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Gear Roundup: Smartphone Mics

The technology behind smartphones if always improving, they're getting faster, more powerful and the screens and cameras are always being upgraded. It's no surprise that they've become viable options for content creators to capture audio and video. Everyone has a phone and access to editing software is easier and faster than ever before. So, if you want to start vlogging or making video content, there's not a lot to stop you! With that in mind one of the fastest, most affordable and instantly effective ways to increase the quality of your smartphone video content is with a decent microphone. The internal microphones on devices have gotten better, but an aftermarket mic will add a noticeable bump in quality and professionalism to your work. So, here's a quick look at a few different options.

Shure Motiv MV88

The MV88 is Shure's entry into the world of smartphone mics. This is iOS only (sorry Android users) and plugs in via the iPhone's lightning connection. The size of the MV88 is a big selling point, it's small and lightweight, which is important when it's going to be attached to the end of your phone and it’s rugged enough that you can carry it around in your pocket. Audio quality wise, it's a condenser microphone offering 24-bit/48kHz resolution, meaning it'll cover a range of uses from interviewing, recording live performance or vlogging admirably. It also features an innovative hinged 90-degree adjustable microphone element for highly flexible positioning. One of the most impressive elements of this mic is the accompanying (free) ShurePlus™ MOTIV™ Recording iOS App. It gives you real-time control over things like stereo width, mid/side recording options, EQ, compression, wind noise reduction and selectable DSP preset modes. It means you can select simple presets to co-inside with the type of recording you're doing or get more in-depth with specific controls.

It's also worth noting that Shure have recently released the MV88+ Video Kit, which is a great all-in-one option for someone who wants everything needed to capture great smartphone audio and video. It includes the MV88 mic, Manfrotto PIXI Tripod, phone clamp & shoe-mount mic clip and USB-C & lightning cables. So, you'll be set to go straight out of the box, especially if used in conjunction with the ShurePlus™ MOTIV™ apps.

Zoom iQ7

Like the MV88, the Zoom iQ7 makes use of the iOS lightning connection to interface with your device. Designed as a mid-side portable condenser microphone, the mic orientation can be rotated to ensure the best possible audio capture and by nature the mid-side recording means you can make changes to the stereo image, even in post-production. The two microphone elements include a directional "mid" mic that captures signal coming from directly in front of your iOS device, and a bidirectional "side" mic that captures the audio coming from both sides. It includes three different recording modes to adjust from 90°, 120° and "raw" Mid-Side capture profiles. The iQ7 also interfaces with Zoom's free Handy Recorder app, which adds a bunch of extra functionality, like overdubs, editing, EQ, compression and reverb. The iQ7 will work well as a general mic for upping the audio quality of your videos but is really great if you want to move in the direction of field recordings or anything where the ability to manipulate the stereo image is of great benefit.

Audio Technica ATR3350iS

If you're looking at doing more interviewing or "to camera" work, then a lavalier/lapel mic might be the best solution for you. The ATR3350iS is an entry-level omni directional, newscaster style mic with a focus on accurate voice reproduction. As the name suggests, it attaches to the front of your shirt or collar to capture audio at close quarters. The ATR3350iS features a dual-mono 1/8" output and an adaptor to use with both iPhone and Android devices. The obvious benefits of a lav mic are they're easy to disguise, leave your hands free and will give you great vocal capture. If you're wanting to interview or do podcast work, lavalier mics can be great as they're unobtrusive and help relieve some of the intimidation factor that people may feel if you put a large microphone in front of them and encourage a more natural conversation.

Rode VideoMic Me/Me-L

The RODE VideoMic is an awesome all-round option for enhancing your audio when using a smartphone. Available in two iterations - the Rode VideoMic Me, with a 1/8" connection for older iPhones and Android models and the VideoMic Me-L with a lightning connection. It offers enough directionality to give you clear capture of whatever the mic is pointing at, while not completely losing all other environmental sound, which may be important if you’re vlogging and wanting to portray a sense of the “space” you’re recording from. The recording quality of the VideoMic Me is great! And it even comes with a small furry wind shield to help you get the best audio possible if recording outside, on-the-go. It’s easy to see why it’s a favourite of the vlogging community, RODE has a great reputation for building quality and highly functional products and the VideoMic Me is no different. It's also priced competitively, offing you a great sounding, highly versatile smartphone mic without a massive cash outlay.

IK Multimedia iRig Mic Field

Lastly, IK Multimedia make a really fantastic range of products for smartphones (many are iOS only) and their iRig Mic Field microphone is a nice, affordable option for upping the audio quality of your videography work. It features a rotatable enclosure that you can easily position for the best stereo image in both landscape and portrait orientations. The 24-bit A/D converter, 44.1/48 kHz sampling rate, 115 dB maximum SPL rating and low-noise/high-definition pre-amp mean you'll get awesome sound reproduction in a form-factor that fits easily in your pocket. Coupled with the free iRig Recorder app, which allows you access to stereo imaging, compression, EQ, a range of creative effects as well as some DSP presets for cleaning up audio, you get a mic that will cover a range of recording situations - vlogging, saving a lecture, speech or meeting, capturing instruments for an audio project and more.

There are more options in the world or Smartphone and iOS microphones so to check out the full range offered at Store DJ click here and as always feel free to stop by your local Store DJ if you have any questions.

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