Production

Mobile journalism and mediography update & buyer’s guide: 2016.12

Accessorize your mobile phone or tablet with mounts, microphones, interfaces and more.

Mobile mediography

Whether you prefer the Android or the iOS platform (iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch), mobile journalism and mediography keeps getting stronger. This applies to both audio-only and audio-with-video production, as well as still photography. For the past several years, I have been covering and reviewing many mobile accessories, both hardware and software. Here is an update and buyer’s guide, including links to my reviews of relevant articles.

NOTE: This article is not intended to be complete.

Table of contents for this article

  • Android vs iOS: a mediographer’s dilemma 2016.12 (related article)
  • Mounts/holders for iPads
  • Mounts/holders for smartphones, phablets & iPod Touch
  • Stereo digital mics, made for iOS smartphones, tablets & iPod Touch
  • Mono digital mics, compatible with smartphones, tablets & iPod Touch
  • TRRS unbalanced microphones made for direct connection to smartphones, tablets & iPod Touch
  • TS and TRS unbalanced microphones
  • Balanced analog microphones
  • Unbalanced, dual channel interface for iOS only
  • Balanced, dual channel interface
  • Balanced, single channel interface
  • Audio recording software
  • Video recording software
  • Wireless multicam recording software
  • Live, wireless multicam software/service
  • Lights

See related article

Android vs iOS: a mediographer’s dilemma 2016.12

This upcoming article will help you understand the pros and cons of Android vs iOS mobile journalism and mediography.

Mounts/holders for iPads

The obvious industry leaders to mount or hold iPads for video or still photography are (in alphabetical order): iOgrapher and Padcaster. Both are shown above in María Kowalski’s hands.

Mounts/holders for smartphones, phablets & iPod Touch

I recently reviewed two of of these from IK Multimedia, the iKlip A/V with built-in XLR audio preamp/interface (shown above, article here), and the iKlip Grip Pro (article here, shown below). They are great in their own way.

 

 

 

iOgrapher Go

However, if you need to mount lights and directional microphones directly with your smartphone, tablet or iPod Touch, look to the iOphrapher Go (shown above), Padcaster VERSE (shown below).

 

Padcaster VERSE

…or the CM001 from MXL (shown below):

 

MM-CM001

Stereo digital mics, made for iOS smartphones, tablets & iPod Touch

I reviewed the iRig Mic Field from IK Multimedia and the i-XY-L from RØDE, both stereo digital mics made for the direct connection via Lightning port. Both are visible above. Here is the combined review, which also covers when stereo is appropriate in field recordings, and when it’s not.

I don’t know of any such digital stereo mic for Android, although this can be accomplished on Android using an stereo analog mic (or a pair of properly aimed directional analog mics) via a dual channel stereo interface, as covered ahead in this article.

Mono digital mics, compatible with smartphones, tablets & iPod Touch

Below are mono digital mics I have reviewed, although some of them are hybrid, meaning that they offer both a digital and analog output, so they will be listed again in the upcoming Balanced section below in this article.

Audio Technica AT2005USB (black, professional model with locking on-off switch, illustrated below). Dynamic cardioid, software negotiable between 44.1 and 48 kHz. Requires female USB-A to male Lightning connector to connect to modern iOS devices. Not recommended for digital connection to Android, since there is no internal gain adjustment in this mic. However, you can connect it to Android devices, via an interface. as explained ahead on this article.

Audio Technica ATR2100 (silver, with non-locking on-off switch, illustrated above). Dynamic cardioid, software negotiable between 44.1 and 48 kHz, 16-bit. Requires female USB-A to male Lightning connector to connect to modern iOS devices. Not recommended for digital connection to Android, since there is no internal gain adjustment in this mic. However, you can connect it to Android devices, via an interface. as explained ahead on this article.

iRig Mic HD (iOS package version) from IK Multimedia (available in black or silver), reviewed here. Condenser cardioid, software negotiable between 44.1 and 48 kHz, up to 24-bit. Includes Lightning cable for modern iOS devices. See below for Android package version.

iRig Mic HD-A (Android package version) from IK Multimedia (available in silver), reviewed here. Condenser cardioid, software negotiable between 44.1 and 48 kHz, up to 24-bit. Includes USB OTG cable for compatible Android devices that use a Micro USB port.

