You bought a USB mic to make live audio recordings with your computer and it works great! At the same time, you are often disappointed by the quality of the recordings that you can produce using the built-in mics in your iPhone and iPad. You ponder whether there is a way to connect your USB mic to your iOS devices. Read on to find out how it’s done using a pocket-sized adapter.
While iPhones and iPads are not equipped with USB ports, manufacturers have stepped into the void to sell adapters that enable common peripherals like a portable USB mic to be usable by these mobile devices.
Older iOS devices with 30 pin connectors
The iPad Camera Connector Kit adapter (MC531ZM/A) enables older iOS devices like an iPhone 4s or earlier to attach USB mics to its 30 pin port. Apple charges a premium ($45 at last review) to purchase the iPad Camera Connector Kit, and shoppers can find the adapter listed for a lower price on eBay and other third party sites.
The iPad Camera Connector Kit actually contains two separate adapters for your iOS device: one for accepting USB input and a second adapter for offloading digital images and other documents onto flash (SD) memory cards.
Current generation iOS devices with Lightning ports
Recent iPhones (5 to X) and iPads (Airs and minis up through iPad Pro 12.9-inch) are equipped with a Lightning port, which requires a different adapter to connect to a USB mic. While Apple sells a Lightning to USB Camera Adapter for $29, many reviewers have been disappointed by this product, so if you own a mobile device with a Lightning port, I recommend that you read Jonathan Wylie’s report entitled, “Better Audio for Your iPhone & iPad: External Microphones” that was published on TurboFuture.
I have a iPhone 4s and a Samson Meteor microphone, so I connected the two devices via USB by purchasing the iPad Camera Connector Kit for $20 on eBay.
Testing my mic using the adapter
Running either Audacity or Soundtrack Pro on my Mac, I can easily generate audio clips that I can upload onto a website that I visit regularly that only accepts WAV files. Until recently, I was stopped out of accessing the same website when I was out in the field with just my iPhone in my possession, as the two audio recording apps that I had installed (iTalk and Voice Memos) were incapable of saving files in the WAV format.
An Internet search revealed the existence of an iOS app called AudioShare that supports the saving of audio recordings as WAVs or AIFs. The app lists for $3.99 and is available for purchase from the App Store for iOS devices.
Using Dropbox to store AudioShare’s WAV files
While it’s fantastic that an iOS app is capable of saving WAV files, it wouldn’t do me any good out in the field if my iPhone cannot navigate to where my audio files are stored. Fortunately, Dropbox provides the ‘glue’ that provides the storage location of the WAV files that I create in AudioShare.
I have been a Dropbox member for several years, so I didn’t need to open an account. I simply created a WAV folder in Dropbox to use as the repository for my AudioShare recordings (iOS access to the Internet is needed in order to store phone-generated audio files on Dropbox).
How to Connect an External Microphone to your iOS Device
Written by Amit Agarwal | Digital Inspiration
Oct 6, 2014
Better Audio for Your iPhone & iPad: External Microphones
Jonathan Wylie | TurboFuture
Updated on July 31, 2017
iPad Camera Connector Kit
iPad Accessories | Apple
Lightning to USB Camera Adapter
iPhone Accessories | Apple
Kymatica AB | App Store for iOS devices