The Best Portable Microphones You Can Buy, Plus How To Choose One

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If you consider yourself a mobile creator and you not By using some kind of dedicated mic, you may be holding yourself back. We don’t judge, but your audience probably is. The audio, especially the dialogue, is often overlooked, but nothing screams hobbyists more than substandard audio. There are many, many options for the home or office/studio, but there are a huge amount of mobile-specific (or at least, mobile-friendly) solutions available to elevate your recordings on the go whether for social recording, jam session, movie making, podcasting and beyond.

The “best microphone for iPhone or Android” varies depending on the task you need it for. If you want to record a TikTok, a podcast, or even a jam session, they all have slightly different needs but the selection below covers most of the bases (and maybe even a few you haven’t considered yet) for high-quality audio recording with little more than just a phone.

gear

This guide is all about recording on the go, free from the constraints of a studio or office, but also beyond luxuries like power outlets, audio chambers, and a full-size PC. As such, there are two mic styles that really shine here: the Lavalier (lapel) and the rifle. We’ll also cover a few other genres, but among these, most tasks are covered.

We’ll also show you how you can use USB microphones you might already have with your phone and even ways to connect heavy-duty studio classics (XLR) to your humble phone, but it’s all through accessories. Now, let’s start with classic clip mics.

James True / Engadget

Lavalier microphones

The obvious benefit of a foldable microphone is the size. Its small profile makes it ideal for presenting to the camera with flexibility to move around while maintaining consistent sound quality. If you are a budding TikTok or YouTube content creator, it is definitely worth having one of these in your bag.

However, the main trade-off is that it is only good for recording the person it is associated with. If you have two people talking and only one person wearing the microphone, you’ll only get good audio for half of the conversation, so for multi-person recordings you’ll need a microphone for each guest and a way to record them on at the same time, costs can rise quickly.

Fortunately, jacket mics have become a very competitive market with good, viable options as low as $14.95. For an absolute bargain with a long cord and some connecting accessories, the Boya BY M1 is hard to argue with. But, while these budget options are a great value, if you want something that should last longer, be more versatile or look better, it’s worth paying a little more.

Best 3.5mm Microphone: Rode Lavalier II

Rode’s Lavalier II is a low profile lavalier game that looks great. At $95, it’s somewhere in the right place between budget and high-end options. It’s easy to recommend the Lavalier II for its sound only, but it comes with a sturdy case and a good selection of accessories. For even more flexibility, you can pair this with Rode’s AI Micro Interface ($79) which offers easy connectivity to your iPhone, Android (or even computers) and adds support for a second microphone — perfect for recording podcasts or interviews.

Buy Rode Lavalier II on Amazon – $95

Best USB-C Microphone: Sennheiser XS

At a fairly affordable $60 Sennheiser XS (USB-C) lav mic, it looks great and plugs directly into your phone (or laptop) without the need for an adapter. This not only makes it convenient, but reduces the overall cost because you don’t need a headphone adapter for your phone. Furthermore, the XS has a 2-meter cable that gives you plenty of room for movement or framing.

Buy Sennheiser XS on Amazon – $60

Rode Wireless Go II and Mikme Pocket Wireless Microphone Systems.

James True / Engadget

A word about wireless systems

Recently there’s been an explosion of wireless systems compatible with mobile devices, but there are two that we really love. The first is Rode’s Wireless GO II. Arguably the original identified this category, but the second generation improves upon it with two radio transmitters making this podcast and interview friendly. The Wireless GO II is also incredibly versatile in that it doubles as a standalone recorder, can be attached to a camera’s cold shoe, and even has its own “reporter” microphone adapter. Oh, and you can make any 3.5mm microphone (including the lavaliers above) wireless by connecting it to one of the receivers.

The second is Mikme Pocket. This Austrian-designed wireless band is an advanced microphone system designed to be particularly mobile-friendly. There is a comprehensive app for both video and audio recording and internal storage, so you won’t have any problem at all. This also means that you can enjoy a practically infinite range. At $399, that’s a higher spend, but if what you need is high-quality sound and near-infinite range, this is the option.

transformers

So we’ve already touched on this with the AI ​​Micro, which is an adapter of sorts. One of the first things you might run into when dealing with mobile audio accessories are the TRRS versus TRS connectors. Simply put, 3.5mm TRS is what you might know as the old classic headphone connector while TRRS became popular for its support of inline headphones and microphones. You can easily distinguish between them because TRS connectors have two black strips while TRRS has three strips.

For you, a budding innovator, it can be a bit annoying because many 3.5mm lavaliers will be TRS and won’t work when connected to your phone’s headphone adapter. Sometimes your lavalier may include what you need in the box, but other than that, you’ll want to pick up a TRS to TRRS converter like this one. Of course, some smartphone microphones already have TRRS connectors – for those you’ll need a cable that goes the other way if you want to use it with other devices like a DSLR.

Rode VideoMic Go 2, along with Shure MV88+ and Sennheiser MKE400 shotgun microphones.

James True / Engadget

gun microphones

You may be more familiar with shotgun mics when it comes to video. It’s the style of microphone often found on top of a DSLR or mirrorless camera, but they make great companions for other mobile devices, too, including your phone.

The benefit of the gun is that it tends to be very directional, which makes it ideal for podcasts, recording machines, foley sounds and much more.

