Whether you are an aspiring vlogger or a podcaster, your mobile phone can be your instant companion. Smartphones have cameras readily available for video recording. They also have built-in microphones to record audio, although they often produce teeny tiny sounds. This is where an external microphone comes to help. It has exceptional features that allow you to record sounds better and with less interference.
There are lots of external microphones you can pair with the best podcast apps or video recorder. In fact, your choices can be overwhelming that picking a particular one can cause you a headache. For this reason, we have cherry-picked the best types of external microphones you can use for any mobile devices.
Types of External Microphone
There are several types of external microphones that can cater to your needs. Understanding each type is essential when choosing a brand to buy. Here are the different types of external microphones followed by our best choices for each.
Lavalier microphones are more commonly known as lapel mics. It is a small wired condenser mic that is often attached to your collar, shirt, or tie. These types of external microphones are useful in the television industry. For example, they are a helpful accessory to sports anchors, conference presenters, and news reporters. The greatest advantage of using a lavalier clip-on mic is that it can operate hands-free. As a result, you only need to position it properly and proceed with producing your content.
Below are our top picks, but you can also check out our dedicated post on the best lavalier microphones that could suit your taste.
Best Lavalier Microphones
The Shure MVL Microphone is great for lectures, interviews, videography, and public speaking. Activating this mic comes with two easy steps. First, you need to clip the mic to your collar. Second, you must plug it into your mobile device.
It will capture quality audio for various content. For instance, you can deliver your speech with perfect hand gestures. You do not need to hold the device close to your mouth. Moreover, Shure is an external microphone that is universally compatible with headphone jacks of either Android or iOS devices. It has a foam windscreen tip that enhances speech clarity for a smoother and warmer sound. Additionally, an optional windjammer reduces unnecessary wind noise from the outdoor environment.
This lavalier microphone works well with the ShurePlus app and other iOS audio and video recording apps. The app provides intuitive control of key audio parameters. It includes gain control and compression ratio.
Shure MVL embodies a sleek design with a miniature housing. This is helpful for discreet onscreen appearance. Its construction and quality design is built within Shure’s technology and durability standards. As a whole, the Shure MVL microphone lets you speak and record with clarity.
Check out this lavalier mic on Amazon today and experience an easy-functioning lapel.
Among the most popular in the market is Rode Smartlav+. This wearable mic employs a quality omni-condenser capsule, an important part that makes it pick up sounds. The foam shield is versatile as it minimizes vocal plosives and wind noises. Other than that, the durable mounting clip has built-in cable management. This cable ensures that you don’t snap or stretch your mic under normal usage conditions. Using this microphone is pretty simple; you need to plug it into the headphone jack of your phone.
Smartlav+ is purposeful with smartphones because it is compatible with various audio apps. As long as it accepts any input from the headset connection, it is functional. However, there is a limitation to this. Rode’s RODE Rec app is a good partner for Apple iOS devices. The app lets you edit and publish your recordings without needing a sound engineer.
Additionally, Smartlav+’s design is for almost everything that requires a broadcast-quality studio. It serves a lot of purpose on a smartphone. In conclusion, it is a good external microphone with a solid recording quality.
Check out the Rode Smartlav+ on Amazon today to record interviews and other sound bites with clarity.
With an omnidirectional pick-up pattern feature, users have the freedom of placement. It has idyllic properties for the natural speaking voice sound to come out. There is a noise ratio and good sensitivity that ensures a clear transmission. PoP Voice is perfect for video or audio interviews, conferences, dictations, and podcasts. With good compatibility with Apple, Android, and Windows Smartphones, it is easy to use.
Moreover, PoP voice emphasizes on clear and accurate voice reproduction and boosting user performance. Like a usual lapel mic, it has a premium metal clip-on system that is rotational. The jack connection features a standard of 3.5mm and is good with an extensive range of products. Its complementary 78-inch jack is longer than those of the other lapel mics. This anti-friction cable adds versatility and wind muffler. As a result, all these features are good for countering sounds from the outside environment.
Probably one of the easiest lapel microphones to use is the Purple Panda. It is a pretty loud mic with a clean and nice signal all the way in. There is no need for a battery, apps, or extra gadgets. You just need to plug it straight to your device and start recording. The versatility is evident as the cable comes with a USB adapter. Also, as it is a stereo mic, it rejects some of the ambient sounds and focuses straight on your voice.
