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better sound iphoneLast week I rounded up a few of the best apps for capturing video Better iPhone Video: Shoot, Process & Edit Video Like A Pro With These Apps [iPhone] Better iPhone Video: Shoot, Process & Edit Video Like A Pro With These Apps [iPhone] Shooting a film on an iPhone might not seem like the smartest idea, but for many it’s a viable option for capturing decent HD quality video on the move. Monday’s Stuff to Watch featured a... Read More and the accessories you might want to consider if you want to get the most out of your iPhone’s video capabilities Better iPhone Video: Best Paid & DIY Accessories For Smooth, Steady Footage Better iPhone Video: Best Paid & DIY Accessories For Smooth, Steady Footage Nothing says "professional" like a smooth and steady shot, which is by far the iPhone’s greatest weakness when it comes to capturing decent footage. Luckily the smartphone’s popularity has spawned a vast number of accessories... Read More . Today we’re turning our attention to audio, the achilles heel of any videographer.

It’s a widely regarded belief in the world of moving pictures that bad video can be rescued, edited and cleaned up somewhat, but very little can be done to purify bad audio. Sound quality can make or break your project, and that’s why it’s important to get it right first time.

Let’s take a look at the options.

Internal Mic

The internal microphone found on every iPhone is great for phone calls and quick voice memos The Best Free Audio Recorder For The iPhone The Best Free Audio Recorder For The iPhone Read More . Unfortunately when recording video this mic is facing to the right or left of the frame, not at your subject (or you, for that matter). To add frustration, the quality is not great and will leave you disappointed if you intend to do any serious filming with your phone.

better sound iphone

Since the iPhone (particularly the 4S) shoots such great video, it’s reassuring to see plenty of solutions for bringing the audio up to scratch.

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iPhone 1/8 inch Microphone Adapter – 3.5mm male (around $25)

Unfortunately you can’t just plug a mic straight into your iPhone’s headphone/microphone jack without an adapter. To do so you will need this relatively cheap adapter which will allow you to connect most standard standard 3.5mm microphones to your iPhone for direct recording.

make iphone sound better

It’s cheap, cheerful and works with a ton of mono and stereo mic solutions. If you’ve already got a suitable microphone then this is the missing link you’ll need to start using it with your iPhone.

Works with: Dynamic microphones, battery powered video/condenser microphones, battery powered lavalier microphones and wireless microphone systems. If your microphone is not powered (no batteries, PC-style mic), then you’ll need a condenser adapter instead.

Audio-Technica ATR-3350 Lavalier Condenser Mic (around $25)

Coupled with the 3.5mm adapter above, the ATR-3350 clip-on lavalier microphone provides dramatically improved sound quality and comes in at under $50 for the whole kit. While it might seem cheap, the ability to position the mic makes all the difference, and reviews are positive on the whole.

make iphone sound better

This mono mic is ideal for interviews or narration, with a fairly generous 6 metre cable so you can maintain a sensible shooting distance, just be sure not to trip or tug at the cable too hard.

Audio-Technica ATR-6550 Shotgun Condenser Mic (around $60)

This particular shotgun mic is designed both for short and long-range audio capture. For around $60 this is an affordable kit comprising of a windscreen, jack adapter, stand clamp and battery. This type of mic is ideal if you’re going to be doing one-on-one interviews as its easy to hold and move around.

make iphone sound better

Prospective buyers might want to consider an additional extension cord as the mic only comes with a metre of cable. Coupled with the first adapter on this list you’ve got a complete mobile interviewing solution and good mid-range recording ability for around $80.

Tascam iM2 Stereo Condenser Microphone (around $60)

The Tascam iM2 is a stereo condenser microphone that sits comfortably at the top of your phone. At around $60, it’s not a bad all-in-one solution for capturing ambient sound, and Tascam claim it will record levels of up to 125 decibels without distorting.

better sound quality iphone

The iM2 has a built-in microphone pre-amp and analog-to-digital converter for its dual microphones. Best of all you won’t need any adapters and it even comes with USB input for powering your iPhone 7 Ways To Boost Your Cell Phone Battery Life [iPhone, Android & Other Smartphones] 7 Ways To Boost Your Cell Phone Battery Life [iPhone, Android & Other Smartphones] By far one of the most disappointing features in just about every smartphone these days is the battery life, which for most of us requires at least one charge per 24-hour period. Are you a... Read More during long recordings or shooting sessions.

Fostex AR-4i Audio Interface (around $200)

If you’re in need of a stereo solution that’s mounted directly on the camera, then the Fostex AR-4i will probably appeal to you. The system uses the dock connector as opposed to the 3.5mm stereo port, and comes with its own on-board analog-to-digital converter for better sound quality.

better sound quality iphone

The iPhone sits in the adapter which has three stereo line-in ports and comes with two microphones which can be adjusted optimal range. The adapter can be used in landscape mode as a mobile shooter or in portrait mode as a mic stand – ideal for podcasting How To Make Podcast On The Go With Your Mobile Phone How To Make Podcast On The Go With Your Mobile Phone Read More or voice-over work.

VeriCorder iPhone XLR Adapter (around $60)

VeriCorder’s iPhone XLR adapter opens your phone to a world of professional sound recording possibilities. At $60 for just the adapter this isn’t a cheap solution, especially when you consider you’re going to have to buy an XLR mic too.

