Nokia Launching Music Video Smartphone

The Nokia Lumia 1520 is the first smartphone that can record your next rock concert or music video

Recording live audio with Nokia Lumia 1520 and rich recording

The Nokia Lumia 1520 will be the favorite smartphone for recording live music videos since it will be the first phone not to distort the music. Can I say this will be Nirvana?

This will be Nokia’s week. On November 22nd it will ship the Lumia 2520, first 10.1&Prime Windows 8.1 tablet with 4G and WiFi, and the Lumia 1520, the largest smartphone at 6&Prime.  

Buried beneath the press chatter is a small but important Lumia 1520 feature called Nokia Rich Recording that will allow you to record live and loud music without the usual music distortion.

The Nokia Lumia 1520 has been pre-released by AT&T at some stores for $540 to $580 without a contact.


How often have music fans held up their smartphones to record a band at a concert and club and been disappointed later when the sound was awful? Every time unless they use a separate mic and recorder for audio.

Smartphones have gotten better at taking pictures and videos but everything from Apple to Samsung Galaxy has sucked on sound.

Nokia Rich Recording will make the Lumia 1520 a better video capture device than the Lumia 1020, even though the 1020 has double the number of pixels.

I have waited for this for years. Any concert videos that are worth listening to were done on a dedicated video camera with a separate mic. With the Lumia 1520, all you have to do is bring your phone.

The problem is that loud music in a club or concert overloads the microphones and preamps on the phones. Once the sound goes over the phone’s decibel limit, clipping and distortion occur.

Here’s a video Nokia recorded of a session in a acoustically bright room with the Lumia 1520.

Niila singing “Bottle of Wine” sound very good for a smartphone. Of course, the band is not amplified and there is little low-end energy from a kick drum and bass guitar. So let’s say I am intrigued but want to test it further.

Nokia Rich Recording with electronica

Nokia has worked on improving smartphone audio for years. The PureView 808 was the first iteration. The Lumia 1020 was the first chance consumers got to try Rich Recording with a high-end smartphone.

Here’s a sample of electronic dance music recorded with the Lumia 1020 in comparison with an Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy. Turn your headphones up loud to hear the effect.

The Lumia 1020 with Rich Recording sounds very good for a $700 smartphone. The Samsung Galaxy S4 sounds brittle and distorted. I know that effect. It’s the same one I got using the Galaxy S inside a blues club. The iPhone sounds strongly compressed like the sound is in a box. Been there with the iPhone. But at least the iPhone has fingerprint recognition, a big help recording videos.

Even Nokia knew Rich Recording was not good enough on the Lumia 1020 and used external audio recording for Ellie Goulding’s official music video.

Nokia Rich Recording improvements with Lumia 1520

Nokia upgraded the 2 microphones in the Lumia 1520 to 4 directional mics. They also improved the compression program to allow three ranges of recording live music.

Default: This works especially well in loud environments, such as concerts, but this default option provides balanced and natural sound from almost any recording situation, no matter how big the bass.

Strong: This setting can be applied in situations where there are lots of low-frequency noise, such as a strong wind or when you video your dog sticking its head out of the car window as you’re moving. While you may not notice it during the recording, these low sounds can be loud and dominant during playback. ‘Strong’ applies an effective filter to cut the unwanted low-frequency noises.

Off: This setting can be used when there is a need to capture the entire sound spectrum from ca. 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Some may find this option convenient if they wish to edit the sound on a computer.

Behind the scenes of “Bottle of Wine”

For more details, see Nokia Rich Recording and Niila Bottle of Wine.

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