Recording audio from an external microphone systems using a smartphone

A number of people have asked us about this subject so we thought you all may find this useful.

Most of you will make use of microphone systems connected to racks of equipment. You may also have a dedicated recorder, but in many cases these devices output very large files making it awkward to save and upload. Sometimes there are firewall issues that prevent uploading from Council networks, so it may be more convenient to produce recordings using a smartphones or tablet – if you would like to make recordings of audio through your PA system in this way, you face two challenges:

1 – making a physical connection between the audio equipment and your smartphone and tricking the smartphone into disconnecting it’s internal microphone in order to accept the audio from the PA system

2 – Setting the audio level correctly


1 – Create a Custom cable

XLR/TRRS

This cable is designed to connect an Android or Apple device with a 4-contact 3.5mm TRRS mini-jack to a mixer with XLR balanced output. It is made from a standard 4-core TRRS lead with terminating/interfacing resistors installed inside the XLR plug.

XLR (audio source)             \              /                       3.5 mm Jack (SmartPhone) 
                 +----|47R|-----|            |---------------------o  TRRS Tip       (Audio L output)
                 |              |            |
                 +----|47R|-----|   4-CORE   |---------------------o  TRRS ring 1    (Audio R output)
                 |              |============|
 XLR pin 3 o-----+--------------|            |---------------------o  TRRS ring 2    (Common)
                                |            |
 XLR Pin 2 o----------|4K7|-----|            |---------------------o  TRRS Sleeve    (Mic input)

The three resistors above are mounted inside the XLR connector, with the cable to the TRRS jack wired as shown. One end of the resistors can be soldered onto the XLR pins and insulated to prevent contact with the XLR connector case. Wattage and tolerance is not significant (1/4W suggested). Strain relief must be provided; in particular it will be necessary to sleeve or otherwise secure the cable to the XLR cable clamp (which is typically designed for a larger diameter cable).

XLR Pin 1 and sleeve are not connected.

TRRS to TRS

To connect a standard TRS output to TRRS microphone input, a dummy load is generally required on the TRRS end in order for the Smartphone/Tablet to detect the cable as a “headset” (i.e. both earphones and microphone).

TRS (audio source, mono)                                                  TRRS (smartphone)
  /\                                                                       /\
  ||-------------+--|4K7|-------+            +---|47R|---------------------||
  --             |              |            |                             --
  ||             |              |            +---|47R|---------------------||
  --    Ground   |              |            |                             --
  ||-------------|--------------+------------+-----------------------------||
+----+           |                                                         --
|    |           +---------------------------------------------------------||
|    |                                                                   +----+
                                                                         |    |
                                                                         |    |

At the TRRS end, the 2 audio outputs are loaded with 47 ohm resistors to ground, with the microphone input connected directly to the audio source (which must be of the correct level, and is assumed to be capacitively-coupled). A 4K7 (4700 ohm) resistor is connected between the the Audio output/mic input and ground, to provide the microphone load required to trigger the smartphone microphone detection.

The TRS side assumes a conventional mono source; some devices only drive T (tip) and R (ring) leaving S (sleeve) unconnected; in that case the ground wire on the TRS side goes to R (ring) instead of S (sleeve), or alternatively a mono plug (TS) used instead since a mono plug effectively connects R and S together.

The above circuit effectively constitutes a 0dB attenuator (ignoring the load presented by the 4K7 resistor).


2 – Setting the Audio Level 

The smartphone expects the following characteristics from any microphone connected to the 3.5 mm jack:

Consumer Audio
Nominal Level                 -10 dBV
Nominal Level,VRMS             0.316
Peak Amplitude, VPK            0.447
Peak to Peak Amplitude, VPP    0.894

With this set-up you can use any audio recorder app on your smartphone. We recommend the Audiominutes app (search Audiominutes in Google Play Store) which is free to download; saves files at a reasonable file size (27mB per hour) and in standard MP3 format.

Any questions? please feel free to contact us for more info.

