Note: Scroll to the bottom for updates to this post. I really don’t recommend recording via iPad anymore.
When GarageBand for iOS was announced I nearly went in my pants. As you may or may not know, I do a few podcasts. My main computer, a nearly 5 year old MacBook, has seen better days. It has a cracked screen and when compared to today’s computers, it’s slow as heck.
When the iPad 2 was announced all I could think about was using the iPad and it’s fancy Smart Cover propping it up to record shows, and then zip them to a FTP, maybe even Dropbox, remote into my MacBook and share it with my friends. Once I got my hands on GarageBand for my iPad, those thoughts quickly soured.
I recorded an episode of Techsmoke with my wife using GarageBand to mixed results. First, the iPad locked after 10 minutes while we were recording. Ok, my fault; I suppose I’ll just have to set that to “never” when we record. As a musical novice, the app is not intuitive if you want to record longform podcasts. (After some crashing snafus several years ago, I turned to Audio Hijack Pro on my Mac and never looked back) While recording it doesn’t show a timestamp to let you know how far you are. It shows its measurements in bars. I don’t know jack shit about bars, I’ll be honest. The first recording shut off after we hit 320 bars, the GarageBand limit. After some questions with actual musicians, I found that you could extend the length of a recording while using the tempo settings.
Even with muffing with some settings, the app is flaky for recording anything more than a few minutes. And even then, the exporting features are slim. I can either email the recording or save it to the iTunes app locally on the iPad. At that point, I can sync it with my Mac and move it into the full-fledged iTunes app.
Oof. Save us, iOS 5. You’re our only hope.
I asked the great Jim Dalrymple and his beard if he had ever come across an app on the iPad that would allow for long form recordings. I guessed there just wasn’t a market for such things, as the replies included adjusting the tempo settings as well as just getting a handheld audio recorder for mobile use.
After coming up empty at first, I again searched the App Store for anything that recorded audio. I eventually found the Audio Memos app. The reviews showed that folks had recorded past the 60 minute mark and it also included some solid multitasking as well as clipping, etc. Not only that, it featured something that I dared not even dream finding - wireless exporting to Dropbox.
Easiest in-app purchase I ever made.
My ideal podcasting situation is one that uses my MacBook the least. I envisioned myself recording the show on an iPad 2 connected to my mixer. Since I do no post production, I’d save it to Dropbox wirelessly, grab the public URL, and post it to iTunes. If I wanted the intro and outro, I’d throw those files onto my iPhone and use that as an input. Boom. If I needed to use the laptop at all, I’d be able to remote in via Screens for some quick edits.
With this app, I can record a podcast in one clip, send to Dropbox, then to Feedburner, and then to iTunes without ever using my Mac. The proof will be in the pudding, however, so keep an ear out for the next episode of Techsmoke. If my wife ever agrees to another one, that is. (She did, and every podcast I record is now done on an iPad 2.)
For those curious, I use a mixer which connects to a Behringer USB Audio Interface which then plugs into the Camera Connection Kit. We also use these Behringer Dynamc XLR mics when recording. In terms of headphones, I blew my wad and have zero regrets. We do use a headphone splitter, though, as there is only one output on the board.
Update 1: I did need to make one setting change inside of the Audio Memos app as there was a noticeable clicking sound when recording. Unchecking the Auto Normalize setting knocked that off right quick. The Audio Memos app saves the final product as a .wav file at first, but when you’re done making your edits, it can be converted as a much smaller AAC file(.m4a). It’s also worth mentioning that conversion process can take about 30 minutes for a 60 minutes file on an iPad 2.
Update 2: I posted a lengthy article on just how I podcast using Dropbox and Tumblr as well.
Update 3: I’ve since moved off of Tumblr/Dropbox and into Libsyn.
Update 4: I made a special page just for the tools I use to record.