is directly connected to the interface on channel 1 and dai is connected to my phone.

You will notice that the sound is only on the left this way…

I have been using a mixer in between and going into DAI in both channels in my home videos so I don’t have this problem.

When mobile what I do is extract the audio from video, convert it to mono and rejoin the video and audio…

Apps I use for that are:

Video to Mp3 converter (has the option to convert directly to mono)
You Cut Video editor to combine and edit on mobile…

I couldn’t find a setting to record mono or convert the video to mono yet…

In my video I tried to demonstrate you the stereo monitoring because when you mono monitor it sounds like you are also recording mono but then a surprise is expecting you when the video is done :slight_smile:

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Thanks @howard. They’ve been back ordered and it’s going on 2 months I’ve been waiting for it. Reports have been so good it, I’m chomping at the bit to get it and start the process of being able to post some videos.

@Fahri Thank you very much for putting all this together. I have been hoping I would be able to get some of this figured out while I’m waiting on the DAI to get here.

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Indeed, thanks @Fahri . I’ve been following this thread closely because it seems like a straightforward way to record video with good sound that doesn’t involve having to synch two recordings.

I have a Behringer UMC204HD which is similar to the Motu M2 except not nearly as sleek looking, and instead of color LCD level meters it has boring clipping LED’s. I’ll be using a Google Pixel 5 Android phone (USB-C interface).

If I’m understanding this correctly, the DAI hooks to the phone via the USB connector that normally goes to a computer. The UMC204HD has a USB type B connector so I’ve ordered a type B to USB-C adapter cable.

This means that the DAI is getting its power from the phone. Does this cause any battery issues? I don’t want to fry my phone. :worried:

One nice feature of the UMC204HD is that it has a mono/stereo switch, so I won’t have that issue to deal with.

I want to record bass over backing tracks. Will I be able to play the backing track on the phone like I do on the computer?

Lastly, how do I start the video recording, start the backing track, and get back in front of the camera in time to start playing on cue and not trip over a cable and fall on my face (which might also make an interesting video)?

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Hey there @spidey9, that thing looks like a space ship!

This is from your DAI’s manual. Maximum 2.5W means 500mA on 5V (standard USB voltage) which is quite standard. Probably it will drain that much current only while turn on progress.

I read that pixel 5 has 4000mAh battery which is 8 times of that max consumption. I suggest charging your phone to full before starting record and check how much battery remains frequently…

Sadly you still might … If you read the manual the button only changes the monitoring mode same as I demonstrated in Motu M2 video

This a little more complicated and I think the cleanest way is to use a second device like a tablet, a second phone or pc and connect it to the second channel. Select if you can use a mono cable it is better because otherwise your stereo cable will be detected as balanaced I can give more detail on that later if you need…

All this is if you want the backing track to be registered.

If you don’t need it to be registered what I do is start the music, then start the camera app and start recording which will stop playback. Then I use the drag down menu to go to the beginning of the song and press play. Go back to camera app by moving the drag down menu back up.

This works with Spotify for example… Also with music player app of your phone probably if you have an mp3 of the track on your phone but a absolutely won’t work with YouTube…

This way the backing track won’t be registered however but you can add it later…

However just for recording audio you can use the Audio Mobile Studio app i suggested for Eric and simply add the mp3 file as a track…

This is an interesting topic however I will study more and let you know!

Edit: I have already found a better way! I’ll try to make a video to explain it better!

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Thanks so much for the detailed reply - extremely helpful.

You’re probably right. I was thinking that it hadn’t been an issue when I was doing audio recordings, but now I seem to recall fixing it in Audacity.

Well, I have several phones, tablets and PC’s lying around, and I have a couple of TRS to TS adapter plugs (TRS in, TS out) so that sounds doable.

I feel a “duh” moment coming, but what exactly do you mean by “registered”? I want to record the bass, backing track and video all in one shot.

The backing tracks will be local MP3 files with the bass removed, so that shouldn’t be an issue (hopefully).

Thanks again!

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Well the thing is (“was”) when you start the recording while playing something the music stops but you can restart it again using the drag down menu and it will play without stopping the recording however it won’t be registered this way…

I think I have found the ultimate solution thanks to your inquiries!

This is a rushed shitty video for you but you inspired me to create an ultimate mobile recording guide video with different levels of complexity…

Coming soon maybe with a new YouTube channel!

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Very nice video.

That would be cool.

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I am thinking channel names any ideas?

MobileRecordingTips
ShareYourMusicEasy
MusicSharingTips

@spidey9 This is a better explanation for the differences/similiraties between balanced/unbalanced and mono/stereo connections…

These connections below can go safely into your Digital Audio Interface

This is however a stereo jack… (1/4" and 1/8" at the image)
image

It is electromechanically same as the balanced jack (TRS) but it is actually carrying :
Tip: Left+
Ring: Right+
Sleeve: Ground

So if you connect this directly to your DAI, it will identify this as a balanced mono connection and what you hear will be the signal difference between left and right which is a blurry mess.

To avoid this we need to convert the stereo jack to mono… What I have for this approach is a splitter similar to this

and I attach only left side… Assuming your backing track is already mono this works just fine! You can also get an adapter that is converting stereo to mono which would be short circuiting left and right pins… I don’t think that is the optimal thing to do…

BUT WE CAN DO BETTER!!!

If your home practice system (Bass guitar + some sort of amplifier/pedal/preamp) has an AUX input and headphone output we could connect the stereo output of your phone to the aux input of your device. And headphone output of the amp/pedal/preamp to the DAI using a splitter cable occupying both channels. This way we already have everything in stereo!

Connected like this the inputs on your DAI should be set as LINE mode since the signal level is LINE IN level…

Same setup with Zoom B1 Four gives the possibility to connect to a single channel free so that you can insert a second instrument or microphone

And finally I think the ultimate tool for mobile recording would be DARKGLASS ELEMENT

Which already has signal mixing and two track recording capabilities with backing track on bluetooth… But it certainly requires a lot of extra budget…

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