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During the EP127 challenge many of us were wondering how to improve our video and audio quality. I’ve decided that for me, my iPhone 5 is my best video option. The trouble is, the iPhone mic is optimized for voice, not music. It’s sound has been described as “tinny”, “flat”, or worse. So I’ve made a video which compares 3 different mics plus a direct guitar input via the Apogee Jam.
iPhones save video as a .MOV file, so I imported it into Adobe Premier Elements for Mac (works much better than the Windows version I used to use) and exported it as a .mp4 file. I exported it at the “low” quality setting (file size was 285 MB), because the “medium” setting doubled the file size. At the low setting, it took 12 minutes to upload to Youtube on my 20 Mbps broadband.
In the video, I note that the Shure MV88 mic asks that you set your phone to “Airplane Mode” and put it on Silent (Do Not Disturb). Airplane Mode needs to be turned on, because it’s so sensitive that it picks up your wifi signal as background noise. Silent mode is to keep your phone from ringing during your recording.
So which mic won the contest? Judge for yourself, but I’d say the Shure MV88 won, hands down. It picks up the high and low frequencies much better, and produces a nice rich sound. As for the earbuds, I can’t really tell any difference from the built-in mic. For just recording from the guitar, the Apogee Jam is great…except that plugging it straight into the iPhone means you can’t hear yourself play at all. So if you want to be able to talk or sing at the same time, and hear what your saying and playing, you’ll need to run it through a mixer with a separate mic plugged in, and use studio monitors or headphones. Whew! The cheapest easiest way will be to just plug my Shure MV88 into my iPhone, turn the amp up, and hit the record button. Very Zen-like.
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