Gadgets for improving sound and video

November 12, 2010 at 3:02 pm

I was just tidying up some files on my external hard disk and found an article which was meant to be in a MoLeNET newsletter at the beginning of 2010. These were just short snippets about some gadgets I’d purchased around that time for use when recording audio or video and to improve on sound or picture quality in one way or another. So anyway I thought I’d quickly post the snippets here and add thoughts about an additional microphone that I’ve purchased since…

3gs micThe first is a cheap Microphone for improving the audio when recording video via the iPhone 3GS.

The problem with recording video with the iPhone is that the mic isn’t really facing the subject being filmed. There are lots of the rigid mini jack mics available but they suffer the same problem and this little flexible mic fixes that. I purchased from http://tinyurl.com/3gsmic (the page includes a video demo made by a reviewer). The mic can be swivelled to face the subject and improves the sound significantly. This improves the clarity for everyone but obviously helps with accessibility too.

Blue MikeyMy second gadget purchase at the beginning of the year was also a mic for my iPhone but for a very different purpose and also works with the iPod Touch and other iPod’s to provide CD Quality Stereo audio recording. It’s the Blue Mikey and there’s lots of info and sample recordings online at http://www.bluemic.com/mikey/original/  

I bought mine from play.com but I should also mention that there is a new model now available with additional features such as line input and USB pass-through. Many MoLeNET projects have purchased high end audio recorders such as the Edirol devices http://tinyurl.com/fieldrec for recording podcasts etc but I think this mic, together with an iTouch/iPhone and either the free Blue Fire app or the paid for Fire Field Recorder app, could provide a very viable and effective alternative and of course there’s all the other applications and benefits the iTouch provides compared with a dedicated field recorder.

Mini Motion CamMy third gadget, unlike the previous two, may not appear to have obvious teaching and learning benefits. However I think it’s a classic example of subverting the original purpose of something to benefit classroom use. We often wish to film student activity in the classroom and to effectively capture all the different learner interaction that takes place. Using a static tripod doesn’t really fit this purpose and hand-holding a small digital camcorder can make your viewers feel sea sick! To the rescue is this inexpensive ‘steady cam’ unit from a company in Nottingham. http://tinyurl.com/minimotioncam It’s called the Hague Mini-Motion Cam (the link contains a YouTube demo) and is designed for the digital camcorders we all typically use, although there’s a bigger version for larger camcorders too. I can see real benefits when filming vocational activities or sports etc but I have to confess though it would look quite funny to see someone using one of these with a Flip Camera mounted on the top!

Samson GoFinally I more recently purchased a Samson Go mic for about £30 and have been really impressed with both the build quality and more importantly the sound quality for such an inexpensive mic. It’s great for recording narration for screencasts, interviews, learner feedback, group discussion etc and works via USB on both Windows Laptops and Apple Macbooks etc. However it should be noted that it doesn’t work via a normal 3.5mm mic input so only works via USB and therefore won’t work with various audio recorders etc.

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