How to Tape Professional Audio on an iPhone or iPad with an External Microphone
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Whether recording a podcast, narration for video or upping your game for alive video streaming projects similar news interviews over Skype, many media professionals volition come up to a point where they want to learn how to record professional person audio on an iPhone or iPad with an external microphone. Both iPhone and Android smartphones are incredible, tiny computers that have already eclipsed speeds of laptop computers from just a few years back. Equally a multimedia tool, though, the iPhone comes with inherent limitations. Those include limited connectivity through a single Lightning port, minimal voltage necessary to power some microphones and a reliance on consumer apps not intended for professional audio product. These limitations must be overcome in order to employ the iPhone in coordination with professional audio equipment. That’s where nearly media creators run across challenges or brainstorm to have sub-par results.
Nosotros’ll examine several techniques to tape professional audio on an iphone using external microphones. Specifically, nosotros’ll look at methods that require minimal additional equipment to connect your existing audio recording gear to the iPhone. These are the microphones nosotros’ll be using:
Shure SM-58 XLR Cardioid Microphone
Sony Wireless Lavalier Microphone
Rode NTG-2 XLR Condenser Shotgun Microphone
None of these microphones were made specifically to connect to an iPhone. We’ll impact some of those proprietary options below likewise, only information technology’due south worth noting that audio gear has not changed equally quickly every bit video over the years. That means investing in a proficient, industry standard microphone means you can go on to use it for years and with other equipment across the iPhone itself. Information technology also means you lot won’t be stuck with a useless microphone if Apple does away with its Lightning port on a future generation of phones.
Outset, Audio RECORDING WITH THE IPHONE Past ITSELF
One should indicate out that past itself, the iPhone still proves to exist a capable audio recording device. The built-in microphone on the iPhone is omnidirectional, pregnant information technology is designed to pretty much pick up all the sound around the telephone. That can exist nifty if you’re in a run and gun news setting where y’all don’t take the luxury of precise microphone placement and a lot of standard newsroom microphones are omnidirectional already. The downside is that information technology means the iPhone picks up a lot of room dissonance and other background noise too. Nonetheless, nether ideal atmospheric condition and using the right sound recording app, it can practise wonders for simple sound-simply projects. It’s another story when y’all’re trying to use that microphone for video projects with subjects more than than 2 feet from the iPhone. In those situations, the sound recorded by the iPhone automatically makes your project seem amateurish.
Since at least the iPhone iv, some radio reporters have used the iPhone as their primary field recorder. Information technology allows them to record decent quality sound consequent with a lot of news coverage and even edit clips or email consummate reports with multitrack sound back to the newsroom. And they do all this while keeping a depression profile that allows them to leap speedily into the fray afterwards a city quango meeting to get that cardinal soundbite before anyone else is even set up upwards.
A NOTE ON IPHONE Sound RECORDING APPS
Whether using the born iPhone microphone or connecting an external microphone to your iPhone, the microphone itself is simply one part of the equation. You also need to pair information technology with a good sound recording app. While audio applied science hasn’t inverse dramatically in contempo decades, the functionality of audio recording apps for iPhone varies profoundly. Here are a few things to consider when picking your app:
Recording Format: Make certain the app records in a standard format that can be easily shared and edited by other software. WAV is the standard, high quality format, but audio files tend to exist larger. MP3 is a compressed file that delivers proficient sound quality, especially for spoken discussion, with small file sizes.
Audio Monitoring: Not all apps allow you to listen to what you’re recording through headphones as you record. A lot of people skip this step, but it means you lot sometimes detect unwanted dissonance afterwards and have to re-record. When possible, make sure to monitor the live recording with headphones.
Consign Formats: When audio file sizes get-go to get big, you need convenient options to get the audio off of your iPhone. This is where a lot of apps vary. Well-nigh offering email and SMS export options, but the best sound recording apps too offer options like Send to FTP Server, WiFi Downloads or uploads to cloud storage straight from your iPhone.
For the below examples on how to tape professional person audio on an iPhone with an external microphone, we’ll be using the ShurePlus MOTIV sound recording app. It’due south designed to work with Shure’s proprietary iPhone microphones, merely works fine without them too. The reason that we’ll use it here is that in addition to checking the above boxes, information technology too automatically displays what microphone it is using as the audio source when recording. That will allow you to confirm that the iPhone correctly recognizes your external microphone instead of just reverting back to the built-in microphone without you knowing.
