iPhone Lavalier & Lapel Microphone Comparison

In all transparency, the links provided below are Amazon affiliate links and if you buy from them, I do receive a little commission. However, no product samples were provided for this over and I’ve purchased all the accessories on my own.

The Contenders 

The audio samples include the following:

  1. Built-in iPhone 6S Plus microphone – this is the onboard microphone for your iPhone. To me, it’s only acceptable if you’re super close to the camera. But since I don’t like being THAT close and want it to be a bit more natural, I’m usually positioned 3-5 feet away. And when I do that, it doesn’t sound good at all.
  2. Movo Lav microphone – The Movo unit is an immediate improvement. What I like about this mic is the price; it’s around $20 at Amazon. You really can’t beat that. Now with all these wired lav mic solutions, I use a TRRS extension cable so I can get more than 3-feet away. 
  3. Rode Smartlav – Rode makes excellent equipment and this Smartlav I got a few years ago is no exception. Some people have asked for a Smartlav vs. Smartlav Plus comparison and that’s why I included it into this video comparison. I doubt you’d be able to find an older Smartlav and I’d just go ahead and get the Smartlav Plus. But at least in this video you can hear the difference between them.
  4. Rode Smartlav Plus – Is the latest lavalier from Rode. The first version got some negative feedback for having a little too much hiss. They corrected that in this release and I think the Smartlav Plus sounds the best. You can also pair both Rode lav mics with the Rode SC6 breakout box so you can have 2 mics coming into your iPhone.
  5. Sony ECM-AW4 wireless mic – Sony makes a really portable wireless setup that I really like. This is just so convenient. You see with the other lav mics, I’m physically attached to the phone with my lav mic and an extension cable. This can make moving around a bit of a pain. A wireless solution solves that. The one consistent downside I have with these is that the audio volume is kinda low. Oh I always jack up the volume when I record but even for this video, I had to increase the audio in iMovie by 500%. And one last thing; you can’t just plug an external microphone into the 3.5mm headphone jack on your iPhone. You have to convert the plug to a TRRS plug. Fortunately there are conversion patches and adapters that can do this. I’ve used KV Connection adapters for awhile and have been pleased with them.
  6. Sony ECM-AW4 w/JK Electronics external lav mic – The Sony unit has a 3.5mm receptor to add an external lav mic to it. This allows you to hide the transmitter on your belt buckle or back pocket and have a very small external lav attached to it. You’ll have to let me know what you think of the sound.

Conclusion

I like the audio quality of the Rode Smartlav Plus but I love the convenience of the Sony ECM-AW4. The Rode unit is well built and rivals my $600 professional grade Sony unit. But for shear ease of use, I have to admit to liking the Sony ECM-AW4. I think it sounds a little thin though and the volume is way to low but I can fix these in post if I’m willing to edit my video from my Mac. When I edit on my iPhone, I’m limited to just increasing the volume.

So which microphone do you prefer? Do you already have an external mic that you like more? Hey, let me know and maybe we can compare them all. In the meantime, here’s to capturing great audio for your iPhone videos.