Zoom has a free recording app called Handy Recorder. It’s very simple, but has some nice features, like a built-in EQ, waveform display, effects and decent audiometers with a bit of detail to them. I don’t see a huge advantage to recording with the iPhone over the H4n as far as sound quality, but I did see better battery consumption using the iPhone. I have an H4n, and while it’s a decent low-cost audio recorder, it eats batteries like crazy, so I usually end up bringing a separate, larger lithium-ion battery when I record long sessions with the Zoom.
Another contender that may be worth checking out for you is the RØDE i-XY. It’s functionally pretty similar to the Zoom iQ6, but provides a different look cosmetically. RØDE offers some nice accessories, too, like a small, hard-shell carrying case and a foam windscreen. RØDE also has a few optional accessories that can enhance the utility of the i-XY. One of these is the SC2, a high-quality, shielded 3.5mm TRS patch cable. It’s ideal for connecting the output of an iOS device using an i-XY to a DSLR or video camera for capturing scratch audio to camera while the iPhone records the broadcast-quality track.
RØDE also offers the RØDEGrip, a multi-purpose mounting solution for the Apple iPhone 5, iPhone 5s (RØDEGrip5), iPhone 5c (RØDEGrip 5c), and iPhone 4 and 4s (RØDEGrip4) that allows for both handheld and camera-mounted operation of the i-XY. Teaming the iPhone with the i-XY and the RØDEGrip and a windscreen results in a small, stealthy package for recording sound effects and ambient. While it costs $5.99 in the App Store, RØDE’s optional recording app, RØDE Rec, features more sophisticated functions than Zoom’s free app.
Either microphone will function nicely; it really boils down to which one has the feature set that appeals most to you and which one sounds better to your ear. I’m a fan of tools that have multiple functions, so being able to carry either the diminutive Zoom or the RØDE around with your iPhone may provide you with a high-quality audio-recording system when you need it, not when you planned to bring it.
16 CFR Part 255 Disclosure: Rycote, Røde and Zoom didn’t compensate me to write this article. The companies didn’t send me review units to try out the hardware; I evaluated the Rycote Cyclone at a local location sound dealer, and I had a chance to work with the Røde and Zoom microphones on a production I was working on. No material connection exists between the manufacturers mentioned in the article and myself.
Send questions to [email protected] or mail them to Audio Assist, HDVideoPro, 12121 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 1200, Los Angeles, CA 90025.