Nokia showed off the as-yet-unannounced Lumia 928's camera prowess and compared it to the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy SIII. This time, the Finnish company wants to show you how great the Lumia 928 is at audio recording. While the iPhone 5 seems to have escaped the spotlight, Samsung's Galaxy SIII is once again being scrutinized.
Nokia is returning to New York for this test, this time taking to the subway to record the Underground Horns.
Of course, as was the case with yesterday's video, the Lumia 928 does pretty well. "Nokia Lumia retains audio quality under high vilume with no distortion," the video brags. Nokia wouldn't post such a video if it didn't reflect positively on its upcoming Windows Phone 8 device. Still, the video is worth a look, if only to catch a fleeting glimpse of Nokia's worst kept secret.
Think of it like the noise cancellation used during a call, but instead of only picking up what is supposed to be where your mouth is, it is optimized for recording a larger environment. This means that loud sounds get compressed while quiet environments get a nice little noise-free expansion, environmental sounds (like echo or wind) get cut down a bit, and if the person behind the camera talks then their voice does not overpower the rest of the audio. For the most part this makes for some fairly impressive and clean audio no matter if the ambient level is loud or quiet.
The down side of course is that the phone is trying to guess what noise you want to pick out (typically the subject in the view finder), while trying to cancel out or deaden the rest of the environment (something found on mid to high end cameras for years). This becomes a problem when you want to focus in on a single part of a larger group, but want the audio of the larger group... but then again I doubt most uses of cell phone audio would call for those types of uses.
I know that my L920 has this tech, but it is good to see that the next gen L928 takes it to the next level. It is this audio feature which the HTC One got in trouble for using on accident, so the first batch of HTC One phones should have similar audio capabilities, but the next batch will have to use something else.
I am not a big fan of HTC, but I tend to believe them on the matter. When your company is literally on fire and you have tons of responsibility heaped on you to succeed, and then your new flagship phone is having issues and your manufacturer says "we have something that might work" you don't ask a whole lot of questions. If it works, and it fits in the budget, you just say "thanks" and move on, which is exactly what they did. They were not "stealing" the tech, they were simply presented with what seemed to be a viable alternative, and they didn't check it out because they were busy putting out fires in every other part of the company.
The manufacturer was squarely the one at fault, and they are the ones who will be paying for it. If HTC is smart then they should pay whatever licencing fees are required to keep it in future builds (because it is good tech), but they do not have the budget or R&D department to make specialty technology like this. Nokia has been in the audio and camera innovation industry for a good long time now. HTC has no option but to outsource.
I am sick, and my ears are plugged up, and even I can hear a huge difference in the *quality* of the audio.
One has a lot of echo and reflections, the other does not
One has harsh high tones, and a lower midrange and bass that falls off, while the other stays much more even (on the Sammy section you can see the tuba playing, but you only hear a little bit of echo from it, and no direct audio)
One has phasing issues, and the other does not
One has clipping audio *at the time of recording* which is a major pain to get rid of, while the other has no clipping and can be later amplified much easier without having issues
One records very directional sound, while the other records sound from a wider area
One has a lot of background noise, while the other does not (In the sammy section you can hear the room, people talking and moving around, where the nokia parts have that much more muffled)
Yes, both are phone based microphones, and you are simply not going to get a 'studio quality' sound out of either of them. But lets say that you are reccording your kids in elementary school. The 'joy' of recording any non-professional players is that there will ALWAYS be someone way off pitch. When using a normal microphone it will always make the exception stand out way more than the general band. Meaning that even though it was painful to listen to live, it will ALWAYS sound worse on the recording. With a microphone array like this where errant sounds undergo some filtering you end up with a recording that is much more true to life. It may still sound rough... but it will sound more like you remember it sounding rather than having audio that only highlights the problems.
Again, this is not going to get you the kind of audio quality you would expect from a booth, but it is a $500 phone, so nobody is asking for that. But when it comes to recording moments in your life one phone is going to sound much more similar to what you remembered, while the other will really make you think that things in the past were much worse than they really were.