Friday, February 17, 2012

Where Are the Android Recording Solutions?

So in playing around with the Yeti Pro I recently reviewed, I got curious about what else I might be able to do with this USB wunder-mic.
Since I own both an Android Tablet and a Galaxy Nexus, both of which support USB hosting, it was only natural that I try connecting them to the Yeti. I fully expected it wouldn't work, but I was a little surprised by what happened.

See that red light on the Yeti? It's on. The mic is on and functional. I'm able to control gain, volume, and monitor from headphones. It's AAAALLLLLIIIIIVVVVVEEEE!!!

Both the Nexus and the Galaxy Tab both powered the mic. I was shocked.

Unfortunately, neither phone nor tablet knew what to DO with a USB mic, and that's where I was stopped short of my dream mobile recording rig.

There's exactly ZERO software to support external mics on Android. None. Zilch. Nada.

Even though this is a feature users have been asking for since the first Android phones have hit the market, and users have jury-rigged ridiculous solutions to try and add mics to the Android ecosystem (usually through the 3.5mm headphone jack), and even noting that we have USB hosting capabilities on a number of Android devices now, there's still not a single app that can talk to audio gear.

For the voice actor, this is definitely the one solid advantage the iPad will maintain over any Android device. We've seen an explosion of software and hardware solutions aimed at turning Apple's tablet into a true recording studio companion. USB mics that can connect through the iPad camera connector, new mics announced that will connect directly to the dock connector, docks that convert the ipad into an audio interface, even new audio mixers that dock the iPad and use it as the brain of a multi-tracking recording chain.

It's time Android. It's time. If I can use my tablet as a live view monitor and control surface for my Canon 7D, It's long past time for me to be able to connect a USB mic to my tablet and record my VO.

The future is now...

33 comments:

  1. Design decisions at the core of Android make latency unacceptable for music. But hey, it's open, feel free to rewrite it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sorry, but what does the Android buffer latency issue have ANYTHING to do with recording and editing?
      It MIGHT be a concern for live audio, if you were PLAYING an instrument, but I think most apps that would be suitable for live performance would actually be things like sequencers, which even then, buffer latency issues aren't really much of a problem.
      If monitoring is the big concern, then only allow devices with on board sound, like my Zoom or the Blue I used above.

      When you dock an ios device into a mixer, or use it with a USB mic, you're not benefiting from any of it's latency advantage. When you edit, the only advantage you'll receive is playback will happen about 200ms faster after you hit the play button. That's it.

      The fact that android suffers real time audio issues has clouded the perception of the platform for EVERY OTHER audio related use that it can still accomplish, and that's disappointing.

      I'm tired of the condescending "well just go make your own app or buy an iPad" responses I get on the matter. A USB audio driver would greatly aid many people who use Android. Pair that with TapeMachine or RecForge, and you could have a killer recording rig for a variety of situations. There's a market for it. Someone just needs to do it.

      Delete
  2. Man, get real equipment, not toys and you're out of trouble. It's as simple as that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Strong words coming from someone who posts Anon. Why does this argument come up every time we talk about adding capabilities to things like PDA's, phones, and now tablets?

      What I PLAY with in terms of gear would make you cry son. My mic locker alone is probably worth more than your car...

      Can't you see that we're TRYING to bring real tools to the consumer space. Oh... Guess you're too shortsighted... In five years you'll be late to the party. It's cool though... Have fun...

      Delete
    2. It's more than just bringing real tools to the consumer space. Potentially, an Android phone can do a lot more than a typical dedicated professional recording device, given that there's unlimited potential with apps. You could do layering, effects, editing, uploading + sharing to the web, and who knows what else? Obviously the phone isn't ideal for any of these things, but the idea of being able to do all of them with a pocket sized device that I already have in my pocket is actually really awesome.

      Delete
    3. I fully agree with SomeAudioGuy! E.g., the Apogee One Audio interface http://www.apogeedigital.com/products/one.php features not that many I/O Ports and is a bit limited in terms of audioquality (24 bit D/A A/D i think). But for recording on tour in your hotelroom, or trying out weird stuff in the Garage or at a friend, you may not have your full featured audio-rig with you all the time. And that for, when we already have those portable power tools, why shouldn't we wish for them beeing as sophisticated as possible? One of the strongest combinations in my humble opinion is a MacBook Pro and/or iPad with compact external Audio Interface for on-the-go kinda situations. May it be as chords lookup, tuner, for recording, Guitar Pro-tabulature software, GarageBand, and so on!

      I can break it down to the point: What good is a full featured Studio gear, when you are most creative jamming with your friends in the garage? Or after brunch at home on sunday? Or where t.f. ever. :)

      Just my 5 cents, buy yourself some chewing gum for it if you can't follow my thoughts. :)

      Delete
  3. also see here: http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=24614

    There´s already usb-audio support on some custom roms (like for the nook).
    Hopefully it gets baked into the stable release of cyanogenmod 9.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh cool. I'll look into that. Might be able to carry it over to a Samsung ROM. Thanks!

      Delete
    2. Nice. I also have a Samsung (Sprint SGS2). Would love to get a ROM with this (though I can't wait to ditch Sprint's customized version of Android).

      Delete
  4. I'm a musician. I just ordered the xperia s from sony and it struck me that it would be cool if I could to some field recording with it (In this case latency is no issue of course) using a proper mic that needs no phantom power like http://www.rodemic.com/mics/nt4 through a usb audio card or some iphone like solution like two of these:http://www.apogeedigital.com/products/mic.php.

