Monthly Archives: December 2018

Why smartphones need external microphones to improve the sound quality of voice recordings in lecture halls or school classrooms

There are two microphones on most Android devices and three on the iPhone. On the Android device there is one at the top edge of the phone and one on the bottom edge next to the charging port. On an iPhone there are three microphones, on the front panel at the top, one on the rear of the phone at the top and one on the bottom edge. These microphones are omni-directional microphones and pick up sound from all around the device. If you are trying to record the teacher or lecturer there will be a number of issues with just using the smartphones own microphone.

   1. Distance from the speaker- sound intensity drops according to the inverse square law- if a phone is twice as far away from the speaker as another phone, the sound intensity at the second phone is one quarter of the first phone.

   2. Poor room acoustics will distort any sound received at the phone’s microphone. Sound from the speaker will bounce off the walls, ceiling and floors and arrive a fraction of a second later than sound received directly from the speaker. It has had further to travel and thus arrives later at the phone’s microphone. So instead of getting a clear sound, there will be a spectrum of sound arriving at the microphone making the recording distorted.

   3. Noise between the speaker and the microphone will be picked up by the phone’s microphone. So the more people between the phone and the speaker the more noise will be picked up by the phone. Because the interfering sound is closer to the phone than the speaker it will be competing strongly in terms of volume as a result of the effect of the inverse square law.

    4. Noise to the side of the phone and behind the phone will also be picked up creating more interference.

To reduce the effect of this interference there are two solutions. 

   1. Using a directional microphone can greatly help the sound quality as it can be pointed at the speaker focussing on the direction from which the speaker’s voice is coming from. This will eliminate interference from the side and rear of the phone but will still be subject to noise between the speaker and the phone, and also to the effect of room acoustics. Directional microphones are relatively inexpensive so they are a cost effective solution which will improve the audio quality in a lecture hall or school classroom.

    2. Using a wireless microphone. A wireless microphone comprises a transmitter microphone and a receiver. The transmitter microphone can be placed next to or worn by the speaker and the receiver plugged into the phone using a special connecting cable. This largely overcomes the issues of distance between speaker and phone, the effect of poor room acoustics as the sound has only a short distance to travel before it reaches the wireless microphone, and interference from noise around the phone and between the phone and the speaker is eliminated. They are however, a lot more expensive than the standard directional microphone.

To connect a standard directional or wireless microphone to a smartphone requires an additional cable as the standard stereo plug supplied with most microphones does not work. The smartphone has a 4 pin connection which enables users to connect both audio out to a headset or earphones and a microphone input. However, a 4 pin or TRRS plug is required to make the connection. Conversor manufacture a range of cables and connectors which enable the connection of a range of directional and wireless microphones to a smartphone.

Notetalker 2.0: supporting student productivity

At Notetalker we are constantly working on improving our software in order to meet the needs of every institution and student.

We’re excited to announce the arrival of Notetalker 2.0, which now includes:

– Compatibility with mind mapping tools, such as Mindview, to increase students’ productivity.

– An upgrade to the bookmarking tool to allow students to bookmark video content to strengthen their learning using rich mixed media.

The newest version of Notetalker also offers the functionality for lecturers to curate relevant online content through Wakelet – a social learning platform  – to share with students pre- or post- lecture, supporting research and further study. In addition to this, a transcription service to support HEIs in the creation of high quality lecture notes is also available.

We are available to chat with HE/ FE staff, DSA assessors and AT trainers about different solutions and approaches to ensure every student is supported by Notetalker 2.0.

Get in touch with our team and discover how Notetalker 2.0 can support teaching and learning. We would love to demo the latest version of Notetalker to you and offer you free trial.

Call us today on+44 (0)1483 473810 or email

Making music and notes are more alike than you think

The latest version of Notetalker welcomes an improved solution for students to take productive notes. We believe that learning the fundamentals of how to take effective notes is an important skill to master. We’re working on developing a set of resources to help students master the art of note taking.

In the meantime, we’ve created this brilliant introduction into the importance of learning how to take effective notes. Troy Miller, composer, producer and musician who has worked with the likes of Amy Winehouse, Mark Ronson, and most recently Laura Mvula on her award-winning album ‘The Dreaming Room’ has produced this musically-rooted explanation about the similarities between creating and making music, and making notes.

Troy explains that making effective notes, like making music, should have a purpose and an order. And learning the basics of good note taking is essential groundwork to put into practice. It’s utterly fascinating!

Listen to Troy explain the likeness between making music and making notes.

Spellchecking medical language has never been easier!

We think it’s worth sharing an update about Notetalker Edit’s spellchecker. The built-in function can be used with medical spellchecking software, Medincle. It is a DSA approved product and ideal for all students who are studying degrees related to healthcare. The medical spellchecker will save students time and boost productivity.

Medincle can be purchased through Notetalker. It can also be purchased if Medincle AT Complete is bought. AT Complete is Medincle’s latest assistive software tool that enables students to use the medical spellchecker across several of the most popular pieces of assistive technology on the market – including Notetalker – to allow them to handle complex healthcare terminology.

Get in touch if you have any questions about using Medincle with Notetalker.

PDF imports up and running

We’ve got some great news to share! PDF documents can now be imported into Notetalker Edit along with PowerPoint slides, images and video.*

Broadening the range of media that can be imported into Notetalker Edit supports students who prefer to use a rich mix of visual references in their notes. Some courses or lecturers may also provide a range of media for students’ learning.

PDF images can be exported to mind mapping software enabling a student to create illustrative essay plans.

It is simple and effective, and will help students to save time and boost productivity.

Contact the team if you have any questions about importing PDFs into Notetalker Edit.