Purple Panda is best used for filmmaking, vlogging, YouTube and GoPro videos, gaming, and more. It has a wide range of compatibility, from iOS and Android smartphones to computers. The mic itself is lightweight, discreet, and durable that you can bring it wherever you go. What makes buying Purple Panda worth it is that the kit includes helpful extras. You have the fuzzy windscreen, clip, drawstring pouch, adapter, and e-book.
Experience a clean and nice signal by getting your own Purple Panda on Amazon today.
FIFINE provides a low-cost lavalier solution for your basic audio recording needs. This external microphone is made of solid materials. With a metal-like capsule, the pick-up pattern is cardioid and omnidirectional. It has 20 frequency selections for interference-free and seamless operation. With great compatibility and versatility features, you can connect this with different gadgets like speakers, electric guitar amplifiers, and soundboards.
When you buy a FIFINE set, the kit includes a microphone set and a clip-on bodypack transmitter. It comes with a metal collar clip and windscreen. This screen reduces wind, plosives, and breathing sounds. The headset is fitting and perfect for vocal performers and secured active speakers. With the tie clip, it offers low visibility and hands-free use.
Check out the FIFINE-20 on Amazon today if you want a cheap but good-quality lapel mic.
Shotgun microphones have unidirectional capacity that picks up sounds when the source is directly in front of the speaker. This is necessary to achieve a high-beam sound concentration on the source to be able to record properly. The sound pulled through the mic has a protection from unwanted noises. External microphones like these are effective with your mouth direct to the filter to pick up sound well. In contrast, if you move to the sides and rear, you will begin to pick up a bad sound from the source.
Most audio professionals use a shotgun mic for reporting, sports, broadcasting, and documentaries. In these instances, the speaker does not need to hold or wire a mic on the body. Instead, you just have to stand and speak from a certain distance and your voice will still record.
Best Shotgun Microphones
This camera-mounted model has the most comprehensive sound profile and reliable tone. It boasts a set of new features. With the automatic power function, it provides a plug-in power. Users can turn off the microphone whenever it is unplugged from the camera. Other features are a built-in battery door and digital switching. This ensures that the user has the ultimate capture of the audio signal from the source.
Rode VideoMic Pro+’s design is mainly for DSLR cameras, camcorders, and audio recorders. It is perfect for recording as a source of primary audio.
Check out the Rode VideoMic Pro+ on Amazon today to enjoy better sound quality for your professional camera.
MKH416 is a compact-gradient external microphone. It has a short interference tube that is immune to humidity because of the RF condenser design. This microphone possesses features that can handle difficult exterior and reporting conditions. Its high degree of directivity makes it suitable for outdoor applications. Examples are outside television interviews and broadcasts. To produce a balanced sound when used close to the source, there is a low proximity effect. It has an operational ability that improves insensitivity to wind and pop noise.
The build of the mic is a combination of an interference tube and a pressure gradient transducer. Its pick-up pattern is super-cardioid for low to medium frequencies. But higher ones have lobar characteristics.
You can get yourself this compact-gradient shotgun mic by checking it out on Amazon today.
With high-definition and detailed audio, VP83F provides ultra-clear recording capabilities. Through the lobar and super-cardioid pick-up patterns, the mic rejects unwanted off-axis audio. It only captures the intended natural sound. Then, it reproduces it through a broad frequency range. The mounting system integrates with Rycote Lyre and an RF Condenser design. This feature prevents vibration and other mechanical noise.
Shure comes with a digital flash recording, windscreen, and a 5-position control lever. It has a detachable 3.5mm audio output cable and a standard mounting thread for pedestal or camera. This model provides advanced controls for mic gain adjustments. There are options for low-cut filter, track management, and playback support.
Check out the Shure VP83F on Amazon today to see how capable this shotgun mic is.
Audio Technica is one of the biggest names in the field of professional audio. It always produces elegant and effective fast-selling shotgun external microphones. One of their entry-level is the AT875R. It has almost everything that you need, from high-sensitivity, low noise, and a tight pick-up pattern. The dynamic range produces a rich and clear sound. Great for broadcast and video production, it provides an excellent sound rejection from the sides and rear of the mic.
The AT875R is very durable and has a decent build. It uses an XLR output and requires phantom power. Meaning, users cannot plug into a camera directly. You have to plug it into a mic preamp, or any similar recorder that allows you to power up the device. People who are about videography or outdoor recording must consider this shotgun microphone.
Get a good deal and check out the Audio Technica on Amazon today.
