Zoom IQ5: Great sound recorder, small package, low price

Zoom iQ5

If you're going to interview people or capture a music performance you'll need some kind of recorder. While you can get any number of portable recording products if you have an iPhone all you really need is to add a high quality microphone and an app ... which is exactly what the Zoom iQ5 does.

Zoom iQ5

The Zoom iQ5 in recorder orentation with the Handy Recorder app running

Zoom Corporation is a Japanese manufacturer of audio devices (not only recorders but also effects pedals, sound modeling systems, and a drum machine) that I first ran into when I needed a multi-track recording system. I wound up purchasing their R16 8-track recorder and I've been very happy with it so I was intrigued to see what the iQ5 could do.

 Zoom iQ5 add-on setreo microphone

The Zoom iQ5 add-on setreo microphone for iPhones, iod Touch, and iPads with Lightning connectors

The iQ5 is a small module that supports linear audio capture in PCM (WAV) 16-bit/44.1kHz format and fits into the Lightning connector of an iPhone 5/5S, iPod Touch, or iPad. It houses a pair of condenser microphones in a rotatable housing which allows you to turn the microphone direction to match being either a straightforward audio recorder or to record audio and video simultaneously.

The mic elements are organized so that you can capture stereo in either 90- or 120-degree width or, if you set the free Handy Recorder app to save audio in RAW format, you can set the stereo width anywhere from 30- to 150-degrees or convert it to phase-coherent mono. The app also provides automatic recording triggered by start and stop sound levels and has selectable reverb and six channel equalization .

Zoom's Handy Recorder app

Zoom's Handy Recorder app for the iQ5

The iQ5 has a physical control to set the gain or you can have the app automatically set the gain according to pre-sets. There's even a headphone jack for monitoring the audio although the brushing of a headphone cable against the housing can generate considerable noise. The mini-USB port is for charging the phone while the iQ5 is connected. Finally, the app has a facility that directly uploads recordings to SoundCloud.

I tested the iQ5 on an iPhone 5S and for conversations it produced very good results as it also did when my son used it to record songs he's been working on ("Let's Dance", "Two Leaves", and "He Goes" were all recorded on the iQ5).

All in all this is a great product. It's smaller than carrying a separate recording device, produces excellent results, and for $99.99 it's a very cost-effective way to create excellent recordings and gets a Gearhead Rating of 5 out of 5.

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