When you’re feeling inspired to record a vocal idea, which app do you turn to? There are loads of iPhone apps that can be used for recording, but most people typically use the native iOS Voice Memos app for one simple reason: it comes with your phone for free. It’s viewed as easy to use and convenient. But what people who use Voice Memos are missing is that there is a much better alternative in the market for audio and vocal recording (that’s also free).
We may be a little biased, but the free Spire app for iOS is a superior option as a voice recorder app that’s perfect for recording professional sounding vocals with your iPhone on the go. And, it comes with a ton of additional functionality that Voice Memos does not have. In this article, we’ll take a look at four of the main features that put the Spire app in a league of its own, including better audio quality for vocal recording, multitracking, adding professional vocal effects, and the ability to collaborate with other musicians.
Better audio quality for vocal recording
Did you know your iPhone compresses your Voice Memos recordings by default into M4A audio files? Compressing audio files results in smaller file sizes, but you end up sacrificing a lot of audio quality. The Spire app keeps all your recordings uncompressed so you can export the tracks in whatever format you’d like, including WAV files, MP3, or individual stems. The two main reasons why audio that is captured in Spire is higher quality are sample rate and the bit rate.
Sample rate is the number of samples of audio carried per second, while the bit rate is the number of bits—or units of data—that are processed per second.
The higher your sample rate and bit rate when recording, the more information you will retain in the printed audio file. The Spire app records audio at 48kHz (sample rate) and 24-bit (bit rate), which is considered excellent in terms of audio capture.
That means whether you want to send a quick vocal idea to your producer, or you need your final vocal stems to use in a DAW, you can rest assured knowing your audio will remain the highest quality possible. Here are two examples of the same vocal phrase, recorded just seconds apart. The first was recorded using Voice Memos, the second with the Spire app.
iPhone Voice Memos
Vocal Recording Example
Vocal Recording Example
Notice how crisp and clean the vocal recording is in the second example? This isn’t just due to the difference in file quality. The Spire app also has a Soundcheck feature that uses technology from Neutron to identify your vocal, then uses tech from Nectar to sculpt your tone in the following ways:
Vocal character EQ to roll off low-end rumble, cut out muddiness, and add bite
The end result means your recording levels are automatically set to avoid audio clipping. The free version of the Spire app does an amazing job at capturing crisp vocals. But, if you’re looking for how to make vocals sound professional, Spire Pro brings even more functionality to the table.
What is Spire Pro?
Spire Pro is a subscription that unlocks exclusive features directly within the Spire app. During Soundcheck, Spire Pro will listen to your voice and environment and then apply personalized processing to your voice to make sure your vocal is crisp, no matter where you record. Using RX technology, Spire Pro also automatically removes unwanted background noise from your recordings and applies a virtual pop filter to remove pesky plosives. In short, Spire Pro gives your vocal recordings that professional polish you’re looking for.
Record vocals on multiple tracks
One key feature that sets the Spire app apart from Voice Memos is that it is a multitrack recorder that has the ability to record on up to eight tracks per project. This allows you to capture more complex ideas easily. You can use these tracks to throw down some beatboxing, lay down a few harmonies, or record alternates of your main melody to comp together or use as vocal doubles.
The Spire app also makes it easy to “punch in“ at any time in your track. Just scrub to the place you want to begin recording and press the record button. Unlike the iOS Voice Memos app, you can also monitor your voice as you’re recording. And, if you don’t like a portion of your vocal take, simply use the trim feature to cut the part you don’t want.
Easily mix your vocals and add effects
The Spire app also comes with an intuitive, easy-to-use Mix tab that allows you to widen your vocals, pan tracks left or right, and adjust the volume of each track.
Spire Pro subscribers get access to some other mixing features that are great for vocals. Add vocal pitch correction with the Tune effect, adjust formants with Hi-Shift and Lo-Shift, give your vocal some extra flair with the new Chill or Lo-Fi effects, and add body with the new Acoustic Shaper. Spire Pro even comes with a feature called “Inspire Me” that adds randomized, unique effects to your vocal with static EQ, plate reverb, iZotope Trash distortion, echo, chorus, phaser, flanger, and more so you can roll the dice to create your own unique style.
Share and collaborate with others
Sharing a Voice Memos file is easy enough, but limited in scope. When you’re ready to share your vocal recordings, you have plenty of export options in the Spire app.
One of the best ways to share your work is via the cloud sharing option. When you upload your entire Spire Project to the cloud, you can send a link to whoever you want and they will be able to add time-stamped comments, download the project in the format they want (MP3, WAV, individual stems), or even add to it their own Spire app on their iPhone. Here is the link to a Spire Project example. Feel free to download the project to your own Spire app. The same track, “Stupid Cupid” by Arthur Kody can be heard below, recorded and mixed entirely with the Spire app and a Spire Pro free trial.
"Stupid Cupid" by Arthur Kody
Recorded with Spire Pro
You can also send your full mix via text, upload it to Google Drive or Dropbox, share it directly to Soundcloud, or even export all the individual stems for use in a final production. Whether you’re using cloud sharing to send final vocal recordings to your producer, brainstorming new melodies with your bandmates, or collecting feedback from your fans, collaborating has never been easier.
Start recording professional-sounding vocals
With its variety of features, convenience, and zero-dollar price point, the Spire app trumps Voice Memos in every category of simple audio recording software. The iOS Voice Memos app doesn’t even come close to accomplishing all that’s possible with the free Spire app. Add on the extra functionality Spire Pro members get, and it’s a no brainer.
Download the free Spire app to start recording vocals and instruments, mixing your tracks, and collaborating with other musicians and producers like a pro.