Note: If your Android is a newer model with the new USB-C port (i.e. Nexus 5x, Nexus 6p, Pixel or Pixel XL), you will need to purchase a direct Micro USB to USB-C cable for either of the above versions of the iRig Mic HD. I have tested it personally, and it works great, with no adapters required.

None of the digital mics listed in this section are long enough to accept a mic flag properly. However, you may consider a branded windscreen, as I covered in this article, illustrated below. This offers many advantages, of which one one is the compatibility with both shorter and longer mics.

 

TRRS unbalanced microphones made for direct connection to smartphones, tablets & iPod Touch

Audio Technica, IK Multimedia, MXL, RØDE and other companies manufacture and sell unbalanced microphones that terminate in TRRS for direct connection to smartphones, tablets and iPod Touch. Some laptops also use this combined connector nowadays.

See my TS/TRS/TRRS/TRRRS: Combating the misconnection epidemic article (illustrated above) for details about the differences between these types of plugs and their use.

Headset with TRRS plug

ATH-AG1X

The Audio Technica ATH-AG1x mic/headset (reviewed here) comes with a TRRS plug. The built-in headphone allows for live monitoring (software dependent, potentially with latency, depending upon your device and recording software). It also comes with an extension that adapts it to independent mic and headphone plugs for other uses.

Lavalier with TRRS

iRig Mic 2-pack

Although all three of these manufacturers offer lavalier mics with a TRRS termination, the most compelling one of them is the iRig Mic Lav from IK Multimedia (illustrated above), since it’s the only one that I’ve seen to date that is chainable (aka loopable) as shipped from the factory, without any additional adapter. The chainable iRig Mic Lav also offers monitoring (software dependent, potentially with latency, depending upon your device and recording software). Although RØDE offers its SC6 adapter to accomplish this with TRRS mics that lack these features, the SC6 adapter is an extra expense, bulk, and potential point of undesired disconnection in mid recording or live broadcast, let alone the fact that the SC6 is so small, it’s easy to loose. IK Multimedia even offers the two-pack version of the iRig Mic Lav to save money. Both fit in a single case.

rode_lav-headset

You can convert almost any lavalier mic into a head-mounted microphone using RØDE’s Headset mount for lav mics.

Handheld TRRS unbalanced mics

ikc-l-000-irigmic_front_vocalive_iphone

IK Multimedia offers both the iRig Mic (shown above) and iRig Voice (shown below) with TRRS. Both offer a cardioid pattern and live monitoring (software dependent, potentially with latency, depending upon your device and recording software).

ikc-l-irigvoice_short_11032014

 

 

MM-130

MXL offers the MM-130 handheld condenser (shown above) which uniquely offers selectable omni and cardioid patterns. It also offers live monitoring via it’s built-in Y-cable (software dependent, potentially with latency, depending upon your device and recording software).

Any of the above TRRS handheld mics can be chained to one of iRig Mic Lav from IK Multimedia.

TS and TRS unbalanced microphones

TS and TRS unbalanced microphones were not specifically designed for direct connection to smartphones or tablets. However, they can be connected to them, in one of these ways:

  • For direct single connection (or to be chained from the iRig Mic Lav), via the RØDE SC4 adapter from TS/TRS to TRRS.
  • Via the unbalanced, dual channel interface described ahead in this article.

