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  • Most Smule users start out with using the headsets provided with their phone or tablet. If you want to use professional microphones, you will run into the problem of not having a easy way to connect them to your phone or tablet. You need an audio interface—like the iRig Pre. Here is everything you need to know about it. 

    The iRig Pre is rather small (32mm/1.26" x 35mm/1.38" x 83mm/3.27") and comes with Velco strip so you can tie it to a mic stand—not a professional solution, but better than nothing. 
    At the bottom is the XLR socket for your microphone. You can connect any professional mic with an XLR cable here, may it be dynamic or a condenser mic. At the front of the iRig Pre is a little knob with three options:
    Off On—use this for dynamic microphones +48V—use this for condenser microphones The knob is very small and not easy to handle. And you might need to use it often, since you always want to turn it off when you don’t use the iRig Pre, especially with condenser microphones. The battery can last up to 30 hours for dynamic mics, but only 10 hours for condenser mics. So if you want to use the iRig Pre every day, you will need a lot of batteries. And unfortunately, the device has no connection for a power adapter. It’s batteries only!

    On the right side is a thumbwheel to set the output gain. You will have to find a setting that works well with your microphone and then you can just leave it at this setting. 

    The audio cable (permanently attached to the device) will plug into your phone’s or tablet’s audio socket. It’s a regular combined headphone & mic connection. So any device that works with a typical headset, also works with the iRig Pre. And any iOS or Android app, that support the headphone socket, will also work with the iRig Pre. 
    Your headphones go into the headphone socket of the iRig Pre. If you use a headset with a microphone, the microphone will be deactivated and only the headphones will work. And if your headset has volume buttons, they will be turned off as well. I found that the quality of the iRig Pre’s headphone socket is significantly worse than what the phone/tablet delivers. So I often would record a song with my headset in the iRig Pre, but then connect them to the phone again for reviewing the song—which can get quite a hassle. 

    Using the iRig Pre with Smule
    The iRig Pre sends analog audio signals across the microphone channel. So the Smule Sing! app will use it like a headset and there are no compatibility issues whatsoever. When you get the device, it will need some trial and error to find the right settings, since you now have two ways to control the volume—the device gain and the Smule volume slider. 
    Using the iRig Pre can achieve better audio quality, especially in regards to noise, but also in regards to the possible volume range, which is limited with headsets. However, since the iRig Pre is a cheap and analog device, you might not get the full quality your professional XLR microphone can actually deliver. Nevertheless, the interface is a good and popular choice for Smule singers who use devices with an audio socket.
    For newer devices that don’t have a headphone socket anymore, you would need another adapter just to connect your iRig Pre. This might be okay if you already have an iRig Pre, but I wouldn’t recommend buying an iRig Pre in this case. If your device only has a digital connection (USB/lightning), you might want to use digital audio interface as well. 
    Smule users like to upload their collabs as videos to Facebook instead of just posting links, since the video will auto-play right in the Facebook feed. But since you might be republishing copyrighted music, the videos can be taken down instantly or Facebook accounts might be banned from posting videos or even deleted for too many copyright violations.
    But there is good news: the first of the 3 major music labels—the Universal Music Group—has now signed a contract with Facebook. The songs of albums published through Universal can now be posted on Facebook without any problems. This includes artists from many genres, present (like Taylor Swift) and past (like The Beatles) as well as movie soundtracks. 

    An independent list of artists who have some or all of their albums published through Universal can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Universal_Music_Group_artists
    Or go to Universal’s udiscovermusic website. It lists the artists and the albums:
    https://www.udiscovermusic.com/artists-a-z/
    Feel free to let us know it this works for you. We tested this and unlike last year, posting original videos from Universal artists did not create any warnings or removals anymore. 
    Version 6.1.9 of the Sing! app for iOS brings changes in two areas:
    1. New Video Filter options
    The video filters introduced recently get a new setting for additional effects. In addition to the color setting you can now also add bubbles to the Rio style, fireflies to the Oslo style or dramatic fog to the Petra style. For each effect you can set the strength to one of four options (off, weak, stronger, maximum). 

    2. New Playback Screen
    The screen to watch performances inside the iOS app has been redesigned. The video or cover image (for audio performances) now fills the entire upper half on iPhones and iPods without the need to manually push the controls down. In addition, recent comments and likes are now shown by just scrolling down. 

