One thing that can be said of any video recorded on a smartphone is that the sound fails to impress. Our phones just aren’t built to record audio more than a few feet from them at most. To that end we have a rather impressive solution to look at today. The Mighty Mic S+ from Ampridge is intended to give your phone a leg up in the sound department while maintaining portability.
Mighty Mic S+ Packaging
The packaging for the Mighty Mic is something that wouldn’t be out of place at a retail location. We were also sent a dedicated windscreen the “Mighty Muff” to look at as well. Included with the mic itself is one of the two key differences between the S and S+. The iphone clip is designed to work with the provided apple lighting to 3.5mm adapter allowing it to be compatible with all iOS devices and any android with a headphone jack still. You’ll notice a 3.5mm out on the back of the mic this is for audio monitoring allowing you to hear what you’re recording in real time.
A note on patterns
The mighty mic S+ is a hypercardiod microphone. That indicates that it’s pickup pattern is non uniform and depending can be an advantage. Any time you want to record audio that’s only in front of you a directional microphone is beneficial.
The pattern above is a generic cardiod pattern and the this microphone should generate an even more focused one with it’s shotgun design. I do wish Ampridge had provided one on their website and will be suggesting that they published pickup patterns for their microphones in the future as some other vendors do.
Application and OS compatibility
The Mighty Mic S+ unfortunately doesn’t behave identically on every phone or OS. iOS devices actually get the better end of the deal where monitoring worked live on an iphone 6 and 7 without any issue. Ampridge Also suggests MoviePro on iOS. On android I found Cinema FV-5 to be the best option however when recording starts live monitoring stops. This isn’t the fault of Ampridge but a limitation of the software involved. Most testing was done on the HTC10 as that is my personal phone which I have the most access to and other than the monitoring catch-22 it exceeded expectations. I did get the opportunity to test this microphone on the 4 most recent releases of android (5-8) and saw similar behavior on all. As an aside it did work as well with a windows tablet I had on hand which the microphone also worked with although that presented other issues based on it’s inability do disable it’s built in microphone.
Testing was conducted in an ideal environment to highlight the variance between internal microphones and the Mighty Mic. Background noise was present in the form of a server stack roughly 50′ from the fixed location of the phone. At various angles and distances the same speaker played the same frequency shift from 1000-500hz using a tone generator application. Angles are measured in degrees off center from the phones camera clockwise. Distance is measured to the center of the tripod used. Cinema FV-5 was used for the test and auto gain control was disabled.
Built in microphone
Starting with the built in microphone we can hear quite a bit of background noise. This isn’t too troubling at close distances but at 108″(9 feet) and our 300″(25 feet) test points it nearly drowns out the test pattern. Something odd happens at 90° where we get a sudden increase in volume. Simply put that’s where the pinhole mic is located on the HTC10. With the speaker pointed directly at the microphone even the omnidirectional mic displays that it’s pattern isn’t truly circular.
Mighty Mic S+
Testing on the Mighty Mic S+ went about using the same methodology. Additional angles were added due to it’s directional nature at 135° and 180°. These were achieved by rotating the mic 180° to reduce the required testing area. Immediately visible in the waveform is a complete absence of the noise present in the omndirectional mic.
|Mighty Mic S+|
If the above clips are a bit confusing to compare(it’s a lot of data I know) it’s this video that very much highlights the difference between the two microphones. I ran an extended frequency test at a distance of 36″ and in cut between the two. In addition to hearing it you can see in the waveform where all the background noise just isn’t present in the external microphone.
Looking at the side by side for all tested angles at 36″ what we see is exactly what one would hope out of a microphone like this. Starting at 45° we see a drop of our audible volume increasing towards 135°. This combined with it’s increased clarity makes the Mighty Mic S+ an excellent choice if you want to record school concerts or an interview without the background.
Ampridge set out to build the best microphone for an on the go user and I think they’ve come close to it. The live monitoring limitation seems to be an issue inside android and could be fixed in a later update or may work on some phones. Performance wise I think physics has dictated that without massively increased cost or size there isn’t a ton of room for improvement in the design of the S+. I would like to see Ampridge develop and release USB-C and Lighting adapters of their own at some point in the future as more phones lose their headphone jacks. As it stands anyone regularly using their phone to record video would do well to look at a microphone such as this.