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mac (Archived) Quality of recorded audio with Evernote vs. QuickTime Player

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Saw this earlier and didn't respond because I really don't know. I'm not familiar enough with audio recording and what QuickTime does. I suspect it is the file format and perhaps some recording optimizations QuickTime does, but I'm really just guessing

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Saw this earlier and didn't respond because I really don't know. I'm not familiar enough with audio recording and what QuickTime does. I suspect it is the file format and perhaps some recording optimizations QuickTime does, but I'm really just guessing

Thanks for the response. Consider this a request to look into it :) The quality is low enough in Evernote on Mac that I've had to quit using it for anything besides notes I know I'll end up throwing away. I can't record conference with students inside Evernote anymore, for example, now that I know how much better the quality is in QuickTime.

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Saw this earlier and didn't respond because I really don't know. I'm not familiar enough with audio recording and what QuickTime does. I suspect it is the file format and perhaps some recording optimizations QuickTime does, but I'm really just guessing

Thanks for the response. Consider this a request to look into it :) The quality is low enough in Evernote on Mac that I've had to quit using it for anything besides notes I know I'll end up throwing away. I can't record conference with students inside Evernote anymore, for example, now that I know how much better the quality is in QuickTime.

i don't have an answer, besides the one given, but i might have a reason. audio files are huge. my recordings of one hour lectures usually end up several times larger than the 50mb note limit, depending (as mentioned) on the settings. although evernote says audio is for meetings, if they are managing to get four hours into 50mb, then the quality is going to suffer.

i haven't tried it, because i need high quality recordings, but if it is insufficient for your needs, i suggest having a dedicated app running in the background. on the ipad/iphone, i recommend recorder pro. I think audacity has a free mac version.

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Saw this earlier and didn't respond because I really don't know. I'm not familiar enough with audio recording and what QuickTime does. I suspect it is the file format and perhaps some recording optimizations QuickTime does, but I'm really just guessing

Thanks for the response. Consider this a request to look into it :) The quality is low enough in Evernote on Mac that I've had to quit using it for anything besides notes I know I'll end up throwing away. I can't record conference with students inside Evernote anymore, for example, now that I know how much better the quality is in QuickTime.

i don't have an answer, besides the one given, but i might have a reason. audio files are huge. my recordings of one hour lectures usually end up several times larger than the 50mb note limit, depending (as mentioned) on the settings. although evernote says audio is for meetings, if they are managing to get four hours into 50mb, then the quality is going to suffer.

i haven't tried it, because i need high quality recordings, but if it is insufficient for your needs, i suggest having a dedicated app running in the background. on the ipad/iphone, i recommend recorder pro. I think audacity has a free mac version.

That makes sense. I just use the audio recording function in QuickTime Player.

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There are many Mac and iPhone apps that provide for audio recording, most of which have more options and better quality than Evernote. You might want to look at some of those.

Also, you might find this helpful:

If you are trying to improve quality of an existing recording file - check Audacity.

If you are trying to improve quality during recording - check SoliCall Pro.

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I remember a post from I think Dave Engberg from a quazillion years ago saying something about the quality being deliberately rather low in order to minimise the file size....

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There are many Mac and iPhone apps that provide for audio recording, most of which have more options and better quality than Evernote. You might want to look at some of those.

Also, you might find this helpful:

If you are trying to improve quality of an existing recording file - check Audacity.

If you are trying to improve quality during recording - check SoliCall Pro.

Thanks for the links. I'll continue using QuickTime Player on my Mac.

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Evernote seems to give little to no attention to audio notes quality, so let me put it straight: IT HELL DOES MATTER TO MANY USERS.

Claims like trying to keep file size down are no-arguments when the quality of recorded audio even on PC or MAC is so bad, it is in fact USELESS. I cannot see, how this can be a low priority for Evernote (as stated by employees in other threads of this forum). This is one of key features for many users, or would be, if the they could actually use it. And file size? With MP3 or AAC you can get excellent quality with size that will not be problem even on mobile devices (they all have 16+ gigs of storage these days anyway).

Still thinking this is not an important feature? How about making selectable audio quality a "premium" feature for paying customers and see how unimportant it is.

I have been a long time OneNote user, than, moving from PC to Mac and iPad, evernote is great (in may ways better, in some worse) replacement, except for its audio quality *****.

