I’ve never been a big fan of iOS devices. I’d just as soon fire up my studio when I want to record something, but the micW i436 hits a few specific needs that I hadn’t thought of before now.

In short, the i436 is a high-quality microphone that plugs right into your iPhone or iPad, replacing the built-in (i.e. crappy) microphone with a nice-sounding one.

It comes with a bunch of extra goodies, which you can read about on Sweetwater’s website.

But here are the 3 things I think make it usable for us home studio folks:

1. Portable

I’ve always liked handheld recorders. Things like the Zoom H2 just make sense if you want to get good-quality location recordings. The only problem with them is that you have to remember to bring them with you. What happens if you’re out somewhere, and the opportunity presents itself to capture something really cool? Well, if you forgot your H2 at home, you’re stuck recording to the iPhone’s mic input, which ain’t great.

OR…you could grab your keychain, pop in the i436, and record something that sounds great and is worth sharing.

I’m a forgetful guy, but I almost always have my iPhone and my keys with me. By adding the i436 to my keychain, I could now always have a high-quality portable recorder with me at all times.

2. Measurement

If you ever want to calibrate your studio monitors (like I did recently), you’ll want a measurement microphone or an SPL meter. Grab an SPL app, pop in the i436, and you’ve got both.

Plus, if you find yourself running live sound, you can have an SPL meter in your pocket at all times, for those late-night shows that tend to get a little too loud.

3. Song Demos

Finally, when I first write a song, I don’t need to fire up the studio and record a “proper” demo of it. I just need to capture the song before I forget it. I then tend to listen to that demo a bunch before I make final changes to the song and schedule a session to record it for real.

It would sure be nice to have a decent recording of that demo to listen to over and over and over. The i436 gives you that.

Audio Examples

Now, you may not think that your iPhone’s built-in microphone sounds all that bad. Well, listen for yourself. Last week I wrote a little chorus of a song. I wanted to record it so I wouldn’t forget it. So I grabbed the i436 and my iPhone 5. I also grabbed my wife’s iPhone 5 and laid it next to mine.

I recorded the song to both phones, mine through the i436 and Pam’s through the built-in mic.

Here’s the built-in iPhone mic:


And here’s the i436:


The i436, while a bit darker, sounds much more natural to me.

It should also be noted that I level-matched the two files. The iPhone recording was significantly louder, and as you can hear it has quite a bit of processing on it.

At the time of this writing, the micW i436 sells for $159.

It’s certainly not cheap, but it’s less than you’d spend on a nice handheld recorder.

Check it out. Might be a fun “next item” for you.

* micW supplied me with this unit for demonstration purposes.