If you’re an avid mobile videographer and tired of your phones built in microphone. Comica may just have the solution for you.
In the box
With the Comica CVM-VS08 you get
- A Smartphone clamp
- 1 Windscreen
- 1 Wind muff
- The documentation
This is pretty much everything you need to get you up and running to start using the mic. The addition of the two different wind shields is nice too. One is meant for use when outdoors or indoors if you need to cut some slight background noise, the other is designed to be used in windy conditions to reduce the effect of wind noise. If you’ve ever shot a video on a smartphone in windy conditions, you’ll have experienced it. The clamp is also solidly made too and it does make the microphone more stable when using it.
Design and Build
The Comica first of all is super solid, the body is all Aluminium and its very well put together. Its also got a nice reassuring weight too. Its not over heavy but you’ll have slightly compensate for it when shooting video on your phone. The design is good too. Its plain with some tasteful branding and that is pretty much it. Its clean and simple looking.
The front section is where you’ll find the microphone capsule, this is protected by a Silver metallic mesh and metallic disk. The body housing also features some cutouts which again are protected by some metallic mesh. This should keep any debris from getting into the capsule.
On this section you’ll also place the included wind protection and one fits well, whereas the other, not so much. The shield stays on quite well and I had no issue with it, the muff however is a bit different. If you place it as you do the shield it doesn’t right and falls off quite easily. To get it to stay on you have to gently pull it backwards until it goes slightly over the middle section. This may not seem like an issue, but it actually almost interferes with the 3.5mm jack. So I think they could revise the method in which they use to secure it to the microphone.
Onto the middle section and here you’ll find the model number and the 3.5mm jack. The jack is gold plated and is secured into the main body with a section of metal, so I don’t think that will be breaking anytime soon, even with heavy use.
The rear section features the Comica branding and is where you would install the included clamp. Its nicely long too which gives you plenty of room for both thicker and thinner devices. I will say it does work better when the phone is a little thicker, but it should be fine with thinner devices too. I used it with my LG G6 and it was absolutely fine. The clamp is also not effected by a case either, so you won’t need to remove yours to use it. One thing I will say though is that if you have a newer device with an 18:9 aspect ratio display, it does touch the screen. The screen didn’t register anything and it didn’t cause any issues though, so I can’t see that being an issue.
Onto the rear section and you’ll find an included 3.5mm input for monitoring your audio with a set of headphones earphones. Its again Gold plated and is nicely integrated into the body.
Lastly, when its all together and placed on your phone, it does look a bit odd and is a little large, especially with the furry shield on.
Now to my big issue. If you have a top mounted 3.5mm jack like the G6 does and you use the furry windshield, then it almost blocks off the camera fully. So if you are shooting video you’re left with it being almost fully blocked by the shield. This makes it all but useless for those wanting to shoot video with this shield installed. It also partly blocks cameras that are mounted less centrally too. Its not as bad as the G6 but it does still block out the shot. If you have a bottom mounted 3.5mm you’ll be absolutely fine though and it won’t impact your video at all.
Installing the mic is very simple, you start be clamping the clamp onto the microphones body, Make sure that the clamp section (thinner side) is pointing in the same direction as the 3.5mm jack. Once that is done, insert the 3.5mm jack into the headphones port and slide the clamp down until the smaller section makes contact with your phone. That is pretty much it, its really simple.
Onto using the microphone and apart from its size its actually a nice product to use. You do have do ever so slightly compensate for the extra weight (35.4g) of the microphone, but once you’ve gotten used to that, its like you barely notice the weight is there. Of course its quite large and does stick out a fair amount, but again you get used to it the more you use it.
Also If you’re like me and use a phone with a top mounted 3.5mm jack then you’ll probably be limited to the regular wind shield as it doesn’t block the camera. This is a shame as its not as effective at blocking out wind noise. It does work to some degree, but it doesn’t isolate as much.
The clamp though is quite good too, even when walking around it stayed securely attached to my phone and the mic stayed in place as well. I’m pretty impressed as its such a simple solution, but its one that works well. I wouldn’t advise running with it though as its not that strong a clamping force. Like mentioned its fine for walking, but running could cause the mic to move around and slip out of place.
Now a problem. The Comica worked fine for both video and audio with my LG G6, however it didn’t work on my Xiaomi Mi5. There was audio but it was from the inbuilt microphone only. So this leads me to believe that the Comica may be limited to what devices it will work with. I checked their website and it only listed “Smartphone” as devices compatible. I understand they couldn’t check them all, but at least having a few listed would have been helpful.
