Plug in microphones for your iPhone have mostly been a bit “meh” since they first started being made. Zoom has changed the game. The iQ5 is the first to offer great quality stereo recording suitable for professional use. Tonal quality, and width of stereo focus are fantastic. Price? $99 and it’s compatible with any Lighting Connector-equipped iOS device.
It’s easy to use too. Simply plug it in to your iDevice, download the free Handy Recorder app and away you go. In fact, if your focus is just recording video with great audio, you don’t even need the Zoom app. Just plug in the microphone, point it the same direction as your camera lens, and your video audio will be infinitely better than that captured by the iPhone’s built-in mic.
THe iQ5 lets you adjust stereo angle manually, via the app, and adjust the gain/volume using the scroll-wheel on the edge of the gadget. It also has switches for auto-gain, and a headset jack for listening in to your sounds while recording. Oddly, it uses a mini USB and not a micro USB to charge the battery.
Hardware-wise, it’s an interesting device. The microphone itself is inside a metal orb, fixed to a couple of arms that let you rotate the mic’s direction 90 degrees. These “arms” are fixed to the main body of the iQ5 using a simple pivot mount. Attention to detail is good too, I really liked that the base of one of the arms had a built-in rubber pad for resting it down on a surface. It helps avoid any interference you might get from two hard surfaces vibrating against each other, potentially wrecking the sound.
As for compromises, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t any. Materials used do seem very plasticcy and cheap, but Zoom’s done a great job putting them together.
What’s most important is sound quality, and I was very impressed. It offers such an improvement over the iPhone, that the two aren’t comparable. In fact, during recording the video review, the audio results were better than my clip-on Sony mic that I normally use for all my video audio. It picks up a great range of frequencies, balances them out and doesn’t distort easily at all.
In short: it’s fantastic. If you’re in the market for a personal audio recorder, but don’t want the hassle of having to switch between iPhone and a default recorder, just get the iQ5. You won’t regret it.
Product Link: http://www.zoom.co.jp/products/iq5