Best voice recording apps for iPhone and iPad

By , May 22, 2016

best voice recording apps

Students who record lectures, business users who record meetings, or an aspiring artist who records ideas on the go. There are many different people use, or could use, a voice memo app. Apple does include a stock application, however its features are rather limited. To break through the crowded hodge podge that is the App Store, we went searching for some of the best apps around for taking audio recordings.

Audio recorders in particular are very hard to narrow down. There are just countless offerings from large companies, to one off developers. There was a number of different criteria that went into our ranking. This includes: format options, quality, cloud storage/export options, and any other unique features they may include.

Recorder Plus

Recorder Plus Screenshots

Recorder Plus is my recommendation for best professional recording app. The UI is modern, if not a bit cluttered at times. The app itself is free, with a huge variety of features available as in app purchases. This can be good and bad, depending on how you look at it. On one side, it allows you to try the app, then unlock only features you would use. So you don’t have to pay for extraneous options. But on the flip side, if you purchase everything, it winds up being the most expensive option on the list.

The wealth of features here is fantastic. It offers all formats you could want. There are 8 cloud drives you can tie into to store your files as well. Inside the app it offers decent organizational options such as custom file names and folders. When you playback your recordings, you can change the speed, as well as trim them if need be.

While it does offer the ability to lock the app and protect your recording, it doesn’t support Touch ID. That is one thing I expect these days in any app that is password protected, however not many others include password protection, let alone Touch ID, so it isn’t as if this is behind the competition.

  • Device support: iPad, iPhone
  • Recording formats: MP3, MP4, CAF, WAV, M4A, AAC
  • Sharing: Share Sheet, email (multiple at once), Box, Dropbox, Wi-Fi, Web dev, Google Drive, FTP, Sugar Sync, and Skydive.
  • Notable features: Many overall features. Lots of cloud storage options. Get the app for free, and purchase only features you will use.
  • Cost: Free (Pro features available via in app purchase)

Just Press Record

Just Press Record Screenshots

While Recorder Plus is a fantastic app, has a wealth of professional features, it isn’t always my go-to app when I need to make a recording. That honor gets bestowed upon Just Press Record. There is something about how dead simple this app is. So simple, there isn’t even a settings menu. What do you do? You literally, just press record.

The app doesn’t mess around with different recording formats, or qualities. You just get high quality M4A (AAC) audio files. You don’t have a bunch of in-app purchases either. When you buy the app you get everything out of the box.

Just Press Record also takes advantage of the newest features in iOS and the Apple ecosystem. It features 3D Touch on iPhone 6s to start recording right from the home screen. On iPad, it works with multitasking. You can use the app in split screen, while taking notes alongside. Instead of simply storing files locally, it saves everything on the fly to iCloud Drive. You remove it from the app, you remove it from iCloud Drive. That makes it available instantly on any device you own. So you record, and it shows up on your iPad and Mac without you having to lift a finger.

What is also handy, is that the iOS app includes iPad, and Apple Watch support. So you can actually create recordings from your wrist. On the Mac, they have a separate app available. So you can use that to create and view your recordings as well.

What I am really saying is, for the casual user this may be the best app. You just don’t get to have much configurability.

  • Device support: iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, Mac
  • Recording formats: M4A (AAC)
  • Sharing: Share Sheet, iCloud Drive
  • Notable features: Most clean and modern UI. Very simple to use. Use 3D Touch to record right from the home screen. Supports 3D Peek and Pop within the app. Automatically syncs all files via iCloud Drive. Record from your Apple Watch, or while taking notes in split screen on iPad.
  • Cost: $2.99

Voice Recorder HD

Voice Recorder HD Screenshots

Voice Recorder HD is a really great voice recording app. It has a wealth of features, though a UI that is a bit dark and skeuomorphic for today’s design aesthetic.

It has a relatively low barrier to entry, with most features coming in for the single $1.99 purchase price. Inside the app there is limited organizational features aside from custom names for the files. You can choose which quality to record in, however if you want M4A support, you must purchase it via in-app purchase.

It doesn’t support iCloud Drive but you can sync all of your files to a linked Dropbox account which could even be more ubiquitous and allow more accessibility.

Another notable feature is Audio Boost. This helps reduce background noise, and amplify voices for those that talk quietly, or are far away from the mic.

