The Instamic is such a nerdy device. I think it’ll attract two sorts of people:
“What the heck is that and WHY?”
“THAT IS SO COOL *grabby hands*”
… I think you might be able to guess which category I fall into.
It’s tiny. And I mean TINY. It’s much smaller than my current smallest audio device, which is the tremendous Olympus LSP1. Instamic is significantly smaller and much more versatile.
The Pro version is waterproof up to 1m, and the standard version is splashproof. You never know what conditions you might face sometimes, so it’s always handy to have, right?
The LED lights to monitor your sound are subtle enough, and give you enough information to tell you whats going on. They also turn off after a short time so your device can blend right in during recordings.
There’s only one button on the Instamic, which turns the device on and off, as well as letting you press record if you prefer to use it without the companion app.
You can get Instamic in black or white. I prefer the black because it blends into clothes much easier when you’re using it as a lapel mic.
(audio examples in the video at the bottom of this blog)
One of the things that makes me so giddy about the Instamic are the different mounts. You can get a magnetic mount, which is ideal for using the Instamic as a lapel mic, or for sticking it to a snare drum, or a light stand… anything metal really. Very handy.
The velcro mount is coming in a close second for me. I think “velcro” is selling this mount a bit short. It’s like… super fancy magic velcro? You can line it up and physically feel both parts click into place. It’s incredibly satisfying. You can use it time and time again. I use it on the top of my mic-input-less Lumix GX80. When I don’t need the mic, I have a small strip of black velcro which blends right in to the camera. When I need the mic, I can stick it into place. Genius. Seriously.
This is just… incredible. The Instamic has made my GX80 complete. The GX80 is an almost perfect camera. It’s small, it’s stabilised, it films slow-mo… it’s ace. The only thing that I HATE WITH A BURNING PASSION is the terrible audio it produces. And I don’t necessarily even want it to have a mic input, because then I’d be stuck whacking a massive ugly mic on top of the tiny thing. The Instamic is the perfect companion. Great audio, small package. Eeeek!
The third mount available is very similar to those sticky mounts you can get for your GoPro. Just a very sticky sticker-thing that affixes its self to just about any surface. I don’t like this mount half as much as the others. With the others, there are three elements in play: the Instamic, the plastic cradle the mic slots into, and the thing it all fixes its self to. With the sticky mount, the cradle is permanently attached to whatever you stick it to. I had it stuck to my guitar for literally 10 minutes before i knocked it and cracked the cradle clean in half. If it was the velcro mount there would just have been the velcro strip left behind and no accidents. But I’m sure it has its uses.
Audio settings and quality
I guess this section is quite important. Let me hit you with my favourite feature up front: Dual Mono Audio.
Now, I’m a backups for days kind of person when I’m recording interviews, weddings, etc. I’ve been burned in the past by a rogue laugh or a shout that has fried my main audio track. Welcome, then, Dual Mono Audio. You can set the Instamic recording two mono tracks at the same time, one at a slightly lower volume than the other. So if someone laughs or shouts, you can swap to the lower track without everything getting frazzled. I. Love. It.
Up until now, I’ve been using the brick-like Tascam DR40 for this handy trick, and that device is quite literally 100x larger. Dual Mono Audio is something I wished my Olympus LSP1, or my industry-popular Zoom H1 has. But neither do. Instamic is miles smaller and does. I’m geeking the hell out over here, guys.
Audio quality I find bright and punchy and generally pleasing. You wouldn’t guess in a blind test that it comes from something so small. It stands up very cleanly next to my existing lapel mics, and it sounds just as good as my boom mics when I record at home. (I alternate between Rode Mic Go, and Rode Mic Pro Plus). Have a listen to the video review I’ve done, I have music, voice, and mic comparisons throughout. You’ll love it, I promise.
Top Tip: I find the audio more pleasing and more controllable if you mount the mic upside down when you’re using the Instamic as a lapel mic. It still picks everything up wonderfully, but you don’t get any mad peaks, and it also cuts down on any rustling from clothes.
I always cringe a bit when something comes with an app. Usually because I run an Android phone and we usually get completely left out. Thankfully this isn’t the case at all with Instamic. I’ve had the odd rogue crash - but that doesn’t stop the device from recording or anything, you just have to open the app again and pick up where you left off.
On the whole I’m happy to report the app is simple to use, reliable, and connects literally EVERY TIME to the Instamic without issue. I’ve not once had trouble finding the device, and that’s a godsend considering I don’t want to look like I’m messing about on my phone when someone starts to walk down the aisle.
You can, as I’ve mentioned, bypass the app entirely if that’s your bag. But it is totally handy to be able to press record remotely, monitor the audio levels, and change settings from the phone.
Conclusion - worth the money?
To answer this question, you have to ask yourself: have these points made you excited, or left you feeling a bit meh?
Me? They blow my mind. I have this fascination with tiny gadgets. I think that’s why I gravitated towards micro four thirds cameras to begin with. I think often about scenarios where I could use the Instamic all the time.
Yes, it is more expensive than the Zoom H1’s of the world. But think of what it brings to the table. Instamic can be a lapel mic, a dictaphone, mounted like a GoPro just about anywhere you can imagine. It’s splash-proof (or waterproof depending on which model you go for) and it has very handy backup track recording that can literally save your project.
And on an emotional level, it’s SMOL and cute, and FUN, dammit. How often are audio devices fun? They’re usually the things we begrudge spending money on - give me a new camera or lens any day.
But this isn’t the case here. The Instamic has brought some of that fun back into audio. And for that reason alone I’m a fan.