I have volunteered myself to record the sound for a short documentary a friend of mine is making. My (limited) experience in sound is mostly in the post-production side of things so I don't own any suitable hardware. I also don't have very much money to invest right now, not enough to buy a microphone and a recorder unfortunately.

I was considering using my iPhone with either the Blue Mikey (approx. £80) or the Rode ixy (£150). I have concerns about using them with an iPhone 5 adapter although having such an incredibly portable field recorder would be awesome. Being able to FTP the files straight from my phone would be nice too.

The other option is a used Zoom H4N. This would involve a little more expense (£200 or so) and a loss of a little portability but would at least give me the option of using a different mic if I came into some money/ could borrow one or a pair. I also get the impression that it would be significantly more robust.

How would the H4N built in mic compare with the ixy or Mikey? I realise this isn't pro gear, but will adequate results be attainable if care is taken in the placement, recording and editing?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YawI-CoPV0 this video suggests that there isn't too much difference between the quality of the ixy and H4N, has anyone else had experience of using both?


  • 3
    Depending on for how long you need the gear, consider renting. Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 11:25
  • Yes, I forgot to mention this. You can always rent gear, you don't have to buy it.
    – Asimov
    Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 13:09

2 Answers 2


Have in mind that when shooting run and gun documentary style, a boom will be far more handy. You'll be able to use a highly directional microphone with it (a shotgun), so you can isolate surrounding noise. The mics you mention (iXY and zoom's built in mics) are not that directional, so you'll pick up a lot of background noise. A rule of thumb is that you need to get the mic as close as possible, without getting in the shot's frame. Keeping these two mics outside of the frame will introduce lots of background noise. Your best bet would be the H4N plus an external shotgun microphone.

  • Thanks, a friend did mention that he might be able to let us borrow a shotgun mic actually. Hopefully that comes to something.
    – jbrittan
    Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 11:42

If you're renting gear, as suggested, I'd also recommend a radio mic. It's extra insurance for getting decent sound for post; it will help cover you in situations that are difficult to boom (wide shots, tons of movement, etc) and should take some of the physical and mental pressure off booming if you're not used to it.
Something like a Sennheiser G3 shouldn't set you back much more on top of the other gear. The receiver output can be brought down to mic level so you can run both shotgun and radio into the H4N.

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