Oh, and the advice to use other recording software... sure, can be done. Audacity for example. But then maybe I could also use some other note taking software, right? Having audio notes integrated with written ones (an maybe synced to other devices) is such a treat. It would be even better treat, if, like on the good old OneNote, you would have time-stamped written notes allowing you to jum to places in recording. That would be a premium feature worth upgrading the account for....

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The restriction on file size has nothing to do with how much storage you have on your device and everything to do with how large a note is allowed to be.

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@lerbern

to expand on metrodon's comments a bit more, evernote has a 25mb limit for free users and a 50mb one for premium. in my experience, recording audio in lecture halls, even just a one-hour recording takes up several hundred megabytes [EDITED: not "giga"bytes]. the smaller the size of the file, the worse the audio becomes.

i think the evernote audio recording is tolerable for meetings of small groups, and in my tests, it performs ok. i agree with you that it would be great to have higher quality, but that would require evernote to change a much larger policy restricting the size of note files. apparently, they are unwilling to do that, so you are neither able to record high quality audio nor upload such audio files into evernote. it is a a serious limitation, as i am sure they are aware, but one that makes sense. there is a reason that no one else (that i know of) offers such a service. in an ideal world, we would have it, but in this one, we don't.

as a workaround (you may want to consider this for other large file types, like video and pdfs) you can store the files in dropbox. on the ipad, i use recorder pro (free), because it will run in the background. i store my audio files in dropbox. they are easily accessible there. obviously, on mac or windows, audacity is a fabulous and free alternative. Once you have the files, you can easily shrink them down as necessary.

i want to reiterate that i am not dismissing your suggestion for better audio quality because it lacks merit, but trying to explain why i think the audio is so low quality, why evernote probably won't change it, and how you can work around the issue.

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Evernote seems to give little to no attention to audio notes quality, so let me put it straight: IT HELL DOES MATTER TO MANY USERS.

Claims like trying to keep file size down are no-arguments when the quality of recorded audio even on PC or MAC is so bad, it is in fact USELESS. I cannot see, how this can be a low priority for Evernote (as stated by employees in other threads of this forum). This is one of key features for many users, or would be, if the they could actually use it. And file size? With MP3 or AAC you can get excellent quality with size that will not be problem even on mobile devices (they all have 16+ gigs of storage these days anyway).

Still thinking this is not an important feature? How about making selectable audio quality a "premium" feature for paying customers and see how unimportant it is.

I have been a long time OneNote user, than, moving from PC to Mac and iPad, evernote is great (in may ways better, in some worse) replacement, except for its audio quality *****.

Oh, and the advice to use other recording software... sure, can be done. Audacity for example. But then maybe I could also use some other note taking software, right? Having audio notes integrated with written ones (an maybe synced to other devices) is such a treat. It would be even better treat, if, like on the good old OneNote, you would have time-stamped written notes allowing you to jum to places in recording. That would be a premium feature worth upgrading the account for....

Whoa there... Metrodon touched upon this, but to reiterate we have note size limits. We also have upload limits, but I think that's less of an issue, esp since we let you bump that past the regular premium limit.

I'm happy to revisit the audio recording for Mac and PC, but we might not catch up to QuickTime or other recording services. Anyways, L.Erben what do you consider the minimal quality necessary? A specific bitrate in mind? (Ok, I'll admit I'm not an expert in this area).

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in my experience, recording audio in lecture halls, even just a one-hour recording takes up several hundred gigabytes.

@GM, could you please check your facts for this?

My sources indicate this is a gross exaggeration of file size.

According to TotalRecorder.com the file size for audio recordings range from 4-1978 MB/HR.

Note that this is megabytes, not GIGAbytes, as you stated.

See the table at the bottom of the page.

They state the following:

  • High-quality voice recording
  • WMA voice
  • 20kBit/s, 22.05kHz, mono
  • 9 MB/HR

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Thank you. I meant megabytes, not gigabytes. For 50 minute lectures, I usually ranged between 174.3 - 290.2 megabytes, but sometimes had more if the lecture went a little long. I used 44.1 hz (CD Quality) WAV formats. These are non-compressed files, so they are naturally a bit larger. I am sure someone could have done with lesser quality (22khz or so) compressed CAF or AIFC formats, but I found this level to be perfect for my needs. In smaller rooms with smaller numbers of people, I could see having lower audio quality. I consider Evernote to be best for a one on one situation in an office or other intimate setting. That's fine for me. It doesn't seem to be OK for the OP, though.

