iPhone as a Lav Mic

Blue Mic ImageI was first introduced to using iOS devices as microphones with Blue Microphones’ Mikey. It was a great device, till Apple dropped support for it with the iPhone 4. I used it on a stand as a second audio recorder on a corporate shoot, and the sound quality was amazing. Nowdays, I’m primarily a wedding videographer, and Aaron Ng of Lightcast Productions really challenged me to improve my sound recording for weddings. Being a run-and-gun kind of guy and thinking that my onboard Rode VideoMic shotgun microphone (which sits on top of my camera) was enough, I initially brushed him off until he sent me this video: https://vimeo.com/59704091. $100 of sound adds about $1000 of production value to a good video, and of course it does; we as viewers far more willing to forgive bad pictures than we are to forgive bad sound. Now all I want to do is attach a lav mic to my subjects to partake in this great sound for my own videos. However, I really don’t want to mess around with wireless lavs, or carry a lot of complicated sound gear–or worse, hire an assistant!

SmartLav ImageFortunately, Australian company Rode has come to the rescue with the SmartLav. It’s a Lav microphone which avoids some of the problems associated with lav mics and other products, and is really dirt-cheap for what you get. The microphone is powered by the i-Device and works in conjunction with the RodeRec app (the free or paid version) or any other recording app on, say, your iphone. Add that to my setup with the camera shotgun mic, I get true dual-system audio recording for my videos. The SmartLav isn’t available ’till next month, however. In the meantime, I took a look at some alternate solutions which occupy the same territory:

This mic is a great entry-level lav mic. You will have to build/buy and adapter to make it work with the iPhone’s mic/headphone jack, but the important thing with this mic is that it is powered. Most lav microphones won’t work well with the iPhone simply because the gain is far too low. If you do go for this mic, I read up it and some other audio solutions for the iPhone on this site. Take a look.

I have no idea as to how well this mic works, but it appeared in my search, and I’m tempted to try it if the Rode SmartMic doesn’t become available in time for my next event. You can even get this one with a little iphone tripod. Cute.

Tascam has some iPhone offerings which will work with existing sound setups. If you want to draw the line out from a mixer at a church, synagogue or reception hall you can use their iXZ device to grab sound from almost anything, including XLR. If all you need is to power a lav mic, or you can get 1/8″ line out from a mixer, then check out the iXJ2.