If you identify as a mobile content creator and are not using a specialized microphone, it could be limiting your potential. Even though audio quality, particularly speech, is often ignored, it’s a critical aspect of content creation. Your audience is likely to judge you if your audio quality is not up to par. While there are various options available for home or studio use, there are also several microphones specifically designed for mobile users to enhance your on-the-go recordings, whether for social media, music, filmmaking, podcasting, or other purposes.
This guide focuses on recording while on the go without the limitations of a traditional studio. It suggests using two types of microphones, lavalier (lapel) and shotgun, as they are best suited for this purpose. Other types of microphones will also be covered, but these two types will cover most recording needs. The guide will also explain how to use USB microphones with your phone and how to connect XLR microphones to your phone through accessories. Let’s begin by discussing clip microphones.
Lapel microphones are a popular choice for individuals creating content on platforms such as TikTok or YouTube due to their compact size and ability to maintain consistent audio quality while moving around. However, one limitation of lapel mics is that they only record audio for the person wearing the mic, which can be problematic for multi-person recordings. In such cases, additional microphones and recording equipment would be required, which can result in increased costs.
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Thankfully, the lapel microphone market is highly competitive, with affordable options
available for as little as $14.95. The Boya BY M1 is an excellent budget
choice, featuring a long cord and various connectivity accessories. However, those
seeking a more durable, versatile, or higher-quality option may consider
investing in a more expensive lapel microphone.
In summary, lapel microphones are an excellent choice for individuals seeking high-quality
audio while creating content on social media platforms. While budget options
are available, it is important to consider the needs of the recording situation
and invest in a lapel microphone that meets those needs.
Best 3.5mm mic: Rode Lavalier II
The Rode Lavalier II is an excellent clip-on microphone that has a stylish design and produces high-quality sound. It is reasonably priced at $99, making it a great option for those who want something better than budget microphones but do not want to spend too much. The package includes a durable case and a variety of accessories, making it a practical choice. For added versatility, you can use Rode’s AI Micro interface, which costs $79 and allows easy connection to smartphones, and computers, and adds support for a second microphone, making it ideal for recording podcasts or interviews. Overall, the Rode Lavalier II is a highly recommended option for anyone looking for a reliable and versatile clip-on microphone.
Best USB-C mic: Sennheiser XS
The Sennheiser XS lav mic is a reasonably priced option at $60 that provides excellent sound quality and is compatible with both phones and laptops without requiring an adapter. This not only makes it convenient to use but also saves you money on additional adapters. Additionally, the mic comes with a 2-meter cable, which provides ample space for movement or framing.
A word on wireless systems
Recently, there has been a surge in mobile-friendly wireless systems and we have identified two that stand out. The first one is the Rode Wireless GO II which is an improved version of the original product that defined this category. It comes with two wireless transmitters, making it ideal for podcasting and interviews. This microphone is very versatile and can function as a standalone recorder. Additionally, it can be mounted in a camera cold shoe and comes with its own “reporter” mic adapter. You can also make any 3.5mm mic wireless by connecting it to one of the receivers.
The second system we like is the Mikme Pocket. This high-end wireless lavalier microphone
system is designed to be very mobile-friendly and is Austrian-designed. It
comes with a comprehensive app for audio and video recording and has internal
storage, which eliminates the risk of dropouts and provides an almost infinite
range. Although it costs $399, it is a worthwhile investment for those who
prioritize high-quality audio and unlimited range.
Shotgun microphones are commonly used in video recording, particularly with DSLR or mirrorless cameras, and can also be used with mobile devices like cell phones. These microphones are highly directional, making them great for recording podcasts, instruments, and sound effects. They are also lightweight and portable, making them convenient to carry around in a backpack or laptop bag. Furthermore, there are some excellent mobile-specific options available.
Best shotgun mic for video/music: Sennheiser MKE 400 (2nd gen)
Although appearance should not be the sole factor in buying a microphone, the Sennheiser MKE 400 stands out with its attractive design compared to its competitors, and its performance is also noteworthy. It records audio cleanly without distortion, and it is battery-powered, so it won’t drain power from your phone or camera. It has three gain levels to accommodate different recording situations, preventing overloading or under-recording.
It comes with both TRS and TRRS cables for compatibility with various devices. Unlike other microphones that require updating via an app, the MKE 400 has physical gain controls and a high pass filter that can be adjusted on the fly, making it convenient for recording in dynamic situations where the audio source may change in volume. This feature is particularly useful for musicians who need to record both loud and soft sounds while on the move.
Best budget shotgun mic: Rode VideoMic GO II
When we tried out the VideoMic GO II, we were impressed by its quality without any additional adjustments needed. It costs $100 but competes with desktop microphones that are three times the price. To modify its settings, you’ll need to download a companion app. Overall, it performs very well.
Best shotgun mic for portability: Shure MV88+
The MV88+ is a compact shotgun microphone designed for use with smartphones, and it should not be mistaken for the older MV88 that connected directly to a Lightning port. It is commonly sold as a vlogging kit for $249, which includes a tripod and phone grip. The MV88+ features interchangeable cables that allow it to connect to both Android and iPhone devices.