About a year ago, I had a trip to Italy coming up, where I would go to an international Taekwon-Do tournament there. I was not competing in it, and my job there was to just watch over the bags of our team members at the tournament venue and also help them with their translation needs. Regardless, I wanted to make myself as useful as possible, so I thought about videotaping with my Android smartphone the matches by our competitors, and I knew I had to use an external microphone with it — and it also had to be a shotgun type because it needed to be (uni)directional.
Considerations in the Choice
My Android phone at that time was Oppo R17 Neo, which had a micro USB port and a headset port. I quickly gave up recording audio in stereo for the following two reasons.
- Stereo audio recording did not seem to make much of a difference given that I was going to shoot videos of Taekwon-Do matches that would take place in a relatively limited space far away (I would be recording from a spectator’s seat). In other words, the competitors were not going to move from the far left of my sight to the far right; if they did while making some sounds, then stereo recording would make sense.
- Since technically it is impossible to record audio in stereo through a TRRS headset port, the only option for stereo audio recording was to use a stereo USB mic through the USB OTG function of the phone, but those were typically made for the Type-C port, which my R17 Neo did not have, and they tended to be pricey as well.
I also excluded from my choice those stereo microphones that are made primarily for use with camcorders, which outputs through a 3.5mm TRS plug. Some of these are not all that pricey, definitely not as pricey as USB ones, but to use them with my smartphone, I would have to use it with a TRS-to-TRRS adapter. I did not want to need an additional piece of equipment. I did not own a camcorder or have a plan to do so either.
Chose MIC-07 Shotgun Microphone
I ended up buying an MIC-07 shotgun microphone under an obscure brand name “Utebit.” I paid just 2,068 yen (~$19 USD) for it. I purchased it from Amazon.co.jp because at that point, I did not have time to go my “usual route,” i.e., procure one from AliExpress or eBay, but this turned out to be a pretty good deal; I later learned that it usually sells for a much higher price.
As is often the case with products from China, this particular microphone is sold under many brand names, such as “Emiral,” “Ploture,” etc. Also MIC-07 seems to be part of a series of external microphones: MIC-02, MIC-03, MIC-05, MIC-06, MIC-07, and MIC-07 Pro. I could find only this page on Amazon.com that lists multiple models in English, but they are not explicit about model names. This page on AliExpress might be more informative and useful.
Japanese speakers can look at this page or this page. The following image, taken from the Amazon.com page above, gives you a good summary of MIC-07. ⇒ As of October 2020, the listing on AliExpress is the only page that I can find that gives an overview of the series. The Amazon.com page from which I took the image below no longer lists MIC-07.
Here are its manual in English and the one in Japanese. This one is for MIC-07 Pro, by the way, which I created by mistake.
Advantages of MIC-07
Despite the fact I has to made the decision rather hastily, I think MIC-07 turned out to be the right mic for me. Here are the reasons.
- Comes with an attachable leg that has a cold shoe (photo) — It has a built-in TRRS plug and you can plug it directly into the TRRS port of your smartphone, and that was how I originally intended to use it. And I indeed did for a short while (see photo) — with an external 18x telephoto lens as well — but it turned out to be a bit wobbly and unwieldly.
Then I remembered the smartphone holder that I had purchased separately happened to have a cold shoe mount on top, so I quickly attached the optional leg to my MIC-07 and mounted on top of the holder (photo) and that became my standard setup (photo). The leg also has a standard 1/4 hole, which means it can be mounted on a tripod and other photographic equipment as well.
- realtime monitoring using a standard wired headphone — MIC-07 allows you to monitor real time the audio it is recording, through a headphone plugged into it.
I happened to have a wired headset that I had purchased for about $2, and it worked perfectly for this purpose. It also helped me realize it when I failed to put MIC-07’s plug into the smartphone correctly.
- built-in rechargeable battery — This can be either an advantage or a disadvantage depending on your intended use. In this particular scenario, I used it probably only up to 2 hours a day in total, and the built-in battery handled it without a problem without any need for recharging (the smartphone did have to be recharged, though).
- +10db mic boost
Is the audio recording good? I cannot know; I have nothing to compare it against. But the videos I took seem to have an adequate amount of sound volume.
Case for MIC-07
I found a perfect case for MIC-09 and its accessories at a dollar shop.
Other Microphones I Considered
Shure’s MV88+ Video Kit was clearly beyond my budget. I debated with myself for a long time whether I should get Comica CVM-VS09 TC Smartphone Microphone but eventually decided against it; the $60 price tag was just too hefty.
The Wired Headset I Use for RealTime Monitoring