How To Connect An External Microphone To A Smartphone - My New Microphone
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How To Connect An External Microphone To A Smartphone – My New Microphone

Smartphone cameras are continually improving, while microphones continue to work but are of poor quality. When you’re shooting video with your phone, it’s nice to have great audio to go along with the amazing picture, which is where external microphones come in.

so how do we connect an external microphone to a smartphone? Connecting an external microphone to a smartphone must be done wirelessly (bluetooth) or through one of the connectors (usually the headphone jack or charger port). Also, some drivers/software may be required to complete the connection.

Reading: How to connect microphone to phone

In this article, we’ll go over the various methods for connecting external microphones to smartphones and some recommended microphones for smartphones.

Please note that this article features links to products on Amazon that will help you connect your external microphone to your smartphone. Purchasing any product through the links below will earn me a commission (and help support this blog) at no additional cost to you!

related to my new articles on microphones:• why do cell phone/phone microphones sound so bad?• top 4 external microphones for android smartphones • top 4 external microphones (lightning) for iphone how do microphones work? (The Ultimate Illustrated Guide)

connect an external microphone to a smartphone

so we have decided that the smartphone’s internal microphone is not enough and we will need an external microphone for our phone’s audio recording. Let’s get into the connection details.

For more information on internal smartphone microphones, check out my article what kind of microphones are used in mobile phones?

First, it’s important to note that smartphones, like computers, are digital devices and work with digital audio. Whether internal or external, microphones produce analog signals that require analog-to-digital conversion to connect properly and send information to a smartphone.

these analog to digital converters (adc), as we will see later, are located inside the smartphone (right inside the trrs headphone jack or inside the bluetooth chip) or alternatively in adapters that allow us to digitally connect our microphones directly to the phone (often through the charging port).

For more information on analog and digital signals and microphones, check out my article Are microphones analog or digital devices? (mic output layouts).

Now that we’ve established the need for digital audio, let’s look at methods for connecting external microphones to smartphones.

There are 4 basic methods to connect an external microphone to a smartphone:

  • wireless connection via bluetooth
  • direct connection via trrs headphone jack
  • wireless connection via trrs headphone jack
  • connection via charger port

connect an external microphone to a smartphone via bluetooth

Bluetooth technology has been available on mobile devices since 2001 and has since seen a massive increase in popularity. now all smartphones come with bluetooth capability.

bluetooth is simply a wireless data protocol that uses short wavelength uhf radio waves (in the range of 2400 to 2485 ghz) to transfer data and signals over short distances.

bluetooth microphones work like any other wireless microphone system: with a transmitter (either inside a bluetooth microphone or connected externally to a microphone) and a receiver (a “bluetooth chip” found inside the devices/ bluetooth receivers).

Connecting a bluetooth microphone to a smartphone is easy. Follow these steps:

  • turn on the bluetooth microphone or bluetooth microphone transmitter
  • open the bluetooth menu of your smartphone and make sure the phone is discoverable
  • if the devices are within range of each other, the microphone should appear as a device
  • click the microphone in the list of bluetooth devices to connect the microphone to the smartphone

with bluetooth connections, there are two main ways to connect microphones to smartphones:

  • with a bluetooth microphone (with bluetooth technology designed into it).
  • with a bluetooth microphone transmitter (which allows a normal wired microphone to stream wirelessly via bluetooth).

bluetooth microphones

bluetooth microphones are relatively new on the market. These microphones have bluetooth transmitters built in and are often inexpensive microphones with electret microphone capsules.

bluetooth microphones make it easy to connect wirelessly via bluetooth to smartphones and other bluetooth devices.

At a busker festival I attended recently, I noticed that all the performers were wearing a clip-on microphone or bluetooth headset.

bluetooth microphone example: hey, microphone!

you can buy the microphone hey! direct from their online store for 10% off using promo code mynewmicrophone

hey mic! (pictured above) is an example of a bluetooth microphone. This miniature microphone is compatible with any bluetooth device and offers a range of up to 65 feet.

