The video quality improves with each new iPhone, but the audio quality is a different story. Much like a built-in mic on a dedicated camera, the mic on an iPhone will capture sound, but the results won’t be great. The RØDE VideoMic Me-L is an answer to that problem. It’s an iOS accessory that will give you much better audio than what the phone can capture on its own. By giving you a larger diaphragm microphone with its own pre-amp in a highly directional capsule, the VideoMic Me-L is the perfect tool for those who want to make better content with their phone.
Built with aluminum, the Me-L shares the same capsule as RØDE VideoMicro. It’s identical yet with a different application. The Me-L plugs into the lightning port of an iPhone and has a 3.5mm headphone Out on the back that allows for monitoring while capturing. Because you give up your lighting port for the input, it’s nice that they give you the ability to monitor what you are capturing. It can be used in both selfie and normal shooting modes by flipping the mic toward the subject you are shooting. The mic has a cardioid polar pattern and a 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response. Additionally, it’s powered by the phone, so no battery is needed.
The Me-L comes with two very useful accessories. The first is a clip that will help prevent against damaging the lightning port on your phone. Although you can use the mic without the clip and it works fine, we recommend you protect your phone and use the clip. The other accessory included is a windscreen, also known as a dead cat. Although the windscreen is large, it works very well in windy recording situations. However, because of how it looks and its size, it gets lots of attention. Any ability to be stealthy with the Me-L is lost once the windscreen is on.
We used the mic in a few different shooting situations. The first was at a live music event. This was a concert we wanted to enjoy, so we wanted to be able to easily put the camera and mic away. Because of its size, the Me-L fit in our pocket with our phone once removed. The audio we captured sounded much better than what was recorded with just the phone mic alone. The one issue we found is that gain is controlled automatically. This gave us some pumping of the gain when there were a lot of dynamics in the music. The concert was not overly loud but was full of dynamics. On the positive side, because of the directionality of the mic, the talking behind and around the phone was not picked up. The overall result was a good looking video with nice audio with very little hassle.
The difference between the sound with and without the Me-L is huge.
The next time we used the mic, we shot a vlog. Set up in selfie mode, vlogging is the best use for the Me-L. The difference between the sound with and without the Me-L is huge. This is mostly due to the directionality of the mic. This is also when we got to test the windscreen. Just a bit of wind made the capture poor with the bare mic. Once we added the windscreen, all wind noise was alleviated. You would think that seeing someone shoot a vlog in public would get attention, but it was the windscreen that ended up getting the most interest. Twice while out, we had onlookers ask us what that fuzzy thing was.
Any user that is looking to increase the directionality of the audio they capture with their phone would benefit from the Me-L. It would work well to use for recording class, a meeting or any other conversation. What you use the Me-L is up to you and can reach outside of the video production world. It is a single mic, so if a stereo field is what would better suit your production, then the Me-L is going to leave you wanting a wider image.
The RØDE VideoMic Me-L is one of many iOS mics on the market. Let’s take a look at some other iOS mics to evaluate the value of the Me-L in the marketplace. The first is the IK Multimedia iRig Mic Field. It’s the same price as the Me-L, but it’s a stereo mic with an XY mic configuration. It also has a built-in headphone jack. The next mic is the Zoom iQ6 Stereo X/Y microphone. It costs $100 and is also a stereo mic. It has an external gain control and input monitor LEDs. It also has a headphone jack. Last up is the Shure MOTIV MV88. It’s a similar size to the Me-L, but comes with the largest price tag of $150. It has both bidirectional and cardioid cartridges with a mid-side architecture. It requires the MOTIV app to get the most control.
Final Thoughts and Recommendation
For just 80 dollars, the RØDE VideoMic Me-L is a great addition to the kit of any content creator who uses their phone. We found it worked better than the phones built-in mic on every occasion. It’a highly directional, so if you need to capture a wider sound image, the Me-L will leave you wanting more. It was easy to use and to carry around, making simple production easier to achieve with better results. If you want to increase the quality of your next video, you might want to start with the audio and consider the RØDE VideoMic Me-L.
- No app needed
- No manual gain
- Casual Video Production
- Acoustic Principle: Pressure-gradient electret condenser
- Polar Pattern: Cardioid
- Frequency Range: 20 Hz to 20 kHz
- Signal to Noise Ratio: 74.5 dB
- Maximum SPL: 15 dB SPL (1 kHz at 1 m)
- Output Connection: Lightning, 3.5 mm TRS
- Analog Outputs: 3.5 mm TRS headphone jack for direct monitoring
- Bit Depth: 24-bit
- Sample Rates: 44.1 and 48 kHz
- OS Requirements: iOS 11 and later
- Weight: 1.0 oz / 28.0 g