 

Examples of these TS and TRS unbalanced microphones include the under US$13 Plantronics .Audio 326 (reviewed here) and the RØDE Video Mic Pro (shown below).

rode_videomic_pro

Balanced analog microphones

The below balanced analog XLR microphones will require a balanced audio interface, like the ones covered ahead in this article. The first two listed below will seem familiar, since they are both hybrid: both digital and analog, and I included them in the prior section Mono digital mics. Here I describe them for use with their analog XLR output.

Audio Technica AT2005USB (black, professional model with locking on-off switch, illustrated in prior section). Dynamic cardioid with balanced XLR output.

Audio Technica ATR2100 (silver, with non-locking on-off switch, illustrated in prior section). Dynamic cardioid with balanced XLR output.

 

Senal ENG-18L (black, no on-off switch, which I prefer). Dynamic omnidirectional with balanced XLR output. Long enough for a traditional mic flag. Reviewed here.

RØDE Reporter (black, no on-off switch, which I prefer). Dynamic omnidirectional with balanced XLR output. Long enough for a traditional mic flag. Reviewed here.

Both of these last two are illustrated and compared above.

Unbalanced, dual channel interface for iOS only

The Tascam iXJ2 (reviewed here) continues to be a hidden gem, even though it has been discontinued by the manufacturer and requires an adapter to go from 30-pin to Lightning for a modern iOS device. The Tascam iXJ2 offers either stereo or dual mono input, while bypassing the iOS’s A-to-D (analog to digital) converter. It also offers switchable bias voltage (“plugin power”) on each input for mics that need it, but it does not offer phantom power for balanced mics that need it. If interested, grab one while you can.

The iXJ2 offers a true digital connection to your iOS device, but no monitoring per se, although you may be able to do it from your device’s headphone jack, using a TRS headset (never a TRRS one). However, that depends upon the software you choose. Depending upon the device and software you use, there may be noticeable latency (delay) if you do monitor live.

Balanced, dual channel interface

Back in 2014, I simultaneously covered five (5) dual channel XLR interfaces for iOS.

iRIg Pro Duo

However, nowadays, the iRig Pro Duo from IK Multimedia has surpassed all five of those for most iOS and Android users, and it also works with Mac and Windows. It offers switchable phantom power for balanced mics that require it, but the iRig Pro Duo does not offer bias voltage (“plugin power”) like the iXJ2 in the prior section of this article, for unbalanced mics that require it. The iRig Pro Duo also offers true latency-free monitoring, independently of anything in your recording device. It accepts both internal batteries or external power.

Balanced, single channel interface

IK offers three different balanced XLR interfaces:

The iRig Pre (reviewed here) is the oldest and least costly of the three, offers a TRRS analog connection to your Android or iOS device, and is still available for under US$40. It also offers live monitoring (software dependent, potentially with latency, depending upon your device and recording software). The iRig Pre also offers switchable phantom power.

The iKlip A/V (which I covered and illustrated in the Mounts/holders for smartphones, phablets and iPod Touch section of this article) basically has built-in a iRig Pre. The iKlip AV also offers switchable phantom power.

The iRig Pro (reviewed here) offers a true digital connection to your Android or iOS device, but no offers no monitoring per se, so you may be able to monitor live from your device’s headphone jack, using a TRS headset (never a TRRS one). However, that depends upon the software you choose. The iRig Pro also offers switchable phantom power.

i-XLR

RØDE is finally shipping its i-XLR (illustrated above, first covered here), which I’ll be fully reviewing very soon, together with its accompanying recording app called RØDE Reporter from the iOS AppStore, not to be confused with the handheld dynamic mic of the same name. The i-XLR does not officially offer any phantom power or bias voltage (“plugin power”), although apparently it does offer an unspecified low voltage, without being switchable and without any guaranty that it will work with a particular microphone that requires power. The i-XLR is mainly focused for use with dynamic mics made for ENG (Electronic News Gathering), or other mics that are powered separately.

Audio recording software

Audio recording for Android

My current favorite audio recording app for Android is Auphonic (reviewed here). For reasons mentioned in that review (and others that have arisen since), I still cannot recommend the iOS version of the Auphonic app for anyone who requires native 48 kHz recording, which is the absolute standard for audio for video, as covered in this article and many others. I do highly recommend the online Auphonic service for any producer.