    I cannot find a solution though and I it's a shame! Sony need to get this straightened out being an audio guru and all. It's embarrasing really. Right now I feel like canceling the ordered Xperia S for an iphone but I don't want the tiny iphone screen.

    Check out my music at www.soundcloud.com/ayno-goze If SONY get their act together I will help them by letting them sponsor me :-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. With you all the way. Android developers need to bridge this gap for musicians. I love my Asus Prime, and use it for virtually every task I'd ever used my computer for, but while recording solutions abound for IOS, there is nothing even remotely comparable for Android.

    Don't want to switch to an Ipad. Toss us a bone here Google.

    ReplyDelete
  6. just read from a post dated July 1: Jelly Bean brings USB Audio support to Android devices

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here's to hoping! The main feature of that will be USB for audio docks, but it if it's full I/O that would make me squeal with happy dancing joy.
      Unfortunately, it's already known that the kernel for the Nexus 7 does NOT support proper USB Audio hosting, so it's unlikely it will support recording devices.

      Delete
  7. I came across this app that claims to be able to select the audio source. If you manage to record via a usb mic using this, let us know! :)

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.lidarsdk.app.AudioRecorder

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think this is the best blog I have been through all this day.

    click to read more

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I aim to please.
      Thanks for reading!

      Delete
    2. Nice work. Don't like the commenter suggesting 'real equipment' rather than toys. The time has come for solid mid-quality recording and editing functionality coming to android. I'll subscribe to this blog to see if you have more to say in the future

      Delete
  9. I too have money in my pocket to buy a USB solution on Android. Am I right that there had still been no progress since you wrote this in February? I'd love something I could use with the app Audio Evolution, it's looking really promising. Great site by the way!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As far as i can tell, there's been ZERO movement on this. I'm getting really impatient. As for tablets, i'll probably leave Android soon and move over to a Surface Pro to replace both tablet and my aged laptop.

      Delete
  10. Yes - please tell me I can use my Yeti with an Android tablet...thinking of going with a Samsung Galaxy or Google Nexus, but only if I can use it as a portable recording solution. Have a MacBook and iPhone already and would like to break free of the Apple shackles if possible...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish i could, but sadly Google hasnt made any progress on this as far as i can tell. Some report that the GS3 has some support for USB audio out, but no one seems able to test audio in on one.
      I'm really thinking my next slab will be a Windows 8 device.

      Delete
  11. Hi AudioGuy,

    I too have the Blue Yeti Microphone, and am VERY VERY interested in having an android app able to do what you suggested.

    The blue yeti's mic capabilities beats the hell out of whats possible with my Samsung Galaxy S3.

    It would be interesting to know what the audio sound like talking to someone over viber or skype on my S3 android smartphone .... that would be mind blowing ...

    ReplyDelete
  12. eXtream Software Development, the author of the best multitrack audio sequencer Audio Evolution Mobile for Android, has USB audio recording working: please see our post here:
    http://www.kvraudio.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=363102

    ReplyDelete
  13. I just saw an "Audacity" app in the Android store. Does it not work with Yeti?

    How do you get your Yeti into the iPad? Do you have a USB to micro-USB adapter? I'm always afraid of adapters because I'm afraid they'll degrade the quality. I don't want to buy one unless I'm sure it will work.

    I wish I had a tablet because the fan on my laptop comes over my Yeti and phantom mike. I'm just recording in a closet with foam on the walls. Is there an easier way to get rid of laptop fan noise than put the laptop outside the closet, press "record", and run back into the closet?

    ReplyDelete
  14. try usb audio recorder pro from the google play market. it says it can support recording from a multitude of devices, including the yeti vie the nexus 7. not sure about editing capabilities but the app does show some promise. try the free version and se where it takes you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Mike. You can also check out my demo of eXtream's solution here too:
      http://someaudioguy.blogspot.com/2012/11/usb-audio-recording-coming-to-android.html

      Delete
    2. I have a tablet Asus Infinity PAD, with audio in feature. Afer buying the 4 pin adaptor ( http://tinyurl.com/ct62hzr ) I can record audio or audio/video with any profesional microphone. I think that most tablets have audio in/out jack. So, why to buy a USB microphone instead a normal XLR/jack mic?

      Delete
  15. You seriously wouldn't record on any type of tablet would you? The audio quality is far below anything useable no matter what the device specs tell you. Video or note keeping is one thing but serious music recording - forget it.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Well yes actually. The idea would be to bypass the audio hardware built into the tablet and use USB solutions instead. Works surprisingly well on the iPad, and a few android solutions are starting to crop up now too.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Any device capable of recording digital audio data from a usb audio device will give you the sound quality of the audio device, not the android device. I think people get confused here! Why would a laptop/desktop (i.e. something designed as a word processor, internet surfing, spreadsheet creator, gaming machine) be any better?!

    Anyway, Jellybean, as I think has been mentioned, now supports usb audio. There are a number of apps out there that will take audio from a usb 1 or 2 compliant device (i.e. a fair percentage) and they're cheap enough to check if this is the case by downloading the app and trying it. Just go to google play and search 'usb audio recording' You may also need to convert from standard usb to mini usb going into your android device (converters on amazon ship from less than £/$1.

    Be interesting to know how you get on..

    HTH

    ReplyDelete
  18. USB Audio Recorder Pro from Extreme software Developement has done it. They use their own driver that works only with their software and can do 24 bit. 6 usd

    ReplyDelete
  19. Awesome blog site & mature conversation.

    ReplyDelete