However diving into the manual states that if the stock camera app doesn’t work to try a third party app, so I downloaded MAGIX Camera MX and that also didn’t work. I then tried Cinema FV-5 which has a handy volume meter. This showed me that the Comica wasn’t even registering and all the audio was being captured by the inbuilt microphone. So I can’t say for certain what devices it will work with, but I will say that the Xiaomi Mi5 is one that it will not work with.
Another slight problem and I’m not sure if this is an isolated occurrence, but my unit doesn’t seem to work for audio monitoring. I plugged in a set of Sony H.ear on headphones and got nothing. I then tried a set of Xiaomi Hybrid earphones and again got nothing. So I unfortunately can’t comment on if the monitoring feature works. But again it could just be a one off.
In use tests
So there are four samples in this test. The first is of the LG G6 and its built in mic, the second is the Comica, the third is the Comica with the regular shield, the fourth and final one is the Comica with the furry windshield. All the tests were captured one after the other in the same outdoor conditions (almost as I can’t control the weather) but the tests were as close as I could possibly get. Quick note, if you’re listening to these I’d advise to turn down your volume as the noise is quite loud. One final note, these have not been altered in anyway as to keep things as fair as possible.
LG G6 built in mic
The G6 does have quite bad wind noise, of course this is the case with most phones as they don’t have any form of wind protection. The quality of the audio is decent though.
Without a wind shield the Comica does capture quite a fair amount of noise, I would say however that its no worse than the stock mic on the G6. I will also say that the quality of the recording is better and much clearer with better volume.
Comica with regular shield
This is by far the worse out the tests, the wind wasn’t that much worse than the other tests but for some reason this shield seemed to amplify the wind noise and made is so much more prominent. So if you are using the Comica outside, avoid this one.
Comica with furry windshield
The final test was no surprise the best out the bunch, the wind noise was drastically cut and wasn’t all that noticeable at all. So if you are shooting outdoors, this is the one to have installed. Keep in mind though that if you have a top mounted 3.5mm headphone port, this shield will block out most of the front facing camera. So its use is limited unfortunately.
The Comica is using a cardioid pickup pattern which is designed to pickup audio from straight in front of it. This is great as it focuses more on the subject and not what is around it. This makes the Comica ideal for vlogging.
Specification wise the Comica has a frequency response of 80Hz to 16000Hz, this is pretty decent considering the cost. Human hearing is 20 to 20,000, so the Comica won’t be able to pick up really low end frequencies nor really high. Its maximum SPL (Sound Pressure Level) is 100dB, it has a THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) ≤1%, the sensitivity is -34dB to +3dB, the signal to noise ratio is ≥58dB and the dynamic range is 100dB. What we can take away from this is that with its low THD and good sensitivity, the audio should be cleaner and louder than the microphones built in on a smartphone.
Of course numbers don’t tell the full story and that is why I have included a few sound samples to see if it does improve quality.
For a test I have recorded a couple of samples, they are of the built in mic on the LG G6 and the Comica. The test was set indoors in a personal vlog style. The camera was set to arms length and in the same room. Here are the two samples, both of which are unedited.
The LG G6 built in mic
The inbuilt mic is pretty good on the LG, its clear and fairly detailed. Bass pickup is nice too but the volume from the mic is quite low. But as far as mics go, this isn’t that bad. Of course your device may not have a strong mic and could possibly not provide the quality that this does.
Comica installed on the LG G6
The Comica straight away is far louder and clearer in the mids and highs. The bass pickup isn’t as strong as the LG G6, but the overall clarity is superior. So if you are doing voice work, this is the better option. Of course if you would like some bass, you could always tweak that in post. Again you could also tweak the G6s but this is better and doesn’t really require much editing.
Overall the Comica is the better mic in terms of clarity and quality. If only the bass pickup was a bit stronger then it would be almost perfect in terms of quality for the price. Again you could bump the bass in post, but it will always sound better when its naturally done. Finally its worth noting that the difference will be even bigger if you have a cheaper device that doesn’t have a strong microphone. Then its quality will be even more evident.
Should you get one, well if you’re a keen mobile vlogger and are lucky enough to have a phone that works with the Comica then it is a good mic and it will most likely be better than the one built in on your phone. Its also well built, has a nice design, is easy to use and is priced reasonably at £41. The drawbacks are also there too. There is the furry wind shield only working well with bottom mounted headphone ports, the audio monitoring not working (just my sample – I think) and the fact that it won’t work with every device.
So if you really want better audio quality, then yes, its worth it. However keep in mind the points I brought up as although its a good mic for outright quality, it suffers in some other key areas.
Pick one up here via Amazon UK
COMICA CVM-VS08 Professional Smartphone Microphone