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Published on October 12th, 2011 | by Greg

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Fostex AR-4i: Stereo Microphone And More For Your iPhone 4 (And 4S?)

One of the weak­est points on the iPhone 4 is the au­dio record­ing. The fit and fin­ish, the over­all de­sign aes­thet­ic, trumped mere prac­ti­cal con­cerns, mean­ing that there is no front-fac­ing mi­cro­phone for use with the we­b­cam. And the built-in mi­cro­phones are not well de­signed for record­ing, as they hiss and fuzz and aren’t very well iso­lat­ed or baf­fled and are sim­ply awk­ward to use. The apps avail­able are quite im­pres­sive, but any­one who was se­ri­ous about us­ing iOS de­vices to record au­dio need­ed to get an ad­di­tion­al mi­cro­phone, and then be sat­is­fied with monoau­ral au­dio.

The Fos­tex AR-4i ad­dress­es this lim­i­ta­tion. It fi­nal­ly gives you ac­cess to stereo in­puts, al­low­ing you to con­nect two mi­cro­phones and thus mul­ti­ple si­mul­ta­ne­ous sources. It’s got down­sides- it’s bulky and the built-in mics are on­ly so-so. The feel of the unit is al­so a bit cheap and pla­s­ticky. But if you can han­dle those as­pects, you’ll find a sol­id set of func­tions that can en­able a new world of mo­bile video and au­dio record­ing. Sure, you could get one of those nifty Zoom H2 or H4ns. But we used a cou­ple of lava­liere mics from Au­dio-Tech­ni­ca, and tried as well one from Blue Mics, and found im­pres­sive re­sults and were able to use the apps avail­able on the App Store as well as our mo­bile 3G con­nec­tion to eas­i­ly up­load and share on the road.

Oth­ers have point­ed out an­oth­er down­side- a sin­gle lev­el con­trol, mean­ing that you’ll need to do some ad­just­ments to at­tempt to match the in­put lev­els on your mi­cro­phone pair. We didn’t fit that to be too frus­trat­ing, as most set­tings have sim­i­lar vol­umes and we were us­ing sim­i­lar mi­cro­phones. Over­all, the hard­ware could use a few tweaks, per­haps adding some con­trols- we didn’t use the avail­able app much, but it does of­fer some ad­di­tion­al func­tions like lim­it­ing and ad­just­ing mono/stereo. At $133, it feels just a bit too ex­pen­sive- drop the price an­oth­er $20 and it’d be a def­i­nite rec­om­mend for any­one look­ing to do pod­casts and the like. Avail­able wide­ly now.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.



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