Movo MA5L Review: An Omnidirectional External Microphone for Apple Lightning Devices – UPDATED

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The Lowdown

The Movo MA5L is very portable, and it is a great way to record clear audio — as long as you won’t need to play the audio back until you are finished and you don’t intend to use the mic for video conferencing. The microphone is MFi-certified, and it comes with a one-year warranty should something go wrong. I just really wish it had a headphone jack, so I could use it in my favorite apps to clearly talk to friends while also hearing them reply.

Overall
4.5

Pros

Super portable

Mic can rotate up to 180º

Includes a windscreen

Includes a carry case

Very good microphone quality up to 3′

Cons

  • It does not have a headphone jack, so it will not work for video conferencing
Movo MA5L Review: An Omnidirectional External Microphone for Apple Lightning Devices - UPDATED Listen to this article

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been testing the Movo MA5L; it’s an omnidirectional condenser microphone that plugs into a Lightning port so that it will work with iPhones and older iPads. It promises to make your Zoom calls sound a bit clearer for the person listening, but there is a major caveat that you should consider before purchasing this particular model. 

The Movo MA5L is a plug & play microphone that the company describes as capturing “crystal clear sound within a 3-foot pickup range, perfect for Zoom calls, traveling, vlogging, and much more.” I’ve tested this out, and I have to say that it is a fantastic accessory when recording yourself. But for Zoom calls, I would have to disagree. [Editor’s note: Please see the update at the end of this review]

Movo MA5L

The Movo MA5L comes with a nice carrying case and a foam wind tip for when you’re recording out in the field, which is great for noise reduction if you’re outside. The MA5L has a microphone at the business end and a Lightning connector at the base, allowing you to connect to any iPhone.

There may be an issue plugging the Movo MA5L into your iPhone’s Lightning port if you use one of the more protective cases that have full coverage and lower-clearance cutouts on the bottom, like the cases from Speck and Otterbox.

Movo MA5L

The Movo MA5L can rotate 180º, so you can lay your phone flat on a table to reach more voices for recording; in handheld mode, you can angle the mic so that it catches your audio clearly for recording.

Movo MA5L

Because of the Movo MA5L microphone’s omnidirectional pickup, you can use it for a group podcast recording from your phone’s voice notes app. This came in handy for me when we needed to record a podcast show in a pinch. Movo suggests being no more than three feet away from the microphone. I can confirm that any further than that, and your audio will sound as if you’re talking from across the room. Keep in mind that the Movo MA5L is quite small, so you shouldn’t expect studio-quality audio. 

Because the Movo MA5L plugs directly into your iPhone’s Lightning port, your phone will recognize it as a microphone. But without an appropriate headphone jack, you will not be able to hear audio without unplugging the microphone. Therein lies the caveat.

If you intend to use the Movo MA5L for Zoom calls, FaceTime, or with other third-party apps like Clubhouse or Stereo, you will not be able to hear whoever you are talking when it is plugged in, which relegates it to being a “record only” audio experience when the Movo MA5L is plugged in.

But as you can see in the video above, when recording with the Movo MA5L into the stock “Voice Notes” app, the resulting audio is crisp and clean. I was able to record solo podcasts from the voice notes app, then edit them in post-production without doing any extra lifting in Adobe Audition (my editor of choice). 

Movo MA5L

The Movo MA5L is very portable, and it is a great way to record clear audio — as long as you won’t need to play the audio back until you are finished and you don’t intend to use the mic for video conferencing. The microphone is MFi-certified, and it comes with a one-year warranty should something go wrong. I just really wish it had a headphone jack, so I could use it in my favorite apps to clearly talk to friends while also hearing them reply.

The Movo-MA5L retails for $44.99; it is available directly from the manufacturer and other retailers, including Amazon.

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample

What I Like: Super portable; Includes a windscreen; Mic can rotate up to 180º; Includes a carry case; Very good microphone quality up to 3′

What Needs Improvement: It does not have a headphone jack, so it will not work for video conferencing

UPDATE: Movo reached out to us and said the following

I wanted to address your recent video on the MA5L External Microphone. You are correct that the original listing did advertise the microphone as being Zoom compatible, however, this was a mistake in the listing that has since been corrected. The issue is less with the microphone and more with smartphones in general; when you plug anything into a smartphone port, the phone will automatically default the input and output to the device that was plugged in. Currently, iPhones and Android phones do not allow users to select differing inputs and outputs. The MA5L is meant to be used for video recording and audio recording purposes rather than Zoom or phone call purposes. We apologize for any confusion caused by the mistake in our listing.
We do offer the MA5U which can be used with Zoom on a computer where you can select separate input and output locations. The MA5U is essentially the same microphone but it has a 3.5mm connection and comes with a USB adapter.

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About the Author

Greg Alston
Diehard Apple fanboy, and lover of all things tech. Born and raised in Washington, DC, Greg enjoys spending time with his wife, family, and friends, live sporting events, good bourbon, Tetris, and pizza. In that order.