Okay, so you bought the iPhone 7 without the microphone jack, yet you still want to record quality audio for podcasts and video. It’s possible with this short guide to iPhone 7 audio devices.
Apple’s pre-launch buzz for the newest in its incredibly popular iPhone series was awash with rumours of the disappearance of its headphone/microphone jack. In the court of public opinion this was an incredibly unpopular move. If you store music on your phone (I don’t) or record audio and video (I do) then what sense did it make to remove one of the best ways to listen and record sound.
Well they went and did it. In one fell swoop Apple removed an analogue audio port that predates the PC and wiped out a way to connect mics and headphones that has been around for the best part of a century in the audio industry. According to Buzzfeed, Apple’s vision of audio is that the traditional is outdated and the future of audio is wireless. “The audio connector is more than 100 years old,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of iOS, iPhone and iPad marketing. “It had its last big innovation about 50 years ago. You know what that was? They made it smaller. It hasn’t been touched since then. It’s a dinosaur. It’s time to move on.”
Lightning iPhone 7 Audio Devices That Rock
So, headphone dinosaur killed, we’ll all have to either use Apple’s Lightning port 3.5mm jack adaptor or use the growing range of digital microphones now on the market. The upside of Lightning-enabled microphones is the quality of sound that will now be available for your audio and video productions. As handy as it was, the 3.5mm connection was subject to noise and hiss levels that digital microphones don’t have.
Neil Sheppard at smartphonefilmpro.com has compiled a lovely list of iPhone 7 friendly microphones that should please the most ardent audiophile. If you want to connect your own XLR microphone or lavalier, have an onboard shotgun or omnidirectional mic, there’s one for you. For real quality, there is a price to pay – many of these microphones cost more than £100 – but as any video or audio professional will tell you, skimping on audio quality is never a good idea.
Here’s a shortlist of five of the best audio solutions among Neil’s top picks:
As a mini shotgun directional microphone, the Shure MV88 definitely looks the part. It has a 90 degree hinge that allows you to adjust it to your audio source and get the best sound. Plus it has a solid metal build and comes with a windshield to use in breezy outdoor conditions. It’s a condenser microphone that doesn’t require a battery, but it does draw on the iPhone’s power supply. Shure’s MV88 is small and convenient to both carry around and use. Price now: £125
Sennheiser ClipMic Digital
Lavalier, or tie-clip, microphones are among the go-to mics for many audio and video pros. Sennheiser is renowned for its range of quality top-end microphones, so you should expect top-notch sound from its Lightning connector lavalier mic. The ClipMic Digital provides superb quality and is a bit of a bargain at £139. There is no gain control so any volume adjustments will have to be made in-app, but reviews highlight Sennheiser’s tie-clip as an essential accessory.
IK Multimedia iRig Mic HD
IK Multimedia provide a range of different mics and accessories to attach your own professional microphones to the iPhone/iPad and Android phones. Its iRig Mic HD is a handheld microphone of outstanding quality that gets great reviews from users across the spectrum. For interviews, voiceovers or music, this handheld is a great option. The Mic HD has a solid metal body so it can take a few knocks. For around £110 it offers a pre-amp for better audio recording and gain control to boost signal
Zoom’s iQ6 is an omnidirectional X/Y stereo microphone that will be familiar to users of the Zoom range of handheld audio recorders. The dual microphones have a crossover configuration that captures an excellent stereo audio image and can be changed from 90 to 120 degrees to get a wider angle. It has a headphone port so you can listen in to the sound you are capturing and at £70 is a quality mic at a low price.
IK Multimedia iRig Pro
If you already own a microphone with an XLR connection then IK Multimedia has something for your smartphone. Its Lightning connector effort is the iRig Pro (there is also a more expensive verstion that connects two – the Duo). At around £110 it’s a little pricey, especially when compared with the iRig Pre at £30, that does a similar job and plugs into the headphone jack. Its real advantage is in audio quality and built-in phantom power – via a battery – so it doesn’t sap the iPhone.
Are You Convinced By Apple’s Audio Argument?
Okay, you may not be persuaded by Apple’s argument that traditional audio wired connections are dead. Apparently they took out the 3.5mm jack to make room for the superior dual lens camera, to lengthen its battery life and help make the phone truly waterproof. All good reasons.
I’m not 100 per cent convinced that this doesn’t have something to do with DRM control through the Lightning connector. Plus, I won’t be changing over precisely because the 3.5mm jack has gone. If I’m in the minority I’ll handle it. But I’ll leave the last word to Apple’s senior vice president Phil Schiller: “Remember, we’ve been through this many times before. We got rid of parallel ports, the serial bus, floppy drives, physical keyboards on phones — do you miss the physical keyboards on your phone? At some point — some point soon, I think — we’re all going to look back at the furore over the headphone jack and wonder what the big deal was.”