Review: GarSoft VoiceNotes

On August 4, 2008, we reviewed a collection of 13 different voice recorder applications for the iPhone in a roundup entitled iPhone Gems: Every Voice Recorder, Reviewed. This review contains a review of one application from that roundup; additional comparative details can be found in the original full story.

Review: GarSoft VoiceNotes

The iPhone comes with a built-in microphone, but didn’t have any voice recording software to take advantage of that feature. Today, less than a month after the opening of the App Store, there are 13 different pieces of voice recorder software. Note that unlike many of the App Store programs, these particular applications are designed specifically for the iPhone, not the iPod touch. Additionally, the base recording quality of all of the apps that we reviewed was roughly equivalent.

A few of the apps we reviewed offered higher-quality recording settings, which resulted in slightly improved fidelity when recording from music sources or from distant sources, such as in a lecture hall. However, for voice recording quality purposes, all of the applications that we reviewed provided acceptable quality with virtually no distinguishable differences.

In terms of space taken up by voice recordings, based on the apps that did provide storage information or transfer of voice memos, you can expect your recordings to take approximately 1MB per minute of recorded audio on average, versus 2.5MB per minute on the iPod 5G’s, classic’s and nano’s low-quality mode. Notably, the numbers are not directly comparable because iPhone recordings are currently made in Apple’s Core Audio Format (CAF) rather than WAV, the format used by iPods. The space consumed will also vary somewhat with applications that provide different quality settings, however with the monaural microphone on the iPhone, there’s no current need to record in stereo fidelity.

A near-term iPhone software update is expected to add MP3 encoding as an alternative to CAF for greater compatibility of the recorded files.

VoiceNotes is another no-frills voice recording app which has the advantage of being free. However, rather than presenting the user with a ready-to-record screen when opening this app, the user is instead presented with a list of existing recordings. When first using this app, this means that the user is presented with a blank slate:


Review: GarSoft VoiceNotes

To start a new recording, you must click the plus sign in the top-right corner of the screen. The app then switches to a simplified recording screen where you can give your new recording a name and/or start recording by tapping the Record button. While individual users may have different preferences, in our opinion the goal of a voice recording app should be to minimize the amount of time and number of taps required to actually start a recording, which means priority should be given to the recording interface, rather than the list of recordings.