Tascam iM2 Stereo Condensor Microphones
If you’re read through other posts in my blog, you know I’ve been on the eternal hunt for a high quality microphone, that would fit all of my needs. I want high quality sound, high product build quality, something that is positional so it works with both the camera back, or front, and most importantly, a mic that allows the user to set the input gain.
The closest think to this in the past was the Blue Mikey. For some reason, they never released a version that would work with the iPhone 4/4S or the iPad. The mic was great, and had a ton of potential, but also had it’s flaws. I needed to mod the inside, so the mics faced the back camera, and even on the lowest setting, it would still distort when recording loud noise, like a live band.
When Tascam announced the iM2, I was excited to try this out. From the images, and specs, this looked like it could be just the mic I’ve been searching for. And guess what, it is… Sort of. I have my complaints with this Mic as well as being blown away. I’m REALLY torn on this one, allow me to explain.
First, the pros. The Tascam iM2 is a 30 pin dock connector microphone, which allows use of the headphone port on the iPhone and iPad, but NOT the iPod Touch, since the unit itself will cover the headphone port. You plug it in, and a blue LED shows you it’s active. Tascam has it’s own recording app in the iOS app store which the recommend using, called PCMRecorder, and it’s a good place to start.
The iM2 has two microphones, which record in stereo, and has a few very nice features. First, a mini USB port allows you to charge your iOS device while using the Mic. The two mics on the unit can be turned180 degrees, so when plugged in you can face the microphones towards the front, back, top, and anywhere in-between you need it to be. This is a HUGE plus. There is a level potentiometer which sets the microphones input levels, and also a lintier switch for really loud noise recording.
In my testing, with the limiter off, and the input level all the way up, speaking in a normal volume, with the mic about 12 inches from my face gave me a rich, professional sounding recording, that is much superior to the internal iPhone microphone.
Cranking my car stereo as loud as it plays, I than started to test the level input, with the limiter on and off, and did achieve desirable results, with little to no distortion. The PCMRecorder app, although has a very clumsy interface, has a great input level meter, so setting the volume input is easy to set up by visual, but of course, all instances require different settings.
I used this mic to record a live band from a balcony with the iPhone 4S’s video camera. I had the limiter on, and the level pot set about half way. I didn’t use the recording app to see my input levels, and it recorded the audio a bit to quietly. I used an app on the Mac to boost the volume, and it did sounds acceptable, especially for a live recording.
As far as sound quality goes, and this mic being versatile, covering any recording need I have, this is it. It’s clear, unidirectional, level input settings, and able to charge the phone while in use? For this, I love this mic.
And now, my complaints…
First thing, and I fail to realize why companies don’t take this into consideration, but most people use a case on their phone, especially if you plan to take it to a crowded show or concert, where it could potentially be bummed from your hand, you want to case the phone. The 30 pin dock connector is flush with a naked iPhone, so you can’t use this with a case. This is a HUGE design flaw. Even with Blue came out with the second version of the Mikey, they added a slight spacer to accommodate for cases. There IS however a solution. Radtech makes a small dock extender or a dock extender cable, and both of those do work with the iM2, so if you have a case, you can expect to spend another $15 over at Radtech to use it with the iM2.
And my biggest complaint… The one I’m having such a hard time getting over… The build quality is poor. In your hand, the iM2 feels flimsy, cheap, and made like a kids toy. Even the silver microphones on the top have too much give, and they are plastic, coated in that shiny chrome coating, to give the appearance of metal. it’s very lightweight, and I can see this getting broken easily in a bag or your pocket. If you sat on this, it would likely be a goner. For something that gives such a high quality recording, I can’t believe how cheaply made this feels. When you compare this to the original Blue Mikey, it’s a world of difference. The Mikey feels like you have a professional recording mic in your hands. I do hope, if Tascam puts out a revised unit, they redesign, and make the unit solid, use better materials, and give me something that immediately out of the box, feels like an $89 microphone. For example, the Mic W i266 is what QUALITY is all about.
Build quality aside, the iM2 has it all. This is now my go to mic for recording, simply for the sound quality, the stereo recording, and being able to set the input levels. I do recommend this Mic, but I can only give this a 7.5/10. Fix the build quality, and this would be the perfect microphone for your iOS device.
You can read more about it, and finds links to purchase the iM2 by clicking the link below.