As someone who shoots a lot of video on a smartphone I still get surprised sometimes at how good the video looks. Many times I've wanted to shoot some of the What the Tech? stories with an iPhone X but the thing holding me back? The audio.
Smartphones have 1 or 2 microphones built-in but neither are quite good enough for TV. The microphones are fine if you're standing right in front of the camera and in a quiet place but that doesn't happen very often. There's usually wind and, as my luck usually has it, a lawnmower or barking dog somewhere close by.
I've tried probably a dozen external microphones designed to work with smartphones and have found one or two that generally do a good job. But those microphones require that they be connected to the phone with a cord.
Earlier this year the audio company Samson sent me its new Go Mic Mobile microphone system and asked if I would try it out to see how well it works.
Setup was easy. The Go Mic Mobile comes with a receiver that clamps to the smartphone to not only keep the receiver from dangling off the phone but to also lock down the phone on a tripod or monopod.
The system comes with several cables that connect to iPhones with an earphone jack or lightning connector. It also includes cables
to connect to Android phones over USB or USB-C as well as to DSLR cameras. The receiver itself is smaller than any smartphone and just slightly bigger than 5 credit cards stacked on top of each other.
Once the receiver is connected to the smartphone jack you connect to the microphone over Bluetooth. This required me to hold down the button of the receiver for a couple of seconds and then turning the microphone into the 'on' position.
The two connected quickly and remained connected everytime I turned them both on. The Go Mic Mobile system has 2-channel inputs so if you have two microphones (either the handheld or clip mic) you can control the input. I especially appreciate the
headphone jack on the receiver so you can monitor audio as it's being recorded. Most microphones don't have this feature which has left me with great video and terrible audio on multiple occasions.
As for the audio itself, I asked a group of student storm chasers to give it a go. The students from Western Kentucky University provide live and recorded online videos of storm reports and weather forecasts. First I asked them to shoot one of their reports
using just the smartphone and again with the Go Mic Mobile. The difference was night and day.
Using just the microphone from the smartphone you could hear wind, a passing emergency vehicle siren and the faint sound of the reporter giving the forecast. When I turned on the Go Mic Mobile system the report from the same location was very clear. You only heard the reporter. No wind. No siren.
"When it came to video quality, imagery: absolutely great, picture perfect," said student Matthew Wine. "You were able to use the camera from your phone and that works just as well nowadays as the camera you would have to buy."
Who is the Go Mic Mobile by Samson for? Video journalists, bloggers, podcasters and anyone who regularly records and streams Facebook Live or YouTube videos. That's a growing audience of people young and old alike.
Price: $250 for the system that includes the receiver and hand-held microphone.
Final analysis: The Go Mic Mobile system is the best quality smartphone microphone I have tried both in sound quality and set up. It took a couple of minutes (tops) to connect the system to the smartphone and syncing to the microphone. The size of the receiver is also perfect for anyone who's recording video on-the-go. It is small enough to carry in one hand while you carry the smartphone in the other.
Sound quality is superb as it blocks out everything except who is talking. I don't often recommend products but I'm making an exception with this audio system.
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