Keep in mind that while bluetooth microphones are a great idea, the technology isn’t perfect yet (the audio industry is always behind on technology). That said, the hey mic has decent reviews and works much like we’d expect a bluetooth mic to work.

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xlr-bluetooth transmitter

If we want to use a professional microphone via bluetooth, there are xlr-bluetooth adapters/transmitters on the market.

With these transmitters we can combine the high quality mic capsules of our favorite mics with the simplicity of a bluetooth wireless connection. connect your xlr microphone to the bluetooth transmitter and then pair the transmitter and smartphone.

We should assume that these transmitters do not supply any DC bias voltage or phantom power to our microphones unless stated (I haven’t found any on the market that do). therefore, using passive dynamic microphones is the safest bet when connecting an xlr microphone to a bluetooth microphone transmitter.

xlr-bluetooth adapter/transmitter example: jk audio bluedriver-f3 (link to check price on amazon).

The jk audio bluedriver-f3 is a simple xlr-bluetooth adapter/transmitter. we connect our microphone to it; Turn it on; adjust connection settings (to phone) and make bluetooth connection.

The bluedriver-f3, as I mentioned earlier, does not provide DC bias or phantom power, so it should only be used with passive microphones (think dynamic microphones).

for information on how to connect bluetooth microphones and other wireless microphones to computers, see my article how to connect a wireless microphone to a computer (+ bluetooth microphones).

connect an external microphone to a smartphone directly through the trrs headphone jack

Using a smartphone jack is perhaps the most obvious method of connecting an external microphone.

but wait, the headphone jack outputs a signal while a microphone inputs the signal. let’s take a closer look at the wiring.

Smartphone headphone jacks are typically designed as 3.5mm (1/8″) trrs (tip-ring-ring-sleeve) female phone connections.

although there are two cabling standards (ctia and omtp), these 4 connections (trrs) are normally wired as ctia. Apple played a major role in developing the CTIA standard (with CTIA, the Wireless Industry Association), and now the vast majority of smartphones follow the CTIA standard.

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the ctia standard has the trrs connection configured as follows:

  • tip: audio (left)
  • ring: audio (right)
  • ring : earth
  • sleeve: microphone

omtp has the mic and ground switched, so it’s important to know the difference. That said, the vast majority of trrs devices designed to work with smartphones follow ctia.

all this is to say that if we want to connect a microphone to a smartphone’s headphone jack, we need to use a 3.5mm (1/8″) trrs male phone jack. Since the microphone signal is carried in the sleeve, 3.5mm (1/8″) ts and trs cables will not work (although they will physically fit into the jack). this is because the ts and trs wires are wired with s (sleeve) as ground.

To convert a 1/8″ ts or trs mic connection to a 1/8″ trrs connection, I would recommend a headphone splitter adapter, like this one from dukabel (price link on amazon).

the dukabel headphone splitter is wired as ctia and has a mic and headphone input that fits a trrs to connect to your smartphone.

1/8″ trs mic jack will accept mics with both ts and trs connections. the 1/8″ trrs headphone jack will allow you to monitor the microphone (your smartphone will probably use the trrs connection as audio input and output).

but there are trrs mics on the market that easily bypass all the adapters needed to connect a regular mic to a smartphone via the headphone jack.

For more information on the different sizes of headphone jacks and cabling standards, check out the following articles about my new microphone:• differences between 2.5mm, 3.5mm and amp; 6.35mm headphone jacks• how do headphone jacks and jacks work? (+ wiring diagrams)

trrs microphones

TRRS microphones are designed to connect to and send audio through headphone jacks. these microphones therefore work great with smartphones.

example of trrs microphone: mounted smartlav+ (link to check price on amazon).

rode smartlav+ is a relatively high quality lavalier microphone for use with smartphones. it follows the ctia standard, it feeds itself from the smartphone’s trrs connector (2.7v) and works well with any recording software.

rode smartlav+ appears in my new microphone among the 4 best external microphones for android smartphones.

rode is featured in the following my new microphones articles: • top 11 microphone brands to know and use • top 11 boom boom microphone brands on the market

xlr-trrs adapter

if we want to use our professional xlr microphones with our smartphones, we will need an xlr-trrs adapter.

xlr-trrs adapter example: saramonic xlr 19.5′ xlr-trrs adapter cable (link to check price on amazon).