 

November 9, 2017 0 Comments

Adding your own audio recording to Audiominutes

A situation may arise where you need to add audio to your Audiominutes archive. You can do this yourself by following these steps:

  1. You need to create a ‘dummy recording’ of the meeting you wish to add to Audiominutes – this will add a new mp3 file in the Audiominutes folder on your tablet.
  2. Take the audio file that you’ve created elsewhere (in MP3 format – Google how to change formats if it’s not already in MP3) and rename it to the exactly the same name as the Audiominutes file (created in step 1 above).
  3. Move the renamed file to the Audiominutes folder on your tablet. (download a File Manager application to do this)
  4. In the Audiominutes application file manager, upload this file to Audiominutes.
  5. Go to the www.audiominutes.com/portal/ and check that the new file has been uploaded correctly.
  6. Publish the meeting.

Note: We only display meetings with a date of up to 7 days in the past to 30 days in the future, so you only have 7 days to complete this process after the meeting date.

Note: This approach will work when using a committee management system such as mod gov or CMIS and if you are using our email meeting set-up system.

(Please let me know if these instructions are in any way unclear as we’d like to know – thanks)

 

April 12, 2017 0 Comments

Create your own Mute message

With Audiominutes you can record your own message that will be played when the mute button is pressed. This is how you do it:

Firstly, download the sound software Audacity from here: http://www.audacityteam.org/download/

audacity

Go to edit ->preferences -> device and set Recording channels to 1 (Mono), then, still in preferences, select the quality tab and select default sample rate at 11025 Hz and Default Sample Format to 16-bit.

OK, you are ready to record your message – why not add a jingle too? here is an example

 

When you are happy with the results, go to the file menu and select Export Audio -> Save as Type -> Other Uncompressed Files. If you click the Options button you should see settings RAW (Header-less) and Signed 16 bit PCM.

Export your file with the filename adjournment.M16 (this is the filename recognised by Audiominutes. Now all you need to do is move that file to the Audiominutes/customsounds folder on your tablet. If no file with that name is present in that folder Audiomintes will play the standard mute message. If your new file is in the right place, in the right format and is correctly named, then your new audio will play. Good luck

October 12, 2016 0 Comments

Audiominutes at Basildon Borough Council

Spreading the word at Basildon Borough CouncilBasildon_Council

As an open and transparent public body, Basildon Borough Council has been recording and publishing its full Council public meetings on their website since April 2013. Technology has moved on, so to improve accessibility still further, other Council Committee meetings will now be recorded and published, and made easier to find by presenting links on the normal agenda page for the meeting in question.

Julie Batt, Senior Governance Officer at Basildon Borough Council said “We all have busy lives these days so we want to make our meetings more accessible to keep residents involved in local decision making.”

The new service launches tonight (6th September 2016) with the Planning Committee, so you can listen after the meeting by following this link. (http://www.basildonmeetings.info/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=709&MId=5891)

September 6, 2016 0 Comments

Saffron Walden Town Council to introduce wax cylinder recordings

In a bizarre twist at a Saffron Walden Town Council Planning and Road Traffic Committee meeting, Leader Paul Gadd [Residents 4 Utllesford] refused to allow microphones to be used to record proceedings. download Perhaps a wax cylinder and needle was what he had in mind when local company; Audiominutes was asked to make a free recording of tonight’s meeting. “I had gone to some trouble to organise a set of microphones at the last minute for Lisa Courtney of SWTC, only to be told that, although recording had been agreed, the council would need to discuss and vote on the matter of the use of microphones for recording. If that’s an indication of the level of debate at Town Council meetings then, in my opinion, Saffron Walden residents have quite a lot to be concerned about” said Antony Redfern from Audiominutes.

According to Wikipedia, use of the Phonograph cylinder died out around 100 years ago, so finding a local contractor to meet R4U needs might be a challenge!
With Audiominutes, councils can use a checksum to prove that audio files are a digitally ‘bit perfect’ copy of the original and have therefore, not been edited; it will be interesting to see how this level of assurance is achieved in wax.

