3 microphones to help you capture better sound on your mobile phone
Mobile phone technology has come a long way in recent years and it’s camera features are at a point now where they are more than acceptable for video production and social media marketing. Now naturally there are a lot of things they can’t do, after all they are first and foremost a phone, however with a few little extra pieces they can be made into something amazing.
Alongside the camera, the internal microphone has also evolved and is very good a recording clear sound. However, when recording a video with a mobile phone you naturally have the camera out in front of you: either you’re holding it outstretched in your arm, or you have it mounted on a tripod or balanced on a table. The built in microphone captures audio from all around it, meaning it will capture other external noises around you.
When you’re close to your phone when talking, your voice will likely be the loudest noise and so the audio recorded using the internal microphone will be loud and clear. However the further away you get from your phone, the quieter you will become and the more room their is for external noises to interfere. For example, if you’re stood at a table demonstrating a physical product, in order to get the whole table in the shot, you’re going to be stood quite far away, so the audio may not be that clear. If there are a few other prominent sounds around in the background, this will get picked up and muddy the audio.
To enhance the quality of the sound recording through a phone, there are a number of microphones you can use. You’re likely have at least one of these already.
EARPHONES WITH A MICROPHONE WITHIN THEM
All smartphones come with a set of earphones so that you can listen to music, podcasts and videos in private. Most of these now have small microphones built into them, predominantly for phone calls, but they work well as a video recording application as well. These types of earphones are a great starting point for capturing better quality sound on your phone. With the microphone being closer to your mouth it makes the audio of you talking much clearer and reduces background noise. If you don’t have any earphones and are looking at buying some, make sure to check that the earphones you buy have a microphone built into them. You might need to spend a little bit more than you would for standard earphones, but the results will be worth it, compared to using the built in microphone on your phone.
APPLE EARPODS (IPHONE ONLY)
I love my Apple EarPods, I use them for calls, for listening to podcasts, for watching YouTube videos, and for recording my own videos. The singular benefit these have over traditional mobile headphones is the fact that they’re wireless. Recording videos on your phone whilst you’re attached via the headphone cable can be a bit cumbersome and restrictive. The wireless feature here allows you the freedom to move around more, which is particularly useful if you have your phone mounted on a tripod. For example, maybe you sell some kind of physical product and want to create a short video showing people around the product. If you were attached to your phone via a cable, it would be challenging for you to move around, pick up the product and show the camera different parts of it.
Unfortunately EarPods are only available for iPhone users. I’m not sure whether something similar exists for Android phones, I hoping there is. If you do have an iPhone then these are a great addition to your video production gear. They are a little expensive, around £130-£170, so if you do bite the bullet and buy some I’d recommend you use them as much as you can to justify the expenditure.
LAVALIER (CLIP-ON) MICROPHONE
The lavalier (also called lapel) microphone is a staple of professional video production. These microphones clip onto people’s clothing just under their chin, allowing you to capture crystal clear audio of someone talking whilst reducing background noise. With this microphone being so close to someone’s mouth it makes their audio so much louder than whatever is going on in the background, all-but removes the background noise from the recording.
My favourite mobile phone microphone is the Rode SmartLav. Rode are a well known microphone brand in the video production industry and make great quality products – we have a number of their microphones, including the SmartLav. They designed this microphone to work specifically with smartphones to enable you to record professional grade audio straight into your phone. The SmartLav comes in at about £60 so it’s a fair amount of money, but definitely worth the investment if you’re looking for a more professional audio solution for your phone. If you’re using a newer iPhone your phone will not have a headphone port, in which case you’ll need to buy the Apple lighting to mini jack adapter for around £10, so that you can plug the microphone into it.
There are other adapters you can buy as well that will allow you to run two SmartLav microphones into your mobile phone. This would be particularly useful for anyone looking to film interviews or discussions with more than one person. The two adapters are the Rode SC6 and Rode SC6L, it’s worth noting that the SC6L will only work with Apple products.