One of my favorite things about making music is to combine recordings of random things I find or field recordings to include in my music – a great, simple way to do that is with an iPhone microphone. Since this is a topic I often cover in this blog, I thought I’d go over some iPhone microphones I’ve had the chance to use, test, or have seen friends use.
Why use an iPhone microphone?
iPhone microphones (or any phone microphones) are ideal for portability as well as for using them when you have quick moment of inspiration to seize a moment. I believe smartphone microphones are an essential any electronic musician should have. Not only can you record a weird conversation you’re hearing in a cafe, but you can also record a moment of a track that sounds amazing at an event (although the quality won’t be great…at least it’s a way to remember something you liked). The idea is to create material you can use as sample or references. Recording sounds in and out of the studio is always a great source of inspiration.
Here are some microphones for smartphones:
Zoom has been a top choice for many for a long time. If you don’t have the handheld recorder you can get this microphone with lightning connector. It’s probably one of the best out there hands-down, not only because of the great quality of the audio but also for the app that comes with the microphone. The app makes it way easier than the handheld recorder as not only do you get quick access to different parts of the configuration, but you can even send it to your Dropbox.
I recommend this one as my first pick.
Lavalier microphones are usually used to pick up someone’s voice, so you’ll see it on people on TV or people on stage when they do conferences. They have pros and cons, but the one thing I like about them is they also have their own sound profile. The guy I work with for my jazz project uses one for his saxophone and while at first I was a bit skeptical, the end results were beyond what I was expecting. This Movo does something really cool if you wear it subtlety and record yourself or play some instruments. It’s a bit annoying to install but if you’re creative, it can be pretty fun to try unusual ways to pick up sounds.
This one is amazing but it doesn’t work with a smartphone because these pods are also microphones for binaural recording. This means that you get a stereo microphone at the level of your ears, recording the world around you. What this does is, if you pass the recording to a friend who wears headphones, he will hear it exactly how you did when you wore the pods. So lets say you recorded yourself in a coffee shop and some people were talking in the back, the listener will also hear it in the back. For positioning and field recordings, this toy is a dream. The only downside is you need something like a handheld microphone with an entry or pair it with the iQ6.
Rode makes amazing condensers and the quality of their products is always outstanding. The only reason I don’t suggest this one at first is the price. It won’t fit everyone’s budget and can be overwhelming if you use it only occasionally. But if you think you really want to get into field recording, go with this. I’ve tried this model but don’t own one because I can’t have them all …but it’s certainly in my wishlist!
This one is last on the list but could also be first. While the microphone is totally fine and you get something lovely for the price, what makes the iRig really cool is the number of things they offer, from other toys for picking up sounds to great apps that can help you make music on your iPad. They’ve been around for quite a while now and know what they’re doing.