On the iPhone (which - on the principle that the best camera is always the one you have with you - I now use all the time) the sound is recorded not - as you might expect - by the phone mic (which is adjacent to the speaker at the bottom of iPhones 4, 4S and 5) but by a dedicated microphone situated next to headphone jack at the top of the phone. Blink, and you might miss it. Or mistake it for the sort of button into which you insert a pin to extract a SIM card or do a factory re-set. But whatever you do, don't stick a pin in it! Because that little aperture conceals an amazingly sensitive (albeit mono) video microphone - good enough for Auntie Beeb on the move to record broadcast-quality interviews (as I can personally attest).
But not good enough - quite - to match the amazing HD video quality of your iPhone clips. And not stereo, either. But for as little as £25 you can acquire a handy little external mike - the iRig MIC Cast - to add an extra aural dimension to your recordings.
Its features include a unidirectional pickup pattern to minimize background noise, a stereo mini-jack headphone socket so you can accurately monitor what you're recording, two different sensitivity settings to record close-up or distant sound sources and it comes with an adjustable desktop stand for convenient iPhone/iPod touch positioning during recording.
As with other IK Multimedia microphones, it includes 2 free apps: iRig Recorder, an easy-to-use voice recording/editing app, and VocaLive, a multi-effect processing app especially for singers. But if you're serious about music recordings you'd probably want to invest in the more sophisticated iRic Mic and I'll be reviewing this more fully in a later post.
For now, though, let the proof of the pudding be in the eating. Here are two short clips I recorded this morning. The first uses the iPhone 4's built-in microphone; the second is recorded in exactly the same way, just minutes later, using the iRig MIC Cast. See - or rather, hear - for yourself: