The FMX-42u is Azden’s first mixer with a digital audio output. While the mixer itself was really designed for use with broadcast and film cameras, the digital audio output presents some intriguing new possibilities, such as recording audio straight to a smartphone or tablet.
How could this come in handy? Well, if you think about it, just about everybody carries a smartphone around with them in their pocket at all times. And aside from allowing you watch cat videos on YouTube from just about anywhere, it can also be used as a pocket audio recorder.
This means your smartphone could double as a backup audio recorder in the field. Or if you’re in a situation where you don’t want to be tethered to the camera man while shooting, your phone could actually act as your primary audio recording device.
And let us not forget that smartphones these days can shoot some pretty decent looking video too. So how could you, if you wanted to, mix 4 separate microphone sources directly to your iPhone while shooting video? By using the FMX-42u, of course!
So let’s go over exactly what you need to record. In this article we’ll focus mostly on the iPhone, but everything mentioned here applies also to the iPad. For Android users, the process is pretty much the same with a few minor differences (discussed below).
1. Get The Cables and Adapters
The FMX-42u does not come with a USB cable but the good news is if you’re a photographer or videographer, chances are you already have the cable you need.
The USB output on the FMX-42u is a standard mini-USB connection. This is the same type of USB connector that you’ll find on digital cameras. So most likely you can just grab the USB cable you use to connect your camera to your computer, and that will do the trick.
If you need to go out and get a cable, you’ll need to look for a USB cable with 1 USB mini-B male connector and 1 USB A male connector. The cable needs to be USB “On-The-Go” compliant (most cable today are anyway). The two ends look like this:
Additionally, iPhone users are also going to need an adapter to change the USB A male connector over to Apple’s proprietary Lighting connector. Apple calls this adapter a “Camera Adapter.” You can get this adapter from the Apple Store or on other online retailers such as Amazon.
If you’re a little bit old fashioned and still using an iPhone with the old 30-pin connector (iPhone 4S and earlier), that adapter is typically sold as the Apple Camera Connection Kit.
Android users will need a different type of adapter. Fortunately, it’s very inexpensive. Search for a USB A Female to USB micro-B male adapter. This will change the standard USB connector to the very small connector that you find on Android phones and tablets. Alternatively, you could just buy a cable that already has both of those connectors, and skip the adapter.
2. Connect The Mixer To Your Smartphone
Once you’ve got your cables and any adapters needed, connecting the FMX-42u to a smartphone is pretty straight forward. For the iPhone, first connect the mini connector of your USB cable to the FMX-42’s USB Out. On the other side of your USB cable (with the standard sized connector) attach the Apple Camera Adapter. Then plug the lighting connector (or 30-pin) into your iPhone.
If you’re using an iPad, this set up is exactly the same. If you’re using an Android device, you can obviously do without the Apple Camera Connector, but you’ll either need a USB adapter or a different USB cable that gives you a micro-USB male connector (as mentioned above).
The FMX-42u’s user manual provides you with a nice little diagram:
If you’ve already got your microphones hooked up and signal running through the mixer, then all that’s left to do is hit record. The question is what app should you use? Luckily that’s an easy question to answer, as just about any app that records audio on your smartphone should be compatible. That means if you’re shooting video with the default iOS or Android camera app, it will automatically record the audio from the FMX-42u when it’s connected. The already included iOS Voice Memos app can work as a stand alone audio recorder as well.
But if you’re just looking to capture audio, you’ll probably want to use an app that can record at a high quality. The Voice Memos app that comes standard in iOS records in Apple’s lossy .m4a format, which is not so great for fidelity. If you happen to have it on your phone, you can use Apple’s GarageBand for iOS to record CD quality audio, but you might find its interface somewhat cumbersome to deal with for field recording work. Luckily, there is a myriad of other audio recording apps available in the App Store. PCM Recorder and HandyRecorder are two free apps you can download that will record at CD quality or better, and both have a user interface that’s much better suited for field recording.
Unfortunately, Android user’s will be a bit hard-pressed to find a really good free audio recording app. One app to look into is USB Audio Recorder PRO.