Vox Daily The Official Voices.com Blog

5 iPhone Microphones Reviewed

By Ashley Davidson

April 25, 2012

Comments (19)

Blue Spark DigitalWant to know which microphones are compatible with the Voices.com iPhone App?

Who better to ask than an audio engineer, music producer and voice-over actor?

Ken Theriot, co-owner and co-founder of Home Brew Audio, reviews compatible microphones for the iPhone so you don't have to pass on voice-over gigs when you're on the road in today's VOX Daily!

Has This Happened To You?

You're traveling - perhaps on your flight or camping in the woods (that last one happened to me) - and you get the message that you landed that voice over gig. Oh, and they want it tomorrow. What do you do? Well, there are several choices. You could turn down the gig (uggh!). You could find a commercial recording studio nearby, which is expensive and very time-consuming and might not even have any open slots available. Or you could find a quiet spot, reach into your carry-bag for your mobile mic, and record the script on the spot.

That last one seems to be the best option, at least assuming you could provide the client with your usual professional sounding audio. But what if you don't already have a mic in your bag? And if you do, how will you edit and save the audio files? Here are a few good options for that inevitable (on my last 3 camping trips, I've been notified of 2 gigs while on the road - maybe I should plan a camping trip every week!) need to record while you are mobile.

Portable Digital Recorders

Portable Digital RecordersProbably the fastest way to make the recording is with a portable hand-held recorder, such as one of the Zoom H-series (H1, H2 or H4), Tascam DR-series, or Sony PCM series. These are not your cheap dictating-type recorders I'm talking about. They are powerful digital recorders with excellent converters capable of professional 24 bit/96KHz recording. Most of them can record in WAV AND MP3 format. They also record to portable media, such as micro-SD cards, so you can quickly get them onto any computer for editing and sending to the client.

Of course that requires that you actually have access to a computer. Most of us travel with laptops these days, so just make sure you have a copy of Audacity, Reaper, Audition, Garage Band, or whatever software you usually use to record and edit your voice-over jobs.

Mics for Your Mobile Device

If you don't travel with a laptop, but instead use a mobile device like an iPhone or iPad, you can now get high-quality microphones that hook up to these devices. There are several new and exciting products available, especially for iOS (iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch). Here are a few of them.

IK Multimedia iRig Mic

IK Multimedia iRig Mic

IK Multimedia has a couple of products you can use for mobile voice-over recording. The first is the iRig Mic, which is a condenser mic specifically designed to plug into an iOS device (iPhone 4, iPad2 and iPod Touch). You can download free apps to your device to use as your recording studio software. You'll want to get the iRig Recorder Free and VocaLive Free apps immediately. The iRig Recorder is an incredible app that lets you record AND edit or process audio right from your device. The recording format is 16-bit 44.1 kHz uncompressed, another way of saying "CD quality," which is amazing for a set-up of this size.

Once you finish your recording you edit and process it from within iRig Recorder and then e-mail it from within the app, use iTunes file sharing, or use FTP upload of SoundCloud (the social audio-sharing site). Check out this published review of the iRig Mic.

IK Multimedia iRig PRE

IK Multimedia iRig PRE

The iRig PRE is the newest IK Multimedia product (not even available yet from all major suppliers) for recording into you iOS device. It is not a microphone, but a mic preamp/interface with a standard XLR input. You plug it into your device and it allows you to plug your high quality condenser mics into your iPhone or iPad. Then you record using iRig Recorder as with the iRig Mic. This is great if you travel with your favorite mic.

Blue Spark Digital

Blue Spark Digital

Blue recently released the Blue Spark Digital, which is the iPad version of their USB mic, the Blue Spark. This incarnation can act as both a USB or an iPad mic, making it useful for home and the road.

