The iPhone audio is actually pretty decent for a phone, but if you are regularly recording interviews, YouTube videos or podcasts, you’ll definitely want to invest in an external iPhone microphone.
These external mics will be compatible with an iPad or iPad Pro as long as it has a lightning port.
One tip: turn on Airplane Mode while recording or you will likely experience cellular feedback or distortion.
We are going to focus on iPhone mics that use the lighting port as that is what Apple has used for the most recent iPhone and are likely to continue using.
If you are looking for something that plugs into the headphone jack, check out the first 2 recommendations in our best lavalier mics post. If you are looking for something to use with the Apple camera connection adapter, take a look at the best USB microphones post.
Best Lightning Connector Microphones
The Blue Mikey can handle audio as loud as 130dB (that’s loud!). Its stereo pickup has auto-sensing technology to help stop distortion. The Mikey’s design is unique among other competing external iPhone microphones. It has a 230-degree swivel and LED indicator to let you know if you’re too loud.
Another great feature is the line level input, allowing you to record instruments as well.
Rode makes quality audio equipment and the Rode IXY-L is no different. Its all-metal casing makes it tough and protects the audio from electromagnetic interference.
When used with the free Rode Rec App, you can record 24-bit audio, up to 96 kHz. One drawback with the app is that it doesn’t have gain control, but you can use other recording apps that allow you to control gain.
Rode includes a protective zip case and windshield in the package.
Zoom iQ5 Mid-Side
The Zoom iQ5 is their entry-level “mid-side” iPhone mic. To me, it feels much cheaper than the iQ6 and iQ7 (below). I would recommend spending the extra $30 to get something with better build quality and will last. Plus, the other models come with removable spacers so you can use them with a case and the headphone jack doubles as a line out.
Zoom iQ6 X/Y
One standout feature is the removable spacer – allowing you to use the Zoom iQ6 with or without an iPhone case. It has 3 LED’s to give you a visual signal of your levels. Zoom also has a recording iPhone app that allows you record .wav or .aac files.
Zoom iQ7 Mid-Side
The Zoom iQ7 is similar to the above iQ6, but it uses a mid-side microphone configuration. One of the issues with X/Y recording is that you’re stuck with what is recorded. Mid-side recordings allow you to make adjustments in post-production. Mid-side is always mono-compatible as well. B&H has a great explanation of mid-side recording if you want to learn more.
The Shure MV88 is my top pick for an external iPhone mic. The build quality is extremely solid and made of all metal, it has both stereo and directional pickup. What really makes it the top choice is that it rotates and pivots, allowing you to position it very precisely.
The free ShurePlus MOTIV app is impressive. The app allows you to record uncompressed audio (.wav), adjust the gain levels, change the stereo width, modify EQ settings, swap left & right and more. If you want to learn more about the app and microphone, check out our MV88 review.
It also comes with a headphone adapter, carrying case and foam windscreen, although the Shure AMV88-FUR Rycote Windjammer will do a much better job if you’re using this outdoors.
This last one is actually a lightning to XLR converter! That means you can use nearly any professional microphone with an iPhone. The Rode i-XLR really makes your options endless – but you’ll need to travel with more gear – and likely larger gear.
If you already have a great XLR microphone and want to add some portability while maintaining broadcast quality, this is your answer.