Best Ways To Record Incredible Audio On Your Smartphone

How To Record Great Audio On Your Smartphone or iPhone

Regardless if you are a vlogger creating content for your social media channels, or a filmmaker looking to film guerilla-style with a smartphone, you need great audio to accompany the fantastic video footage you are capturing.

In this article, I will discuss various strategies to get the best sound out of your smartphone. With more people shooting video on their mobile devices, capturing quality video footage is important, but capturing quality audio to match the visuals is key to the perfect video.

Sure having 4K video content is amazing to look at, but if your viewers hear bad audio through the clip, they will lose attention in a split second.

There are many ways to record audio for your video content, and various situations too. So if you are shooting a short film on your smartphone or iPhone to submit to a festival, filming interviews, or creating video content for your social media channels, you need good audio. So what’s the best setup for your particular needs? Keep reading to find out.

Related Article: Smartphone Camera Photography – 10 Best Hacks To Make Your Smartphone Camera Photography Look Better

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audio audio

In recent years, companies like RØDEShureBoya, and others have created microphones specifically for smartphones to capture audio. These microphones plug directly (or indirectly) into your smartphone device to record more reliable audio directly to your smartphone.

These types of microphones are perfect for vloggers, documentary filmmakers, and anyone else wanting great audio to accompany their video footage.

If you are a filmmaker looking for cinematic sound, another option for great audio is using an external microphone that connects via a separate audio recorder synced later in post-production. We will discuss this process further in the article.

Use the Built-in Microphone

vlog with a smartphone

The easiest and cheapest way of recording audio with a smartphone is to use the smartphone device’s built-in microphone. This is great for doing voiceovers if you are reviewing a product, but you have to pay attention to your surroundings to capture quality sound.

The problem with using most smartphone built-in microphones is they tend to pick up too much echo in the room if you are not careful. Echo (Reflections) can be an issue if you are in an area that isn’t soundproofed enough for recording audio.

If you are in a dedicated recording studio, where the walls are covered in soundproof material, it can stops reflections (AKA echo) in your audio recording.

How To Reduce Reflections Indoors

If you are going to use your smartphone’s built-in microphone, to counter reflections, try placing your smartphone on a soft surface like a cushion or pillow that helps with absorbing sound to reduce echo.

If you want to be creative, try building a pillow fort around your smartphone to create your own mini sound recording booth for audio recordings. By using this type of setup, reflections are reduced to give you a warmer, richer, and clearer audio quality. 

The next thing to pay attention to is setting your voice recorder app to record the highest quality. With the popular smartphones today, you should have the ability to change the audio quality to achieve the best sound. I found that the best quality for audio recording is 256kbps and 48kHz. 

When recording via your smartphone’s built-in microphone, try sitting near the microphone as closest as possible to capture everything. But if you are doing this type of audio recording, I would suggest using a popping shield from another mic, holding it across the smartphone mic to remove “pops.” 

If you don’t use a shield during recording, you will probably get pop sounds from spoken “b” or “p” sounds.

Keep in mind; this isn’t the highest quality audio you’ll record, but it will do in a pinch if you are using the smartphone’s built-in microphone.

Recording Outside

Recording outside helps reduce reflections because the open spaces have no close, hard surfaces to reflect your voice.

But, if you are filming a video, recording outside comes with problems as your smartphone’s built-in microphone will pick up everything. Not only will it record your voice, but it will pick up any harsh wind around as well as other sounds like children playing or passerby’s talking.

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External Microphones

Documentary Film Camera Kit

Directional Mics

Best Smartphone Filmmaking Kit Ideas For Social Media

With the instructions above to use your smartphone’s built-in microphone will help in studio-like settings, but if you need to beef up the audio to your videos then you need a microphone.

Since built-in smartphone microphones might achieve good quality in a pinch, with them being omnidirectional mic’s you have to deal with background noise if you are shooting outdoors or indoors.

To overcome this problem, directional microphones will help you achieve great quality sound. A great option for directional microphones is a shotgun mic that records audio from the direction it is pointed.

Mini Shotgun Microphone

Mini shotgun microphones are a great choice for shotgun microphones for a smartphone because they can be plugged directly into your smartphone with no cable involved. I use the RØDE VideoMic Me-L which plugs into the Lightning connector socket of my iPhone 12 ProMax, no adapters are needed. 

