5 Ways to Record Podcast Interviews with an iPhone

UPDATE - Although this article was written in Sep 2014, I recently tested all of the following gear and apps w/iPhone 7 Plus on OS 10.1.1 - and they all still work flawlessly. I still highly recommend all of these setups - I use them myself every week! - Shawn Smith, The Mobile Pro, Dec 2016

A note from Shawn: This is a super long post, almost 4,000 words. It details the exact equipment I have used to record over 100 pro-quality podcast interviews with an iPhone. It also gives you 21 sample recordings for my top 5 Mobile Pro mic set-ups, and details exactly how I made these recordings.

If you don’t have time to read the whole thing, no worries, but at least be sure to scroll down to check out the 21 audio samples, and get my E-Book - it’s FREE for a limited time. The E-Book will give you more details on each set-up: Pros & cons, how to best use them, and which connectors, stands, and headphones are best to use. 

Also, if you want easy step-by-step instructions of exactly how to set-up all of this equipment, and all of the settings on the iPhone, apps, and mics, plus pro mic techniques for each, check out my video training here.

If you have ANY desire to record mobile interviews, you should give this online video training a try. There’s a 30 day money-back guarantee - and it will save you a ton of time and frustration, and get you up and running in less than an hour!

 

Lou Mongello from WDW Radio, Jared Easley from Starve the Doubts and Founder of Podcast Movement Conference, and Shawn Smith, The Mobile Pro

Lou Mongello from WDW Radio, Jared Easley from Starve the Doubts and Founder of Podcast Movement Conference, and Shawn Smith, The Mobile Pro

Did you ever dream of podcasting from your iPhone? I have...almost weekly, for years.

Life on the road, and a passion for podcasting, has been like a marriage of oil and water...until recently.

Can you imagine recording 10-12 podcast interviews, all in-person, with key leaders in your niche, in less than 2 days at an event?

Believe it or not, this is what happened to me…2 weeks ago! It all happened at the first annual Podcast Movement Conference in Dallas, TX (AWESOME conference!). How? Because I brought a pro-quality mobile podcast set-up with me - in my backpack! (that's it on the floor, in the photo above). 

I can't wait to tell you how I did it, and it wasn't outrageously expensive, and it's not that complicated (not anymore!)  But first...the proof's in the pudding.  Listen for yourself...

Here's a couple of quick interview clips from PM14, recorded into an iPhone with the equipment below, with absolutely no editing, EQ, mastering, or post-production:

To listen to in-depth interviews of all of these guests, and discover all the gear, apps, tips and tricks they use to run their thriving businesses from the road, sign my mailing list. I'll send you a special announcement when my podcast launches this fall.

A special thanks to all of my guests at Podcast Movement for being so kind to record these interviews and promos for me (go check out their sites - all great stuff, from great people):
Natalie Sisson, The Suitcase Entrepreneur
Dan Franks, Co-Founder of Podcast Movement
Ray Ortega, Founder of The Podcasters' Studio
Philip Taylor "PT", Founder and CEO of FinCon
Cliff Ravenscraft, The Podcast Answerman
Lou Mongello, of WDW Radio

 

But Isn't There a Huge Learning Curve with Podcast Equipment?

If you have an iPhone (or any iOS device running iOS7 or above), you already own and know how to operate the most complicated piece of gear - the recorder. Plus, all of the solutions below will work. I have personally tested them on an iPad 2, iPod Touch 5, iPhone 5, and 5S, and they work flawlessly.

In fact, for as little as $100 in equipment, you can order some of the gear below, and have a Pro-Quality Mobile Podcast Studio set-up on your iPhone in 2 days!  (if you order through the Amazon Prime links below).

In less than 3 days we can get you all trained and up and recording interviews in time for your next conference - even if you've never recorded a podcast interview before!

Now, to be clear, I'm not promising to teach you how to podcast in 3 days (that's a far more complicated subject). But what I am promising, is that no matter what level of experience you have, with the gear below, I can show you how to record a pro-quality, multi-mic interview in less than a day (even taking my video course).  

And it will be pro-quality. Listen for yourself to the samples below.

 

But Isn't Mobile Podcasting Complicated, and Expensive?

Well yes, it can be...very. Have you ever tried mobile podcasting at an event? It generally requires expensive equipment, extra batteries, cables, and memory cards.

