Whether it be for portability, cost or ease of use, many music journalists and online content creators are opting to use their smartphones for audio recording. While some will argue that quality will be sacrificed, adding a high-quality iPhone microphone or other device can undoubtedly lead to a great recording experience.

Without an external microphone, audio on your iPhone can be blown out, full of echoes if recorded in a large room and subject to wind noise or other distracting background sounds. Consider the difference between talking to someone on speaker compared to talking to someone using a headset. You’ll immediately notice the difference when using a mic for audio recording, and can also use all of these options for video recording and even calls or meetings.

The two types of iPhone microphones you will encounter for your iPhone are lavalier, or clip-on, microphones and external condenser microphones. While both will improve on recording directly from your phone or using Airpods or other headphones, they have very different functions. Lavaliers for iPhones will work best for stationary recording, either of one speaker or two speakers if using a two-mic kit. Condenser microphones can be used for interviews as well, but are also able to record audio in the field, such as group meetings or other audio with multiple voices or sounds that need to be captured.

After recording, you will likely want to send audio to your computer to edit, although there are several apps that allow for editing audio on your phone as well. Zoom and Shure are a few brands that have released apps to accompany their iPhone microphones, and a quick search in the app store will reveal numerous other paid and free options. You can use all of these apps for recording as well.

While several microphones that use the headphone jack or other inputs that are compatible with a wider range of phones are available, for this list we’ll focus on iPhone microphones with a lightning port input. Keep in mind that because iPhones only have one lightning port, you may not be able to monitor sound as you are recording unless the mic includes a headphone jack or you also invest in a lightning port splitter.

Shure MV88

This compact condenser microphone from Shure will get you some of the best audio recording quality possible on iPhone. The microphone is multi-directional, meaning it will work well for quick two-person interviews, performances or other recording where audio should be captured from multiple directions. The mic also tilts, so you can direct it towards yourself or another speaker.

The microphone can quickly be connected and used with your preferred recording app or with the ShurePlus Motiv Mobile Recording App. Shure’s app also allows you to adjust the stereo width, gain and EQ of the mic.

At $129.00, this is one of the more high-end iPhone mics but the quality of audio is second to none.

Zoom iQ6 X/Y

Anyone experienced with audio recording will speak highly of Zoom, well-known for their field recorders like the H4N. This com

pact device mimics the design of the H4N and other condenser microphones Zoom manufactures, with two microphones that can be adjusted to capture audio from a variety of angles.

The $99.00 iQ6 also has an easy to use gain adjuster on the exterior that allow you to precisely set your input level. Another benefit of the iQ6 is a built-in dedicated headphone jack so you can monitor audio as you record. The jack also doubles as a line output, allowing you to connect your phone to speakers or another device.

Zoom’s Handy Recorder app introduces more editing tools and effects, as well as different recording formats.

The iQ6 is one of three iPhone mics currently available from Zoom. The iQ7 is another great option, and the iQ5 (while a bit harder to find online) has a few less capabilities but is worth considering too.

PoP voice 16 Feet Single Head Lavalier Lapel Microphone

The PoP voice 16 Feet Single Head Lavalier Lapel Microphone is an incredibly well reviewed lavalier microphone. With a 16 foot cable, it is easy to use for interviews or for video interviews with the camera placed sufficiently away from the subject.

The construction is not up to par with the rest of the items on this list, but with an incredibly appealing price it is worth considering anyway. Consider even buying two in case one is misplaced or breaks.

With a microphone like this, you may notice quality issues so this type of mic is meant more for reference (such as for recording an interview in a loud venue) rather than audio ready for Youtube or a podcast. While it is a big improvement on your internal phone mic, with audio equipment you frequently get what you pay for and that is certainly the case here.


Brian Benton

Brian Benton is a writer and photographer based in Los Angeles.