IPHONE EXTERNAL MICROPHONE ADAPTERS: LIGHTNING VS. TRS TO TRRS ADAPTERS
I of the initial challenges to overcome is that smartphones, including the iPhone, rely on 3.5mm TRRS audio connections instead of the standard TRS connectedness. Standard TRS (tip-ring-sleeve) plugs communicate two channels of audio, primarily left channel and right channel. This is the standard for most headphones outputting stereo sound or consumer microphones inputting stereo audio. TRRS (tip-ring-ring-sleeve) adds a third channel to connect a mono microphone indicate as well. If you plug a TRS headphone plug into a TRRS phone plug, you’ll exist able to hear fine and the phone will just use its own built in microphone. However, if you plug a TRS microphone plug into a TRRS smartphone plug, nothing happens. That’s because information technology won’t make the necessary connection for the microphone sleeve. So, nosotros need an adapter.
Note that most cardioid microphones similar the Shure SM-58 and Rode VideoMicro that we’ll be using for tests do not crave external power from a device or adapter. Condenser microphones, still, often require 48v of power, commonly referred to as phantom ability, and simply a handful of adapters provide that much power. Luckily, some condenser microphones can provide their own power with a battery.
For these demonstrations, nosotros’ll exist using 2 TRRS adapters. The first is the Rode SC4 3.5mm TRS microphone to TRRS adapter (another option is the Movo MC3 3.5mm TRS microphone to TRRS adapter). The 2d is an XLR to TRRS adapter which does not transmit whatsoever power from the device to the microphone, so any microphone nosotros connect volition require its own power source. The XLR to TRRS does let us to connect professional condenser microphones to the iPhone and the adapter besides provides a defended headphone plug for monitoring audio, something frequently disregarded in the adapter market. If your iPhone lacks a dedicated headphone connection, y’all’ll likewise demand Apple’due south Lightning to headphone adapter.
CONNECT AN XLR CARDIOID MICROPHONE TO AN IPHONE
Cardioid microphones are perhaps the most mutual microphones you lot would want to connect to an iPhone and they are workhorses for many people working in audio. They do non require 48V of phantom power. For this example, we’re going to connect a Shure SM-58 XLR cardioid microphone to an iPhone with a adequately simple set of adapters. We’ll too connect the tiny RodeVideoMicro to an iPhone, although instead of an XLR connexion, it uses a standard consumer TRS connexion.
CONNECTING THE SHURE SM-58 MICROPHONE TO AN IPHONE
The Shure SM-58 is a durable microphone commonly used for phase performances and music recordings because of it’s incredible sound quality and directional recording pattern. Yous demand to be adequately shut to and correct in front end of the microphone, but it’s directional recording pattern means room noise and other distractions are often excluded from the recording. That’due south keen if you don’t have a dedicated studio infinite with sound treatment, just notwithstanding want a high quality audio recording. The Shure SM-58 is besides a bang-up microphone for podcast recording in the home. Popular USB and condenser microphones marketed to get-go podcasters are great for semi-studio environments, but in most cases they pick up style too much room noise and audio reflections. The Shure SM-58 solves those bug. There’s also a lower cost version called the Shure SM-48.
To connect the Shure SM-58 cardioid microphone to an iPhone, we’ll utilize this series of adapters: Shure XLR to iii.5mm TRS adapter > Rode SC4 3.5mm TRS microphone to TRRS adapter > the standard Lightning headphone adapter that comes with the iPhone. If recording on an iPad, you tin can skip this last step and plug the Rode SC4 TRRS adapter directly into the headphone jack.
Notation ON Sound EXAMPLES
: All sound recording examples in this guide have had audio levels normalized using Audacity so volume levels will exist equal beyond the recordings. No other changes accept been made.
As you tin can hear in the sound sample, the audio quality is quite clean with minimal to no background hum or room racket. Similar all the audio samples here, this was recorded in a normal dwelling house setting and not a studio. The audio recording level using this setup was low, though. If your iPhone audio recording app offers the option to enhance the Proceeds for a stronger level, endeavour to avoid it because that introduces more hiss and racket into the recording. It’s more important to get a make clean, loftier quality recording and and then y’all can raise the level in postal service if needed similar nosotros did here. All together, this is a very elementary, reliable setup to connect an external XLR cardioid microphone to an iPhone for much higher quality recordings. In add-on to the low sound recording level, one other drawback is that the Rode SC4 TRS to TRRS adapter does not offer a headphone port to monitor audio, although some other adapters practise.
CONNECTING THE RODE VIDEOMICRO MICROPHONE TO AN IPHONE
The Rode VideoMicro has become a popular, depression cost microphone selection for recording better audio for video on DSLR cameras and camcorders. Information technology’s as well a squeamish option for the iPhone. The Rode comes with a hot shoe or tripod mount that reduces vibration and noise and fifty-fifty comes with its ain hirsuite microphone comprehend to reduce wind noise. Like the Shure SM-58, it’s also very directional which means you demand to ensure your audio source is directly in front of the microphone. Any audio to the sides or behind the microphone will be minimized.
Connecting the Rode VideoMicro to an iPhone is even easier because we practice not require an XLR to 3.5mm TRS adapter. For this example, nosotros’ll plug the Rode VideoMicro directly into the Rode SC4 3.5mm TRS microphone to TRRS adapter and so plug that into the iPhone using the Lightning headphone adapter.
Like the Shure SM-58, the directional cardioid design here produces a pretty clean recording. The sound levels were yet lower than desired, but without much background noise. That ways that instead of raising the Gain in the recording app, nosotros were easily able to Normalize the audio in Audacity subsequently without introducing more noise. As well similar to the Shure SM-58, the Rode VideoMicro needs to exist shut to your subject for a quality recording. Most online examples testify the microphone mounted onto or next to the iPhone or camera five or six feet away. At that distance, the Rode VideoMicro will not deliver good results. If you need to be that far away from your discipline for video, consider mounting the microphone on a boom pole or like mount 12 or so inches to a higher place the subject and just out of the video frame and using a normal stereo extension cablevision to connect the microphone into the Rode SC4 adapter. If you’re only recording audio without video, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Note that Rode also makes two other versions of the Rode VideoMicro specifically for the iPhone called the Rode VideoMic Me with a native TRRS adapter to plug directly into the iPhone and the Rode VideoMic Me-Fifty with a native Lightning connector. If you volition just exist recording and producing audio on your IOS device and don’t want the flexibility to utilize other equipment, those could be options worth considering too.
CONNECT A WIRELESS LAVALIER MICROPHONE TO AN IPHONE
When recording video on an iPhone, it can exist especially challenging to record good sound. The iPhone’south omnidirectional microphone just records mode too much room noise. In those situations, it may be best to use a wireless microphone for iPhone video recording, especially if your subject needs to move around. There are a lot of wireless lavalier microphone systems on the market, but note that sound quality and flexibility correlate closely to price. All of these systems consist of a transmitter connected to a lavalier microphone and a receiver that you connect to your recording device, in this instance the iPhone.
In this example, we’re going to connect a Sony wireless lavalier microphone to an iPhone. Our setup of adapters looks like this: Sony wireless receiver with XLR output > XLR to TRRS adapter > Lightning headphone adapter. Note that the XLR to TRRS adapter also provides a headphone out port to monitor our sound.
Every bit you can hear, the lavalier microphone’s more than omnidirectional pattern picks up a little more than room racket, only also provides much more than improved audio quality over the iPhone’s built in microphone. That’south peculiarly true when yous consider that with the wireless lavalier organisation, the transmitter can be v or even 50 feet abroad from the receiver without any change in audio. Because the lavalier organisation uses a powered condenser microphone and provides its own power, the recording level on the iPhone was also much higher without needing to raise levels much in post production. Many wireless lavalier systems also provide the pick of adjusting the output level from the receiver, assuasive yous to adjust your audio levels in that location instead of relying on the iPhone’s gain aligning, which simply introduces more dissonance.
Ii boosted quick notes on connecting a wireless lavalier microphone to an iPhone. Get-go, it’s always of import to monitor your audio considering depending on the frequency the system is using to transmit audio, you could encounter interference from other devices using that same bandwidth. More than expensive systems by and large offer a greater multifariousness of signals so you tin easily switch to another frequency without interference. Also, just considering the wireless lavalier system is designed to utilise with a lavalier microphone, you can often connect other microphones equally well.
