If you are a professional content producer or an avid audio guy, then you might often find yourself in situation where you wished you had your audio recorder on the scene. The iPhones that we have don’t have the ability to record audio in high quality. The mic location on the device is not ideal for good quality recording. Therefore you have to look out for good quality external microphones which record top notch stereo sound and have an acceptable frequency response. Today, we are going to look for the best iOS mics for iPhone and iPad
The XY represent the ‘X’ and the ‘Y’ axis of which the two microphones are aligned with. Both these axis are perpendicular to each other, as are the two individual microphones. The two cardioid microphones give wonderful stereo sound recording. This is because of the cardioid shaped response of the two microphones. The older version of iXY worked only with iPhone 4/4S because of the 30 pin connector. You have to look out for the newer version of the microphone with the lightning connector to use it on the iPhone 5, 5S, 5C. The other notable difference between the old and the new version is the physical appearance. The revised version feels firmly jacked on the iPhone unlike the previous RODE iXY which felt mechanically weak because the 30 pin connector was the only thing supporting it.
The iXY has the capability to record audio at a nice 96kHz sample rate with 24 bits per sample (absolutely crazy for such small stereo microphone). To know more about the technical specifications we have a look at the datasheet specifying the directivity patterns of the mic, the frequency response and noise levels and many other features that come with this tiny package. There is also an internal pre-amplifier and a software switchable filter to enhance the audio it picks up by reducing noise.
The iXY also comes with a wind shield to prevent, you guessed it, wind noise! There is an additional a carry case in the box to safely store your mic while travelling. The best part is the complete metal body which makes it rugged; but that doesn’t mean you can freely drop it the way you like because microphones are mechanically aligned to precision so that they can precisely transform your audio into electrical signals.
These microphones can be used to record your band rehearsals, take a quick interview or even record bird calls whilst out in the wild. The package also comes with an option to download the RODE recording app. It allows you to edit your recorded audio on the go and instantly upload it to SoundCloud.
Apogee claims to be the first company to interface studio quality microphones to iPhone/iPad. Their customers seem to be extremely happy with this product. It is not a “professional” product according to Apogee’s marketing tech sheet, but who cares what they say. The Apogee MiC for iPhone/iPad has the ability to record extra ordinary audio. It definitely sounds good when you compare it with the audio recorded with cheap mics out there. The mic itself is not device mountable like the iXY, but it does not really get in the way. You can easily it hook it up on a stand, place it on your table or just hold it in your hand while being plugged to your iPhone or iPad. There are two versions of the Mic, one comes with a 30 pin apple connector and the other comes with lightning connector. Other than the connectors, there is no difference between the two.
The build quality is excellent and sturdy with the minimum of plastic. You do not need to use batteris to power it up because it draws power straight from your phone so consider purchasing an iphone external battery. The mic has internal A/D converter which has 24 bits per sample running at 96kHz sampling frequency. The cardioid shaped response is helpful in rejecting noise and sound from the back of the mic.
You can also control the gain of the mic using the knob given. According to the reviews, the mic needs to be used on “low” gain or there will be some noticeable noise popping up in between. It may be quite expensive but it is totally worth the money for the high quality sound it can record. This mic is definitely ideal for people getting started with music recordings at home, and definitely a nice fit for Youtubers.
Here’s another stereo mic that comes with lightning connector. At first glance you might wonder what this actually does because it’s quite funky in appearance. The entire width of the device is equal to that of iPhone 5 and it fits snugly into the lightning connector. The Zoom IQ5 gives the user the ability to rotate the mic so that the orientation of the L and R condensers can be changed. Even with this option, some people found out that the L and R were swapped. It’s not a big problem because you can correct it with the iOS app that comes with the mic.
The Zoom iQ5 has only 16 bits per sample and a sampling rate of 44.1kHz which is adequate for general use. It is definitely not a professional quality mic, but it can perform extremely well in comparison to the inbuilt iPhone mic. On the other hand, many mics have the problem of distorting sound if the volume is too high. You do not have to worry about that with Zoom iQ5 because of the manual gain limiting control as well as the automatic gain control. You can choose between the two with a slide switch on the mic. This is especially nice when you are trying to record a live concert. With a default mic, you can barely listen to the live music, but that’s not the case with Zoom iQ5. Additionally, the mic also has a dedicated app for controlling the sound input and it also has the option for uploading recorded audio to soundcloud just like the RODE iXY.
Update: The Zoom iQ7 is out and it’s a huge improvement on the IQ5 and IQ6.
Boom mics are pretty useful for recording interviews or for recording and focusing on sound coming from a certain direction . The background noise is going to be there no matter how quiet the environment is. That noise is going to ruin every recording of yours if you don’t stop it. Now, when you buy a Boom Mic, you automatically step up your audio quality by several notches. Boom mics are very directional! This means that they will only take sound coming from the direction you point it at and reject all other sounds coming outside of the directive range. The higher the directivity, lesser is the noise and vice versa. It can come quite handy for news reporters trying to record what the President is trying to say in all the commotion. Let us check out if Belkin boom mic performs in the way a real boom mic does.
The mic fits into the audio jack instead of the Apple’s custom connector. This means that you would not be able to get stereo audio recording. This is because an audio jack has only one channel support. The mic also comes with a AAA battery to power it up. It is not the best quality microphone on the market, only something which can improve your audio recordings a little bit. The build quality feels cheap and it is made completely out of plastic. There is a tiny switch on the side of the mic to change the modes into “directional” and “super directional”. Ideally, it must attenuate the sounds coming from the back of the mic and also from the sides, but that doesn’t work so well. The manufacturer also gives a free app to enhance the audio quality of the mic. If you are considering buying a boom mic, then there are other manufacturers to look for. Better stay away from this one because it is definitely not worth £50.
We have looked at 4 of the best iOS mics for iPhone and iPad. A little note to those who might be looking to buy mics for their iPhones. A mic with a 3.5mm audio connector would not give you great results. This is because it has only a mono channel and is limited by the audio circuitry inside the phone. A mic with lightning connector will perform several times better because it has a good quality front end and you can also record stereo.