The days of requiring access to a professional recording studio to capture high quality audio are gone. You can now record fairly high quality audio from any location using an external iPhone microphone.
Whether you want to demo a new idea for a song, record a crystal-clear interview or podcast from a remote location, or simply capture audio for a video without all of the background noise, this article will present the perfect iPhone microphones for just about any situation.
Best iPhone Mics - External iOS Microphones
Table of Contents
- Best iPhone Mics - External iOS Microphones
- iOS Microphones: Shotgun vs Lavalier
- Condenser and Dynamic Mics
- Using a Preamp or Audio Interface
1. Shure MV88
The MV88 is a pocket-sized iOS microphone by legendary manufacturers Shure. It combines impressive sound clarity with versatility and has quickly become one of the more popular iPhone mics.
One of the standout qualities of the MV88 is its ability to pick up detailed recordings, whether you are close up to the mic or a few feet away from it. It’s equally adept at capturing interviews with multiple people as well as recording a new song idea on an acoustic guitar.
Shure installed multiple capsules within this iPhone mic, so you can choose between cardioid, figure-of-eight, or mid-side stereo recordings. There's also a whole host of additional options available when you download the ShurePlus MOTIV iOS app.
When you download the app, the MV88 shows its true class. You get access to Shure's entire DSP engine, where you can choose from a long list of presets, processing options, and editing facilities.
Another great thing about this iPhone mic is that when you use it to capture audio for video, it does so without compression. The level controls allow you to adjust the mix in real-time, and then you can add EQ and compression retrospectively if you wish.
IOS microphones must be able to withstand the constant movement and changing environments, so Shure used an all-metal body and provide a free zipped carry case to improve the durability of the MV88.
The great thing about purchasing a Shure microphone is that you know you can rely on their quality. After spending decades at the top of the recording industry, there’s no doubting their level of expertise.
Rode’s expertise when it comes to the field of microphones is respected all over the world. With the VideoMic Me-L, they have used their knowledge to create a top-quality iOS mic.
This microphone is equipped with all of the capabilities needed to record on-the-go vlogs, podcasts, and any other audio application. It produces very little background noise, making it perfect for busy recording environments.
The frequency range of the Rode VideoMic Me-L stretches from 20Hz to 20kHz, and the cardioid condenser polar pattern focuses on the sound source directly in from of the mic. The Aluminum pressure gradient adds to the clarity of the recordings.
On top of its high quality recording ability, this iPhone mic is very easy to operate. Simply hook up the lightning connector to your iOS device, fix it with the included clip and it’s ready to go.
Whether you are recording from the front or rear of the VideoMic Me-L, it will capture the audio with pristine accuracy. There's a 3.5mm headphone output that is useful for real-time audio monitoring, and you also get a furry windshield to minimize background noise.
3. Zoom iQ6
The first thing I noticed about the Zoom iQ6 was its unique aesthetics. It looks more like something out of a science lab than a microphone, but the interesting appearance isn't merely a gimmick – it’s purpose is to enhance the recording ability.
This stereo XY microphone is exclusively compatible with iOS devices. It is plugged in via a straightforward Lightning connector into the input of your iPhone or iPad. The iQ6 is capable of producing clear stereo recordings.
With separate controls dedicated to the input gain and headphone output level, you can mix the audio as you record it. This is a great feature for recording impromptu interviews or voice memos.
In terms of app compatibility, the iQ6 will work with any iOS recording app. You can use it with Garageband to record full songs, or with the Voice Memo app for spoken word purposes.
If you’re familiar with Zoom’s revered H4n Handy Recorder, you’ll be pleased to know that the iQ6 is the same high-quality condenser microphone that is employed for that product to create crisp audio recordings.
The Apogee ClipMic is another quality option for recording with your iOS device. This iPhone microphone brings studio-quality recordings into your hand, in a simple and easy-to-understand manner.
With its installed Apogee mic capsule, high-performance digital converters, and robust design, the ClipMic is a great solution for remote audio recordings. It's well suited to capturing conversations, video audio, and musical ideas.
The clarity of the ClipMic is enhanced by the inclusion of a metal windscreen, which minimizes any of the background noises that are inevitable when recording outdoors. You also get a carry pouch to protect the mic when in transit.
Included with the Apogee ClipMic is a download of the MetaRecorder app. Simply download the app to your iPhone or other Apple device, and you get access to a variety of mixing and post-production facilities.
The app is also a great way to save and store your recordings, then upload them onto a desktop computer or laptop at a later date. It’s a convenient way to note ideas or demos and build upon them when you have more time.
Not only is the Apogee ClipMic great for recording podcasts and music ideas, but it's also capable of boosting the clarity of your FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype calls. If you're in a noisy environment, this quality is invaluable.
5. Shure MV5
Shure is back with another entry on our list, this time with the digital MV5 MOTIV microphone. This all-in-one iPhone recording solution doubles up as an audio interface, so you can use it as the hub for capturing any sound sources.
Made for podcasting, voice-overs, or instrument and vocal recordings, the MV5 has three dedicated presets for each of these purposes. In this way, it's akin to having three individual microphones for your iOS device.
To ensure stability when recording, Shure has included a specifically designed aluminum stand that can be positioned on any flat surface. This prevents the microphone from straying out of the desired position.