Connect to GlobalCharge

February 4, 2016 0 Comments

Adding Your Twitter Account to Audiominutes

Audiominutes can send out Tweets on your behalf either at the beginning and end of each meeting or at the beginning, end, and when each agenda item is reached. Firstly you have to set up aa ‘app’ within Twitter, then provide us with credentials that allow us to Tweet ‘as you’. You can revoke this permission at any time.

Firstly, log into your Twitter account, go to https://apps.twitter.com/ and click on ‘Create New App‘. Now please fill in the details to create your application.

IMG_0294

Now click as shown to create your application tokens

IMG_0293

Please just follow the instructions:

IMG_0290

Now please copy these details (perhaps using a screenshot) and email them to support@audiominutes.com – we’ll let you know when your keys have been added. You can then turn on or off tweets from the settings menu on the Audiominutes app.

IMG_0292

 

 

January 26, 2016 0 Comments

Audiominutes Lite – Instructions

Audiominutes Lite

Member of the public are now permitted to record all council meetings. Authorities large and small are choosing to maintain their  own ‘official’ version of events, and at the same time, make their meetings more accessible to the people most affected by the decisions taken.

Audiominutes ‘Lite’ version for Local Councils is a simple way to audio webcast public meetings live, and publish recorded meetings on-line.  The following explains how to set up the system for your authority.

Account set-up

You’ll need an account on our platform – please follow this link http://www.audiominutes.com/sign-up/ you’ll need the following information:

  • Name of Organisation: ‘ The name of your Local Council
  • Account User ID: enter  up to 7 letters (lower case) to represent your group
  • Password: choose your password
  • Image: An image/logo in png format (320 pixels wide x 100 pixels high)
  • User URL (Website): The URL of your website
  • Admin Email: Your contact details and email address

Your microsite will the appear here: http://www.audiominutes.com/p/player/player.html?userid=[Account user ID]

Equipment Required

There are 2 things you’ll need to start audio webcasting;

It’s cheaper and easier if you source an Android device yourself – someone will have and old one in the kitchen drawer – that will be fine! (for a suitable and tested Android device search Ebay.co.uk for auctions of HTC M7 unlocked)

Although Audiominutes works on most Android devices we’ve not tested them all, so there may be some phones or tablets which are not compatible. We’ve created a list of tested devices – please let us know if you find one which works, but is not on the list. (list here)

recording kitOnce you’ve gathered the items required, then go to the Play Store on Google and download the Audiominutes app. Run the app, then go to the ‘three dots’ menu on the top right of the Audiominutes screen and the add the account name and account password provided. Then press the system back button (on handset – bottom left – not in the app). You should then see a message ‘login successful’. If not, please repeat the process making sure that you use the system back button.

Testing

We provide a ‘guest’ account so that you can check everything is working without using your main account. To try it, just go to the settings menu again and tick the guest account check-box then press the system back button. Now you’ll see the ‘login successful’ message so go to the main menu (top left) and select ‘Prepare’. Here you’ll see a test meeting ‘Audiominutes Test Meeting’ listed, please select it and you’ll see the agenda items for that meeting (these items may already be highlighted, but don’t worry about that).

At this point, the box bottom left will display ‘Network Idle’.

APP Login

Use the back button on the device

Now just press the ‘Record’ button, the button goes red and displays ‘Stop’, and the box below now says ‘Network up’. Congratulations – you are now audio webcasting. You can hear the stream here www.audiominutes.com/guest.

Now position the Go-Mic in the middle of your table and try a test broadcast using the Guest account to check audio levels – when recording you should see the level indicator (bottom right) going from -30 dB up to -0dB.

Press Stop to bring the meeting to a close and follow the instructions to publish the meeting.