Audio recording for iOS

In this subsection, I am only including audio recording apps that are capable of recording native 48 kHz (without resampling), device dependent.

RØDE Rec (the paid version, reviewed here) fortunately allows mono recordings from non-RØDE microphones at 48 kHz. With RØDE’s own i-XY-L microphone (covered earlier in this article), it even allows native 96 kHz recordings.

RØDE Reporter, mainly a free companion app to the i-XLR device, both to be reviewed soon. I have tried it somewhat, but I’ll reserve comment until that review comes out.

ShurePlus MOTIV Mobile Recording app for iOS (reviewed here) is free, and exists primarily to accompany Shure’s own MOTIV series of microphones. It works well with other brands of digital microphones. However, with non-Shure brands of digital microphones that falsely identify themselves as stereo (as many mono digital mics do), the last time I tried ShurePlus MOTIV Mobile Recording app for iOS, it did not offer any option to record mono-only recording with a non-Shure MOTIV digital mic. Apparently, Shure only wants to make that mono option available when connected to a Shure MOTIV mic.

Video recording software

Several films and music videos have been made with FiLMiC Pro. As covered in this recent article, FiLMiC Pro is now available both on Android and iOS. FiLMiC Pro offers us control over our audio sampling frequency at our desired 48 kHz, our desired framerate (as covered in detail in my articles), our shutter speed, and our compression level, as well as allowing us to lock exposure, lock focus, or even follow focus.

Wireless multicam recording software

For under US$5, RecoLive allows multicam software as you record. For now, RecoLive is available for iOS only.

Live, wireless multicam recording software/service

Teradek’s Live:Air Solo allows wireless multicam software via WiFI to multiple CDNs including Facebook Live, Livestream, YouTube Live and more. Slave cameras can range from a professional camera with HDMI (via a Teradek encoder box such as VidiU) to iPod Touch cameras, which now start at US$199 directly from Apple.com and don’t require any Teradek interface). You can superimpose graphics with alpha channel. The Live:Air Solo app is free, although there are optional in-app purchases. Live:Air is for iPad (shown above) and is $49.99 for iPad. For now, bother are available for iOS only.

Switcher Studio is a competing free app that works together with a monthly or yearly service. For now, it’s available for iOS only.

Lights

Lights are not in my field of experience. However, friends have recommended the following for mobile mediography:

Ring Light

Lavince Selfie Ring Light

neewer_50_led

Neewer 50 LED MINI LED Light

Conclusions

New accessories for mobile journalism and mediography come out to the market quite often. Stay on my mailing list to be aware as soon as I cover new tools.

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FTC disclosure

No manufacturer is specifically paying Allan Tépper or TecnoTur LLC to write this article or the mentioned books. Some of the other manufacturers listed above have contracted Tépper and/or TecnoTur LLC to carry out consulting and/or translations/localizations/transcreations. Many of the manufacturers listed above have sent Allan Tépper review units. So far, none of the manufacturers listed above is/are sponsors of the TecnoTur programs, although they are welcome to do so, and some are, may be (or may have been) sponsors of ProVideo Coalition magazine. Some links to third parties listed in this article and/or on this web page may indirectly benefit TecnoTur LLC via affiliate programs. Allan Tépper’s opinions are his own.

Copyright and use of this article

The articles contained in the TecnoTur channel in ProVideo Coalition magazine are copyright Allan Tépper/TecnoTur LLC, except where otherwise attributed. Unauthorized use is prohibited without prior approval, except for short quotes which link back to this page, which are encouraged!

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Born in Connecticut, United States, Allan Tépper is an award-winning broadcaster & podcaster, bilingual consultant, multi-title author, tech journalist, translator, and language activist who has been working with professional video since the eighties. Since 1994,…

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