Blue Mikey Digital

Blue Mikey Digital

As with the Spark, Blue released a new version of an existing microphone called the Mikey, which was always designed to work on all the iOS devices. Rather than a full microphone, the Mikey Digital is just an enclosed capsule that plugs into the 30-pin iOS connector, sort of turning the device itself into a portable mic. It has a 230-degree rotating design, records in stereo (has two capsules actually), and has a line input. It also has a "USB pass-through" connection that allows you to charge the mic at the same time as it is recording, which helps relieve the drain on the device. It works with all the popular recording apps.

Apogee Mic

Apogee Microphone

This is another type of mic that is both a USB and an iOS mic, depending on how you want to use it. When being used with your iPhone or iPad, it plugs into the 30-pin connector. It is charged by the device itself and doesn't have the simultaneous recharge capability of the new Mikey, but it will last a good couple of hours. The mic is relatively small (compared to dragging around your Rode NT1, for example), and comes with a portable tripod desk stand, making it very portable, fitting easily into small and convenient spaces.

All Wrapped Up

So there you have it. Just because you're on the road, or even in the woods, you don't have to pass on that voice-over gig. There are lots of options for mobile recording out there, whether it be a portable recorder or a mic you attach to your phone or tablet

To download the Voices.com iPhone App click the following link:
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/voices.com/id493554377?ls=1&mt=8

For more information on the Voices.com iPhone App visit, http://www.voices.com/iphone

About Ken Theriot

Ken is the Owner, Co-Founder at Home Brew Audio. Ken Theriot is a singer, songwriter, audio engineer, music producer and voice over actor. In 2009 he founded Home Brew Audio, a website dedicated to teaching others how to record professional audio with modest home recording studios. Home Brew Audio currently has tons of articles, tutorials and tips for setting up and using a home recording studio at any budget, for both voice over and music recording.

Related Topics: Apple, how to, industry, iPad, iPhone, iPhone app, mic, Microphones, microphones, mobile apps, mobile auditioning, recording studios, SAG, voiceover, voiceover industry


Comments


    Hi Ashley,

    An awesome article!! Thanks a million for the all that info!
    One question...I have a Samsung Tablet...will all these mics work on that too (instead of the I-Pad/I-phones)?

    Thanks again!

    Best wishes from the sunny Canary Islands,

    :)

    Ramesh

    Posted by:

      I'm confused. There is so much written about sound proofing our home studios. Some criticize the use of blankets and others seem to find fault with the acoustics of the many configurations of home booths that people build. How is "a quiet place in the woods" going to give you the studio quality sound you need for a gig, regardless of the microphone?

      Posted by:
      • Jill Tarnoff
      • April 26, 2012 9:02 AM

        Ramesh - The answer to the question is, sadly “no.” Developers are focusing on iOS and have not done much at all for Android yet. But that should be changing soon.

        Posted by:

          @Ramesh - Hi Ramesh! Thank you for the feedback. I'm glad it was helpful to you. I spoke with Ken Theriot, the author of this article and this was his response. Hope this helps.

          "The answer to the question is, sadly “no.” Developers are focusing on iOS and have not done much at all for Android yet. But that should be changing soon."


          @Jill - Thank you for your comment. It's not necessarily recommended that you record the final recording from the iPhone. This just allows people to be able to audition to job opportunities much quicker if they’re away from their home recording studio. If you are concerned with your audio quality, just be honest with the client by stating in your proposal that you recorded the audition using your phone because you didn't want to miss out on the opportunity. You are also given the option to upload a generic demo to the job posting, if need be. Using these recommended microphones will help produce better audio quality rather than speaking directly into your phone. There will be another Vox Daily article published shortly with helpful tips on how to improve the audio quality when using your phone. Stay tuned and best of luck on all of your upcoming auditions Jill! :-)


          Posted by:

            Awesome, valuable and timely post, Ken. Thank you! Jill, if a tree falls in the forest, does anybody hear? :-)

            Posted by:

              I use the Apogee "MiC" with my iPhone 4S, and I love it...great frequency response, and I can export the session out of GarageBand and send my auditions directly to my clients. (And to think my recording career started with 24 track 2" tape, and now I'm working with a telephone. Go figure!)

