Your First Recording

New Recording  (Recording Screen 1)
  1. Tap the red circle button to start recording.
  2. Say something.
  3. Tap the white square button to stop the recording.

Congratulations! If you completed the above steps, you've made your first recording! It will look something like this:

Untitled Recording 1 (Recording Screen 2)
  • Tap the triangle 'play' button to play back the recording.
  • Tap the title at the top of the screen to give the recording a name of your choice.
  • If this wasn't your best vocal performance, simply tap the 'trash' icon to delete it (you'll be prompted for confirmation), and you're ready to try again - no muss, no fuss!

While you're on the recording screen, you can tap the record button whenever you want to start recording a new file; and don't worry, your previous recording does not get erased when you start a new one.

Try making a few more recordings to get comfortable with it.

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Saved Recordings

Tap on the "< Saved" at the top-left of the recording screen and you will see something like:

Saved Recordings Listing

Here you can:

  • Tap on the filename to re-open it on the recording screen.
  • Tap on the triangle 'play' button to the right of each filename to play the file.
  • Tap on the circle icon to the left of the filenames to select them.
    • When files are selected, the bottom toolbar appears, allowing you to delete or export the selected recordings.

Exporting

To export, tap on the circle icon to the left of the filenames to select them, then tap on the export icon, (a box with an arrow coming out of it), at the bottom-right of the screen. You should see something like this:

Export Format Prompt

The selected export format affects three things: quality, compatibility and file size. All recordings/exports are mono. By "~" we mean "approximately". Beside each extension, in brackets, is listed the approximate total size of all exported files combined (e.g. "~8.7 MB" indicates that the exported files will result in approximately 8.7 MB of data to export and transfer).

You can export in one of four file types:

  • .aiff - a 32-bit, 44.1 khz lossless audio file. This file type is popular on OS X / macOS.
  • .wav - a 16-bit, 44.1 khz lossless audio file. This file type is popular on Windows.
  • .mp4 - a 64 kbps, 44.1 khz AAC compressed (lossy) format. This file type is a popular audio/video file format, and in the case of audio-only, it is also sometimes named .m4a; the .m4a extension indicates an audio-only .mp4, whereas the .mp4 extension could possibly contain video (in our case it only contains audio). This option is suitable for use when a smaller filesize/download time is important (e.g. for emailing the audio file).
  • .caf - a 96 kbps, 22.05 khz IMA4 compressed (lossy) format. This file type is suitable for Apple platforms (e.g. for use in iOS and macOS apps).

When you tap one of the buttons to select an export type, (e.g. ".mp4"), the app quickly "renders" the selected file(s); it creates a copy of each file with the trimming applied and all "process" effects applied. After this task finishes, you should see something like this:

Export Destination Prompt

You may not necessarily see all of these options available to you, for example to see "WiFi Drive" as an option, you need to have an active WiFi connection available. The potential options available to you are:

  • iCloud Drive - this will transfer the files to this apps iCloud Drive folder (this should be "/Record Masterfully/").
  • iTunes File Sharing - this will transfer the files to this apps iTunes File Sharing folder. This is a folder that you can access from the iTunes desktop app, while your device is connected to it. Remember to delete the files using your iTunes desktop app when you are done transferring, or else these files will continue to take up storage capacity on your iPhone (the app cannot determine when you have accessed/downloaded the files from this folder - so we just leave the files there for you to delete when you are finished with them).
  • WiFi Drive - this will run a web server on your iPhone and display a URL which you can navigate to from another computer or device which is on the same WiFi network. The web page displayed at that URL will let you download the exported files.
  • Dropbox - this will transfer the files to this apps' Dropbox folder (this should be a "/Apps/Record Masterfully/" folder in your Dropbox).
  • Open In... - this will open the iOS built in 'actions' sheet to provide more actions (e.g. you'll typically find an "Email" option in here). This option allows other iOS apps to handle these files however they want to. Please note that you'll likely have the best results here if you only select 1 file at a time: some apps handle multiple files well (e.g. Apple's "Email" action will correctly attach multiple files to the email), but many 3rd party apps only process a single file, even when multiple files are selected/provided (e.g. at time of writing this documentation the official Dropbox app only transfers a single file and reports "success" - that's why we added our own "Dropbox" export destination).
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Waveform View

To get yourself familiarized with some of the advanced functionality, start by making a new recording that you can experiment with, then try out the following features:

  • Using 2-fingers, perform a pinch gesture on the waveform. This lets you horizontally zoom the waveform so you can see more or less of it on the screen at once.
  • Using a single finger, touch the waveform and drag your finger up and down. This lets you vertically scale the waveform.
  • Double-tap on the waveform to restore it to default scale and zoom.

