When it comes to third-party microphones for iOS devices, users usually haven’t had any luck with those. There are several reasons for this, but the main ones are hardware and software limitations which prevented deeper implementation of this accessory. Of course, there were numerous affordable monaural mics which became largely obsolete once Apple added their own monaural mics to all iOS devices. Now it’s time for stereo mics to give their own try, even though their price will make it harder to enter the market.
In this article we’ll take a look at Zoom iQ5, which is the professional stereo microphone with Lightning connector. This one is priced at $100, which is a bit higher than most iOS-compatible stereo mics, even though this one promises a lot of useful features.
For its price of $100, I expected premium-grade build quality and great design. I am happy to say that iQ5 delivers very interesting design with some curious twists, but it also delivers great build quality. It’s not what I actually expected, but it doesn’t fall behind that much. On the top you’ll see 1.1” metal ball attached to a white or black plastic platform via rotating arm. This rotating arm is surprisingly useful, since it allows you to precisely position L and R sides of the microphone in order to correspond video or pure audio recording. If you take a look at the plastic platform you’ll see two switches on its front side, where one is used to choose from three options for the microphone width (90- and 120-degree, and app-controlled), while the other one is used to control three-position gain switch. On the sides you’ll see a gain knob for fine-tuning its recording capabilities. On the left side there are two pass-through ports, and those are micro-USB port and 3.5mm headphone input.
When it comes to actual performance, it’s clear that iQ5 delivers very clear sound. You’ll benefit from very low level of noise and true stereo separation which can be noticed using high quality headphones. It simply delivers results which are far superior to Apple’s own mic solution.
Even though you’ll be able to use this microphone with numerous compatible applications including GarageBand, you’ll also get to use Zoom’s own Handy Recorder (free to download). This application is the perfect companion to this microphone and it allows you to fine-tune many settings. Handy Recorder is able of switching channels, optimizing gain settings, and even choosing bitrate recording formats. You’ll be able to record in WAV or AAC formats, which can be shared to SoundCloud. If you’d like to share the content you’ve created in some other way, you’ll need to connect your iOS device to iTunes and manually extract needed data.
Zoom iQ5 is very useful accessory for those who are interested in using a stereo microphone to record videos and audio, create podcasts, use GarageBand and more. It comes with many advantages over many other similar products, so its price of $100 sounds justified and seems like a very good deal.