Published on October 12th, 2011 | by Greg0
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.