Unless you’re a radio producer, the days of needing dedicated voice recorders are long behind us. Mobile phones and tablets have built-in microphones that are perfectly acceptable for private use in listening back on interviews, meetings, lectures, or random musings. And they even tend to do alright nowadays with music at concerts.
But to get good-quality audio, you still need to do some tweaking. And there are apps for that. I’ve searched high and low for the best advanced audio recording apps, all of which include powerful features that help you get the sound just right. If you only want to record quick voice memos, these will all be overkill, but for the professionals who need clear, crisp audio on a budget, they might be just the ticket.
Abhimanyu Ghoshal gave Easy Voice Recorder Pro a glowing review for us just a few weeks ago, and it’s easy to see why. It captures audio in high-quality 16-bit PCM format and allows you to save and export in a variety of common formats. It also supports Bluetooth microphones, software input gain, stereo recording (many phones actually have microphones on both the front and back), recording from anywhere, and loads more.
Easy Voice Recorder in action.
Easy Voice Recorder Pro can even record phone calls (if your phone’s hardware allows it). And it packs all these features into an easy-to-use interface. The free version, meanwhile, offers just the high-quality formats, background recording, and home-screen widget — none of the other fancy stuff.
Hi-Q MP3 Voice Recorder offers a similar feature set to EVR Pro, except it records in mp3 instead of PCM. You can select the bit rate, record from widgets, choose between front and back microphone, adjust input levels, hide the recording icon that displays in the menubar, and more. Unfortunately you have to go through a couple of menus to change the input gain, even though the levels are right there on the recording screen, which will no doubt be a deal breaker for some professionals.
Hi-Q MP3 also has a pretty crappy recording interface.
There’s also a trial version that limits recording time to 10 minutes and omits the widget.
My app of choice is RecForge Pro, a versatile and powerful audio recorder that includes both manual and automatic gain control, cloud integration, editing, multiple recording formats (mp3, ogg, and WAV) at adjustable quality levels, widgets, notification disabling, playback speed adjustments, multiple languages, and more. I use it for interviews, recording keynotes/panels at events, and, occasionally, recording music.
RecForge is a beast of an audio recorder.
Not only is RecForge Pro full featured, but it reliably and consistently produces great recordings — especially when I plug in an external microphone. And there’s a major update in the early beta stages that adds even more great features, like scheduling, additional file formats, pitch adjustment, and separate WAVeforms for monitoring stereo recordings.
Make sure you try the free version first, though, just in case the so-so interface bothers you or it has issues with your device.
It sure ain’t cheap, but Voice PRO packs a lot of features. Arguably the most “complete” audio recording and editing app on Android, it can record in just about any modern audio format, mix multiple tracks together, remove vocals, adjust input gain in real time, import from YouTube, and do lots of other things.
It’s full featured, but is it worth the price?
It has nearly every feature that the other apps on this list do, although you unfortunately have to spend even more money to unlock call recording (€9.90), voice to text (€9.90), encryption (€9.90), automatic cloud backup (€9.90), and the mixing tool I mentioned above (€1.90).
Is all this worth it? That’s a tough call — comparable apps on Windows and Mac typically cost in the low hundreds, but by the same token those tend to integrate better with professional recording hardware. My advice is to squeeze as much testing as you can out of the 15-minute refund window.
If we’re arguing about the most full-featured and powerful audio recorder on Android, my money’s on Audio Evolution Mobile. It’s a multi-track audio recorder, a cut-down (yet better-looking) version of DAW Audio Evolution 5 for Windows. And it even supports USB audio interfaces (via USB Audio Recorder PRO, which would have its own entry on the list if only I had the gear with which to test it).
You get a mobile/tablet DAW and cool handy things like this latency test.
It’s total overkill if you’re recording lectures, and probably excessive for interviews, but it’s the best option for mixing and recording music on Android. Each track can be mono or stereo, and you can alter volumes, play with real-time effects and a three-pass equalizer, and even do some non-destructive editing (meaning that you can always undo changes). Grab the trial version first for testing, just to be safe.
A recent ground-up rewrite of ASR that removed mp3 recording support seems to have divided the community, but even without the ubiquitous lossy audio format this is a great app. It has built-in cloud integration support (Dropbox, Google Drive, and email), real-time monitoring and gain adjustment, silence skipping, echo and noise cancellation, support for both front and back microphones, and a lovely minimalistic interface.
I quite like the design. It’s snappy and responsive, too.
Some of these features are locked until you pay for the premium license, which also removes ads, but the out-of-the-box free features are among the best on the Play Store.
Price: Free ($4.00 for premium features) Requires: Android 2.0 and up Play Store Link: ASR Developer: NLL
Rather like a poor man’s Easy Voice Recorder, Smart Voice Recorder offers adjustable rate PCM or WAV recording, gain control, background recording, silence skipping, and a handy microphone calibration tool. It’s simple but powerful, and you should consider whether it’ll meet your needs before forking out for a paid option.
It really only makes the list because of the gain controls.
I like Miidio. It does something different with its interface, and for that it stands out. Instead of the standard bars for showing input levels, it displays a circle around the record/stop button — which proves more intuitive in gauging at a glance how loud the recording is.
I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a cool way to show levels.
Miidio records in mp3 or WAV, in any of nine quality settings. It allows playthrough monitoring for so-called “live recording” (an oxymoronic term that somehow became standard) as an experimental feature, which didn’t seem to work properly on my Nexus 7.
Voice Recorder PRO comes in three flavors: the Secret edition adds password protection, automatic FTP/email/Dropbox upload, and hidden background recording (wherein the name and icon appears as a notepad) to the standard audio recording features — although some of this stuff requires additional in-app purchases. Secure works completely offline, and Ultimate does everything both these cheaper flavors offer — with no in-app purchases.
Scheduling recordings ahead of time; the recording interface is acceptable in the free version, but the paid flavors deserve better than this.
Much like most of the other apps on this list, All That Recorder has headset monitoring, auto gain control, timers, and multiple recording format options — mp3, ogg, WAV, 3GP/AMR, in any of four pre-defined or a multitude of user-defined quality presets.
Another strong contender.
There are widgets, shake recording, playback speed control, recording in background, and low/high pass filters. And it has what, for my money, is one of the best interfaces I’ve yet seen in an audio recording app.
Price: $4.12 Requires: Android 2.1 and up Play Store Link: All That Recorder Developer: JINASYS
So there you have it; those are all the audio recording apps I’ve found that offer advanced functionality and actually deliver in terms of quality. If there’s something awesome that I missed, please post about it in the comments. I’d also love to see testimonials of any that proved especially great or crap after prolonged use.