Nothing against Evernote, but instead of using its limited audio capabilities, I much prefer to rely on the far superior dedicated apps. If I want to load something into Evernote later, it is an easy thing to do. I am glad the audio feature is there, but as an unsearchable add-on, I don't want to see them spending too much time developing it. Leave that to other app makers and instead, improve the notetaking, editing, etc. That's just my opinion. It doesn't have to be an either/or thing, but audio integration with notetaking is done so well by others that I think it is re-inventing the wheel.

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You know, we keep running into these features in Evernote that have not been done very well, e.g. audio note, snapshot note.

As you, and many others have pointed out, there are a number of 3rd party apps that do a lot better.

So why is Evernote providing features that have problems?

IMO, they should either NOT provide the feature, or provide a reasonable level of performance.

They certainly don't have to be world-class, but both the audio and snapshot features seem to cause more problems than they solve.

Interestingly enough, in both of the above cases the solution is fairly simple: allow the user to specify the resolution (bit rate, freq, image size).

I would guess more effort has been spent explaining/defending the current behavior than it would take to just fix it.

Just my opinion.

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i assume that evernote is responding to competition in the marketplace by providing audio and photo features, even if they are quite limited.

as i tried to make clear above, i think the op's suggestion is a fine one, but i see it challenging some fundamental aspects of the application, like the limits on attachment sizes. explaining (mainly through guesses on my part, as i am not an employee) the situation is a necessary step needed before proposing a solution.

in response to your solution, i assume that the lack of options stems from a philosophy that has been expressed in other threads that they prefer not to provide options for features. i am strongly opposed to this approach, as i have written several times, and agree with you about the need for more and more options. perhaps, if we can address their resistance to providing options, we can convince them to make changes that would benefit both evernote and the users.

for example:

1. another tier of service above premium that allows uploads of files larger than 50mb

2. options available to premium users. they would be unavailable to free users, and access to the options would encourage people to become premium members. this would be along the lines of the offline notebooks

3. separate apps like clear, hello, or food. an audio evernote app, a photo one, etc. that could work independently and provide some of the increased functionality desired by some users.

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As a music teacher, I was excited to use Evernotes recording ability to record assessments with my students (since I can put multiple files within a note and then transfer them easily to other places later). But the audio quality is so poor, that I am canceling my subscription and looking for other options (although none have been found yet).

Please please please look in to this issue and see if there is a way to get better quality audio. My notes are only 20sec long at the most so they wouldn't take up much space. I can get an entire class of 32 students in a .mp3 of only 20 or so mb

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It would be nice if Evernote could provide audio settings, but honestly speaking, it's not one of my priorities. With the app as it stands now, I'd say you'll be better-off recording at a high level with dedicated applications like recorder pro (ios) or audacity (desktop). They are free and provide lots of control. All you have to do is drag the files / mail them into Evernote when you are done making them.

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I'd suggest using QuickTime Player X to record audio outside of Evernote. Much easier than Audacity while still providing good quality.

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I travel a lot and there's often car noises, crowds or other things in the background. With the built in iphone recorder this was not a problem, everything came out clearly. I tried Evernote for a week, and when I finally got home I found out I had a week of embarrassingly(because I distribute some of my recordings) low quality audio that can require 2-3 playbacks to decipher.

Some of you are suggesting that people use an external application to record audio to remedy this, but this does not provide for a good customer experience, example:

1) I have an idea

2) I record the idea using the iphone recorder

3) I email it to my Evernote email address.

4) I wait for it to get there.

5) Refresh, still not there (bad reception, email server issues, whatever)

6) Ok it's here, time to add my additional pictures, notes and tags.

This is not optimal. Asking someone to use an external app for audio instead of fixing Evernote is like if someone had a small cut, and instead of giving them a bandaid to stop the bleeding you ask them to get a vascular bypass surgery.

I also can't sympathize with any concerns about space usage. It's 2012, Dropbox gives me 100GB of storage for $9.99. That's enough for at least 1000 hours of audio. But for my purposes the space allotted by Evernote's premium plan will be enough.

Here's my suggested plan of action for your company:

1) Fix the audio quality issue, or allow the user granular selection of bitrates and codecs.

2) Shut up and take my money.

You have a great product and I hope you continue to improve it.

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Here's my suggested plan of action for your company:

1) Fix the audio quality issue, or allow the user granular selection of bitrates and codecs.

2) Shut up and take my money.

