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Best External Microphones for iPhone & iOS Recordings

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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 Riverside.fm 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. 

Advantages: 

  • 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. 

Disadvantages:

  • 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. 

Advantages: 

  • 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. 

Disadvantages: 

  • 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. 

Advantages: 

  • Good for live performances or recordings in untreated rooms 

Disadvantages: 

  • 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. 

Advantages: 

  • 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. 

Best External Microphones For iPhone & iOS in 2022

In order to make things easier for you, we’ve organized our microphones based on their type of connection. The first eight microphones are with lightning connections and the last two are with a jack cable.

Now, let's take a look at the 10 best microphones for iPhones in 2022.

Lightning Microphones-Compatible with iPhone 6 onwards 

1. Zoom iQ6 X/Y 

Zoom iQ 6 iPhone microphone
(Image source: Zoom)
  • Price: $85
  • Type: Condenser mic 
  • Connectivity: Lightning 
  • Polar Pattern: Stereo with two cardioid mics 
  • Frequency Response: Undisclosed 
  • Max SPL:  130 dB

The Zoom iQ6 is a lightweight microphone that offers you flexibility in pickup range. You can adjust your microphone from a 90-degree angle up to a 120-degree angle to extend or tighten your microphone’s pick-up zone. This microphone also comes with a dedicated headphone jack which can be used as an output line as well. As an extra bonus, the microphone has a removable spacer to accommodate iPhone cases and comes with an extendable connecter. You can make quick adjustments with their Mic Gain wheel, ensuring you can still record clear sound in different environments.

Pros

  • Removable Spacer, which accommodates iPhone cases. 
  • Flexible pick-up range 
  • Can make quick adjustments with the ‘Mic Gain’ wheel 
  • Headphone/line-out jack so you can monitor audio 
  • Comes with Zoom App for monitoring and controlling audio

Cons

  • Lightning cable doesn’t connect well with thicker iPhone cases
  • Zoom Handy app isn’t the easiest  

2. Zoom iQ7 

Zoom iQ7 microphone for iPhone
(Image source: Zoom)
  • Price: $99
  • 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 

The Zoom iQ7 is similar to the Zoom iQ6. It offers adjustable Mic Gain control and pickup, while it also comes with a headphone jack and a removable spacer. One of the biggest differences between the two is that the iQ7 offers mid-side recording. It has a feature that allows you to record audio in raw and then, later on, adjust its stereo width in post-production using the Zoom Handy Recorder app.

Pros

  • 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,120 degrees, or M-S (raw) pick-up 

Cons

  • Zoom Handy Recorder App is not the best and easiest to use 

3. IK iRig Mic Cast HD 

iRig MicCast HD iPhone external microphone
(Image source: IK Multimedia)
  • Price: $119 
  • Type: Condenser
  • Connectivity: Connects via lightning cable 
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid and figure of 8 
  • Frequency Response: 40 Hz - 20 kHz 
  • Max SPL: 125 dB

This microphone is ideal for anyone looking for flexibility. Not only is the IK iRig Mic Cast HD light to carry, but it has an adjustable polar pattern, making it suitable for someone who records in different environments. You can choose between a bi-directional, rear, or front cardioid pattern. The microphone is also magnetic, making it easy to clip onto your iPhone or Apple device. It also comes with a headphone jack and works with many different recording software.

Pros 

  • Headphone line out jack, so you can monitor audio 
  • Extremely compact and portable 
  • Flexible polar pattern
  • Recording at up to 24-bit, 96 kHz

Cons

  • A little more expensive

4. Shure MV88+

Shure MV88+ best microphone for iPhone
(Image source: Shure)

This is probably the best overall microphone for iPhones.