IPHONE VIDEO RECORDING APPS THAT USE AN EXTERNAL MICROPHONE
If you are using a wireless lavalier microphone for your sound recording, there’south a adept chance you’re working on a video project. The iPhone’s native camera app volition allow yous to use an external microphone, but it won’t tell you whether it is using the external microphone point or reverting to your internal microphone. In that location are several other iPhone video recording apps that use an external microphone and also confirm for you that they’re doing so.
For these audio tests, nosotros’re using the ShurePlus Motiv app, only Shure likewise has an iPhone video recording app called the ShurePlus Motiv Video. Similar the audio app, it will confirm whether it is recording using the external microphone and also show the audio levels y’all’re recording. For fifty-fifty college quality video recording and more semi-professional person video tools, another popular option is the FiLMiC Pro app which also offers more control of the audio elements of your video recording.
CONNECT AN XLR CONDENSER OR ANY Professional MICROPHONE TO AN IPHONE THROUGH AN Audio MIXER
The next setup will let yous to connect an XLR condenser microphone, or really whatever XLR professional microphone, to an iPhone using an audio mixer or soundboard. This setup certainly involves more setup and practice, as well as introduces more than potential points of failure or sources of noise into you lot recording. It also offers the greatest flexibility and degree of control over your recording and audio quality.
Using a defended audio mixer or soundboard to tape audio on your iPhone not only allows you lot to use any microphone or audio source you accept, simply it also allows you to use multiple sources. Each pot, or audio aqueduct, has independent controls that allow y’all to adjust the sound level for that microphone in addition to fine tuning things similar the low, mid and loftier sound frequency for each source. For instance, hearing a low level refrigerator hum? You tin minimize that with your low frequency aligning. And an audio mixer or soundboard also has the selection of providing the 48v of phantom ability you lot need for a condenser microphone. In this instance, nosotros’ll be using the Rode NTG-ii XLR Condenser Shotgun Microphone.
Our setup from microphone to iPhone looks like this: Rode NTG-two shotgun microphone > XLR to XLR microphone cable > Behringer sound mixer with Phantom Power turned on > RCA to 3.5mm TRS adapter continued to the main audio output of the audio mixer > Rode SC4 TRS to TRRS adapter > Apple tree Lightning headphone adapter > iPhone. Make certain all of the connections are secure because a loose connection at whatever point volition innovate racket into your recording.
Likewise beware that when using this setup, you accept three different points where you command audio levels: the audio mixer input for the microphone, the master audio output of the audio mixer and the iPhone recording level. If the audio level or gain is turned too loftier for any individual command, you volition introduce background hum and noise into your recording. That means you need to experiment, starting with each level turned to the 25% marker and then adjust things incrementally from there to ensure you lot achieve optimal recording quality. And while the Rode SC4 TRS to TRRS adapter does not include a headphone out jack to monitor your recorded audio, the audio mixer will. That allows you to practice a lot of the work balancing sound levels on the lath before you even need to worry near the iPhone. That also helps you lot connect any microphone through the sound mixer. Here’south a test using the Shure SM-58 cardioid microphone with the sound mixer and nosotros’re able to get a much stronger betoken, reducing the need to normalize or boost audio levels in postal service production.
Recording sound on the iPhone using an sound mixer or soundboard is the closest you lot’ll get to a traditional pro recording setup. A simple audio mixer can be a flexible, rather cost constructive tool as well, but they practise require a little more than feel, or at to the lowest degree willingness to experiment and learn to ensure you lot get the best possible audio quality. This audio recording setup certainly isn’t difficult, though, and learning how to use it properly will interpret to whatever future sound or multimedia recording project y’all work on, whether or non it involves an iPhone.
HOW TO RECORD MULTIPLE Audio SOURCES ON AN IPHONE
By introducing an audio mixer or soundboard into your production setup, you as well introduce a lot of new opportunities, like recording multiple audio sources on your iPhone and mixing them to a single file. This is what audio mixers were designed for. Have three microphones and three people you lot want to record for your podcast? No problem. Simply plug each microphone into a dissimilar pot on the audio mixer and set up levels independently. Want to include someone else who can’t be in the room? You can add them too by calling them on the phone, Skype, Facetime or another audio chat app and plugging some other iPhone into the sound mixer. Only make sure y’all’re wearing headphones so you lot tin can hear them and ready everyone’s audio level correctly.