Here is an animation illustrating waveform zooming and scaling being used to determine a precise left trim point:

Trimming Animation Using Waveform Zooming & ScalingUsing Waveform Zooming & Scaling During Trimming
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Non-destructive Trimming

Recordings often have a bit of noise or silence at the start and end. Using the above mentioned waveform zooming and scaling find a good point somewhere at the beginning of your recording but not right at the very start. Then tap the 'trim' button (it's the one to the right of the play button) and select the "Trim Left" option in the dialog prompt. Next, find a suitable point near but not right at the end of the recording. Tap the 'trim' button again, and this time select the "Trim Right" option. Now tap the triangle 'play' button to play back the recording. You'll notice it now plays between the defined trim points. When you export a file, only the portion between the trim points (the same portion that plays back) will be exported. If you want to undo a trim point, tap the trim button again, and this time select "Remove ... Trim" to remove a trim point.

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Looping Playback

On the recording screen (also known as a 'Detail View') you can press and hold the triangle 'play' button. This starts playing back in "looping playback" mode. To stop playback, tap the square 'stop' button.

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Process Toolbar

The items discussed in this section are:

Processing Introduction

To experiment with this, it's useful to have a file playing; please start a file playing in looping playback mode, then tap on the "Process" tab at the bottom of the screen. Now you should see this:

Process Toolbar

This toolbar shows the non-destructive processing that you can perform on your recording. By non-destructive, we mean that your audio file is not altered, rather these effects are applied realtime during playback and during export. When you export a file, the exported file has the processing "baked-in" (it's part of the file and can't be changed anymore), but your original recording in the app can still have these effects altered again or turned off altogether (and you could then re-export your file).

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HPF (High Pass Filter & Expansion)

Tapping on "HPF" actually brings up a "Filter" alert like this:

Audio Filter (HPF & Expand) Dialog

"HPF" and "Expand" are different things but they are both audio "filters" suited to doing a quick clean up of your recording before further processing.

The "HPF", or High Pass Filter, has a single Hz property. Frequencies above this Hz setting will be "allowed to pass", whereas frequencies below this setting will be "cut" (drastically reduced). An easy way to think of this is that it will get rid of low sounds (any sounds below the set Hz). For example, if your recording is a voice recording, try setting this to 150 Hz (while the audio file is playing in looping playback mode), then toggle the "on" button to "off"... listen carefully then toggle it back "on". You may notice a difference (depends on how much low rumble is present where you are recording and also how well your device plays back those low frequencies). You may need to use headphones to get a better idea; or alternatively, just for fun, you could try some extreme values, such as setting it to 2000 Hz - at such an extreme setting you should definitely start to hear what this filter is doing to the audio, even on the iPhone speaker. Cutting out lower frequencies can potentially lower the peak volume in your recording, thereby making the intended audio source easier to hear (and possibly allowing it to be amplified more before it begins to clip/distort).

The "Expand" has a single dB (decibels) property. An expander affects audio dynamics, or the difference between the loudest and quietest parts of the audio. An expander makes that difference greater, more specifically it makes very quiet parts of your recording, like background "hiss", even quieter. Any audio below the set dB threshold is rapidly reduced in volume, making it even quieter so that it fades out to silence. You can try this out by playing your file in looping playback mode, then steadily increasing the dB value (moving it closer to 0) until you notice parts of your recording being cut out. Be careful with this setting as it's pretty easy to lose important parts of your audio, such as trailing "s" sounds at the end of words (e.g. "cats" becomes "cat" because the quiet trailing "s" was made even more quiet) - this is undesirable. On the flip side, if used cautiously, this "expand" feature can be used to remove distracting "hiss" or noise in quiet parts of the recording (particularly useful for narration recordings).

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EQ (Equalizer)

Tapping on "EQ" brings up an alert dialog like this:

Audio EQ (Equalizer) Dialog

This is a 4-band equalizer. To use the equalizer, tap the "off" button to toggle the effect to "on".