              Posted by:

                @Cal, ha ha, the sound engineer hears it!
                @Ashley, I understand that these mics would help with an audition. The article states that this is for after you "get the message that you landed that voice over gig". It's confusing.

                Posted by:
                • Jill Tarnoff
                • April 26, 2012 2:34 PM

                  Great info!!! I'd love to hear more about the quality of these mics. Sounds like the Apogee works well for David. Anyone else have feedback? Better yet, anyone compared one or more of these against the other(s)?

                  Posted by:

                    Thanks much for this article! Very useful.

                    I'd love to have links to the different mics included in the article. (Yes, it's true, I can look them up, and I'm sure I will.)

                    Do you know of any sort of side-by-side comparison of these mics (quality, cost, durability, etc.)?

                    Thanks again for the research and the article!

                    Posted by:

                      Nice article. Thanks for the info!

                      I've been researching microphones that can be used with my iPad for when I'm on the road. I've considered the the Apogee Mic, BLUE Spark Digital and one that's not in the above list. MLX recently released the TEMPO SK and TEMPO KR. The mic is USB and with the Apple photo adapter can be used with the iPad.

                      While I don't endorse any of these mics, I do suggest VO peeps interested in building a traveling studio to check them out.

                      A USB mic that DOES NOT WORK with the iPad is the BLUE Yeti. I borrowed one to do a gig while visiting friends in Florida (I left my gear at home. D'oh!) and was sad to discover the incompatibility. The iPad simply didn't provide enough juice for the Yeti.

                      Posted by:

                        I recently switched from a Droid to an iPhone so I could use the Apogee Mic. My understanding is the Droid OS has so many variations among so many manufacturers that it's impossible to write a driver that will work reliably on all Droids out there - while Apple controls both the hardware and OS.

                        About acoustics: I now carry the Mic on mountain bike rides. I've found the woods to be a great recording environment if you can avoid noise from aircraft, traffic, flowing water, etc. It seems forests impart no "room reflections", the foliage potentially absorbs sounds like foam in a whisper room would. I've been startled at how good my recordings on mountain bike rides are turning out. Have to carry a pop filter for the MiC though, it's pretty good at rejecting peripheral sounds, but sensitive to 'plosives.

                        Posted by:

                          Re Jill's comment: "@Ashley, I understand that these mics would help with an audition. The article states that this is for after you "get the message that you landed that voice over gig". It's confusing.
                          Posted by:Jill Tarnoff
                          April 26, 2012 2:34 PM"

                          Jill is absolutely right: the article does clearly specify that the setup is used to provide the final product AFTER the gig has been won. To suggest that the author meant otherwise is wrong, deceptive and ignores the obvious, created confusion.

                          So would you please answer Jill's --and my--question: was the author being honest and candid in indicating that gig-quality recordings are possible in this way...or was he engaging in exaggeration/fabrication for the sake of an easy article?

                          Please remember, some people here are building purchase decisions (some of them costly) on what they believe to be credible, accurate and sincere articles/posts. So please advise: is the audio result client-ready as stated or not?

                          Thanks!

                          Jim St. Claire

                          Posted by:
                          • Jim St. Claire
                          • May 28, 2012 3:21 PM

                            Hi Jim,

                            Thank you for commenting and expanding upon Jill's question. The author of this article, Ken Theriot, did say:

                            "You're traveling - perhaps on your flight or camping in the woods (that last one happened to me) - and you get the message that you landed that voice over gig. Oh, and they want it tomorrow. What do you do? Well, there are several choices. You could turn down the gig (uggh!). You could find a commercial recording studio nearby, which is expensive and very time-consuming and might not even have any open slots available. Or you could find a quiet spot, reach into your carry-bag for your mobile mic, and record the script on the spot."


                            Based upon his article and what was shared, it would seem that Ken did use one of the microphones that are listed in his review to suit that purpose while away from his home studio. Was he using it with an iPhone? I don't know and it does not say. Perhaps it was another device entirely. What was said is that the microphones in the review are compatible with Apple iPhone.