Canon produced a shotgun microphone that goes well with a DSLR camera. This external microphone provides more defined human voice recordings and increased audio quality. Yet, there are basic denominators to make sure that the mic will work well with the camera. They must have an input jack and a movie option to use microphone technology. Features include a built-in battery and a switch mechanism. The switch allows users to change between audio recording modes. Another feature is the frequency range as it lets you capture clear and detailed sounds. Its design is compact, effective, and durable. Canon DM-E1 is not limited only to Canon DSLR brands but is also compatible with other camera models.
Check it out on Amazon today and see if this is the shotgun mic that fits best your DSLR camera.
A handheld microphone’s design is made to hold and carry through the hand or clip on a mic stand. Unlike the shotgun and lavalier, a handheld has a handle besides a windscreen. This type of microphone is usually used in a huge variety of settings including activities like singing, giving a speech, or hosting an interview. It picks up the sound straight from the speaker’s mouth.
A handheld external microphone can either be wired or wireless. Wired microphones are those that convert sounds into an electric audio signal. This is then sent through a cable going to the sound system. The only bad thing about a wired mic is that the cable length restricts you from roaming around an area. Wireless mics, on the other hand, give users more flexibility and easier mobility. This converts sound from a transmitter, into radio signals, then sends it to the system.
Best Handheld Microphones
Audio Technica produces not only shotgun microphones but also handheld types. The ATW-1102 is specifically designed for TV presenters and performing musicians. It has a solid and full system and offers high digital fidelity, an instantaneous channel selection where all transmitters and receivers can read unique identities. Moreover, ATW-1102 utilizes three levels of diversity assurance: space, frequency, and time diversity. These help maximize signal integrity and configure many pathways.
Check out the Audio Technica ATW-1102 on Amazon today to see what this handheld mic offers.
With an intuitive interface, Shure provides simple setup and exceptional audio performance. This vocal external microphone provides an extensive wireless range, enough precision, and a variety of configurations. The build is engineered and solidified to deliver renowned sound and professional quality. When you buy one set, it comes with handheld transmitters and dual-channel receivers. Also, you get to have two microphone chips, power supply, extra batteries, and a user manual. Shure provides a better range than most wireless handheld microphones. Through the touch of a button on the mic, you can change signals from one broadcast to another.
Check it out on Amazon today to get a mic with exceptional audio performance.
If you want to invest in a handheld microphone but are on a tight budget, Innopow is the best option in the market. The system has an ultra-high frequency that features around 80 channels over a range of bandwidth allocations. It is made of a metallic and cardioid feature with batteries that last up to 16 hours of continual use. Considering the cheap price, it offers a fairly good value. It may not suit extravagance but it is adequate for casual use. Innopow is ideal for events like birthdays, weddings, small karaoke nights, or conferences.
Try checking out the Innopow WM33 on Amazon today to enjoy a practical mic that is great for different events.
This handheld dynamic transmitter microphone has a dual-frequency channel and broad audio response. It is best used to enjoy mini stage performances and karaoke activities. Each of the two dynamic mics has its own volume control. So, you can easily adjust and balance the desired vocals if you’re using both at a time. You get to have a clear sound and uninterrupted stable signal. The ratio performance of this external microphone captures high-quality audio, a feature that is ideal also for conferences or other professional engagement. Some of the other features are system receiver, fair dimensions, and good dynamic range. Pyle PDWM2135 promises excellent sound production through a simple installation and setup.
If you are down for high-quality audio performance, check out the Pyle PDWM2135 on Amazon today.
PTU 5000-A is a one space rack unit that comes with four-channel wireless microphones. Everything is basically made of sturdy metal construction. There are two antennas at the back that deal with better reception. Having four mics, you do not need to worry about feedback interference. These characterize a unidirectional pick-up pattern. They are also engineered with a dynamic cartridge to absorb and transmit sound. The rack-mountable receiver has four XLR outputs. It comes with an audio jack that is useful for a more flexible wireless microphone system. All four of these have an LCD screen that shows the frequency number and informs you where to put the battery. These batteries can make the mics last up to 16 hours. Phenyx Pro is ideal for outdoor activities like gigs, parties, weddings, and conferences.
Check this out and grab yours on Amazon today to experience a durable and versatile handheld mic.
Things to Consider When Buying an External Microphone
This refers to which direction an external microphone gets its sound from. Some mics could pick up sound only from one direction while others can pick up from all over a place. There are different types of external microphones. It can either be omni-directional, uni-directional, bi-directional, or highly-directional. Others are either cardioid, super-cardioid, or hyper-cardioid.
Microphones like these pick up sound equally from any direction. These are great and useful for recordings of natural settings of a crowd or groups. They are always used for live studio performances if the goal is to recreate the room sound. But, mics like these are not good for real-time or live use because of feedback possibilities.
