What You Need to Podcast with Your Mobile Devices

By Tee Morris, Chuck Tomasi

Podcasting doesn’t have to be done in a studio. You can podcast with your mobile device. Development of mobile devices — smartphones like the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy, and tablets like Apple’s iPad and the Windows Surface — has been astounding to watch, especially in the past five years.

With cloud computing becoming more and more prevalent not only in personal lifestyles but now in corporate sectors, mobile devices big and small are quickly becoming the new alternative to portable computing. When once it would require an entire backpack and pockets of accessories to replicate the office, mobile devices have reduced portability to a single pocket and a connection to the Internet.

As an example, Nobilis Reed of Nobilis Erotica and This Kaiju Life has a portable recording rig with a USB microphone, a smartphone, and Dropbox. His sessions are all sent to cloud storage (relieving demands on the phone) and are easily accessed by his editing computer.

mobile setup for podcasting
Nobilis Reed of Nobilis Erotica and This Kaiju Life has a portable recording rig with a USB microphone, a smartphone, and Dropbox.

Now, leading names in microphone technology are looking to future trends and are releasing new audio gear designed for the portability you come expect from smartphones and tablets.

A Shure Thing: The MV5 and MV51

Shure Audio’s MOTIV series not only includes a preamp but also a new line of microphones built to be portable, but still able to yield superior audio recording quality Shure is known for.

The MV5

The MV5 packs a lot of audio punch in its small, sleek, retro design and its economic cost of just under $100. Offering you professional-quality audio when recording, the MV5 provides latency-free headphone monitoring and quick-and-easy plug-and-play capability.

Other features of the MV5 include:

  • Retro-design includes desktop stand and adjustable position for microphone
  • Three digital signal processor (or DSP) presets
  • iOS and USB connectivity
  • Built-in headphone jack and volume adjustment for real-time monitoring
Shure's MV5
Shure’s MV5 (left) and MV51 (right), part of the new MOTIV series, offer podcasters high-quality audio recording with any mobile device.

The MV51

The MV51 is much like its small counterpart, the MV5, in its retro design, ability to capture professional-quality audio, and zero latency when live monitoring. Beyond that, the MV51 is a fantastic addition to your ultra-portable studio because of the additional features found only in this higher model:

  • Quick-and-easy plug-and-play capability
  • Retro-design includes pull-out stand, either for standing independently on a flat surface or fitting into a standard microphone stand
  • Touch-sensitive panel for control over five different DSP presets, headphone volume, and more
  • iOS and USB connectivity
  • Built-in headphone jack for real-time monitoring
  • Large-diaphragm condenser capsule offering wider audio range for recording

The MV51 is more than just a step up from the MV5. It promises to set a new standard in mobile recording. With its capability to capture clean audio, setup and recording is as simple as unlocking your mobile device and recording on your audio app of choice. You are also given advanced options such as either recording with one of the MV51’s onboard presets or simply recording flat, uncompressed, unaltered audio, offering you full control over post-production treatment. Whether in-studio or on-the-road, at $200 the Shure MV51 proves itself an asset in your mobile studio setup.

Two for the Røde: The VideoMic Me and smartLav+

Røde Microphones has made a name for itself in the podcasting circles (or the podosphere) since the early days. New Zealand’s first podcast author, Pip Ballantine, won the 2009 Sir Julius Voguel Award for her podcast Chasing the Bard, recording her epic fantasy on the Røde Podcaster. Pip still endorses the USB microphone, suggesting it to everyone building a new home studio on a tight budget.

Røde continues to provide podcasters with a complete array of mobile options for podcasters ready to take their recording out of the studio, and go one step further in specializing gear for smartphones. Why smartphones? Particularly in interview situations where sitting is not an option (press conferences, man on the street interviews, and so forth), you need your recording rig to be even more compact than a tablet. That is where your smartphone transforms faster than an Autobot (or a Decepticon, depending on the mobile OS you prefer) and becomes your recording studio.

VideoMic Me

Røde’s VideoMic Me at the cost of just under $60 upgrades your on-board smartphone microphone to higher-quality audio. Instead of that tinny quality found in most phone conversations and smartphone recordings, the VideoMic Me picks up a far wider range and frequency, while focusing the direction of the mic, yielding audio of a much higher quality. The accessory also comes with an optional mount for better mic stability and a windscreen to cut down on any unexpected weather elements you might encounter.

Rode's VideoMic Me
Røde’s VideoMic Me (top) transforms your smartphone into a handheld recording device.

In turning smartphones into portable recording devices, you may find your recording riddled with intermittent static. This is RFI, or Radio Frequency Interference. RFI occurs when a disturbance in frequency is generated by an external source — in this case, a second microphone — causing a degradation of a signal. Static. You can try recording in Airplane mode, but this prevents you from doing anything online (such as Facebook Live or Periscope), and even then, it is no guarantee. As always, test your mobile rig before trying to capture that once-in-a-lifetime recording!

smartLav+

For the podcast more about the host or for the interview where the interview host is edited out of the final show and only the subject’s voice remains, the smartLav+ at a cost similar to that of the VideoMic Me offers broadcast-quality audio for a modest investment.

The smartLav+ is a lavalier mic, meaning it is not held by or pointed at the subject but worn on lapels or the collar of a host or guest’s shirt. Unlike other lavalier mics that are connected to a wireless transmitter, the smartLav+ connects directly into a smartphone or tablet headset jack and records using GarageBand, Røde’s own Rec app, or any other media-recording app of choice. A small windscreen is included to cut down on both wind noise and percussive vocal elements.

The smartLav+ also features:

  • A Kevlar reinforced cable, protecting your mic connection from unexpected stretching or fraying
  • High-quality omni-directional condenser mic design
  • A body design no larger than 4.5mm

Currently, many smartphones in use are still using headphone jacks. Before purchasing these suggested models or other attachments that turn your smartphone into an equally smart recorder, you will want to see how the accessory connects, just to assure you are picking up the accessory that is the right one for you.

When you find yourself in the kind of setting where your podcast studio needs to fit in the palm of your hand, Røde offers options that will not let you down.