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. You can also use these mics on-camera, or for recording music, meetings, and more.
These external mics will also 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 the best 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.
Our top iPhone mic for most people: Shure MV88
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!). There are two custom-designed condenser capsules with stereo pickup. It has auto-sensing technology to help stop distortion, along with a high-gain and low-gain setting. The Mikey’s shape and 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. Frequency response ranges between 35Hz – 20kHz.
Another great feature is the line level input, allowing you to record instruments as well.
RØDE 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. There is a matched pair of 1/2″ cardioid condenser microphones set up in an X-Y pattern with a frequency range from 20Hz – 20kHz.
When used with the free Rode Rec App, you can record 24-bit audio, up to 96 kHz. There is also a 72Hz high-pass filter that can be turned on to reduce low-frequency sounds. 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
The Zoom iQ6 X/Y uses the same condenser microphones as the Zoom H4N. It allows the range of pickup to adjust from 90 degrees to 120 degrees. The numbered wheel you see on the front is the mic gain setting, allow you to quickly make adjustments without going into software. There is also a headphone/line-out jack that can be used during both recording and playback. This is great if you have a new iPhone 7 that doesn’t have a standard headphone jack anymore.
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, giving you much more flexibility. 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.
You can easily adjust between M-S, 120° stereo, and 90° stereo using the switch on the right. Like the iQ6, there is a hardware mic gain control front and center, and it also has a headphone/line-out combo jack. The microphone capsules can also rotate multiple directions to get them positioned properly for your subject or scene.
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.
Final Thoughts & Recommendations
No matter which iPhone mic you choose, I highly recommend getting a quality smartphone tripod mount. It will give you more flexibility and better audio quality as you won’t have to worry about holding your phone in the same spot. If you want to record video as well (and who wouldn’t with an awesome new mic?!) you’ll definitely need a mount and tripod at the very least. The latest iPhone models have excellent cameras and you can get amazing video recordings with just a few extra pieces of gear – without needing to spend thousands on a DSLR camera and a shotgun mic.
Which model is your favorite? Is anything missing from out lineup? Let us know in the comments!