  • Low-shelf - increases or decreases the volume of all frequencies below the set "Hz" (herz) by the amount of specified "dB" (decibels).
  • Mid-band - increases or decreases the volume of frequencies over the span of "oct" (octaves), with "Hz" as the center frequency, by the amount of specified "dB".
  • High-shelf - increases or decreases the volume of all frequencies above the set "Hz" by the amount of specified "dB".
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Compress (Compressor)

Audio compression is referring to reducing the difference between the loudest and quietest parts the audio. The typical reason this is done is so that quiet parts of the audio can still be heard clearly enough. For example: in the course of normal speech, the projected volume of the person talking varies greatly but is heard just fine because they naturally adjust their volume to match their environment (passing vehicles, fans starting up, etc.). However when listening to a recording this can cause parts not to be heard because the volume of the audio will increase and decrease out of sync with the environment of the listener. Additionally, if a listener is listening on headphones, the difference in volume may simply be to great, causing the listener to frequently adjust the volume (in some cases making it impractical to listen to that way at all). To deal with this type of problem, you can apply "compression" to the audio.

Basically, an audio compressor is an automated volume control that behaves according to the parameters you set. The way the "compression" works is it reduces the loudest parts of the audio. Since reducing the loudest parts of the audio makes the overall recording quieter, we then increase the overall volume of the audio via the "gain" parameter. If done carefully, we end up with a recording that has a similar peak volume as the original, unprocessed recording, but now all the quiet parts have become louder.

Tapping on "Compress" brings up an alert dialog like this:

Audio Compressor Dialog
  • Threshold - The compressor will engage only for audio that is louder than the specified dB (decibels).
  • Headroom - The compressor will try to keep the volume range at or beneath the "Threshold" + "Headroom" dB (decibels).
  • Attack - This affects how "fast" the volume begins to be reduced for audio above the set "Threshold".
  • Release - This affects how quickly the volume is restored to it's original level when audio drops below the above set "Threshold".
  • Gain - Changes the overall volume by the amount of specified dB before the compressor does its work.
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Pitch (Pitch & Speed)

Tapping on "Pitch" brings up an alert dialog like this:

Audio Pitch & Speed Dialog

To hear any changes to pitch and/or speed, tap the "off" button to toggle the effect to "on".

  • Pitch - Let's you change the overall pitch independently of speed. In musical terms, 100 cents is equal to 1 semitone.
  • Speed - Let's you change the overall speed of the recording, by percentage, independently of pitch. For example, 200 % would be twice as fast and 50 % would be half as fast. Narration can generally be played back at 125 % speed without noticeable "strangeness" to the audio (this can potentially save you time, e.g. transcribing a lecture, etc.).
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Limit (Limiter)

In terms of physics, audio signals essentially have no amplitude limit. In recorded audio signals, the recorded amplitude is limited by the recording medium; in our case this is a digital, numeric limit. Exceeding this limit, (e.g. due to over-amplification or a sound that is simply too "loud" to record), results in the audio waveform being "digitally clipped" to the range limit. Unintended clipping results in a type of unwanted audio distortion.

An "audio limiter" is a compressor optimized for a specific purpose: to prevent "digital clipping". It is recommended to always leave this effect "on".

Tapping on "Limit" brings up an alert dialog like this:

Audio Limiter Dialog
  • Pre-gain - Changes the overall volume before it gets "limited" (peaks reduced in amplitude, or "volume"). The limit is 0 dB; any audio very near to 0 dB is rapidly reduced to prevent exceeding 0 dB.
  • Attack - This affects how "fast" the volume begins to be reduced.
  • Decay - This affects how quickly the volume stops being reduced when it drops below the determined safe limit.
  • Post-gain - Allows you to reduce the volume after it has been limited in order to leave some final "headroom" (in this case this means the maximum amplitude is less than the digital limit - it has some "headroom"). This is useful and even important if you are going to export to a lossy audio format (e.g. .mp4/.m4a or .caf) - when exporting to a lossy format the exported audio often has slightly different amplitude than the original file, meaning it will likely clip if the audio signal is already at maximum amplitude before exporting it to the lossy format. Setting this to, say, -1 dB would ensure the audio signal has 1 dB of headroom before the final conversion to the desired export format (e.g. .mp4).
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