Lastly, this also supports Apple Watch to record straight from your wrist.

  • Device support: iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch
  • Recording formats: WAV (M4A via in app purchase)
  • Sharing: Share Sheet, Dropbox
  • Notable features: Audio Boost to more clearly hear muted audio sources. Link Dropbox to sync your files.
  • Cost: $1.99 (More features via in app purchase)

Voice Recorder Free

Voice Recorder Free 1 Screenshots

This app is here because it offers a host of pro features (like multiple formats), unique features (like flagging important parts of a recording), and it is all available for free. This doesn’t offer the most features, or the best UI, but it does pack in a lot for a great price. Nothing!

You can record in several different formats that only a couple others offer. You can also easily share your files using the built-in share sheet, or even over Wi-Fi. The app is clearly meant to be the place to store your files as you can easily organize them, and group them into folders.

Probably my favorite feature is as you are recording, you can flag important areas of the recording, and can easily jump to them upon playback. This is only available from within the app, but very useful if you want to mark different areas of a meeting.

The app itself can be password protected, but it is laking Touch ID.

  • Device support:  iPhone
  • Recording formats: AAC, MP4, CAF, AIFF, WAV
  • Sharing: Share Sheet, WiFi
  • Notable features: Wifi sharing from within the app. Flag important parts of a recording. Wide variety of recording formats.
  • Cost: Free

Honorable Mentions

Voice Recorder - Evernote - Smart Recorder

Smart Record

Smart Record is a handy tool that has some useful features not present in others. For instance, you can set up a recording reminder. So maybe you always need to record your Discreet Mathematics lecture, every day at 10am. You can set this in the app to remind you at that time, to start recording the lecture.

It has new iOS features like 3D Touch on newer Apple devices so you can record from your Home screen. Handily, one of the best features is the ability to add text, images, or markers inside the recording. So if you recorded an hour long meeting, you could take photos of the presentation, then on playback, see that image and the time stamp it is relevant.

If you’d like, you can have them transcribed, however this is a surcharge, available for $1.00 a minute.

Evernote

Evernote is commonly known as a way to take notes. Lots and lots of notes. That is still absolutely the case. However, they added not long ago the ability to tie voice recordings.

This means you can easily be recording a lecture, while taking written notes at the same time, and tie them together. Since this is Evernote, all the features come with great syncing to any device that they support.

Voice Recorder Free – smart Speech and Audio

This app looks a little clunky, but it has one killer feature that makes it worth consideration. That is the ability to convert your audio notes, to text. It supports 44 languages, and in my testing, works fairly well. Both audio, and text notes are stored inside the app.

If you opt for the pro version for $2.99, you get Noise Gate which boosts clarity, reduces background noise, and increases volume. You also get Apple Watch support, and no ads.

Conclusion

While these apps did made it, this by no means is an exhaustive list. There are many more that are still out there that we didn’t touch on.

Do you have a particular voice recording app that you really enjoy? If you do, let us know down in the comments, as well as any suggestions on which type of apps we should cover next.

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  • Techsticles

    The trouble with recording hours of audio is finding anything after. Smart Record lets you time stamp and flag the recording but if you really need to take notes that sync time with the audio, check out Notability or AudioNote.

  • iByron

    I *love* Just Press Record! I tried a lot of recording apps and settled on JPR as my go-to as well. Simple to use and does just what it says. That it has a desktop companion that it shares files with via iCloud makes it that much better.

  • Jon G.

    HT Recorder+ gets my vote!

  • Matthew Waller

    I’m a fan of Soundpace. I used it a lot as a journalist to slow down the audio and transcribe notes 🙂

  • Luke Toh

    appreciate this article. made me realise i’ve been using the stock app for the longest time.

  • Greg Conquest

    I tried Recorder Plus by amit patel:

    Aarrgggghhhh! This app is frustrating. I purchased the cloud sync
    feature and linked dropbox, but there is no automatic sync. You must
    upload the recordings manually. The app does not remember the last used
    folder on dropbox. You have to remember and navigate there every time.
    And it does not remember which files have already been uploaded. It will
    make duplicates. And then, after all that, the app hangs after the
    upload. The upload status pop-up won’t go away. I have to force-close
    the app and launch it again.

    So, I tried one premium feature, and it was terrible.

    Maybe this app is technically good in terms of audio quality, but the interface and workflow is horrible.