                            The author of this guest post, Ken Theriot, would be a better person to direct your questions to and I'm sure Ken would be happy to answer you.


                            As Jill and Ashley pointed out, these apps can certainly help you audition from your iPhone, no bones about it. To be clear, Voices.com does not say that talent should be recording finished audio using the app.


                            Thank you for participating in the conversation!

                            Best wishes,
                            Stephanie

                            Posted by:

                              Hi Jim, Jill and anyone else who had concerns regarding finished audio quality while recording remotely:


                              I have added a couple paragraphs into the article that were missing prior to publication. The reviewed equipment also includes a photograph. These paragraphs concern the review of Portable Digital Recorders. After corresponding with Ken, I learned that it was with one of these portable digital recorders that he was able to produce finished audio while camping.


                              I apologize for the confusion and trust that this helps to resolve expressed concerns and any misunderstandings.


                              Best wishes,
                              Stephanie Ciccarelli

                              Posted by:

                                Thank you, Stephanie, for taking the time to clarify this issue. I appreciate your effort and professionalism in getting to the bottom of the initial confusion.

                                Jim

                                Posted by:
                                • Jim St. Claire
                                • May 31, 2012 5:49 PM

                                  Thanks for the clarification Stephanie!

                                  Just to add one more thing about the iOS mics - I have not used all of the mobile mics listed yet personally, but I have done a full review of the iRig Mic, along with test audio. The audio from that was very good - especially for the price of $52.98. I think folks would need to judge for themselves whether the audio was good enough for a VO job. You can listen to the audio from that by clicking the link in the post above.

                                  I'll cycle back here as the other mics become available and I'm able to conduct reviews.

                                  Cheers!

                                  Ken

                                  Posted by:

                                    Hi,Thanks for all this info . I have a question for professional voice overs, pod casts and journalism. I already have a blue snowball at home that works beautifully for my professional voice over recordings and demos. I need an easy to use tiny mic I can carry around when traveling with my ipad. I also need to pair it up with an app for the ipad that can let me put some effects,compress ,convert to mp3 256 kBit/s or wav 44100hz stereo, clean audio edit etc and then send via email best quality possible to studios and agencies. It isn't music just narrations , documentaries acting. The key here is SMALL portable and BACKGROUND NOISE ELIMINATION ( hopefully) for clarity. I've been reading an awful lot about i rig cast vs blue Mikey and am a little confused.( I like the size of both) The price on Mikey is almost 3 times that of the Cast. Is it worth it?( remember I already have the snowball and many other high quality big mics for laptop home use) I am using the latest ipad. Can you help me?

                                    thanks in advance

                                    Posted by:
                                    • Ximena
                                    • October 17, 2012 1:49 PM

                                      I wish we could listen to all those mics, side by side, and be able to compare.

                                      I already use a YETI with a macbook pro. This is certainly the most versatile and quality mic you can get for the price. You can use it with an iPad (I did it with a first generation iPad) but you have to put a hub in between. The YETI needs to much juice to start up. That's why the iPad rejects it. If you put a hub between, it kind of changes the way the YETI pulls the energy out of the iPad at the very moment you plug it in. It is just the initial demand of energy that is to much for the iPad to handle. After that, it's ok. I found this in a newsgroup and did my own research. It does work.

                                      Now, I'm waiting for my new iPad mini LTE 32 gig to arrive. I will buy a microphone to go with it. The Apogee MIC sounds good and is portable. That would be my first choice if portability was critical. I will go for the Blue Spark Digital instead. Apogee makes very very good converters and Blue creates fabulous analogue microphones. My taste goes for the Blue Spark... but I think both are great for the price. Both bring us closer to a studio sound in a ultra portable format... for voice over and music.

                                      Posted by:
                                      • Claude
                                      • November 20, 2012 11:02 PM

                                        Anyone with knowledge of the vocalive app working with the blue yeti on an ipad or iphone? The app seems great but i would prefer a better mic like the yeti.

                                        Posted by:
                                        • mike lucas
                                        • January 14, 2013 12:34 PM

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