Early in 2012, the newspaper I work for gave all its reporters an iPhone 4S company phone with a camera kit. See, as journalists working in today’s “new media” environment, all of us are now required to shoot videos in addition to doing regular interviews. To that end, part of our camera kit included both a smartphone grip and a miniature mic attachment. While shooting video of a source in the middle of nowhere, however, the downsides of our piddly iPhone mic came to the fore. As the winds started whipping through the site of our interview, the mic attachment struggled to capture good audio of the people I talked to. It is a problem that would resurface again and again every time I had to do interviews, especially outdoors. Eventually, I gave in to my manly man genes and opted to come up with a solution that a typical guy would think of. I decided to get a new microphone that had more power as well as a new rig that would bring tears of joy to any MacGyver fan. Ultimately, I settled for Apogee’s and Zacuto’s mic and rig combo kit.
This kit essentially brings together two separate gadgets, the Apogee MiC and Zacuto Zgrip iPhone Jr. Both are actually pretty good products in their own right. Apogee’s MiC is particularly noteworthy, providing studio quality audio capture for the iPhone, iPad and Mac. Build quality for the MiC is quite solid, sporting a nice, professional-looking design and an all-metal construction. At the back of the device is a slot for mounting it to an included mini tripod or attaching the MiC to devices like a boom pole, for example — provided you have the requisite adapter and gear. A gain dial also allows you to adjust audio capture sensitivity. Power for the MiC is relayed from your iPhone or iPad via a cable sporting Apple’s classic connector. Folks using an iPhone 5 or a fourth-generation iPad will need to use a Lightning connector adapter.
Completing the package is Zacuto Zgrip iPhone Jr. which allows users to plop in an iPhone for easier video capture. The Zacuto comes with a one-handed grip handle and clamps for securing the Apple smartphone. Snapping a compatible phone in is pretty easy, as is taking the phone out. Despite the ease of installation and removal, the Zacuto provides a pretty secure grip when holding a device in place. It also accepts Apogee’s ball adapter, allowing users to attach Apogee’s MiC. A bottom slot allows attachment to a regular tripod as well.
Once joined, both devices work pretty good together. Besides securing the MiC in place, the ball adapter also makes it easy to adjust and reposition the microphone. The one-handed grip also frees your extra hand to do other stuff or even support your grip hand for extra stability. Downsides include price with the MiC costing $199 while the Zacuto Zgrip iPhone Jr. costs $69. The ball adapter also costs extra. Although you can work around the MiC’s use of the old Apple connector by using an adapter, the Zgrip only fits iPhone 3 and 4 models. This means iPhone 5 owners won’t be able to use the device. Overall, this rig is very specialized and can’t be used with other smartphones.
Even though this combo might seem like overkill for some consumers, however, folks who get a lot of use out of their iPhone can still benefit from using both devices. The MiC is especially versatile enough for folks who use their iPhones a lot for podcasts, audio capture and shooting video — justifying the price for admission. If you’re looking for a good mic/rig setup for your pre-iPhone 5 smartphone, the Apogee MiC and Zacuto Zgrip iPhone Jr. kit is worth checking out.
FINAL RATING: 4 stars out of 5
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