You can capture good quality videos and audio recordings with an iPhone. However, if you really want to get the best audio quality, relying on the built-in mic won’t suffice. This is where compact microphones like Zoom iQ6 vs iQ7 become handy. These mics will allow you to record clear and accurate audio into your iOS device.
So, what’s the difference between these two models? Read on below to learn about:
- The design and mic configuration of each model
- The on-board features and connectivity of each model
- Whether the Zoom mobile app is good or not
- The sound quality of Zoom iQ6 vs iQ7
- Which compact Zoom mic that is generally better for you
Zoom iQ6: Design and Features
If you have ever seen a Zoom portable recorder, you probably can see how Zoom iQ6 looks similar to its microphone. You can say that Zoom iQ6 is the X/Y capsule minus the recorder. Instead, at the bottom of the capsule, there is a jack which is meant to be plugged into the Lightning port of your iOS device. Once connected, simply launch the Handy Recorder app to start recording. See also: Apogee One Vs Duet 2
The build quality of Zoom iQ6 is very good. The well-made housing feels sturdy and durable. On the front side, there is a large knob for adjusting the gain, which is very handy and useful because nobody wants to fiddle around the mobile app just to adjust the gain.
There is a three-stage meter which will tell you whether the gain is in a healthy range or it is about to get clipped. The capsule has two microphones that are arranged in a 90-degree X/Y pattern, ensuring a perfect in-phase stereo field. On the side, there is an audio line output, which is handy if you want to send the audio signal to another device (such as a camera). It can also be used for direct monitoring via headphones.
Zoom iQ6: Mobile App
Both Zoom iQ6 vs iQ7 microphones require compatible mobile apps in order to work. The company does provide a free mobile app which is called Handy Recorder. This app will give you the complete functionality to start recording with the mic.
On the Handy Recorder app, you can see the metering in real time, which is useful for adjusting your headphone to match the mic’s level. You can also configure the mobile app to start recording automatically without any button press; this is useful in situations where you can’t go back and forth to your phone.
You can choose to record in uncompressed WAV or in AAC. If you want to be efficient in the storage usage, recording in AAC is better, as the file size will be much lower than if you record in an uncompressed format.
Unfortunately, the Handy Recorder app from Zoom is not perfect. It has some flaws in the user interface. First, this app is only optimized for 4-inch displays, and it will look weird in larger screens. Second, the overall appearance of the user interface looks outdated and not very friendly. Third, its file management is clunky; if you want to share audio clips, you can only do so via email.
Fortunately, the microphone can still work with some other mobile apps. You can use the standard Voice Memos app in your iOS device, or something like GarageBand. However, the distinctive recording patterns of Zoom iQ6 may be unavailable if you record with something other than the Handy Recorder app.
Zoom iQ6: Performance
So, how is the performance of Zoom iQ6 vs iQ7? In general, they both are great. With either mic, you can get a full recording experience and acquire high-quality audio.
The Zoom iQ6 mic is budget-friendly, yet it is a reliable high-performance unit. It comes with everything that you need to get started. The quality is easily better than most internal microphones, including those built-in mics of iPhones and DSLR cameras. Also, the mic is very easy to use. There is no learning curve. All of the settings can be adjusted easily to suit your purpose.
The sound is powerful with a healthy gain. It is clean, accurate, and detailed. You can capture subtle nuances in vocals and instruments just fine. Zoom iQ6 can serve a wide range of tasks, ranging from the most basic to some that require more advanced capabilities.
The recording is limited to 48 kHz, but this is fine because 48 kHz is all you need for most purposes nowadays. It is still the standard for CD release and streaming. If you want to record in a higher sample rate, you will need to spend significantly more money for higher-grade equipment.
Compared to Zoom’s H6 portable recorder, the sound quality of Zoom iQ6 is slightly inferior but still close enough. Zoom iQ6 has less bandwidth, so the sound is somewhat compressed. But you can still hear everything in good detail. The separation between different sounds is good. There is also ample volume. Overall, Zoom iQ6 is a very capable mic. The problem of the app’s terrible user interface still remains, but you can get around it with some patience.
Zoom iQ7: Design and Features
This unit is compact and lightweight. However, such a streamlined design requires some compromise in the build quality. The housing is completely made of plastic. Even the mic capsules are plastic. As the effect, Zoom iQ7 doesn’t feel really robust and durable. Although, to be fair, the plastic construction indeed doesn’t bend easily, and the compact and lightweight design will allow you to carry the mic around easily. As long as you don’t abuse the mic, it should be fine.
The two microphone capsules on the top can be adjusted to different positions by flicking a three-way switch. There are three options to choose from: 90 degrees, 120 degrees, and mid-side.
The 90-degree setting provides a very narrow pick-up angle. This is useful when you want to focus the recording on a single direction. Meanwhile, the 120-degree setting provides a wider pick-up angle for capturing sound with some ambience from around the room. The mid-side setting is really great if you want to record a stereo file that can be converted into mono without causing phase issues.
There is also a large knob for adjusting the gain quickly. In addition, there are three LED lights that act together as a metering indicator. On the side, there is a 3.5mm headphone jack for direct monitoring.
At the bottom, there is a Lightning connector which should be compatible with most modern iOS devices. There is a small spacer around the part which can be removed if you need to adjust the connector’s fit.
Zoom iQ7: Mobile App
The company provides the same mobile app for Zoom iQ6 vs iQ7, which is the Handy Recorder app. In other words, you will still deal with the same clunky user interface. You can use other mobile apps if you want, such as the built-in Voice Memos or the popular GarageBand. However, if you take your time to get used to Handy Recorder’s quirks, there are still some nice features and capabilities.
As usual, you can see the level monitoring in real time. It provides information with more precision than the on-board lights. You can also adjust the recording quality on the app, share audio files via email, upload recordings to SoundCloud, and perform simple editing and mixing.
The ability to add effects, such as reverb, compression, and EQ, can be useful if you can’t do the work on a computer. That said, if you really want to get the best sound quality, doing the work on a computer with a truly capable DAW software is still the way to go. The mobile app also lacks noise reduction.
Although you can’t share audio files directly to your cloud storage account, you can just email them to yourself. Then, you can download the audio files to your computer where you do the post-production job.
Zoom iQ7: Performance
Just like Zoom iQ6, Zoom iQ7 records in 48 kHz. This is good enough for most purposes. The sound has excellent clarity, detail, and accuracy. The microphone can capture various kinds of vocals and instruments in very good quality.
The distinctive advantage here is the adjustability of the mic’s pick-up angle. While Zoom iQ6 only has the regular X/Y pattern, Zoom iQ7 can be adjusted for 90-degree, 120-degree, or mid-side recording. So, you can use the mic to get good results in any situation without requiring much preparation work.
The ability to record mono-compatible audio via the mid-side setting is also a plus. With a regular X/Y pattern, you can get a good stereo field, but it can’t be collapsed into mono because the phase won’t match. With the mid-side setting of Zoom iQ7, the stereo sound can be collapsed into mono because the signal from the side mic is actually put in a second track 180-degree out of phase, so there won’t be phase issues.
Zoom iQ6 vs iQ7
In general, Zoom iQ7 is more recommended because it is much more versatile. The pattern of the mic capsules can be adjusted into different positions to suit different needs and purposes. The sound quality is great; the mic can capture sound with very good clarity, detail, and accuracy.