ALTERNATIVE METHODS TO Tape PROFESSIONAL Sound ON AN IPHONE
Nosotros’ve discussed several like shooting fish in a barrel ways to connect an external microphone to an iPhone to record professional audio, only there are a lot of other options out there too. A wide range of adapters exist, from the uncomplicated to the more complex, and they all offer unlike opportunities and challenges.
MICROPHONES WITH BUILT IN LIGHTNING ADAPTERS FOR IPHONE
Several companies at present brand external microphones with congenital in Lightning adapters for connecting to an iPhone or iPad. Audio quality varies and yous get what you pay for, only depending on your needs, some of these microphones can offer an piece of cake solution for your use example. Rode makes a version of the Rode VideoMicro used here that uses Apple’south Lightning connector called the Rode VideoMic Me-L. Samson’s fifty-fifty come out with a wireless microphone system that connects over a Lightning port and Shure has a whole line of microphones and microphone adapters designed specifically to work with the iPhone. These microphones certainly make it easy to get started, just none of them offer professional audio quality. Another challenge is that relying on the Lightning port prevents you from using them with other equipment later on or perhaps even with new Apple products if the company replaces the Lightning port downwards the route, which has happened before.
MICROPHONE ADAPTERS WITH LIGHTNING OR TRRS OUTPUT FOR IPHONE
Another solution is a dedicated microphone adapter that connects direct to a Lightning port or a TRRS plug. IK Multimedia makes several of these for iPhones and other smartphones like their iRig Pre which also provides the 48v of phantom ability needed to power a studio condenser microphone. There’southward as well the similar Saramonic SmartRig Di, which offers the aforementioned XLR to Lightning connection with the selection to provide phantom power. Shure provides several college end microphone adapters that connect over the iPhone’south Lightning connection every bit well. There are several options on the market, but be sure to read reviews and listen to audio samples before buying one. They will not all work perfectly with all microphones, but they practise offer a simple, off the shelf solution to basic recording.
HOW TO USE APPLE’Due south USB ADAPTER TO CONNECT A MICROPHONE TO AN IPHONE
A specially appealing pick is using Apple’due south Lightning to USB Photographic camera Adapter to connect a microphone to an iPhone. Despite the name, it works with a lot more than cameras. If you’re using a USB microphone with a figurer, you will be able to connect information technology to your iPhone using this adapter. Note, even so, that for several higher end condenser microphones like the Bluish Yeti, you lot’ll demand to add together a powered USB hub into the mix because the iPhone cannot laissez passer forth the 48v of phantom ability you lot’ll need.
The other great affair well-nigh this setup is that you can pair the Apple adapter with another unproblematic USB audio adapter to connect any TRS microphone plug to the iPhone and all the same have a headphone out port for monitoring sound. That makes information technology a lot easier to connect a wide range of microphones to your iPhone, although you nonetheless don’t become the ability to adjust levels. You lot could, though, still use the audio mixer setup described above and connect it to your iPhone using one of these adapters instead.
Decision: REMEMBER THAT SIMPLICITY IS KEY TO AUDIO PRODUCTION
Even subsequently eight or nine generations of iPhones, the most reliable and loftier quality sound recorder remains a dedicated field recorder like the Tascam DR-100. To infringe Apple’s old tagline, it but works. App based recording with software will always be inherently buggy and prone to failure. Apple’s flimsy Lightning port will also never be every bit solid or reliable as a professional XLR audio connection. That said, at that place are many scenarios out there where trying to route professional person microphone sound to an iPhone actually solves a lot of other challenges.
For real professional recording, the key is to keep information technology simple. That means reducing potential points of failure in your setup and opportunities to introduce unwanted noise into your recording. That said, if you need an extra recorder, are operating with minimal equipment (and budget) or only want to keep your multimedia product kit lite and flexible (think lightweight travel studio), the iPhone offers a plethora of recording opportunities that could reply the prayers of even the virtually item of multimedia journalists, YouTubers and podcast producers. You just demand to empathise what those opportunities are and how to go the most out of your iPhone every bit an audio and multimedia recording device.