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Field Report: Rode iXY
Nearly everyone carries a smart phone. That's no secret. And with so many apps available, we barely use them as phone any more. So as we condense our various appliance needs to be run on a smart phone, why not unload the handheld recorder, too? The Rode iXY is an XY mic that plugs into an iPhone 4 to make the iPhone a practical handheld recorder.
The stereo mic has two cardioid elements arranged in a coincident XY pair. It plugs directly into the socket on an iPhone 4. Yes, I know the current phone is version 5, but with the 5, Apple changed the connector. The iXY has the larger connector that fits the iPhone 4 and earlier. There are adapters available to connect 4 accessories to a 5, and that's what I did. The iPad still uses the larger connector.
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The mic feels like a quality piece of equipment. It's sturdy. Out of the box I felt like this was a serious tool. When I plugged it into my iPhone, the phone immediately recognized that a stereo mic was attached and switched to stereo from mono and turned off the internal mic.
I also installed the Rode recorder app called Rode Rec. My first use of this recorder setup was at church to record a band with piano/keyboard, bass, guitar and drums. I then recorded some interviews. Overall, the mic sounds very good. When used close for an interview, I had to use the included foam windscreen or the breath would cause obvious pops. The windscreen eliminated that. The band sounded very good; at least as good as my usual handheld recorder with its built-in XY mics.
The Rec app can record and edit on the iPhone. This is handy for those limited to working in the field. Like any program, once you learn your way around it you'll be editing and tweaking fast and on the fly.
Using the iXY and Rec app on my phone was very much like using a dedicated handheld recorder. For a reporter on the go, it would be easy to learn and use, and the quality would be about the same as the handheld recorders. A benefit would be that most reporters will not lose their phones. We can't always say that about a handheld recorder.
In addition to the windscreen, the mic includes a padded and sturdy carrying case.
I noted that the mic has a connector for an iPhone 4 and earlier and that I used an adapter to connect it to my iPhone 5. While this works, it puts some weight on the phone connector. Directly attached to a 4 would be a sturdy connection. I'm skeptical about the long-term use of the adapter on the 5. Rode says it will release a version with a connector for the 5.
|Performance at a glance|
|■ 20Hz - 20kHz frequency response
■ Weighs 40 grams
■ Cardioid mics in XY pattern
■ Handles up to 120dB SPL
■ Handles up to 120dB SPL
With the adapter on my iPhone 5 I also have to remove the phone's case to make a solid connection. I can connect the mic to my iPhone 4 without removing the case. And since Apple decided to move the headphone jack on the 5 to the bottom, I can't connect a pair of headphones with the adapter is connected.
Overall, I'm impressed with the iXY and its performance. It captures recordings equal in quality to dedicated handheld recorders. If the goal is to reduce what you have to carry, the iXY eliminates one more device from your kit.
Weiss is a contract engineer in Kansas City.
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