Zoom IQ5 Lightning Microphone Review

Posted on 2nd May 2019 by Mark Tiddy.

The Zoom IQ5 is a few years old now but still a great option for improving audio quality on your iPhone/iPad videos.

Watch the video review here or read on…

I picked one of these up for £35 (bargain!) after looking at the other options out there (including the Zoom IQ6 and IQ7). It’s no longer available so you’ll have to search for eBay where they typically sell for £60-70.

However…it’s still a great option so here’s a review to see if this piece of tech is still worth picking up 5 years after its release.

In a nutshell, the IQ5 is a stereo condenser mic designed to help you get a better quality sound from your iPhone or iPad videos. I’ve had mine a couple of months and have been using it for every YouTube video I’ve created since and really think it improves the sound.

Design & Specification

It’s not the prettiest design out there but I think it looks pretty cool. The microphone itself is this spherical shape which rotates and twists to allow you to adjust it depending on where you are in relation to your recording device.

The front has two sets of switches. One for adjusting gain and one for width.

One side has buttons for adjusting gain, the other side is a mini USB port for charging your phone during use (no idea why they didn’t go with lightning!) and a headphone jack for monitoring the sound.

You can set the gain to auto, limited (which lets you use the gain slider to adjust it) and off and there’s width settings for 90 degrees, 120 degrees and a MS setting.

Let’s unpack what that means

90 degrees is a direct recording…the sort of thing you’d use for a video where sound is coming from one place.

120 degrees catches more width…you’d probably use this if you were recording a larger area such as a band playing. It captures more of the sound of the review. (There’s examples of all of these in my video review)

MS – This option records both 90 and 120 degrees and let’s you choose and mix in the Zoom Handy Recorder app. (more on the app later)

Using the IQ5

Using the IQ5 is super easy, you plug it into your iPhone or iPad and you’re away…it fits so snugly to your device you’ll have to remove any cases first!

Then to record you either use the Zoom Handy Recorder app or the video/audio app of your choice. I just use the native camera app to shoot videos and it automatically uses the Zoom IQ5 for audio.

There’s not much else to say. For me the audio is loud enough, clear, crisp and free of background noise*

*As long as you put your phone in aeroplane mode otherwise your video is a set of buzzes and crackles!!!

The Handy Recorder App

This app is meant to be (and advertised as) the comparison app to the IQ5 (and indeed IQ6 and IQ7) however I’m not the biggest fan of it!

The app feels it’s long overdue an update and looks dated…on newer iPhones it doesn’t even fill the screen. I’ve also found that you have to set your recordings to AAC format in the settings as WAV files refuse to export.

I do however like there’s options to upgrade firmware, make the auto gain settings more specific to what you want to record and all sorts of other extras.

The ability to monitor the sound is also really handy.

When you export audio you do this via Soundcloud or via Email…two functional options but updates to add other options like iCloud and Dropbox would be nice.

The Verdict

If you want something small and compact that improves the sound of your video shot on your iPhone or iPad then I’d really recommend this…I think it’s improved the sound of my videos and made them clearer.

I like that it sits on your phone without the need of clamps and I like that it’s adjustable, it does however feel a little plastic-y and I wonder how easy it is to break.

Do comment with any questions and checkout the posts on the rest of this site and my YouTube channel.

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© Mark Tiddy 2020