  • Price: $199 
  • Type: Stereo Condenser Microphone 
  • Connectivity:  Lightning 
  • Polar Pattern: Stereo/Cardiod/Bi-directional Polar Direction. 
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz 
  • Max SPL: 120dB

The Shure MV88+ is the upgraded version of the Shure MV88 which is now discontinued. It has an adjustable polar pattern and you can choose to record either stereo, cardioid, or a bi-directional audio pickup. This, and the fact that the mic also rotates and pivots, gives you enhanced flexibility to configure your sound recording. Unlike the MV88, this microphone connects with a cable making it more adaptable if you’ve got a thick iPhone case. 

The microphone’s monitoring app, the ShurePlus MOTIV app is great for controlling recordings. It’s possible to adjust gain levels, change the stereo width, and modify EQ settings using the app. You can also create customizable presets or choose between five presets that already come with the app: speech, singing, flat, acoustic, and loud. These presets will configure settings appropriate to your environment.

As a little bonus, the microphone comes with a small windshield so you can truly record in all environments. Overall, the Shure MV88 is one of the best iPhone microphones and it’s also durable enough to withstand tougher conditions such as concerts. 

Pros 

  • Solid build quality and high durability. 
  • Compact and portable. 
  • The mic rotates and pivots, so you can position it precisely. 
  • The ShurePlus MOTIV app offers great controllability. 
  • Easy set up with presets.

Cons

  • Some people might prefer a connector without a cable
  • Pretty expensive

5. Apogee MiC Plus 

Apogee MiC Plus microphone for iPhone
(Image source: Apogee)
  • Price: $259 
  • Type: Condenser 
  • Connectivity: Lightning via cable 
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid/Mono directional 
  • Frequency Response: Undisclosed 
  • Max SPL:  130 dB 

While the microphones we’ve so far mentioned are pretty adaptable, when it comes to directionality the Apogee MiC Plus is purely a cardioid mic. Although, it does offer an easy setup with its plug-and-play capabilities and it’s also compatible with many recording apps. The microphone offers a Blend feature to create zero-latency when monitoring your recordings and is a pretty compact option. It comes with a mini-tripod so you can also turn your microphone into a desk-standing mic.

Pros 

  • Tools to reduce latency
  • Desktop-style mic, which comes with a tripod mic stand 
  • Easy setup

Cons

  • Less flexible stereo width and directionality

6. RODE VideoMic Me-L Directional Microphone

RODE VideoMic Me-L microphone for iPhone
(Image source: RODE)

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

  • Price: $79 
  • Type: Condenser 
  • Connectivity: Lightning 
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid. 
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz 
  • Max SPL: 115 dB

The Rode VideoMic Me-L is also solely a cardioid microphone. This means the mic focuses on what you’re filming to reduce background noise. It’s specifically designed with video in mind and comes with a windshield for outdoor recording. You can also use the RODE Reporter app to monitor your recording and choose to enable variable bit rate recording. The microphone comes with a headphone output jack and a small clamp to help secure the microphone to your phone.

Pros

  • Headphone line-out jack, so you can monitor audio
  • Windshield included 
  • RODE Reporter app for monitoring audio
  • Ideal for iPhone video recording 

Cons

  • Not highly adaptable

Lightning Lavalier Microphones for iPhone: 

7. Comica Audio CVM-WS50(C) 

Comica Audio CVM WS50 iphone microphone
(Image source: Comica Audio)
  • Price: $169 
  • Type: Condenser 
  • Connectivity: Wireless lavalier microphone. 
  • Polar Pattern: Mono/Cardioid 
  • Frequency Response: Undisclosed
  • Max SPL: Undisclosed 

Unlike the microphones mentioned above, the Comica Audio CVM-WS50 is a wireless microphone for iPhones. It comes with a receiver that connects to your phone and has a working distance of up to 196 ft. With a wireless microphone like this, you won’t have to worry about cables restricting your movement. This microphone comes with a dial to adjust recording volume and you can work with 6 channels. As a bonus, you receive a mini-tripod and a smartphone holder.

