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Zoom iQ6 Review – Turn Your Phone Into a Stereo Mic

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Podcast equipment is more advanced, smaller, and affordable. Time was, a recording session required renting a studio with lots of expensive equipment and special sound treatment. As smartphones improve, recording apps improve, both for iOS and Android. With spring coming, the weather improving, and cabin fever driving me up the wall, I decided to try using a microphone for my iPhone. The Zoom iQ6 Stereo X/Y microphone does not disappoint. Let me introduce you to my new little friend.

What’s Different About the iQ6?

With a lightning to USB connector, you can plug any USB mic into your phone. But, they can be a hassle to carry when you’re out and about. This was an obstacle for me (try shoving a Blue Yeti in your pocket) until I saw the Zoom iQ6. It’s smaller than a hen’s egg. When I found out that it records in stereo, I thought, okay, let’s give this a try.

When you buy this microphone, you’re not just getting the gear. You also have the Zoom Handy Recorder app to control it. This lets you record, store, and share stereo .wav files to your Cloud Drive, Soundcloud, or email. It allows for a tiny bit of editing: for example, you can record a new recording, overwrite it, or insert a new recording into an existing .wav file. It’s not meant to be a full-service digital audio workstation. But, it gets the job done efficiently.

What’s in the Box?

The Zoom iQ6 comes with a foam rubber windshield (or “clown nose”) and a basic instruction manual. There’s a gain dial and a stereo mini 1/8″ jack on the microphone itself. You can adjust the X/Y microphones to be at a 90-degree angle, or a 120-degree angle, by twisting them gently. Everything else, you adjust in the app.

The Zoom iQ6 stereo XT microphone is about the size of a hen's egg.

How Does the iQ6 Sound?

This tiny mic picks up the sound so well; I’d be tempted to use this as my main interview mic. Here’s a sample of my brother and me having a day out in the park.

This clip has no editing, other than chopping out some of our rambling discussion. If you listen to this through headphones, you’ll notice that my voice mostly comes through one ear, and my brother’s voice mostly comes through the other. It’s not perfectly divided stereo; it’s not 40-track spatial audio, but, for a mic I can shove in my pocket, it’s impressive. Listeners get that sense of atmosphere.

(Don’t shove it in your pocket. This baby is delicate.)

Pros & Cons of the iQ6

The positive aspects of this mic are fairly obvious. It’s small, lightweight, and picks up sound really well. You have the Zoom Handy recorder app to run it and Zoom’s warranty and customer support.

Depending on your retailer, the Zoom iQ6 costs $99-$105. It doesn’t come with a carrying case, which makes me nervous about dropping it and breaking it. The windscreen makes pretty good padding, but it’s not a perfect or permanent solution. Attached to the mic around the lightning connector is a “case shield.” You can remove it to plug the mic in snugly without removing your iPhone from its case. I found that this didn’t work, with or without the case shield. So, I had to take my phone out of the protective case entirely. Plan on having a way to keep your phone and mic stable.

Monitoring your sound while recording isn’t difficult, provided you have headphones with a 1/8″ jack. In 2022, these can be scarce.

This microphone only works for iOS devices. Android phone users, have a look at The Rode Smartlav+. You won’t regret it.

Not everyone has $100 to spend on a new mic. But, this makes your phone into a mini recording studio. This saves you the cost of purchasing additional recording equipment and carrying it around.

Set Your Podcast Recording Free With the Zoom iQ6 Mic

For “non-techie” types, the iQ6 is the most empowering development in content creation since YouTube added that little (+) button. If you want to start a podcast or gather field recordings on your phone, the Zoom iQ6 should definitely be part of your gear. Clarity, convenience and portability more than balance out the price.

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