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iQ5 microphone review: iOS accessory delivers solid sound from a small package

Christopher Breen | Aug. 20, 2014
Today's iOS devices include mono microphones that are good enough for general-purpose recording--making voice and video calls, capturing audio notes, and identifying tunes with Soundhound. But they're not ideal for situations where you need higher-quality audio, such as when recording podcasts, lectures, or musical performances. In such situations, an external microphone is the way to go, and Zoom's $125 iQ5 Professional Stereo Microphone captures good sounding stereo audio.

HandyRecorder gives you the option to share your recordings via email or to SoundCloud. I'd welcome some additional options here — sharing via Messages and to the Music app, for example. You can also add EQ, reverb, and mastering effects to your files.

Recording quality

Given that the iQ5 feels a little plasticky, I was honestly surprised by how good its recordings sound. The mic doesn't offer the warmth or depth of a microphone with a much larger capsule, but for its size, the iQ5 does very well. I wouldn't hesitate to use it as an interview microphone attached to my iPhone or even as a way to bootleg a concert (not that I would, of course). It can be a little sensitive to ambient noise — even when in the 90 degree position — but generally not to the point where you'll be distracted by that noise when listening to the resulting recordings. As with any sensitive microphone with a somewhat large pattern, you'll get best results when carefully considering your recording environment.

But let your ears be the judge. Below are two recordings made at the same time. The first was recorded with my regular podcasting microphone — an ElectroVoice RE-20, somewhat off-axis — and the second was recorded with the iQ5 mounted on an iPhone 5s. Each is a 44.1kHZ .wav file.

Bottom line

I suspect that after listening to those two files, you'll come to same conclusion as I did: For a small and not-terribly-expensive mic, the iQ5 performs remarkably well. With the help of the HandyRecorder app, it's also flexible. If you're in need of an easy-to-use and good-sounding microphone for your iOS device, give this one a try.


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