    Don’t finish Smule video OCs early
    If a community songbook song ends with 10 seconds of silence, then by all means: cut if off! But don’t cut off your OC early just because your singing part has ended. If you are “on stage” with another person, you shouldn’t just run off at some point, surprising the person who has joined you. Whether they stay there alone until the end or cut if off as well—both options kind of ruin the duet. It’s not a complete presentable video anymore and the person joining might have hoped for that. So please stick around until the music has come to end. And if you really don’t want to do that—for example because the outro is just too long—then open an audio-only version instead.  
    Check the cover image and change it if necessary
    The automatic cover images for video duets are rarely good. But if you open a song, only you have the power to change the cover image. So do the people joining a favor and pay attention to the cover image. Does it seem like the person joining might not like how he or she looks in that image? Then change it and pick a different frame from the video. It’s easy and can be done quickly. 
    Put a shirt on! Or “respecting the person opening the song”
    Some duets are literally just 3 minutes of fun. People open songs while walking, cooking, cleaning and so on. That’s perfectly fine! Not every Smule duet needs to be perfect. And people opening songs don’t expect you to be a professional singer. In fact, I would encourage people to join better singers – it’s how you can get better. 
    But as a rule of thumb: at least try to match the effort of the person opening the song has put into it. If ifs a flawless OC, don’t put your headphones in while your already recording. If the people opening the songs are singing fully dressed in their living room, they might not want to see you joining the OC shirtless in bed. And so on. 
    Do you agree? Do you have other tips or pet peeves? Let us know in the comments. 
    Sing.Salon was launched one year ago in August 2016. I am happy to report that the site is growing nicely ever since, especially during the last months. The site now has more than 500,000 page views every month.  
    Articles, frequently asked tech questions, microphone directory, group directory, competition directory, interviews, partner artists … No other place on the internet gathers this much useful information and knowledge around Smule and Sing! app.  
    And with the recently launched Club feature, users can now even create their own community space within the Sing.Salon community. 
    If you have any other feature requests or suggestions for the future, feel free to let us know in the forums. We are looking forward to year 2 of the Sign.Salon. 
    Smule just released version 6.0.1 for iOS. Here is an overview of the changes. 
    New Feature: Edit Songbook Tabs
    You can now customize the tabs in the songbook section of the Sing! app to your needs. Click the microphone symbol and scroll all the way to the right until you see a plus symbol. Click it and you will see a list of categories, such as musical genres and special categories such as Recommended, Popular, Trending and Unlocked. Using the checkmark symbol you can add or remove tabs. The entries at the top are your current tabs. You can also use the button on the left to change their order. 

    Redesigned Recording screen
    The settings you see while recording a song have changed. You can’t swipe anymore on the video to change the video filters. There is a new button on the bottom left to change the filter—but only for the songs you open yourself! Just as with group songs, the person opening the song now also controls the video filter for duets. The settings just show you which filter was used if you join. There is no option to change it anymore. 

    The button in the middle controls the audio filters and the button on the left gives access to the volume of your microphone and the guide track. 
    Some people couldn’t find the rewind and flag button anymore after the update. In order to access it, you need to drag the control panel (see left image) down and the rewind and flag button will appear again (right image). 
    New problems
    Users have reported problems with recording video. The video frame that is visible during the recording is not the same as after the upload. So you might have your head cut off. Smule has been made aware of the issue. Currently there is probably no other solution than to aim the camera somewhat higher during recording. We will update the article once the problem was fixed.
    People have also reported that the recently added Boost option is not available anymore. 
    Update: The video frame seems to fixed in version 6.0.5. In addition, the flag/rewind buttons have been made more visible again. 
    You are just starting out with video on the Sing! app? Here are some tips to make your videos look better. 
    First of all, you probably want to get a lot of light and you want it in front of you! Too little light is especially problematic with Smule videos, since they are compressed and the less light there is, the more compression artefacts you will see. 

    dark scenes or just background light and strong video compression don’t go well together
    So as a rule of thumb: unless you want to create a special mood for your song, you want a lot of light and you want the light to in front of you and diffused. The easiest way to achieve this is to just stand in front of a large window. (But not a window where the sun is directly visible from where you are standing.) So in this setting, you get diffused light from all sides and as a result, your face is well-light without any hard shadows. 

    Holding your phone all the time while standing in front of the window isn’t a perfect solution of course. A recommendable and also pretty cheap solution is to get a camera tripod and a separate phone clamp, which can be screwed into the tripod. You can get a very simple tripod, but make sure …
    it is high enough, so you can place the phone at least at the hight of your face or even better: a little bit higher.  it has a 3-way head, so you can use your phone in portrait mode—or you buy a phone clamp, which can be rotated. 
    A cheap but effective Sing! app setup
    If you also want to sing on rainy days and at night, the window tip might not work for you. In that case, consider a more professional solution. Get one, or better two so-called softboxes. They also produce the diffused light we want. You can get a set of two starting at around $60 (Amazon search link). Place the softboxes to the left and right of you and and somewhat higher than your head. This is basically the same setup a photographer would use for portrait shots. We don’t want a flash of course. So we need the continuous output light these softboxes provide. 

    The only downside of this setup is that it needs a lot of space. If that is a problem for you, you could also look into LED lights. They can provide a lot of light, but the light is not as diffused as with a softbox. So your skin won’t look as soft. Those LED lights come in different shapes, including ring lights, and they often include optional filters to influence the color of the lights. If the LED lights are rather bright, you can move them far away (to make the light more diffused) or even point them away from you at the walls or the ceiling to get diffused light. 

    Got any other lighting tips? What setup do you use? Feel free to let us know in the comment section below. 

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