Review: Zoom iQ5 stereo condensor microphone for Lightning compatible iDevices

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Zoom iQ5

You need a better microphone for your iPhone or iPad, don’t you. Some of you need it to record lectures. Some of you need it for better audio on your concert bootlegs (although Lively’s the better option there) or stereo recordings of your own music. Personally, I need it for recording interviews on expo show floors. No matter what the reason, your iPhone has an excellent camera. It’s time you matched that up with some quality audio, and the Zoom iQ5 microphone will do the trick.

The Zoom iQ5 is a mid-side stereo condenser mic that’s small enough to fit in your pocket. It attaches directly to the Lightning port on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, but because of the wide base of the unit, you may run into some fit issues with your case.

Zoom iQ5

A mini-USB port on the side allows you to charge/power your iPhone while the iQ5 is in place, so you won’t need to worry about your phone dying during longer lectures and such, provided you can find an outlet or connect to an external battery. Once connected, you’ll be impressed with the audio your iPhone is able to capture—but you’re going to have to learn a few things first.

The Zoom iQ5 allows you to select between 90° and 120° stereo width so you can focus on a specific subject or allow more ambient noise into the recording, respectively. I used the 90° when recording video interviews at Macworld / iWorld 2014, and found that Zoom iQ5 did a good job of letting our dialogue separate itself from the din of the show floor. When recording audio interviews in a better environment, 120° worked with the mic placed between me and interviewee at close proximity. You also have the option of selecting raw MS data so you can later adjust the stereo width from 30° to 150° with the accompanying Handy Recorder app, which I’ll cover in a bit.

There are also multiple ways to adjust the gain. Auto Gain will attempt to grab the best setting for you, Limit will help you avoid level overloads, and you can manually adjust it with a scroll wheel on the side of the device. I found that Auto Gain mostly did the trick for me except for in environments with extreme highs or lows in the source volume. After just a few recordings, you’ll figure out what works best for you.

Zoom iQ5

Equally important to the audio quality is the positioning of the microphone itself, and the iQ5 offers great flexibility here. The condenser mic ball spins 45° so you can hold the phone like a standard mic for regular audio recording or rotate it to face out from the back of your iPhone for video recording. The mechanism on which the ball sits also spins 45° to accommodate the position of your phone. To keep you oriented, large “L” and “R” indicators help ensure you’re grabbing your stereo recordings properly.

The iQ5 is compatible with most apps you’d use for grabbing audio, but Zoom also offers their free Handy Recorder App that allows you to record the audio and apply basic effects to afterwards. Adjust the EQ, reverb and mastering, normalize the tracks, flip the left/right channels if you were holding the phone incorrectly, and more. You can even edit down the track a bit, although I found it somewhat difficult to handle this with precision on the small iPhone screen. It’s a bit better on the iPad, but the clunky UI there makes this more difficult than it should be.

Zoom HandyRecorder

The iQ5 is a solid option for enhanced audio recordings on your Lightning compatible iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. It does a good job in controlled environments, but really shines when you need to make a recording in a pinch, and your built-in iPhone mic isn’t going to cut it. Keep the Zoom iQ5 in your backpack or laptop case, and you’re always ready to go. I carried the iQ5 in my pocket throughout Macworld and the Hong Kong Electronics Fair, and found it worked it well for both private interviews and video recordings on the show floor. I expect you’ll feel the same no matter what audio you need to grab, wherever you need to grab it.

Appletell Rating:
Zoom iQ5 stereo microphone review

Buy the Zoom iQ5 Stereo Condenser Microphone

Provides: Mid-side stereo condensor recordings for Lightning compatible iOS devices
Developer: Zoom
Minimum Requirements: Lightning compatible iPhone, iPad or iPod touch
Price: $119.90
Availability: Now

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