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This simple adapter does exactly what it is supposed to do: adapt a 3-pin xlr signal to a 4-pin trrs signal.

It’s important to note that this adapter cable does not pass power (dc or phantom bias), so it will not work with active microphones (think condensers). therefore, it is imperative that we use passive (think dynamic) microphones with this adapter.

For an xlr-trrs adapter with a phantom power supply option, see the saramonic smartrig ii xlr (link for price on amazon). With this relatively inexpensive adapter, we can supply our active microphones with full +48v phantom power. this is possible with a single 9v battery.

For everything you need to know about headphone jacks, check out my detailed article how do headphone jacks and plugs work? (+ wiring diagrams).

connect an external microphone to a smartphone wirelessly via the trrs headphone jack

It’s also possible to connect an external wireless microphone to a computer without bluetooth, as long as the wireless receiver can make the proper physical connection to the phone’s headset jack (or charger port, which we’ll talk about shortly).

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Wireless microphone systems, including the bluetooth systems mentioned above, use radio waves to transmit audio information wirelessly.

a microphone transmitter embeds the audio from the microphone into a radio signal at a specific frequency (vhf or uhf). The transmitter then sends the radio wave wirelessly for the receiver to pick up. once received, the receiver decodes the radio signal, taking the audio signal and broadcasting it.

for a detailed read on the inner workings of wireless microphone systems, check out my article how do wireless microphones work?

As long as the receiver can connect to the smartphone via the trrs headphone jack, we can connect any microphone to a smartphone.

wireless microphone systems with trrs connections

let’s look at a popular example of a wireless microphone system with a trrs connector:

wireless microphone system with trrs example: movo wmic50 (link to consult the price in the photo of movo).

the movo wmic50 system comes with a wireless transmitter and receiver that operate on the popular 2.4ghz radio frequency band. In addition to the headphones, this pack comes with a lavalier microphone and a TRRS connector to connect the receiver to the smartphone.

Please note that the lav mic also has a trrs connector and can be connected directly to your smartphone if you prefer!

xlr wireless transmitter

Please note that any professional wireless microphone system could be connected to a smartphone if the receiver’s output signal can be adapted to connect to the smartphone jack.

see the xlr-trrs adapter options listed above or the xlr-usbc or xlr-lightning adapters listed below.

connect an external microphone to a smartphone through the charging port

Finally, some microphones can be connected to a smartphone via the smartphone’s charging port.

usb microphones have become very common because of their ease of use with computers. Smartphone “charging port” microphones work in a similar way.

for more information on usb and digital microphones, check out the following my new microphone articles:• how to connect a microphone to a computer (a detailed guide)• do microphones need controllers? to work properly with computers?• Are the microphones analog or digital devices? (mic output layouts)

To properly connect to a smartphone’s charging port, the signal from the microphone must be converted to digital audio. this is done through an adc between the microphone capsule and the charger port connector.

let’s see some examples of microphones:

microphones with usb-c and lightning connection

The two most common smartphone charging ports are USB-C (Android and others) and Lightning (Apple). there are digital microphones on the market that connect to both.

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An example is the buoy by-dm2 (link to check price on amazon).

the buoy by-dm2 is a lavalier microphone that connects directly to a smartphone via usb-c (android and others).

the by-dm2 has an adc built into the cable (the relatively large box between the microphone and the connector).

another example: shure mv5 (link to check price on amazon).

shure mv5 is more flexible with its built-in adc in the microphone body and its female micro-usb output. In the case of the MV5, any male-to-male micro-USB (insert charger port type here) will effectively connect the microphone to your smartphone (or other digital device).

shure mv5 comes with a micro-usb to lightning cable and a micro-usb to usb cable, although there are micro-usb to usb-c adapters available on the market (link to amazon).