You have a great product and I hope you continue to improve it.

Can't argue with #2

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Here's my suggested plan of action for your company:

1) Fix the audio quality issue, or allow the user granular selection of bitrates and codecs.

2) Shut up and take my money.

You have a great product and I hope you continue to improve it.

Can't argue with #2

Appreciate the humor- but if that's true, then this should actually be a big reason to offer higher bit rates. Users using more data = higher likelihood of users needing to expand to pay for the premium plan. I love EN. I would actually *like* to pay for it, but I can't justify doing so as I've never bumped up against the free monthly limit. Were the audio higher quality, I would make many more audio notes through EN and happily pay to seamlessly sync and share those notes.

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The reason the two sound so different is because the audio files themselves are encoded very differently.

The Quicktime file, which I wasn't able to actually listen to, as I think it might be referencing a different file, is an AAC file that was recorded at 44.1khz, and in stereo. The data rate is 194.44kbits/sec. It is a high quality file, similar to the quality of a song you might download from itunes.

The Evernote file is a MS-GSM codec file that is recorded in mono at 8Khz. The data rate on this file is 13 kbits/sec. As you can see the data rate is much lower and will create much smaller file sizes.

The Evernote file is similar in quality to bad cellphone audio. I am not sure why Evernote decided on this codec, but it is very light and allows for long audio files that can be sent back and forth between servers and devices fairly quickly. They may have also selected it as it is similar in audio quality to listening to a phone call. However, there are usually heavy artifacts and a great deal of lost data. Recording in a large room with bad acoustics would make these files hard to listen back to, unless quality headphones and some EQ was used.

Thanks to the AAC compression type, the Quicktime file you posted would take up 1.4MB per minute. With the 50MB limit in Evernote you would be able to upload a 35 minute file.

If my math is correct, the Evernote file would allow for over 9 hours of audio based on the data rate info in the file.

It would be great if Evernote would allow some other options in terms of quality, but in the meantime, you can use other apps as an in between.

One of my preferred apps is Voice Recorder HD, which allows you to set the quality between low, medium, and high, and allows the audio file to be sent to Evernote.

High Quality is 16 bit, 44.1khz, mono (5.05MB/minute)

Medium Quality is 16 bit, 22Khz, mono (2.28MB/minute)

Low Quality is 16 bit, 8Khz, mono (.92MB/minute)

The low quality looks the same as the original Evernote file, but it uses 16bit little edian instead of MS-GSM encoding, so is a bit bigger (and maybe acceptable quality to you). The high quality is near CD audio (except that it is mono, not stereo). The medium quality might be the best option as it would allow for about 20 minutes of audio at a time.

Sorry of this only confuses everyone... I like audio :)

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I couldn't agree more with the frustration expressed here with audio quality, especially with Evernote's marketing which encourages musicians to use it for songwriting. The worst part about it is that there is no notification to the user of the audio quality before you begin recording. I've been using Apple's Voice Memos app to record performances for a while with more than acceptable results for a phone, so as Evernote didn't tell me otherwise, I had similar expectations of audio quality in Evernote. So I recorded a gig of mine last night and only afterwards found out that it is basically unlistenable. So that performance was lost and I was one very disappointed Evernote user.

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I am a pro user and have been happily using Evernote the past two years or so. I'm also a musician, and I'm tinkering with the idea of recording my practice sessions. I have a digital recorder which I plug in to the line-in on my PC, and I've tried recording using separate software (Audacity) and the build-in recording function in the Windows Evernote client. I like the convenience of being able to record within Evernote, but the audio quality is not good enough unfortunately. That leaves my only other option to record the sound, convert it to a reasonable bitrate, and drag it into a note. It still acts like any other audio note in Evernote, but there is a longer process to create the recording as opposed to being able to record directly in the client. It would be nice if I could save that extra step, and it would just mean recording at a higher quality. Compressing the audio is important because I would want to limit the overall size, but it has to be good enough to be useful.

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Evernote should really do something about this. Not only are the recordings almost unusably poor quality even for simple voice recordings, but seem fairly large for what you get.

 

PS: Doesn't apple supply some libraries to get decent audio at a decent size (like its own recorder app)? Or do they really stick their developers with a 2-3 decade old audio codec? I know that you can post-process the linear PCM into a compressed format. Perhaps that would be an option (record .wav at a higher bitrate and convert when uploading later)? I just seems like Apple would have had something this basic figured out by now and available to developers ...

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