Best External Microphones for iPhone & iOS Recordings


Best External Microphones for iPhone & iOS Recordings

Podcasting with your iPhone is convenient, easy, and spontaneity friendly. Plus, in a COVID-19 world, remote podcasting isn’t going anywhere. There’s no need to haul around all your studio equipment when you’ve got your iPhone in your pocket.  

Although nothing can trump studio recordings, the iPhone microphone capabilities and quality are not far behind. With the iOS app’s introduction, you can now be recording high-quality podcasts in no time.  

However, to level up and maximize your iPhone recordings, you might want to invest in an external mic. In this guide, we’ll walk you through why and how you can use an external mic with your iPhone, plus recommendations of the best ones out there.

Why use an external microphone for my iPhone? 

#1 Better audio quality. 

With an external mic, the difference in audio quality is immediately noticeable. The iPhone’s inbuilt microphone is decent, but if you’re regularly recording your podcast using your iPhone you should invest in an external microphone. 

Your audio is likely to be blown out or negatively impacted by background noise, wind, and other ambient sounds without an external mic. 

#2 Convenient. 

Most iPhone external mics are extremely compact and easy to use. Like we said before, there’s no faff or hassle involved with iOS recordings - all you have to do is plug your mic in and start recording. Simple. 

#3 Reliable. 

Most well-known, respected, and coveted brands are producing iPhone mics - so you’re in safe hands. There are some incredibly innovative designs out there aimed to make iPhone podcasting as easy as possible with maximum audio quality. What more could you want? 

How to choose an external microphone for your iPhone

Personal considerations

Consider your budget

Decide how much you’re willing to invest in your mic. This will come down to what you want to get out of your iPhone and your podcast. One thing’s for sure - an external mic is a far lower commitment investment compared to a full-blown studio setup, so for those of us who are indecisive it’s the perfect option. 

Think about your Set-Up 

Your podcast setup will likely influence what kind of mic you’ll need.  Are you going to be on the road, recording on location? Or are you going to be interviewing a single guest? 

Look for an easy-to-use mic

You want an external mic that is user-friendly. The closer to ‘plug and play’ you can get, the better. 

Specification Considerations 

Polar Pattern 

The polar pattern refers to the 3D space surrounding the microphone capsule which is the most sensitive to sound. Your podcast set-up and format will determine which pattern is most appropriate for you. 

There are three types of pattern or ‘configuration’: 

1. Omni-Directional Mics

In omnidirectional mics, the entire 3D space surrounding the capsule is equally sensitive to sound, so your mic will pick up audio from all directions. 


  • Good for podcasts that include a lot of people. 
  • Not as negatively impacted by bad mic technique. If the speaker is moving closer and further away from the mic, this doesn’t affect its audio sensitivity. 


  • Omni-directional mics tend to pick up a lot of background noise. 

2. Figure 8/Bi-Directional Mics

Figure 8 mics are sensitive to sound in front and behind, but not the sides. 


  • Good for one-on-one interviews. Point one side of the mic at your interviewee, and the other at yourself, and you’re good to go. 


  • You may find your mic picks up unwanted sounds if you’re only aiming for one source of audio. 

3. Cardioid Mics 

Cardioid mics are sensitive primarily to sound from the front, a little from the sides, and none at all from the back. 


  • Good for live performances or recordings in untreated rooms 


  • Sensitive to bad mic technique. If the sound source moves away from the mic, you may find a drop in sensitivity to high-frequency sounds. Equally, if the sound source moves too close to the mic, you’ll find a boost in bass frequencies. 

4. X-Y mic configuration 

This is when you have two cardioid mics placed on top of each other, facing away from each other at a 90-degree angle, capturing audio to the immediate left and right. 


  • This is great for a quick and easy stereo mic setup
  • Allows for a big pick up of audio 
  • Easily maneuvered/manipulated to suit your needs

Note: Some mics are ‘multi-pattern mics’. This means you can switch between different polar patterns depending on the situation. 

Frequency Response 

Look for a mic that has a frequency response between 20 Hz to 20kHz. This will allow you to capture natural-sounding, clean audio. 

Maximum Sound Pressure Level (SPL)

Look for a mic with at least 100db. SPL tells you how loud of a sound the mic can handle. The bigger the SPL, the bigger the mic’s capacity to capture sound before distorting. 

What type of iOS & iPhone mic to use? 

Lavalier versus External Condenser Mic

This choice mostly comes down to personal preference and what you’re looking for. 

Lavalier Mic 

Lavalier mics clip to your shirt collar. They work best for stationary recordings with 1 - 2 speakers, and mean the mic is much closer to the audio source. 

Condenser Mic 

Condenser mics plug directly into and sit snug with your iPhone. They can be used for interview formats but are also better suited for recording in the field, group discussions, and other situations where there are likely to be multiple sources of audio. 

How do I use an external microphone with my iPhone?

Most models are extremely simple. All you have to do is connect your mic to your iPhone, and you’re ready to go. 

There are three different types of connectivity: 

  1. Lightning 

The mic plugs straight into the lightning port on your iPhone (just like when you’re charging it). Compatible with iPhone 5 and above. 

One thing to keep in mind is that iPhones only have one lightning port, so unless your mic includes a headphone jack, you may be unable to monitor your sound during recording. 

Top tip: get a lightning port splitter to be able to plug in both your mic and your headphones 

  1. Wireless

The mic connects to your iPhone via Bluetooth. This is a good option for people who dislike being constrained by wires. 

Two things to consider: 

  • Latency - the time delay it takes for the mic to communicate the sound to your iPhone. 
  • Charging time. You may find your wireless mic needs charging before you can start recording - this could be disruptive. 