This applies when the sound source records in front of the microphone. It blocks other sounds in the room that is on the rear or sides. A good example of using a unidirectional mic is when you want to privately record a lecture. You get to record only what the speaker is saying and avoid other noises on the side. This mic type tends to have a linear pick-up pattern.
From the prefix “bi,” this type of mic picks up sounds only from two certain directions. Usually, only from the front and back in an eight-figure polar pattern. Effectively, it works as receiving sounds from an audience and a speaker. These are often used in a press conference where conversations are channeled on one microphone.
The term “cardioid” means “heart-shaped.” Sounds are picked up from the direction that the mic is pointing and a little from the rear and sides. This microphone type is usually used when a person is recording music.
This refers to the receptiveness of the external microphone to audio signals. Microphones with low impedance keep audio quality better when cables are used. Those with high impedance often signal that some other components of the mic are low quality. Impedance is measured in ohms (Ω).
One of the most sought-after features of an external microphone is its frequency response. This defines the range of sound that a microphone is capable of reproducing. It is an essential factor in determining the signature sound of an external microphone. The typical range of frequency is 20Hz to 20kHz.
How to Connect an External Microphone to Smartphones
Some different jacks and sockets come with each type of external microphone. The two classifications are TRS and TRRS jacks. A TRS (tip, ring, sleeve) jack has two black rings on it. This is often used when you want to connect a mic into your DSLR camera. While TRRS (tip, ring, ring, sleeve) jack has three black rings. It is what you need for the external microphone to work on your smartphone.
Android and iOS devices also have their own compatibility settings. Not all the models presented work on both iOS and Android. To be more specific to your needs, here are the best iPhone microphones and external mics that best fit your Android device.
Connecting a lavalier mic to a smartphone requires a compatible recording app. Some external microphones do not simply work by just plugging it into a smartphone. For this, you need an app that selects and allows an external mic for use when you record a video. Moreover, the app should enable the camera, either its normal or front view. The majority of lavalier microphone companies have created a partner app so it is easier for you to connect to your smartphone.
- Download and install a compatible app and follow the set-up instructions as necessary. iOS devices are compatible with partner apps provided by the lavalier mic brand. If you are using Android, HD Video Recorder is one of the apps that work best.
- Plug the jack of the lavalier mic into your smartphone. Check if it measures 3.55mm and fits your smartphone.
- Open the partner app and go to Settings. Select “Video Settings.”
- Tap on “Audio Source”, and choose “External Mic” or the name of the lapel you are connecting to.
- After these, you can proceed with your audio or video recording.
- Download and install a compatible audio recording app on your smartphone. Use the app sponsored by the shotgun microphone you are using if there is one available.
- Plug the jack of the shotgun microphone into your mobile device. Check if the jack is TRRS first to fit properly. If you have an Android that has a USB-C port, use a USB-C to the headphone jack. Do the same thing if you are using an iPhone 7 and up; use lightning to the headphone jack. Also, make sure that you have a TRRS to TRS adapter to fit all different jacks on your smartphone.
- Open the app and set it up by following the instructions to start recording.
There is a corresponding jack that you have to use for XLR types of external microphones. As XLR mics either have mono and stereo plugs, only the latter works well with a smartphone. You can use a TRRS adapter that allows audio input to your mobile device. This cable has a 3.55mm plug on one end and two ports that allow headphone and microphone on the other.
- Connect the Mono XLR cable into the headphone port.
- Connect the TRRS plug to your smartphone. Use a USB-C port, if necessary, to fit your mobile device.
- Make sure the parts of the handheld microphone is properly set up.
- Download and install an audio recording app on your smartphone.
- Open the app and make sure that the external mic is connected and recognized. Follow the set-up instructions needed so you can start recording.
Each passing day, the things we can do with our smartphones just keep evolving. Aside from the audio and video recording, we can connect our devices with external microphones for a better audio quality.
The lavalier and shotgun external microphones are very helpful for those with more personal activities. Lapels are easily clipped onto your clothing, which makes them widely favored in the television industry. Shotgun mics, on the other hand, are best if you are talking with an audience. You can operate it hands-free and must speak directly to the mic. Both lapels and shotgun are also sometimes used for documentaries and podcasts. Lastly, handheld mics are either wired or wireless and are useful for a big setting.
With all these different types of external microphones, you can always have something to choose from, whichever purpose you need it for. These are a great addition to the numerous mobile accessories you can get for your smartphones. As a whole, you get to experience the best possible audio recording quality.