The adapter comes with a preamp circuit offering 6.1 decibels of gain as well as a headphone output port for monitoring sound recording levels. This adapter is ideal for bands or videographers who already have a decent XLR microphone ready to go and want to use it with their iPhones.

better sound quality iphone

For an example of an entry-level shotgun microphone in XLR format, check out the Azden Barrell Shotgun Mic for $179 on Amazon. It won’t sing to you like a $1000 Shure or Sennheiser, but offers good performance for the money.

Sony ECM-AW3 Wireless Microphone System (around $200)

If you’re averse to wiring then you might want to think about a wireless microphone. The biggest drawback when it comes to wireless microphones is the cost, which is why for around $200 you can grab the Sony ECM-AW3 single wireless mic and receiver.

better sound iphone

Paired with the $25 adapter (first on the list) the ECM-AW3 officially operates at up to 50 metres range, though there are reports that it can exceed this by almost double. You should get about 3 hours out of the Bluetooth system before a battery replacement is required, another price you pay for a wire-free existence.

The sound quality isn’t going to blow you out of the water, but then again $200 is a considerable chunk of your next indie flick budget. If you think you could benefit from a wire-free filming setup then the ECM-AW3 offers good performance without breaking the bank. Of course, if you would like to break the bank and ramp up the quality check out the Sony UWP-V1 instead.

Conclusion

Hopefully there are a few ideas here to help you plan how you’re going to shoot your next movie, documentary or interview with better sound. The adapters mentioned should cover most types of microphones, or if you’re after an all-in-one you might want to think about the AR-4i or iM2 instead. If you have any words of wisdom to share about getting the most out of your iPhone’s video capabilities, leave a comment below.

Have you got an external iPhone mic? Any recommendations? Sound-off in the comments below.

Image Credit: XLR Connectors

  1. Bethany
    April 9, 2016 at 1:02 am

    Im looking at making a movie of my students (it will be shown in a theater) and I am getting too much air noise/echo in the room we are working in when i use the internal mic. What is your best suggestion? Ideally I'd like wireless but cost is a factor....are there any wired ones that would pick it up well from 3-5 ft away?

    • Tim Brookes
      April 11, 2016 at 4:37 am

      Hi Bethany, you'll want a shotgun mic that has iPhone compatibility (Rode make a few). As ever with these sorts of things, the more you spend the better your results and the sound quality. Shotgun mics work using a directional microphone, usually over even greater distances than what you're going to be using it for. Not great for capturing ambience or a room full of people, but ideal if you want to record what the camera is pointed at.

      Something like this is ideal: http://www.iographer.com/collections/mics/products/rode-video-mic-pro-rycote

      Of course other cheaper options exist too :)

  2. Dean Ethridge
    October 4, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    I've had pretty good luck with the Smart Lav Plus from Rode too. Thanks for the suggestions

  3. Abbey Bishop (thefaultinourlipsticks)
    July 19, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Can anyone tell me where I can buy the adapter on eBay? I have a 5c. Thanks in advance.

  4. pat
    December 21, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    Hi Tim; is it possible to record sound on a separate recorder then 'patch' sound and video together? I have a really good tascam recorder and love teh sound for podcasting, but now want to upgrade to video with smartphoine, but still recording with teh tascam..
    Many thanks!
    Pat

  5. iXtreme
    November 27, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Hi Tim,

    I have enjoyed reading your articles. Would you give iXtreme a look at http://www.ixtreme.com. It's on Kickstarter now at 50-70% off and I think it answers many of the needs of your readers. There are quite a few features wrapped up in one device. It may also inspire some techniques (Skycam effect with string for example) as it has done here. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

    Great job!

    Matt

  6. Sergio Gómez Domínguez
    November 2, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Hello

    I have a microphone but I don't know if it is compatible. It is a sony ecm-719. It works with a battery, but it is a little old. If you know if it possible to use with the ipad I would thank you if you give me any information.

    Regards, Sergio

    • Tim Brookes
      November 3, 2012 at 1:05 am

      If it's powered you'll want this adapter, mentioned in the article above: http://www.kvconnection.com/product-p/km-iphone-mic.htm

      You can email the manufacturers to make sure first if you want, but the product description should give you a good idea of whether or not it will work.

  7. eric johnson
    August 29, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    thanks for the article, tim. i learned a lot. question: for making quick videos where you don't want the audio to be recorded separately, do you just use one of the mics above directly connected to the iphone? i assume the answer is yes, but didn't want to assume it. thanks.

    • Tim Brookes
      August 29, 2012 at 11:04 pm

      Unless you're using a product like the Tascam iM2 above, you will need an adapter (the first item on this list after the internal microphone) in order to use it. The iPhone unfortunately doesn't let you just stick a mic into the jack, though the adapters are only $25 so if you've already invested in a good mic the extra cost isn't too bad.

      Don't forget there are two types, one for powered microphones and one for passive microphones. Active (powered) microphones should provide a fuller and louder sound, though this isn't a golden rule. Just remember your adapter!

  8. Nishanth Kl
    June 1, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Awesome!!

  9. Dom_TC
    June 1, 2012 at 6:38 am

    While I personally don't film on my phone, either using a Canon 60D or Sony Z1, (both with external mics) It is nice to see a better audio solution available to those that do, especially saving people money from splashing out on expensive kit.

    Nice article, thanks

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