  1. Headphone Jack 

Apple has gradually phased the traditional headphone jack out - but this is a good option for those with an older iPhone model. The mic connects just like your headphones. 

Note: you can’t plug in just ANY headphone jack, you’ll need 3.3 mm TRRS jacks to be compatible with iPhone. 

Best External Microphones For iPhone & iOS (Lightning & TRRS)

Best Lightning Connector Microphones

Compatible with iPhone 6 onwards 

Zoom iQ6X/Y 

Price: $82

Type: Condenser mic 

Connectivity: Lightning 

Polar Pattern: Stereo with two cardioid mics 

Frequency Response: Undisclosed 

Max SPL:  130 dB

Other specs: 

  • Removable Spacer, which accommodates iPhone cases. 
  • Adjustable pickup range and mic angle 
  • Can make quick adjustments with the ‘mic gain’ wheel 
  • Headphone/line-out jack so you can monitor audio 

Zoom iQ7 

Price: $85

Type: Condenser 

Connectivity:  Lightning 

Polar Pattern: ‘Mid-side’ stereo mic. Acts like an XY configuration and picks up left and right audio. 

Frequency Response: Undisclosed 

Max SPL:  120dB 

Other Specs: 

  • Rotating capsule which means it can be rotated vertically or horizontally. 
  • Headphone/line-out jack so you can monitor audio 
  • Windscreen included 
  • Removable spacer, which accommodates iPhone cases. 
  • Adjustable pickup: either 90 degrees or 120 degrees pick-up. 
  • Removable spacer 

IK iRig Mic Cast HD 

Price: $99 

Type: Condenser

Connectivity: Connects via lightning cable 

Polar Pattern: Cardioid and figure of 8 

Frequency Response: 40 Hz - 20 kHz 

Max SPL: 125 dB

Other specs: 

  • Headphone line out jack, so you can monitor audio 
  • Extremely compact and portable 

Shure MV88

Price: $149 

Type: Stereo Condenser Microphone 

Connectivity:  Lightning 

Polar Pattern: Stereo/Cardio Polar Direction. 

  • Two mic capsules: one cardioid and one figure 8. This gives you enhanced flexibility to configure your sound recording. 
  • Stereo pickup means that the microphone will record left and right audio. 

Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz 

Max SPL: 120dB

Other specs: 

  • Solid build quality and high durability. The Shure MV88 is made to withstand tougher conditions such as concerts. 
  • Compact and portable. 
  • The mic rotates and pivots, so you can position it precisely. 
  • Comes with the ShurePlus MOTIV app. You can record uncompressed audio (.wav), adjust gain levels, change the stereo width, and modify EQ settings using the app. 
  • 4 preset modes → speech, singing, flat, instruments. 

Rode iXY Stereo Microphone 

Price: $199 

Type: Condenser 

Connectivity: Lightning 

Polar Pattern: Stereo, Cardioid in XY configuration 

Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz 

Max SPL: 120 dB 

Other Specs: 

  • Each mic has different sound pressure differences for increased clarity, meaning it can capture a wider sound

Apogee MiC Plus 

Price: $259 

Type: Condenser 

Connectivity: Lightning via cable 

Polar Pattern: Cardioid/Mono directional 

Frequency Response: Undisclosed 

Max SPL:  130 dB 

Other Specs: 

  • Desktop-style mic, which comes with a tripod mic stand. 

Rode VideoMic Me-L Directional Microphone

Designed specifically for when you’re shooting video. Perfect for video podcasters or live streamers. 

Price: $79 

Type: Condenser 

Connectivity: Lightning 

Polar Pattern: Cardioid. This means the mic focuses on what you’re filming to reduce background noise. 

Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz 

Max SPL: 115 dB 

Other specs: 

  • Headphone line-out jack, so you can monitor audio
  • Directional microphone designed for iOS devices 
  • Windshield included 
  • Small rubber clamp to help secure the mic to your device 

Lavalier Mics: 

Comica Audio CVM-WS50(C) Wireless Lavalier Microphone System 

Price: $169 

Type: Condenser 

Connectivity: Wireless lavalier microphone. Comes with a receiver that connects to your iPhone. 

Polar Pattern: Mono/Cardioid 

Frequency Response: Undisclosed

Max SPL: Undisclosed 

Other specs: 

  • Comes with a mini Tripod 
  • Can receive audio from a maximum of 196 feet away 

Apogee Electronics ClipMic Digital 

Price: $199 

Type: Condenser 

Connectivity: Lightning 

Polar Pattern: Omni-directional 

Frequency Response: 30 Hz to 20kHz 

Max SPL: 126 dB 

Best Headphone Jack Microphones 

Rode SmartLav+ 

Price: $79 

Type: Condenser

Connectivity: Headphone jack (3.5 mm TRRS), lavalier 

Polar Pattern: Omnidirectional

Frequency Response: 20 Hz - 20kHz 

Max SPL: 110 dB 

Rode Lavalier GO Omnidirectional Lavalier Microphone 

Price: $79 

Type: Condenser 

Connectivity: Headphone jack - 3.5 mm TRS (so you’ll need an adaptor) 

Polar Pattern: Omnidirectional 

Frequency Response: 20 Hz - 20kHz 

Max SPL: 110 dB

Final Thoughts

As we’ve seen, there’s certainly not a lack of choice when it comes to iPhone mics.  The big brands are offering innovative, easy-to-use, and compact external mics for iPhone and iOS recording - which won’t break the bank. 

Trust us, iPhone recording is going to be an integral part of every podcaster’s routine soon. With iOS apps like, making iPhone podcasting easy and convenient - you have no reason not to get ahead and invest now.  Your audio quality will improve leaps and bounds instantly; you won’t regret it! 

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