Create your meetings

All well and good, but you’ll need to create your own meetings – we are working on a webpage for you to add meetings, however at the moment you do this by emailing us using a standard template as follows:

From the email address you’ve registered with us, send an email to:


[your Account User ID]@events.audiominutes.com

(note that your Account Name is the short code asigned to your account, not the full name e.g. ‘swtc’ and NOT ‘Saffron Walden Town Council’)

Subject: [Date Time],[Meeting Title]

(note that Date should be in the format yyyy-mm-dd, time in the format HH:MM:SS and don’t forget the comma between the date and title an example is: 2016-02-01 19:30:00,Governance Committee)

2015-10-12 14.23.33

Adding a new meeting is as simple as sending an email

and in the body of the email, use the following template:

^^1^ Apologies for absence.
^^2^ To accept Members’ Declarations of Interest.
^^3^ To Adjourn the Meeting to Enable the Public or Press to Participate.
^^4^ To Resume the Meeting after the Public Forum.
^^5^ To Confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 6 August 2015 as a True Record.
^^6^ To Consider and Comment Upon the Planning Applications and Any Others

(note that the two ‘–‘ at the end of the email is required)

If you wish to add a relevant link and/or comment to any chapters then you can do so putting the following at the end of the email:

^^5^Minutes of previous meeting^http://saffronwalden.gov.uk/home/
^^6^Map of Gt Chesterford ^http://maps.google.com
^^6^Gt Chesterford Planning Proposal^http://www.uttlesford.org.uk

(note that as seen above, you can have more than one comment and link per chapter)

If you wish to update a meeting, for example, add a new agenda item, then send the complete modified email from and to the same email address, with exactly the same Subject line as before, the modified meeting will overwrite the previous version.


You will then receive an email confirming that the meeting has been set up and you’ll see the meeting appear in the app.

The Prepare page showing available meetings

Broadcast your meetings

Having got to this point, the rest is easy.

2015-10-12 15.17.15Before the meeting, plug your fully charged Android device into the Go-Mic microphone through the USB host cable. Please note that you can’t charge the device while the USB host cable is plugged in.

2015-10-12 15.17.22

Ready to start – agenda items shown untagged

Select your meeting using the ‘Prepare menu’, then a moment or two before the meeting starts, press record and check that the ‘Network Up’ message is  displayed.  Now, as each agenda item is reached, check the appropriate item on the handset. You can select these items out of order if you want, and if you forget, don’t worry as you can re-check items later if required.

You can mute the meeting by pressing the mute button and black out profanities with the bleep button. In the event that your WiFi or 3G connection fails during the meeting, then your meeting will still be recorded to your handset, so just leave the meeting running and you can synchronise the meeting afterwards.

Bringing the meeting to a close is a case of pressing stop and accepting the ‘Yes’ option dialogue box.

Publish your meetings

The Publish screen is now presented from where the meeting can be selected and published on-line (or un-published if required)

Your Audiominutes home page can be found at www.audiominutes.com/[Account Name]. You should add this link to you Council website. An example can be seen here: Canvey Island Town Council

Twitter

2015-10-12 15.17.35

Now audio webcasting

Audiominutes can send out Tweets over your Twitter account when meetings start and stop if required – please email us for details.

Listener numbers (Analytics)

Whilst you are audio webcasting live you can see the number of listeners on-line by looking at Listeners/Peak number on the top right hand side of the application. Each day a summary of statistics is generated and made available on-line here: http://www.audiominutes.com/analytics/[Account Name] (real example here http://www.audiominutes.com/analytics/citc)

Payments

All councils should print out, complete, sign and return our standard merchant agreement (link here), Our fee should be paid annually by bank transfer or cheque, or by monthly direct debit. Unfortunately we cannot support monthly payments by any other method. (Note that no fee applies to Local Councils in Essex)

Support

Although it’s always nice to hear from our clients, we need to keep the communication between us to a minimum; otherwise our pricing model won’t work – please check our FAQ and these instructions first, then, if you still can’t find the answer you are after, email us at support@audiominutes.com – thanks.

 

October 12, 2015 0 Comments

Audiominutes for smaller councils

We are seeing increasing interest from larger town and parish councils. Interest appears to be based on two things; the concern that members of the public might record, edit and mis-represent council proceedings, and a genuine desire to make their meetings more accessible to the public. Here at Audiominutes, we’ve risen to the challenge and created a simple system for creating and uploading meetings, agendas and supporting links (via email) and tested and approved a simple audio webcasting hardware – at less than £50.00, well within the range of even the smallest council.