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shure is featured in the following my new microphones articles: • top 11 microphone brands to know and use • top 13 headphone brands in the world • top 14 headphone/headset brands in the world

As mentioned above, it is sometimes desirable to connect our xlr microphones to our smartphones. we can connect xlr microphones to the charging ports of our smartphone with the following adapters:

xlr-usbc adapter

saramonic utc-xlr (link to check price on amazon).

a simple xlr to usb-c adapter with a built in analog to digital converter. Please note that this cable does not provide or pass phantom power.

xlr-lightning adapter

saramonic lc-xlr (link to check price on amazon).

a simple xlr to lightning adapter with a built in analog to digital converter. Please note that this cable does not provide or pass phantom power.

phantom power supply

If you want to use your active condenser microphones (which require phantom power) with the above adapters, you will need to power them properly. this is where inline phantom power supplies come in.

While I don’t normally recommend newer products, their online phantom power supplies work fine:

new 1-channel phantom power supply (link to check price on amazon).

This simple 1-channel phantom power supply will efficiently power your condenser microphones if they need +48v.

connect your xlr to the ps input and your xlr-charger port adapter to the ps output, connecting the adapted end of the cable to your smartphone.

Please note that these power supplies are relatively bulky and require external power to operate.

new 1 channel phantom power supply – usb powered (link to check price on amazon).

this phantom ps works just like the old one, except it’s powered via usb instead of a wall plug.

please note that the usb acts only to power the ps and that this device is not a digital audio interface! usb does not send any digital audio.

for more information on phantom power, see my article what is phantom power and how does it work with microphones?

smartphone audio software for external microphones

In general, a smartphone automatically switches its audio input to a plugged-in microphone when a connection is made (just as it switches from its built-in speakers to headphones once those headphones are plugged in).

once this connection is made, the external microphone can be used with any audio recording software and as the main microphone of the smartphone.

summary about connecting external microphones to smartphones

so we have gone through many methods to connect external microphones to smartphones. some of these methods are clean and simple, while others are complicated and require online devices and adapters.

Let’s quickly recap the methods provided in this article, breaking them down by microphone type:

bluetooth microphones

Turn on the bluetooth microphone transmitter and pair the devices within the smartphone settings.

microphones 1/8″ trrs

Assuming the microphone follows the CTIA standard, connect the male TRRS microphone connector to the headphone port on the microphone.

wireless microphones 1/8″ trrs

if the receiver of a wireless microphone system has a 1/8″ trrs (ctia) connection, set up the wireless system correctly and connect the receiver directly to the smartphone.

microphones with usb-c and lightning connection

for these microphones, plug the compatible connector into the charger port of the smartphone.

xlr (and other type of microphone connection)

There are many methods to connect xlr microphones to smartphones.

make sure you have the right adapters and, if necessary, the right power supplies and/or analog-to-digital converters.

related questions

Can a microphone be used on a headphone jack? Headphone jacks are wired to output signals by default, so microphones typically won’t work with them. however, some microphones (such as external smartphone microphones) are wired to properly receive signals through a headphone jack. so yes, in some cases microphones can be used with headphone jacks.

For more information on headphone jacks, check out the following articles about my new microphone:• How do headphone jacks and plugs work? (+ wiring diagrams) • are aux (auxiliary) connectors & same headphone jacks?• differences between 2.5mm, 3.5mm and amp; 6.35mm headphone jacks

where is the microphone on a smartphone? smartphones often have multiple built-in microphones. They are usually located on the ends of the smartphone (near the top and bottom), although they can be found in other places.

related article: what kind of microphones are used in mobile phones?

See also: 5 Ways to Connect with Your Customers AND Learn From Them

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