Zoom iQ7 iOS Microphone Review
Zoom iQ7 iOS Handy Recorder
M-S recording capability
Uses the same Zoom Handy Recorder App
You get what you pay for
Picks up interference
Field recording is a wonderful thing: capturing sounds of various environments to use in God-knows how many ways. I have a Tascam DR-07mkii for just such reasons. Sometimes, though, carrying around a separate piece of equipment can be a pain, no matter how small or light. And half the time there are sounds or spaces I want to record, I don’t have the device with me. But I almost always have my iPhone.
The Zoom iQ7 iOS microphone seeks to meet this need for folks like me by providing a quality, easily portable recording package that can be hooked up to any device running iOS with a Lightening port. We reviewed Zoom’s previous incarnation almost a year ago — the Zoom iQ6 — and it’s improvements over the Zoom iQ5. The iQ7, though, is an even better device that promises to deliver a better stereo image from a pair of condenser mics in a mid-side configuration.
One of the biggest differences between the iQ6 and iQ7 is the use of M-S recording, or mid-side, as opposed to X-Y; the same thing found on the Zoom iQ5 This essentially allows one to vary the stereo width, even in post-production. The iQ7 has a switch on the side that can changed the encoding from 90º to focus on sound in the center, 120º for a wider stereo field that captures ambience, or M-S for raw mid-side encoding, enabling one to vary the width after the fact. This last feature is found on the iQ7, but not the iQ6. This may seem like overkill for those who just want to use the device to capture band practice, a podcast, or a lecture, but it’s a Godsend for folks like myself that want the ability to manipulate the audio afterwards for pieces that may require the use of varying stereo width; M-S is also mono compatible. It essentially gives more options for those of us that want to do more than capture a sound.
Another feature particular to the iQ7 is the ability to rotate the speakers, such that they can be in the proper orientation for recording video on an iOS device. This is particularly handy for recording video and high quality audio of a concert, lecture, or event.
Most of the other specs remains the same as the iQ6, including up to 48kHz/16-bit audio quality, 120db input SPL, and a 1/8” headphone jack for monitoring or line out. The 120dB input SPL is especially nice for those wishing to record their band’s practice, or to gather audio from a live concert. The only caveat would perhaps be recording a SUNN O))) concert: they’ve been known to crank out around 120-125dB from 8 amplifiers.
Unfortunately, a lot of users complain about the sound quality and that the mic pics up interference. I’m not surprised it was picking up interference since the device is attached to a mobile phone but the sound quality is a different issue. For £84, I would expect excellent sound quality and the ability to at least isolate the microphones from themselves. Another complaint was about noise reduction again, I’m not surprised the onboard noise reduction isn’t that great; you’ll have to do that on a real machine to get good results.
Zoom includes a foam windscreen for the iQ7, though if you’d like to have usable field recordings, upgrading to the WSU-1 hairy windscreen is a must. One user specifically complained about the wind noise when using the foam windscreen; this also does not surprise me since foam windscreens are awful and don’t do much at all. If you expect to be recording in the field, get a good windscreen. On the device itself is a front-facing gain knob, as one would generally expect with any field recorder. Next to that, there is a three-segment LED that informs the user at a glance of the input level and whether gain needs to be adjusted. More accurate monitors, though, can be found in Zoom’s Handy Recorder app.
The app remains the same for both the iQ6 and iQ7. It provides a means to change the recording quality, monitor the levels more preciously than the LED’s on the device, and perform simple editing and mixing. It also allows users to email files, upload to SoundCloud, and apply mixing effects such as compression, reverb, and EQ. One also has the ability to save the files in linear PCM or AAC file formats.
The editing feature — for me at least — is really just a gimmick. I mean, sure, it’s cool to edit on your phone but if you really want something to sound good, you’d need to get the file onto a proper computer with real DAW software. Returning to the complaint of noise reduction, the app should really just be viewed as a fancy interface and not as a one-stop editing shop. Any niceties it has are going to pale in comparison to the tools one has available on a real computer. Solution: don’t edit on your phone. The app is not proper editing software.
The iQ7 is an excellent field recording device for folks not looking to have another item to carry around and want more flexibility in terms of a stereo field than the iQ6. It also works great for high quality audio when recording video, or for capturing a good run of a song you’ve been rehearsing with your band. However, it’s best to get the device and test it for yourself in the event that the sound quality or usability are not up to your standard.
I got better quality audio using their app but even that wasn't professional quality.
it picks up interferences while recording
it will work with Apple's Voice Memo app and GarageBand, as well as most apps that support input from an external microphone.
This is more of a toy, indeed an overpriced toy.
- Microphone: Mid-side (M-S) stereo mic (90°/120°/M-S)
- Output Connector: Stereo mini ⅛" jack (combined headphone/line level output)
- Audio Quality: 44.1kHz/16-bit , 48kHz/16-bit
- Input Gain: +3 to +43dB
- Maximum input sound pressure: 120dB SPL
- Connector: Lightning connector
- Power: Powered by the connected iOS device
- Compatible Devices: iPhone (5, 5s, 5c, 6, and 6+), iPod touch (5th generation), iPad (4th generation), iPad Air, iPad mini, iPad mini with Retina display
- Supported iOS: iOS 6.0 or newer
- Included Accessories: Operation manual, foam windscreen
- Optional Accessories: Hairy windscreen (WSU-1)
- Dimensions: 54.5 (w) x 57.2 (d) x 26.5 (h) mm
- Weight: 30.5g