The MV5 also has an integrated headphone output that lets you monitor recordings in real time with minimal latency. This is a great feature for interviewing or recording conversational podcasts on the go or in a studio.
Once again, Shure offers a free download of the MOTIV Video iOS app, which unlocks the microphone’s full potential. You can edit and mix the audio within this intuitive piece of software from any location of your choice.
IK Multimedia is well-respected in the world of portable microphones, and their iRig Mic is further proof of the quality they produce. Designed to enhance the quality of captured audio from your portable iOS devices, this mic has some great features.
With its shotgun-mic style, the iRig Mic is compatible with a wide range of devices and DSLRs. It has a super-cardioid polar pattern that works to reject any off-axis sounds and unwanted noises, promoting clear recordings in the process.
The headphone output is conveniently positioned so that you can listen to the captured audio whilst recording. This allows you to position the mic correctly and avoid any disappointments when listening back to the finished product.
There’s also the addition of a magnetic mount. Keeping the microphone stable whilst recording with an iPhone or other iOS device is vital for clarity, so this stand is very useful indeed.
You also get a lightning cable, USB-C, MicroUSB, and DSLR cable so that you can hook the iRig Mic straight up to your chosen device and start recording in an instant. The windscreen furthers the accuracy of the mic, and with a max SPL of 125dB, it can handle almost any sound source.
To conclude this comprehensive list of the best iPhone microphones, we have the Saramonic LavMicro U1A. Its design is understated, but the microphone itself has plenty of noteworthy features for recording a range of audio sources.
Whether you intend to use the mic for vlogging, interviewing, or podcasting, the U1A has all of the capabilities needed for these purposes. It’s an omnidirectional lavalier mic, meaning it can pick up audio from all directions.
With a frequency response range of 50Hz-20kHz, the LavMicro U1A is perfectly suited to capturing the human voice, which sits comfortably within that range. You get a long cable that reaches 6.6 feet so recording can be done from a distance.
Also included with the U1A iOS mic are a foam windscreen, a useful storage pouch, and a cable strap to keep everything tidy. The power is supplied directly from your chosen device, and the alligator clip makes it easy to secure onto an item of clothing.
iOS Microphones: Shotgun vs Lavalier
The two most popular varieties of microphones used for recording iPhone or iPad audio are shotgun and lavalier. Both of these have distinct qualities, with some crossing over and some exclusive to that particular style. Here’s a breakdown of their main attributes.
Shotgun iOS Microphones
iOS microphones of the shotgun variety are well suited to close-ups and medium-range recordings. They pick up minimal off-axis noise, making them capable of focusing on the human voice with precision. These mics are usually used for recording outdoors because they are good at blocking out wind noise.
The only downside to shotgun mics for iPhone recordings is that they generally don’t pick up sound very well at a distance. Therefore, it’s better to use one for each person in a two-way interview.
Lavalier iOS Microphones
Lavalier microphones are better suited to recording sound sources that are constantly moving. They're used with wide-angle lenses in interviews and come in omnidirectional or cardioid configurations.
The great thing about using iOS lavalier microphones is that you only need one to record a podcast or interview. They are also great for picking up musical instruments from a moderate distance.
Condenser and Dynamic Mics
Microphones come in two types: condenser and dynamic. Depending on what you’re planning to use the mic for, you might want to go for one type of mic over the other.
Condenser mics have a greater frequency response than dynamic mics, making them better at picking up more of the overall sound from a source.
This makes them excellent in a studio setting as they reproduce sound better, the downside though is that they are very sensitive to sound.
Condenser mics are very bad in environments with a lot, if any background noise since it will easily be picked up by the mic. Condensers also need to be powered with phantom power, so make sure that you are able to power the mic.
Dynamic mics on the other hand are less sensitive to sound, making them great for live performances and noisy environments.
Dynamic mics are also cheaper and more durable than condenser mics, so you don’t have to be concerned using the mic outside.
Using a Preamp or Audio Interface
Regardless of which type of mic you use, you will likely need a way to connect your mic to your iPhone.
There are many mics that can connect directly to an iPhone, but some need to connect through an external device.
The simplest method is to use a mic preamp. These connect to the 3.5mm audio jack of the iPhone or an adapter.
You can then connect the mic through an XLR cable to the preamp. Preamps also allow you to connect headphones so that you can monitor the audio.
Preamps allow you to control the volume levels on your mic to prevent clipping, and preamps also have much better audio converters than those built into iPhones and iPads, giving you much higher sound quality.
If you want to do a bit more, like maybe plugging in an instrument or even just using more than one mic, you can also use an audio interface.
Audio interfaces are a bit larger than preamps, but most iOS specific interfaces are still fairly compact and portable.
Not only can you use multiple mics or a combination of mics and instruments with an interface, but interfaces also provide a bit more control over the audio than a preamp.
Whichever you use, if you’re using a condenser mic, make sure to get a preamp or interface that has phantom power included.
Now that you’ve read my list of the best iPhone microphones available today, you should have a better idea of which one suits the type of recordings you intend to do.
There’s no limit to the recordings you can produce with the combination of one of the suggested mics and an iOS device. Plug in, and start recording!