The best camera is the one you have with you. The same can’t always be said for your microphone. While your phone probably has a great camera, if you want to record video, you should use a better microphone if you want to capture top-quality sound. We have some suggestions.
If you’re recording yourself or an interview subject, a lavalier (or “lav” for short) mic lets you focus on the sound of the person talking. The Rode smartLav+ plugs directly into a headphone jack—if you still have one of those—and clips to your (or your subject’s) shirt. Rode offers its own app to record audio, but you can use any recording app you choose as well.
For iPhone or iPad users, this stereo condenser microphone plugs directly into the Lightning port on your device. It supports both cardioid and bi-directional recording, which makes it great for things like podcasts, or recording some action directly in front of you. Just plug it into your phone, put your phone in front of your subject, and hit record.
Android users can try the similar Rode VideoMic. However, there are a couple caveats with this device. First, it uses a headphone jack, which can be a problem if your phone doesn’t have one. Dongles can introduce complications that might cause static or buzzing. Additionally, Android phones vary widely, so some phones might not get the same quality as others. We advise searching Amazon’s reviews for your phone model, since many users report fine audio quality, but some others have problems with it.
Do you want to become one of YouTubers who does man-on-the-street-style interviews? Well, you’ll need a handheld mic. The Samson Go Mic connects to phones via Lightning port, micro USB, USB-C, or 3.5mm headphone jack, which means no matter what phone you have, you are always covered. The microphone itself is wireless, and pairs with a receiver pack that includes an adjustable smartphone stand that can even mount onto a tripod. It’s fairly expensive at $200, but for certain projects, it’ll provide an immediate boost to your production value.
In the DSLR market, there’s an even wider array of accessories that you can use to spruce up your audio. The problem is that they don’t mount to a smartphone very well. Unless you have a grip like this Viewflex Video Kit. This grip gives you a handle to hold your phone in landscape position (as nature intended) and provides space to mount a light on top of it or a microphone next to it. For example, you could mount the Rode VideoMic Go next to your phone and either plug it into your phone or a separate recorder. With one little adapter, you get access to a lot more options.
Like the grip, an XLR adapter like this one from iRig isn’t a microphone on its own, but it gives you the option to use a lot more equipment. Lots of professional-level audio equipment uses the XLR standard, which isn’t exactly a port that will fit on your phone. For example, the Rode Reporter microphone is an omnidirectional microphone that connects via an XLR cable. The Rode handheld and this XLR adapter together are cheaper than the Samson Go Mic above, and you still get access to any number of other XLR microphones.