For smartphones with a 3.5mm headphone socket like SamsungGoogle, and other smartphones, the RØDE VideoMic Me plugs directing into the phone’s headphone jack with no adapters needed.

RØDE VideoMic Me / RØDE VideoMic Me-L
iPhone microphones

What I love about this directional microphone is the ability to mount directly to a smartphone. With other mini-shotgun microphones like the RØDE VideoMicro, you need a smartphone cage that connects to a cold shoe that requires another accessory to purchase.

Since this mini shotgun is pointed directly at a subject, the RØDE VideoMic Me / RØDE VideoMic Me-L should be close to your subject for best results. If you want to stand at a distance from your camera, you probably need a wireless lav microphone or a lav microphone plug directly into the smartphone. I will explain later how to do this.

In terms of audio quality, the RØDE VideoMic Me / RØDE VideoMic Me-L is half decent compared to your smartphone’s built-in microphone. I have used the RØDE VideoMic Me / RØDE VideoMic Me-L to shoot scenes where it was impossible to have a sound crew with me to use a boom microphone. 

Shotgun Microphones

Shotgun Microphones are designed to be mounted on top of a DSLR or a boom pole. Sure they can be used with a smartphone but will need some kind of grip kit for mounting.

If you are recording audio for a film and have you have the budget, then adding a shotgun mic and a boom pole to your sound kit makes for great quality audio recordings. A shotgun microphone when attached to a boom pole is then usually connected to an external recording device. This is the best way to capture audio, but it requires a crew to hold the boom and operate the recorder.

If are vlogging or podcasting, a shotgun microphone can be mounted to a stand with the microphone close to your mouth and pointed down. With this type of setup, depending on the mic and connector, you can choose to record directly into your smartphone or onto a separate audio recorder.

Keep in mind that background noise and reflective surfaces still apply in this situation, no matter how pricey your microphone is.

Sennheiser MKE 600 Shotgun Microphone

The Sennheiser MKE 600 Shotgun Microphone is a great boom mic for sound recordists and filmmakers on a budget. This is a condenser mic is perfect to be connected to an audio recorder like the Zoom H4n via an XLR cable (XLR is a way of connecting audio with higher quality and reduced interference.) 

You will need headphones to the sound via the Zoom H4n, but this type of setup allows a filmmaker greater freedom when filming and be untied to the mic that’s attached to a camera. The downside to this type of setup is you need to sync the audio to the video in post-production. 

While this does take a little time, the sound you get from this type of setup will give you the amazing audio quality you want. Plus, if you have Adobe Premiere, the program has an auto-sync feature that automatically syncs the audio and video together which speeds the process up.

Lavalier “Clip On” Microphones

Lavalier “Clip-On” Microphones are small omnidirectional microphones that are clipped close to the mouth of a subject to capture audio away from the camera.

A lavalier mic can be connected via a direct cable, or you can use the more expensive wireless version. They are extremely useful as external mics for content creation with DSLRs, smartphones, iPhones, interviews, product reviews, and general filmmaking.

The advantage to using a Lavalier “Clip-On” Microphone is the subject doesn’t have to stand close to the camera (if the mic is attached to it). Once the microphone is attached to the subject, they can move around and the mic will always be the same distance from the audio source.

Best Budget Clip-On: BOYA BY-M1

BOYA BY-M1 is an omnidirectional lavalier microphone, that can easily connect to smartphones, DSLRs, camcorders, and audio recorders. They are inexpensive enough you can purchase a few without breaking the bank.

The BOYA BY-M1 comes with a long cable, so you can get a distance from the camera without too much trouble. The mic connects using a 3.5mm jack, so for smartphones without the 3.5mm headphone jack socket you will need an adapter. For example, for iPhone with no headphone socket, you will need an Apple Lightning to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter.

The BOYA BY-M1 has 2 audio level settings, so if you are using this lav microphone with a smartphone, make sure it’s switched to smartphone mode (unless you are using it with another camera).

Wireless Lavalier Microphones

If you want your subjects to be further to the camera and not be connected to the camera by a cord, then wireless lavalier lapel microphones might be the option for you.

With no cables attached to the camera or audio recorder allows your subjects to move around freely. The disadvantage to these mics is they cost more and sometimes have connection issues if the subjects are too far from the audio recorder. 