But worst of all, if you've never done it before, it usually means months of research to find the right mics, cables, accessories, and apps to use. It's mind-boggling how much gear is out there.

Do a search for, "podcast equipment" on Amazon, and it will give you 200 pages of equipment, cables, and guides. Then, once you get the gear, you need to figure out the best way to use it to get that pro-quality sound that you and your audience expects from a pro.

For years I searched for ways to record pro-quality, multiple-person interviews into an iPhone, and found NOTHING. (with one exception...Jeff Geerling's blog post, External microphones for iPhone.... Thank you, Jeff!  You should check out his blog, LifeIsAPrayer.com, and give him a big donation here for all of his generous, helpful, and free info over the years). 

However, most of the equipment I was looking for didn't become available until iOS7, which came out 2 yrs after Jeff's blog post. And most of the mics and accessories were not available until this year!

I spent thousands of dollars of equipment, and sifted through the ocean of options. Finally, I have boiled my research down to my 5 mobile pro set-ups that I travel with - and I can't wait to share these with you!

This is the info that I wish I would have found 2-3 yrs ago. I hope it serves you well, and I hope you will share it with others - it will save them a TON of time, money, and frustration.

To share this article with others, please click an icon below

 

5 Ways to Record Pro-Quality Podcast Interviews with an iPhone

The info below is designed to help you to decide which mic set-up might be best for your needs as a mobile professional trying to record audio podcasts, do vlogging, or conduct audio or video interviews at events.

All of these solutions have been thoroughly tested on the road, and work with the equipment and apps suggested. Scroll down to the bottom to listen to audio samples of each, and decide which is best for your needs."

Click here to skip down to The Audio Samples, Equipment Photos, and Links 

 

Which Audio Recording App Should I Use? -  BossJock Studio ($9)

To record audio into the iPhone, you need a pro-quality app that records audio. Although there are many apps that record audio, as of this writing, there are amazingly only a few pro apps that will record 2 mics simultaneously (i.e. for interviews).

I've tested many of these (including Voice Memo, Garageband, Multi-track, FourTrack, and Rode Rec). However, for me, BossJock Studio ($9) is the best solution for Mobile Pro Podcasting, hands-down. This is the app I used to record all of the samples below. See my full review of BossJock Studio here.

 

Which USB Computer Interface Should I Use? -  ART USB Dual Pre ($79)

If you are not using a mic that plugs directly into the iPhone, then you will need a USB computer interface to go between the mic and the iPhone, to convert the audio into a digital signal.  There are many high-quality USB computer interfaces* (there's a great round-up from 2012 here).

However, as of this writing, there are only a handful of options that are truly mobile-friendly AND iOS compatible.  After searching for years, and testing many units, my #1 choice for mobile professionals is the ART USB Dual Pre ($79).  

This is the unit I used to record all of the multiple-mic samples below. See my full review of here.

 

Which Mics Are Best?

I strongly recommend all of the mics below for Mobile, Pro-quality vocal recording and podcasting at events. Plus they all work flawlessly with every iOS audio app that I tried, including BossJock Studio ($9), and the ART USB Dual Pre ($79), which is what I used for these tests.  

Each set-up is designed to serve a different purpose, and budget. Generally, the more $ you spend, the better quality you will have.  (i.e. The Shure SM7B ($350), sounds way better than the Rode sMartLav+ ($60).

However, if you need something super small, and super fast to set up, then the Zoom iQ5 ($99) would be your best option. (For suggestions of best uses of each mic and set-up, get my free e-book.)

 

If I Only Have $100, What Should I Get?

Of course this really depends on what kind of interviews you're planning to do.

If you want the cheapest option, and you don't mind both of your hands being occupied during your interview, then I would get the Audio-Technica ATR2100 Microphone ($53) + BossJock Studio ($9).  Unless you're seated, you'll need to move the mic between you and your interview guest with one hand, and hold the iPhone with the other.  

Otherwise, you can place the iPhone on the table, but you'll still need to move the mic between you two, and be careful to get it close to your guest's mouth. Not the most elegant solution, but pro-quality sound all the way on the cheap.

For $130 more you can get a 2nd ATR2100 Mic ($53) and ART USB Dual Pre ($79), and each have your own mic and stand. You'll probably want some headphones too to make sure you're both speaking at the same level into the mics, so it's going to cost you a bit more to do this solution right, but much better for sit-down interviews.

