Review: RØDE iXY Stereo Microphone

There are lots of mics available for iOS devices... 24 bit/96 kHz recorders are not new… but how many offer exceptional noise reduction? Keith Crusher puts the RØDE iXY through its paces.  
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The RØDE iXY Stereo Mic is, with a few caveats, a solid choice for recording live shows or stereo field recording with your iPhone 5, 5s or 5c. 

The Unboxing

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The RØDE iXY Stereo Mic package is well-thought-out—not only do you get a sweet zippered semi-hard case that will fit the iXY and its windscreen, but it comes with a windscreen and carabiner, a spring-loaded metal loop useful for hanging the iXY case from your belt or backpack. Also in the box is a mounting clamp for the iPhone 5c—you’ll have to swap out the clamp on the mic, a relatively easy process, before using the iXY on the 5c. 

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For the review, I also got a Dead Kitten and the RØDEGrip+ . No, not an *actual* dead kitten, but rather a furry windshield that goes over the one included with the iXY,  for additional wind noise reduction. It would have been nice to have the case fit the D.K. as well, but it’s a minor quibble. The RØDEGrip+ is a handy kit that includes a multipurpose grip and lenses for the iPhone. It can be used to hold the iPhone when doing field recordings, attaching to a mic stand or to a DSLR hot shoe, amongst other uses. 

Out in the Field

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Right off the bat the stereo capabilities of the iXY will give you a serious bump in recording quality. 

The iPhone 5 built-in mic, while adequate for many purposes, falls short if you’re looking for the best quality in your recordings. It’s primary failure in that department is that it only records in mono. Right off the bat the stereo capabilities of the iXY will give you a serious bump in recording quality. Add to that the ability to record up to 24 bit/96 kHz using the iXY and you’ll soon see why it’s practically a necessity for high-quality, professional recordings. 

Below I’ve included some example audio files that compare what the included windscreen and windscreen with the Dead Kitten can do to reduce wind noise. 

As you’ll hear, the Dead Kitten is almost a no-brainer—wind noise is reduced noticeably when used in conjunction with the primary windscreen. 

iPhone 5s built-in mic:

iXY only:

iXY with windscreen:

iXY with windscreen and Dead Kitten:

All the files were recorded using the RØDE Rec app, which you’ll need to be able to record at anything higher than 16 bit/44.1 kHz. The LE version is free, while the full version costs $5.99 and both allow recordings up to 24 bit/96 kHz. The full version adds so many great features like EQ, dynamics processing, editing tools, format conversion, direct publishing to SoundCloud or Dropbox, iZotope processing and much, much more—you’ll find it’s money well spent. 

The Verdict

I love the sound quality of this mic—the stereo field is wide, the mic is clean and accurate and recording on windy days is a breeze when using the Dead Kitten. I would recommend this mic to anyone doing field recordings, live shows and the like. 

That evaluation comes with a few caveats—if you want a mic that you can use when recording videos, you might look elsewhere, as the iXY can’t be rotated to provide the correct left/right mic placement when shooting video. 

Also, as with many iPhone mics, you’ll need to remove any protective case you have on your phone. There must be a way to get around this—I certainly wouldn’t mind a few R&D dollars being put to that end!

All in all, you can’t go wrong with the iXY—you definitely won’t be disappointed with the sound quality and the RØDE Rec app (full version) offers so many great features the $6 seems like a steal.

Pros: Clean, accurate stereo recordings. 24 bit/96kHz recording (with Rec app). Wide stereo field. Wind noise reduction is good with the included windscreen and exceptional with the Dead Kitten. 

Cons: Removal of your iPhone case is required to use the mic. Not usable for audio recording when shooting video.

Web: http://www.rodemic.com/microphones/ixy

Keith Crusher founded RTFM Records in 1999 and is a 25-year veteran of the music and technology industries with an extensive background in music, video and web design. His many roles have included audio and FOH engineer, producer, photographer, video editor and graphic designer. His technical expertise assists countless companies, prod... Read More

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