Review: GoBiz i-Microphone

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Short version: The GoBiz i-Microphone is not a complete cure for your smartphone’s mic, but it’s a pretty cheap way to get better recordings.


Features:

  • omnidirectional condenser mic
  • fits any 3.5mm line-in jack
  • records up to 12dB louder than built-in iPhone mic
  • MSRP of $25.99

Pros:

  • extremely small — easy to take anywhere
  • windscreen included
  • inexpensive

Cons:

  • extremely small — easy to lose
  • omnidirectional

Review
In many ways, a smartphone would be a good choice of recording platform for a podcast or audiobook: no moving parts, no noisy fans, easily portable. But the recording quality from the mics just don’t cut it. Enter the $25 i-Microphone, a low-cost way to improve the volume of your smartphone recordings. It’s not going to turn your smartphone into a professional recording device, by any means, and you’re still going to need to massage your audio files using something like Audacity. Remember, this is a $25 attachment for your phone, so you’ll get marked improvement in volume, but your overall sound quality may suffer.

To test, I made a baseline recording using both an iPhone 3G and a Motorola Droid. I then connected the i-Microphone to each smartphone, and recorded another sentence. Below you can see the waveforms of the unprocessed recordings. Each image is linked to the corresponding .WAV file so you can hear for yourself.

Droid baseline recording


Droid with i-Microphone


iPhone baseline recording


iPhone with i-Microphone

The above were recorded in my living room, with the phones about two or three feet away from me. Finally, I took the iMic with me for a pint at my favorite pub. Here are the recordings from an iPhone without and with the iMic:

iPhone at the pub


iPhone with i-Microphone at the pub

As you can see and hear, the volume was substantially increased when using the i-Microphone, but the overall quality was not always improved. In some instances, the i-Microphone makes the recording so noisy that even normalizing and massaging it won’t produce a very good result. The recordings in the pub, for example, highlight the challenges with an omnidirectional mic: I think the iPhone’s built-in mic did a better job in the noisy room.

Bottom Line
If you’re looking for a quick, inexpensive way to get louder recordings then the GoBiz i-Microphone isn’t a bad choice. You’ll need to have pretty good control over the acoustic environment, though. If you’re looking to record professional interviews for your local radio station, you’re going to want a more expensive piece of kit.

Product Page: GoBiz EIM-001 i-Microphone

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