Field Recorder Disruption

If we want the world to care about sound, we need to be done with field recorders

Today’s consumers have no idea how to operate a field recorder. They know how to operate a DSLR camera — how to adjust the brightness, contrast, and saturation on their photos and they understand how a camera lens focus works, but they do not know the ins and outs of field recording equipment.

This is because there are plenty of consumer-grade cameras available that teach consumers about visual tools like these. From iPhones, to iSight cameras, to DSLRs, to point and shoots, today’s consumers have an incredible amount of knowledge and ability when it comes to the visuals in their lives. You don’t need to take a class or read a manual to figure out the impressive camera features your iPhone offers, but you do when it comes to capturing sound.

Field recorders are the audio world’s best shot at getting humans to care about sound. They offer every feature you need to capture the world’s sound in its highest fidelity.

However, the problem isn’t what today’s field recorders offer, it’s how they offer them.

We can’t fight the continuous growth of mobile hardware, wearables, and Virtual Reality headsets. Where camera technology has succeeded is in its embrace of these growing hardware vehicles and its intuitive integration into devices like smartphones, smartwatches, and oculus.

Sound on the other hand has remained in pieces of hardware like the one you see above: clunky, heavy, overly complex boxes that no consumer is going to take on their family vacation.

In order for consumers to care, we need to integrate everything the field recorder offers into a single device that consumers will actually use and at a price point that doesn’t cause the head to spin at checkout.

There are plenty of reasons professionals use field recorders to capture high quality sound:

1. Mic Gain Control

The ability to adjust the sensitivity of a microphone ensures a great sounding recording no matter how loud the environment. Have you ever needed to boost the volume of a soft recording on your laptop to hear anything at all? When you boost the volume, you’re boosting everything else with it, including the hiss that some microphones give off when recording. The result is a scratchy recording filled with noisy textures that weren’t there to begin with. The ability to adjust mic gain would allow you to capture that quiet recording sans hiss.

Right now, only field recorders and devices like them allow mic gain adjustment. When you hit record on your smartphones you’re basically throwing a hail Mary to the sound gods that your recording turns out to be legible. Imagine the iPhone camera without focus or brightness adjustment. That’s the current state of consumer microphones.

2. Multiple Inputs

Some situations require more than one microphone. Say you have a drummer playing live with a guitarist. You’re going to want to bring multiple mics into the field recorder. Smartphone mics currently capture  only one channel of audio with no option of adding other microphones to the mix.

3. Multiple File Types

Today’s point and shoot and DSLR cameras let consumers capture different video codecs like HD and SD. Even the iPhone now shoots in 4K. Video filetypes are endless on consumer cameras. With today’s field recorders, you can capture .mp3 files when you need heavily compressed low audio files that take up very little drive space, or you can capture lossless files all the way up to 24bit 96kHz stereo audio. The way 4K produces large video files, lossless audio turns out large audio files. The construct is the same.

4. Mastering Tools

Many field recorders offer on board high pass filters, compressors, and limiters. These are tools that can be enabled or disabled depending on the type of sonic situation you are in. This is the same as enabling HDR or the square grid on your iPhone for better image capturing.

There is no reason the features offered with today’s field recorders can’t be included in today’s consumer products, but we need to make it as easy as Apple did with its iPhone camera. We need make it fun and easy to use. We need to make controlling the sound in our lives inspiring and effective.

With the Hooke Verse, I hope to integrate every professional feature that a field recorder offers using nothing but a $189 pair of wireless headphones and the smartphone that’s already in your pocket.

1. Mic Gain Control

Audio legibility should be a given. Sliders on each side of the video make it easy to assess mic sensitivity. Simply drag the little lollipops to adjust the gain.

2. Multiple Inputs

Hooke’s custom bluetooth codec allows the Hooke Verse to stream high quality, multi channel audio wirelessly to a smartphone over Bluetooth. With the Verse and future Hooke products alike you’ll be able stream audio to your phone using the wired mics you already own.

3. Multiple File Types

With the Hooke smartphone app you can choose both audio and video file formats. Shoot in 4K or HD. Shoot in .mp3 or lossless audio. Capture audio alone or audio paired with your smartphone’s video camera.

4. Mastering Tools

Your ear is the best compressor, limiter and EQ out there. The Hooke Verse uses it.

The inspiring and creative potential that field recorders bring to our everyday lives will always live on, but as the hardware landscape changes, we need a consumer-grade product that can keep pace.

From One Ear To Another,
Anthony Mattana
Hooke Founder

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