Generally speaking, if you only have $100 to spend, and you're new to all of this, or just want to wade into world of mobile podcasting slowly, then I'd get the Zoom iQ5 Mic ($99) + BossJock Studio ($9), and get started! For $100 (Okay, $110). This set-up will give you the best bang for your buck: You can do audio podcasting, video podcasting, one-on-one interviews, vlogging, and even roundtable discussions with this amazing little mic.

You'll probably want to spend another $20 on an iPhone stand to easily hold your iPhone during your interview, or set it on a table properly between you and your guest (fyi...you'll need to take your case off for the Zoom iQ5 to fit properly).

And you'll probably want to spend another $10 for a small travel bag to protect the somewhat fragile Zoom iQ5, but if you're careful, you could do without these to start. Seriously, for $110, you can be good-to-go with a pro-quality mobile recording studio!

Scroll down to hear audio samples of each set-up.

(For my suggestions on the best iPhone stands/handles to use during interviews, plus protective travel bags, headphone solutions and more, get my free guide here. To learn step-by-step instructions of all the settings on the iQ5 and BossJock Studio App, along with all the other set-ups below, get my video guide here.)

 

Audio Samples, Photos & Links - 5 Ways to Record on an iPhone

For my testing criteria, and how and where I recorded these samples scroll down, or click here.

Below are the audio samples, equipment photos, and links of "5 Ways to Record Pro-Quality Podcast Interviews with an iPhone". This info is designed to help you to decide which mic set-up might be best for your needs as a mobile professional trying to record audio podcasts, do vlogging, or conduct audio or video interviews on the road.

All of these solutions have been thoroughly tested, and work with the equipment and apps suggested above. 

Which set-up is best for you, is for you to decide, but here's some guidance...

If you're a Newbie or Non-Techie Podcaster 

I'd recommend listening to these samples, then get my video guide. It will get you up and running quickly with the least stress & frustration.

If you're Tech-Savvy, but fairly new to mobile podcasting

I'd recommend listening to these samples, then get my E-Book. It's FREE for a limited time. From there you should be good to go. If not, you can always upgrade to my video guide.

If you're an Audio Techie, or Podcast Expert 

The info below should be all you need to get up and running with your own Mobile Pro podcast studio. All the links to the main gear is listed below, and you can A/B the samples. As a pro, you probably already know how to set up the iPhone and app, and what connectors and accessories you'll need to optimize everything. If you want my suggestions, you can get my e-book guide for free.

A note about the audio players below...

After you click play, you can scroll throughout the clip. To see the clip title again, either scroll to the end of the clip, or refresh this web page in your browser (Command +R). To A/B samples, you can stop a clip, then start another clip, scroll to about the same spot as the first, then go back and forth between the two clips.

Nearly all of the audio clips are the same length, with the same script, so you can A/B them.

If you'd like to purchase any of this equipment, simply click on the title or photo. Prices are approximate as of this writing. (fyi...These are affiliate links, which means that I will receive a small commission if you purchase through them, which I would really appreciate. The cost is the same price for you.)

Please listen to these samples for yourself, and let me know which you like best and why in the comments below. Do you have another killer set-up to record into the iPhone? Let us know below!

 

iPhone 5.jpg

Apple iPhone 5 Internal Mic

(only for comparison - this is NOT a Mobile Pro solution)


1.  Zoom iQ5 Mic ($99)




4 - Shure SM58LC Mic ($99) + ART USB Dual Pre ($79)


5.  Shure SM7B Mic ($349) + ART USB Dual Pre ($79)

If you found this info helpful, please comment below, and share this article

 

This is Mic 1...test 1,2. This is Mic 2...test 1,2.

 

Testing Criteria

Here's the criteria I use for The Mobile Pro Reviews, and my recommendations for the gear below:

  • Quality - Does it look, feel, and produce pro-qualty results? If not, I can't recommend it. This is The Mobile Pro, not The Mobile Amateur.
  • Portability - Does it fit in a backpack or carry-on? If not, is it worth making space for? It's gotta be small and light or be really special to make exceptions for.
  • Durability - Can it withstand the riggers of getting banged around on the road? If not, sorry...it's gotta be tough, or there must be a reasonable way to protect it when traveling.
  • Cost - Is it too cheap? Is it too pricey? If it's pricey, is it worth it?
  • Learning Curve - Can you use it right away with no instruction, or do you need to take a course? Is the payoff worth your time learning how to use it?