For us cellphone recorders, another benefit is that they tend to be light and portable, perfect for slipping into a backpack or even a laptop bag. Even better, there are some great mobile-specific options.

Best Shotgun Microphone for Video/Music: Sennheiser MKE 400 (2nd Gen)

You don’t have to buy a microphone just for its looks, but Sennheiser’s MKE 400 ($200) certainly makes its competitors look weak. However, more important than the aesthetics is how it sounds and the MKE 400 records very cleanly without obvious sound coloration. What’s more, the battery-powered microphone won’t steal power from your phone or camera, and with three levels of gain to choose from, you can boost things up when needed, or avoid being cut off from the loudest subjects. The MKE 400 also comes with TRS and TRRS cables for compatibility with a variety of devices.

The physical gain controls and high-pass filter on the MKE 400 (as opposed to the other two below that have been updated via an app) take the worry out of whether your audio source is moving or changing the volume as you can adjust this on the go. If you’re a musician looking to record louder drums and then sing softer on the go, for example, these haptic gain settings are a plus.

Buy Sennheiser MKE 400 at B&H – $200

Best Budget Shotgun Microphone: Rode VideoMic GO II

When we tested VideoMic GO II, we were immediately surprised by how good it sounded. At $150, it rivals many desktop microphones that cost three times the price. You’ll need a companion app to change the settings, otherwise this works pretty well across the board.

Buy Rode VideoMic GO II on Amazon – $150

Best Portable Shotgun Microphone: Shure MV88 +

Not to be confused with the older MV88 that plugs directly into the Lightning port, the MV88+ is a compact microphone built with the smartphone in mind. Often sold as a vlogging kit ($249) with a tripod and phone grip, the MV88+ has modular cables to connect directly to Android devices and iPhones.

Buy Shure MV88+ on Amazon – $199

Desktop and USB microphones go to mobile devices

Cell phone mics are great, but there’s nothing stopping you from using a mic you might already have (if somewhat portable). You’ll definitely need to do some dancing with some transformers, but that’s half the fun. Here are two recommendations for “regular” microphones that pair well with the phone and then the cables and adapters you’ll need for setup.

Apogee's HypeMic is a versatile microphone that's just as at home with a computer as it is with your phone.

James True / Engadget

Apogee HypeMic

Arguably, there are quite a few more mics that can be described as “mobile-friendly” than Apogee’s HypeMic. While it looks like a regular portable microphone, it’s actually deceptively small, which makes it extremely light and portable. It also comes with cables to connect directly to your iPhone and Android devices – no adapters needed. Don’t let the small size fool you though, the HypeMic has a big trick up its sleeve: a built-in analog compressor for professional-sounding vocals. Whether you record vocals, vocals, or instruments, there’s a setup on HypeMic just for you. At $349, that’s a bit on the spend side, but you get a very versatile device that’s good for a desktop, too.

Buy HyperMic on Amazon – $349

Samson Q2U

This dynamic microphone is a favorite among podcasters, with many production companies using it as a standard microphone to send to distant guests thanks to its excellent quality for performance appreciation. The Q2U features USB and XLR connectivity making it versatile for both desktop and mobile applications, but that’s the first we’re interested in here because that’s what allows you to connect it to your phone using a USB cable and adapter (see below).

On top of that, the Q2U is tough enough to withstand a little roughness and drops, so you’ll happily live in the bottom of your backpack ready when you need it. Meanwhile, the portable design is versatile enough that he can turn his hand into singing/instruments, podcasts, interviews, and more.

Buy the Samson Q2U from Amazon – $69

Tula

You may not be familiar with the name, but Tula has snuck into our hearts with her versatile, vintage-inspired microphone. From a mobile perspective, Tula connects to Android devices directly via USB-C or an iPhone using the appropriate USB-C to Lightning cable (more on this below) or a “camera kit” USB adapter. What makes the Tula special is that it’s also a desktop microphone and portable recorder with lavalier input, 8GB of storage, and even features noise cancellation – ideal for reducing external background noises. With Tula, you can theoretically get one microphone for home, mobile, and standalone recording.

Buy the Tula Microphone from Amazon – $229

The best microphones to use with iPhone or Android.

James True / Engadget

Multimedia IK iRig Pre 2

If you already have stock XLR mics or really need a phantom-powered condenser studio mic, the iRig Pre 2 is a portable interface that feeds any XLR mic in your phone. Two AA batteries you use to supply phantom power when needed and won’t drain your phone. There’s also a headphone port for monitoring, gain controls, and LEDs to help prevent pruning.

Buy iRig Pre 2 from Amazon – $60

A word about cables

Connecting USB microphones directly to phones is rarely as simple as just one cable, although this is becoming more and more common. In general, Android makes this a lot simpler, but also, thanks to a wide range of manufacturers and software versions, you can’t always guarantee that things will run smoothly.

iPhone is a whole other case. USB mics have a good chance of working over the USB camera array we mentioned earlier, but that still isn’t neat at times. It’s frustrating that some USB-C to Lightning cables will play well with microphones, but unfortunately most won’t — Apple included. One sure option is this cable from Fiio or this generic alternative. These are inexpensive enough that it’s worth having a couple if you work with audio a lot (of course they can also be used to charge your phone as a bonus).