Have you ever needed to interview someone for a class or a project? I found that recording the interview saves so much time, and it gives the you the chance to go over everything that was said in detail when you’re writing your paper. As an intern at Penn Libraries and an MLIS candidate at Drexel University, a number of my classes have had me interview librarians from around the Philly area. The first time I had to conduct an interview I had an iPhone and no issues; I just started up Voice Memos (the built-in voice recorder app). However, by my second interview I had already switched camps and purchased an Android. I got the Google Nexus 5 and this meant I needed to download an app so that I could record the interview.
You might ask, why doesn’t my phone come with a voice recorder? Well, I bought my Nexus 5 straight from Google, which means that while my phone does have some “bloatware” (a term for pre-installed apps and software) it’s mostly just Google related apps like Google Chrome, Google Drive, and Google Now. It also means that it doesn’t have a lot of bloatware associated with other phones, such as a built-in voice/sound recorder.
I tried using the free version of Easy Voice Recorder, but couldn’t get it to work properly. The worst, and first error I had was when I tried to record a librarian interview, but I only got snippets of what he said. It’s possible that he was just talking very quietly, but I could hear him in the room and not in the recording. I tried it a couple more times after that to see if I could get it to work, but I found that it only works well when you speak very close, or directly into the microphone.
Next, I switched to Smart Voice Recorder. Aesthetically, it has a big red button to start and pause the recording. I love to push big red buttons, so it’s already great in my book, but this review should be objective, so let’s ignore the big red button for now. The app is simple to use and has a number of features.
Recording Quality and File Size
It can skip silent portions, which can be helpful if the recording is long and you don’t want to needlessly skip through the blank portions of the recording. It has a variety of sample rates to choose from. The quality of the recording is based on the sample rate, and when I recorded an hour-long interview at 44.1kHz, it sounded great and the file size ended up being about 105 MB. I recorded a test interview at 8 kHz and while it was audible, I had trouble with a phrase or two that coincided with a loud truck, something that I had no trouble with at 44.1 kHz. So you have to decide whether you need a high quality recording or the space.
With Smart Voice Recorder, you can choose where the recording is saved. So, if you have limited room on your phone’s internal memory, you can just save it to an SD card (provided your phone you have one and your phone accepts them). You can only choose where to save your recording in Easy Voice Recorder Pro. There is a pro version of Smart Voice Recorder as well, but all it does is remove the banner ads at the bottom of the screen. Now, other than that big red recording button, my favorite feature of this app is the fact that you can send your recordings through a number of different means. I’m a big user of Google Drive, and sending recordings to my Google Drive was incredibly easy. You can also email the recordings, provided the recording is not larger than your email’s maximum file size. Additionally, you can send the file through Bluetooth, Evernote, Dropbox, through other apps, or you can just use an SD card to transfer it to your computer.
The file format that it saves is .wav, which isn’t really a problem, except for the fact that .wav files do not compress the audio, making the file much bigger than an .mp3 of the same length and quality.
I did experience one problem. In one of my hour-long recordings at 44.1 kHz, I had a few distortions. The distortions were mild, lasting less than a second, but appeared throughout. This only occurred in one recording, and I haven’t seen it since, even when I made a recording that was about the same length and sample rate. Some user reviews have commented that it sometimes skips during playback, but I haven’t had this problem. Overall, I’d say the app lives up to its name. If you’re looking for an easy and cheap way to record interviews and other sounds with your Android device, then I would suggest trying Smart Voice Recorder.