The camera on my iPhone 6 is what I use for pretty much all of my video making needs. As they say – and without wanting to sound cliché or dogmatic – the best camera is the one you have with you. My iPhone is at my side at all times, whether I am at home or out and about. It even sleeps beside me in my bed and is therefore available to start recording whenever I need to do so. Obviously there is no need for me to elucidate the merits of the iPhone 6 camera – we all know it can film in full 1080P high-definition, including 60 frames per second.
What is important when using the iPhone 6 as your main video making camera – like with all cameras for that matter – is to find a way to upgrade the audio quality. Simply put, the audio quality from using the built-in microphone on the iPhone 6 is terrible. That is why I mostly use a SmartLav+ microphone by Rode Mics. The SmartLav+ is a wired lavalier microphone made specifically for smartphones. Although it is an omnidirectional microphone, the audio quality is much better when compared to the built-in microphone on the iPhone 6. Actually, much better is without a doubt an understatement.
Another solution for improving the audio quality was for me to use my dynamic XLR microphone. The one I own is a Leader DM-1900. It is not a known brand, and while the quality is not as good as the reputed Shure SM58 or anything similar to that, it does the job.
The question however is how to connect a dynamic XLR microphone to an iPhone 6. For that I found a product by IK Multimedia called the iRig Pre. This miniature preamplifier – otherwise known as a mobile microphone interface – allows you to plug your XLR microphone into it, and it is then plugged into the headset input on your smartphone. There is a gain dial on the iRig Pre so that you can adjust the gain level, as well as a headset input to allow for real-time audio monitoring.
I noticed that the sound quality in my video recordings when using the iRig Pre with an XLR microphone was rich and warm. Of course with a dynamic XLR microphone you must be speaking close to it, and naturally the quality of the XLR microphone will make a difference – including whether it is a condenser or dynamic microphone. On a side note, the iRig Pre does have an option on the power switch to provide 48V phantom power for condenser microphones. An XLR microphone might not be the best for recording folks far away from the microphone, but for news style reporting, interviews and singing it is more than perfect.
Personally I like to use a camera app on my iPhone 6 called Filmic Pro, simply because of the many options it offers compared to the standard camera app of the iPhone. Filmic Pro even has an audio meter so that you can see your audio levels and avoid any clipping (peaks that lead to distortion and crackly sound).
Without writing much more about the iRig Pre, including how happy and satisfied I am with my purchase – it only costs me $47 CDN plus tax – I produced a video review which you can watch here:
The ability to use an XLR microphone coupled with the Filmic Pro app is definitely a smartphone video maker’s dream come true, since the quality of the video and audio are greatly improved. Jade Sambrook would definitely recommend both the app and the iRig Pre to anybody looking for any such improvements.