I recently heard someone say, "I don't want easy; I just want worth it". This maxim can apply here...There are always exceptions to the rules above, as long as they provide a service that is exceptional to all other options. They're worth it.

Take the Shure SM7B mic ($349), for instance. Compared to other mics, it's big, heavy, and expensive. But for me, it's totally worth it for the few things that it does that no other mic can do. (Read my full review of the Shure SM7B here to understand why it's my mic of preference).

 

How I Recorded These Samples

My goal was to do everything I could to get the best quality recording for each mic, set-up, and environment, to truly give you an opportunity to A/B any mic set-up for yourself. 

For the handheld mics (ATR2100, SM7B) I placed them on table-top stands, and spoke directly on-axis, about 1" from the mic. I tried to speak in exactly the same tone, volume, intensity, and using the same plosives to give each mic a fair test (sorry for the broken record you have to listen to over and over).

For the iQ5 & iPhone mic, I spoke 4-6" away, directly in front of the mic. Any closer and the wind from my breath would distort, although with some speaking technique, you can get closer to the iQ5, which would give you more bass.

For the EarPods, I put them in my ears, and let the mic hang down naturally, without making any attempt to adjust it.

For the smartLav mics, I placed them high in the center of my chest, mic pointed up towards my mouth - exactly where a lapel mic should be placed (watch any news anchor), but then up towards my mouth an inch or two, for a better level.

Again, I spoke in a normal speaking voice, though my tendency was to speak louder, because they, as omni condenser mics, had the most difficultly in the coffee shop.

In the recording app I used, BossJock Studio. In the app, I had the AGC (Automatic Gain Control) turned on, Buffer set to Normal, and the Low Cut filter also turned On. I tried to record at the highest gain levels possible (peaking red on the mic gain meters), without distortion, and with as little hiss as possible.

I found I could not get as much gain level (or volume) as I wanted with anything plugged into the headphone jack (i.e. smartLav+), which is why those recordings generally sound more quiet.

 

Where I Recorded These Samples

I didn't try control the following recording environments at all (i.e. no sound-dapening acoustic material on the walls, or attempt to find the most quiet spot, or unplug household appliances, or turn off ac or heating ventilation, etc.)  I wanted these to be typical recording environments for the mobile pro on the road.  

I wanted these environments to remain constant from recording to recording, so I recorded them in exactly the same spots for each mic set-up. I do live near an airport, so especially for the outdoor recordings, I tried to wait until there was no noise from flights taking off. (my apologies if one slipped in, though). 

I chose the three settings that a Mobile Pro would most likely record at during an event:


Indoor

I recorded these in a basic 12' x 9' room w/carpeting, 8' ceiling, painted drywall, some simple furniture, no heavy drapery or wall coverings. This represents a typical home-office room, a hotel room, bedroom, or living room space, where the mobilpreneur records many podcasts - at home, or on the road.


Outdoor 

These were recorded in a screened-in porch in a pretty quiet residential neighborhood. This does technically have a wall on one side (behind me) and a hard ceiling above (12'), so you MAY hear a little reflection off the wall & ceiling if you listen close, but it's not enough to affect the test.

The porch sides are all open, and for most recordings, there was a 5-10 mph breeze (you can hear the wind chimes from my neighbor).

This represents an outdoor patio at a coffee shop or restaurant, or back patio or deck of a guest you may be interviewing on the road - all places I have recorded in over the past 3 yrs collecting interviews for one of my podcasts.


Coffee Shop 

These were recorded at a small round table, right on the edge of the seating and lobby area near the coffee station at a Panera Bread. You can hear background music, dishes, coffee machines, and polite conversation.

I recorded during breakfast and lunch, to simulate busy, fairly loud conditions, but I'll admit, Panera is generally subdued compared to many ma & pop coffee shops. But this was by design - if you're going to do an interview at a coffee shop, try to find a Panera, or other place with carpet, high ceilings, and a more subdued clientele.

You want ambience, but not to the point of distraction, and you don't want to compete with the noise.

This is a common meeting-place to meet, and represents loud ambient conditions your mics may need to compete with.

 

Comments and Questions

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Which set-up do you like best and why? Do you have another killer mic or set-up to record into the iPhone? Have a question? Let us know below!

Posted on September 2, 2014 .