Sonic Startup — Brooklyn: Making the MicSwap Mic Modeler & Recorder App

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Crave different microphone flavors when you record?

The MicSwap app allows iOS users to record, filter, sync and share audio through virtual microphones.

The MicSwap app allows iOS users to record, filter, sync and share audio through virtual microphones.

Of course you do, and you’re not alone. Having a large mic locker is the claim to fame for many a studio, and with good reason – the more mic choices there are, the better your odds of matching your source audio up to a capture device that complements it perfectly.

A versatile mic locker is indispensable, but they don’t travel nearly as well as an iPhone or iPad. And that’s where MicSwap comes in.

A new iOS recording app, this brainchild is straight out of Brooklyn. Co-created by Gary Levitt and Rob Behnke, MicSwap Pro ($19.99) is a mic modeler + recorder that allows users to record using a variety of custom mic emulations evocative of the likes of Telefunken, Neumann, AKG, RCA and more.

Taking it further, MicSwap can be used to change the sound of any pre-existing recording, and can be connected to an external mic or interface for more detail and even for live use. Real recording studio environments can also be switched in with a quick tap, including Williamsburg’s famed Studio G and New Jersey’s Blue Light Digital Sound.

As the owner of Young Love Studio in Bushwick, Levitt can hardly be accused of trying to undermine audio professionals. Quite the opposite, it’s clear that MicSwap is eager to extend the excitement of recording to a wider audience.

So how does sonic inspiration go from idea to app? Let Levitt tell you the story.

Business Name: Future Moments LLC

Website: http://www.micswap.com

Location: Bushwick, Brooklyn NY

Launch Date: Dec 7, 2014

Gary Levitt, co-founder of MicSwap

Gary Levitt, co-founder of MicSwap

Key Personnel: Gary Levitt & Rob Behnke

Revenue Streams: My personal revenue stream comes from a few places. MicSwap is a portable mic modeler and recorder for iOS. You can also change the sound of anything pre-recorded by swapping our custom mic emulations on the recording.MicSwap provides a bit of revenue from sales and in-app purchases.

I also engineer and run a studio in Bushwick called Young Love Studio. Besides that, I’ve been lucky enough to have my original music licensed, so my BMI checks have sometimes been a nice surprise.

Audio Inspiration: It started as a joke. I would always record rehearsals on my phone and would joke that I’d record it with a Neumann and make the swipe motion with my hand to change the mic graphic on iOS 6.

After thinking about it seriously I thought it was actually a good idea for many reasons.

App Action: I’d never designed an app before. I didn’t do the coding. I have no interest in learning that.

I have released records on iTunes so it was actually pretty similar to that. Being an artist that promotes their work gives you a good idea of what it takes to market and promote. Marketing this app has been pretty similar to releasing and promoting a record.

Nailing a useful UI was paramount to MicSwap.

Nailing a useful UI was paramount to MicSwap.

Other Acts of Creation: Getting a simple User Interface (UI) was one of the main things we wanted to accomplish in designing the app. That was a fun process — seeing how humans think and use intuitively.

For the actual mic modeling, we started with 13 popular mics that have different sounds from each other. We wanted to have a nice array of condensers, ribbons and dynamic mics. We only used mics I was familiar with. I downloaded all the frequency charts, did a lot of tests using the Waves PAZ Analyzer and worked with the developer to build a great audio engine and incorporate each microphone’s sound.

Clients/Credits: We’ve been getting a few followers on our Twitter that are big names. I’m not sure if that means they’re definitely using MicSwap or not, but right now I know Ryan Jarman from the Cribs, Canadian teen pop star Shawn Mendes and Erica from Quitzow are all using it.

Unique Offering: We really don’t have any direct competitors right now. What we’re doing is fairly unique in the iOS world. There’s no app like it.

IK Multimedia just last week released a pretty similar version of our app but it doesn’t record anything. You have to use it with their products and with other apps. Ours records and is built with every musician in mind. Me, my partner and the developer are all musicians, so we come at it with that in mind.

I can’t say what it is, but soon we’ll release a very cool new feature that will make MicSwap a must-have mobile tool for any songwriter or composer. I’m so excited for this. It’s going to make musicians lives easier and inspire more creativity and collaboration.

Transport your recorded sound to Studio G's "A" room, with any mic you like using Environment Paks.

Transport your recorded sound to Studio G’s “A” room, with any mic you like using Environment Paks.

Expansion Action: We get daily download #’s and there’s all kinds of analytics we study to try and gauge how people are using the app and what they’d like to see added or changed.

We also have an “issues and suggestions” feature built into the app where users can email us directly. That’s been very informative, but I’m around musicians all the time so I see firsthand how the app is being used. There’s many ways to use it so it’s always interesting to see everyone’s individual approach.

Case In Point: We specifically made the app so users can change any sound after the fact. We know that when you’re recording it’s always good to have the freedom to change things later.

MicSwap also allows you to color code your recordings because we know people fill their phone with ideas and it can get messy. Even though you can name the recording, being able to sort recordings by color, name, date etc… is very helpful.

Glowing Testimonials: The feedback has been great. Forbes Magazine recently called us “The Instagram for Your Voice”. That was neat to see because that exemplified the many ways the app can be used and the many different ways people see it.

Visual for your audio.

Visual for your audio.

Why Being a Sonic Entrepreneur Rules: It totally rules! I love being able to make my own schedule. Even though I’m working for people and clients, I’m still my own boss.

I love being around creative people. I’ve always said this and I read it somewhere that validated it, but I feel like my job as an audio engineer is 85% psychology and 15% audio.

Why Some Days You Want to Pack It In and Get Your Real Estate License: I don’t really have those days. I’ve felt that before, but at this point I know I wouldn’t be any happier.

The Ultimate Business Partner: It would be someone more motivated than me, someone that took more risks than me, someone much smarter than me, and someone that respected me.

I never want to be the smartest, most driven person in the room. Different people have different intelligences. I hope to always be around people that are surprising and inspiring me.

Sage Advice: Keep your overhead low. Keep your debt low or nil. The worst kind of stress besides poor health is financial stress. Work hard and work smart. Ask Google questions. Get advice from people who are successful. Take what works for you and discard what doesn’t, but replace it with something that does.

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