Audiominutes for smaller Councils

September 17, 2015 0 Comments

Low viewing figures for Council webcasts

The Isles of Scilly have decided not to renew their £14,674 annual video webcasting contract due to very poor viewing figures. Based on figures for the last 6 months of operation the Council has received, on average, 1.4 live viewers per meeting and 6.7 viewers of archived footage.

In our view, the cost and intrusion and disruption caused by video webcasting can seldom be justified.

Isles of Scilly Webcasting report

Bath and North East Somerset Council attract 22 viewers

Bath and North East Somerset Council Webcasting report on BBC Website

4 Kent County Council Meeting fail to attract a single viewer

Kent County Council viewing figures

August 22, 2015 0 Comments

What are Councils doing about Webcasting?

Here at Audiominutes, we have undertaken a detailed analysis of the approach taken by local authorities and unitary bodies in the UK to increasing accessibility and engagement by webcasting (either via audio or video) of their public meetings. We’ve presented the results in the form of the attached infographic.Audiominutes Webcasting Infographic (PDF format).

The fact is that audience numbers can scarcely ever justify the cost and intrusion of video webcasting. A well designed and fully integrated ‘light-touch’ approach such as Audiominutes deleivers the desired improvements in accessibility, openness and transparency but at modest cost.

Audiominutes Infographic-1

August 11, 2015 0 Comments

Fans Groups phone-in service

Audiominutes is now offering fans groups the chance to run their own ‘5-Live’ style phone in free of charge. Each group is allocated a local access number, which connect them to the ‘show’. Access is controlled by the host either on a PC or tablet. The host can bring callers into the discussion which is webcast live, and automatically recorded and published as a podcast. the host can also mute callers or disconnect them. Up to 8 callers can participate and more than one host can be present.

The host can play pre-recorded interviews etc into the show and can add jingles too to create a  professional sounding end product.

See here for details

ToonTalk One Pager

Example show on iTunes

July 8, 2015 0 Comments

Essex County Council opt for Audiominutes

PRESS RELEASE

Look out for a new development taking place in some of our council meetings from this month.

At our Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 23 June we will launch a new audio broadcasting system which will stream the sound from debates as they unfold.

This means people who cannot attend can still hear the meeting ‘live’ over the internet or pick it up afterwards. So if you want to listen you can do so when you want and from where you want.

We piloted a video system several years ago but this proved too expensive to maintain – in contrast, this audio system allows us to keep the cost of improving the accessibility of public meetings very low.

During and after meetings, recordings will be available easily alongside meeting details and agendas. Until we finish setting up a new channel on our website to make it easier, you will be able to find them by clicking on ‘Your Council’, then ‘Meetings and Agendas’ and clicking on a meeting in the meetings calendar. You will also be able to jump straight to a specific agenda item, if that is all you want to hear again.

We plan to broadcast Cabinet first on 23 June and from Full Council on 14 July.

Committees of the council will start to come online one by one during this time as the chairmen are ready.

The new system has been provided by an Essex firm. Confabulate, based in Saffron Walden. They are a new company with a product called Audiominutes which has the added benefit of being designed to integrate with social media. You can look out for tweets with links to the audio stream at the beginning of each meeting on the @ECC_DemSer twitter feed.

For further information, please contact Sophie Campion, Corporate Governance Officer, Sophie.campion@essex.gov.uk or Alex Polak, Scrutiny and Corporate Governance Manager, alex.polak@essex.gov.uk

June 29, 2015 0 Comments

Webcasters beware

A Councillor in Georgetown, Texas, forgot to take off his mic before his trip to the bathroom with embarrassing consequences.

May 3, 2015 0 Comments

Hi there!

Welcome to Audiominutes. This is your our first blog post. More will follow!

May 11, 2014 0 Comments