MY TOP 3 RECOMMENDED MICROPHONES FOR SMARTPHONE VIDEOS
If there is one thing that ups your game when making videos on your smartphone, it’s sound.
As a radio & podcast producer, I can get a little bit obsessed with sound quality on both audio and video content.
Surveys show that even if a smartphone video is a bit shaky and low resolution, viewers will put up with this if the sound is good.
But there are two obstacles to good sound quality on smartphones.
- Distance from the subject
- Shielding wind on the microphone.
The microphone on your smartphone is designed for using as a telephone – it’s on the device itself. That’s fine for phone calls but if and when you are recording an interview with someone, or recording some action, then you are at a disadvantage because your microphone is not close enough to the voice or action.
Secondly, it means that if you are in any kind of a windy environment (and we get a lot of wind in Ireland!!), then you will pick up the dreaded wind sound that can ruin a good recording completely by drowning out the voice or the birdsong or ambient sound you want to capture.
Solution? Plug in an external microphone.
Over the years of doing our training, we’ve tried out quite a few microphones that can be attached easily to your smartphone, whether IOS or Android. Here are my recommendations in order of preference.
- Rode Smartlav Plus (plus SC1 extension lead)
This is a small but every effective clip-on lavalier (hence “lav”) microphone that enables you to record lovely sound for an interview or recording. I like it for a few reasons:
- The quality of the audio is very good – broadcast quality in fact;
- It comes with a windshield as standard which helps remove the dreaded wind sound when outside (but not in a very windy environment);
- It’s small and comes with a little bag to store so won’t get damaged easily when you put it in your kitbag;
- It’s not that expensive; with the extension lead it’s less than 70 euros depending on where you buy it;
- It’s easily available.
- It works with or without an additional adapter for both Android and IOS phones. IOS phones will need the Lightning to Headphone adapter for an addition 15 euros or so.
- It’s easy to work out how to use it.
- Shure MV88+ Video Kit
We don’t use this quite as much as the Rode but it’s also very good. This kit comes with a Manfrotto Pixi Tripod stand, a nicely designed addition to put your mic on the tripod, and a very useful case to keep all your kit together when going on a shoot.
This is a digital stereo condenser microphone with a windshield included, and an additional cable to attach to the Lightning plug on your IOS or USB-C on your newer Android phones. So no extra adapter needed. I like it because:
- It produces great quality sound.
- It has a headphone jack on the microphone which helps you monitor the sound you are recording – something that is not available on the Rode Smartlav Plus.
- It also comes with a shoe-mount ring clip to enable you to keep the mic snugly on the top of a tripod.
- This piece of kit is ideal for those recording vox pops or need good audio on the go e.g. journalists at a stand up or press conference.
- When you need to record a meeting or an event or even a Facebook or Whats App live, adding this microphone to a mobile phone can get a good range of voices from even a bit away from the mic.
- It’s also great for recording music
- I like the free app that comes with it too which helps you monitor the sound you are recording and musicians will like this.
It will cost you just over 200 euros, but you get a lot of quality mobile kit for that.
- Rode Wireless Go.
Increasingly, people are asking about the wireless options for recording videos, which gives the subject more flexibility to move around and removes the hassle of hiding leads and such like, and and this is where the Wireless Go comes into its own.
This piece of kit is small but being a Rode, it gives great quality audio. It enables you to take (1) above and make it wireless – so no need for extension leads.
The Wireless Go is a Receiver and Transmitter, with 2 x USB- C cables, and a nice pouch to keep the small cables in, along with 2 fur shields or windshields.
You will need to buy the Rode Smartlav Plus microphone separately.
I like it because
- It’s wireless! No leads frees up both the interviewee and the videographer;
- The receiver and transmitter are easy to set up on your phone;
- It gives you broadcast quality audio, so suitable for mobile journalists and those recording high quality audio for YouTube etc.
- It’s very compact, so easily fits into a kitbag or camera bag.
- It’s not just for smartphones – ideal also for DLSR camera or recorders.
- It’s got rechargeable batteries which will last for about 7 hours.
It costs less than 200 euros depending on where you buy it
So there are my 3 most popular microphones that we use here to capture professional quality sound for both production and training.
I hope this blog has been helpful for you.
If you would like to learn more, email us at [email protected] or phone us at 01 2542984.
Aileen O’Meara is an award-winning producer and journalist, formerly of RTE. She set up the Rathdown Media Institute to demystify the media production process.