Pros

  • Wireless and receives audio from a maximum of 196 feet away 
  • Portable and light to carry

Cons

  • Relies on battery that you’ll have to remember to charge them

8. Apogee ClipMic Digital 

Apogee ClipMic Digital iPhone microphone
(Image source: Apogee)
  • Price: $199 
  • Type: Condenser 
  • Connectivity: Lightning 
  • Polar Pattern: Omni-directional 
  • Frequency Response: 30 Hz to 20kHz 
  • Max SPL: 126 dB 

The Apogee Electronics ClipMic Digital is a wired lavalier microphone. This means you’ll still have to connect your microphone to your iPhone using a cable. While this restricts movement, using wires is generally more reliable and you don’t have to worry about charging any batteries. The microphone has a low noise amplifier and you can download a Meta Recorder app to control the input gain of your audio. You can also add meta tags such as keywords to help organize your files while you’re actually recording. 

Pros

  • Don’t need to charge any batteries
  • More reliable high-quality sound because it’s wired
  • Can control the monitoring app from an Apple Watch
  • Easier file organization for post-production as you can add meta tags to recordings

Cons

  • Movement is limited to cables
  • More expensive

 

Best Headphone Jack Microphones: 

9. RODE SmartLav+ 

RODE SmartLav+ microphone for iPhone
(Image source: RODE)
  • Price: $79 
  • Type: Condenser
  • Connectivity: Headphone jack (3.5 mm TRRS), lavalier 
  • Polar Pattern: Omnidirectional
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz - 20kHz 
  • Max SPL: 110 dB 

The Rode SmartLav+ is an affordable option for a lavalier microphone. It’s has an omnidirectional polar pattern and comes with a pop-filter to reduce plosive sounds. Just like other RODE mics, the SmartLav+ connects to the RODE Reporter app for easy recording monitoring. Overall, this is a decent yet affordable high-quality microphone for iPhones.

Pros

  • Affordable microphone for iPhones
  • Wired so don’t have to charge any batteries
  • More reliable high-quality sounds because you’re not relying on a receiver

Cons

  • Cables restrict movement and might not look nice if filming video

10. RODE Lavalier GO

RODE Lavalier Go microphone for iPhone
(Image source: RODE)
  • 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

Although similar to the SmartLav+, the RODE Lavalier Go was specifically designed to function with the RØDE Wireless GO series. The Wireless Go is a microphone transmitter that can easily connect to the RODE Wireless Go for higher-quality audio recording. This means you can turn your microphone into a wireless lavalier mic without a hassle. With a Kevlar® reinforced cable, the RODE Lavalier Go is also clearly a durable option. These cables are able to withstand heat and are generally stronger.

Pros

  • Durable and compact
  • Option to turn it into a wireless microphone with the Wireless Go

Cons

  • Need to buy the Wireless Go to turn your mic into a wireless lavalier

Note: Some of these microphones need a specific setup with the Riverside iOS app so the device can record your sound and play audio from the Studio at the same time. We suggest testing any external microphone during a FaceTime call to confirm that it will work on Riverside. See the links below for more information.

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. 

The video below goes into more depth on what types of microphones are best for iPhones:

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. 

FAQs on the Best Microphones for iPhones

Can you use external mic with iPhone?

Yes, as outlined above you can definitely use an external microphone with an iPhone. You just need to make sure that you have the right connector that’s compatible with your phone. If you’d like to use a microphone with a different connector, you’ll have to use an adapter.

What microphones work with iPhones?

Many microphones can work with iPhones. As we’ve outlined above, your 10 best iPhone microphones are:

  1. Zoom iQ6X/Y 
  2. Zoom iQ7
  3. IK iRig Mic Cast HD
  4. Shure MV88+
  5. Apogee MiC Plus
  6. RODE Video Mic Me-L
  7. Comica Audio CVM-WS50
  8. Apogee ClipMic Digital
  9. RODE SmartLav+
  10. RODE Lavalier Go

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 Riverside.fm, 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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