If you are vlogging or podcasting, you don’t need a wireless system because you are close to the camera enough that a mini-shogun or USB microphone will suffice. But for filmmakers, they are a perfect way to record quality audio without ever having to worry about a boom pole coming into the frame. 

Some wireless systems come with more than one unit that allows you to add more mics if needed, while other packages are a single mic unit only.

Note on Band Frequency

Traditional wireless microphones operate in the 470-698 MHz bandwidth. Where new wireless microphones coming to the market lately use the 2.4-GHz bandwidth.

2.4 GHz microphones are an excellent choice if you only need a few channels and a hassle-free setup. For those who need lots of channels and ultralow latency, UHF mics are still the best choice.

New wireless systems from makers like SennheiserRØDE, and Saramonic generally come with a mic built into the transmitter. But there’s also the option to add a clip-on mic, as well.

Sennheiser XSW-D / Rode Wireless GO II

With the launch of the Sennheiser XSW-D, or XS Wireless Digital System, Movo EDGE-UC-DUOand the Rode Wireless Go II, these new wireless options are meant to be dead simple and simple make a wireless connection between your mic and recorder. 

Using the more commercialized 2.4GHz frequency—meaning a greater chance of interference in busy locations, unfortunately— these relatively affordable and simplistic systems will help you meet your wireless goals. 

I like Sennheiser’s system because it allows you to mix and match connectors as needed. You can have a 3.5mm transmitter with an XLR receiver, a ¼” transmitter with a 3.5mm receiver, and any other combination of the three main connectors as you please. 

Just plug them in and turn them on to create a wireless system with nearly any mic and recorder.

Designed for vloggers, mobile journalists, and videographers, the Movo Photo EDGE-UC-DUO (pictured above) is a compact digital wireless microphone system with two microphones and just one receiver. Easy-to-use with plug-and-play operation, it offers a convenient solution for recording dialog, interviews, and speech with two people talking simultaneously—directly to an Android smartphone or a USB Type-C device for iPhones.

Another option is the RØDE Wireless GO. This system stands out because it has an integrated microphone and a 3.5mm input. Put this directly on the talent with no wires and then keep the receiver back with you and the recorder and you are good to go, though I would recommend using a true lavalier for optimal quality. 

With the RØDE, Movo, and Sennheiser systems you have the benefit of being extremely compact. So, if you are looking to hide mics, opting for a wireless setup may be your best approach.

Bluetooth Microphones

There are other microphones like Sabinetek which connects directly to your smartphone via Bluetooth. 

The difference between this mic and other smartphone-connectable mics is after you make the connection to your phone via Bluetooth. The mic then records audio to itself, rather than sending the audio to your smartphone. 

The audio then syncs back to your phone’s audio or video after you have finished recording.

Some Bluetooth microphones have up to 49′ maximum operating range, which is a great alternative to a wireless lav microphone setup.

But, a major problem that can occur when connecting your mic via Bluetooth is the audio going out of sync. Sometimes with Bluetooth, there is a delay between information being sent and being received which is not good for audio syncing.

External Microphone With FiLMiC Pro

Audio

If you are serious about cinematic footage for a smartphone or iPhone, you need FiLMiC Pro iOS or AndroidFiLMiC Pro can turn your smartphone into a filmmaking camera and allow you to do more with your video and audio footage that you can’t normally do with most smartphone built-in apps.

To use an external microphone with FiLMiC Pro you need to make sure the settings are correct. Otherwise, you could find yourself recording with the inbuilt mic even with an external mic plugged in.

  1. Open FiLMiC Pro
  2. Connect external microphone
  3. Tap settings cog
  4. Tap Audio icon
  5. Select between external and camera microphone
  6. Close settings menu

If your device and therefore FiLMiC Pro does not recognize your microphone, then no option to select an external mic will be available. 

So, make sure your microphone is switched on and FiLMiC Pro is open before plugging it in. If the external microphone option still doesn’t appear, then there is likely to be a connection issue between the mic and the device.

If you have a Bluetooth microphone connected to your smartphone, FiLMiC Pro allows you to toggle the Bluetooth mic on and off.

audio audio

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About the author: Trent (IMDB Youtubehas spent 10+ years working on an assortment of film and television projects. He writes about his experiences to help (and amuse) others. If he’s not working, he’s either traveling, reading or writing about travel/film, or planning travel/film projects.

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Record great audio with a smartphone

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