Smartphone with microphone

Audio Recording With a Smartphone

It seems like smartphones will do anything.  But do they make effective sound recorders?  That depends on what you are looking (listening) for and what type of phone you have.  Below I describe ways to record on your smartphone, with examples of products that might help.  Most of this discussion is about Android phones and iPhones; tablets are for another day.

There are 4 basic ways to use your phone as a recorder:

  1. The built-in microphone(s).
  2. Using a microphone plugged in through the headset port.
  3. Using a microphone plugged in through the charging port.
  4. Via Bluetooth.

The built-in microphone

If you are looking to use your phone as a voice recorder, for recording personal notes, meetings, or impromptu sounds around you, then all you need is a recording app.  I would highly recommend getting a third-party app, as the apps that come with the phone are pretty basic.  Important things to look for in an app are the ability to: 1) adjust gain levels; 2) change sampling rates; 3) display the recording levels on the screen, so you can make any adjustments necessary; and, perhaps not as important, 4) save the files to multiple formats (at least .wav and .mp3).  Also very handy is the ability to email the recording, or save it to cloud storage, such as Dropbox.  Some of the most highly recommended apps for Android include Easy Voice Recorder Pro, RecForge Pro, Hi-Q mp3 Voice Recorder, Smart Voice Recorder, and Voice Pro. For iOS, Audio Memos, Recorder Plus and Quick Record appear to be good apps.

Microphones on various models of phones vary quite a bit.   Newer phones have two or three microphones, but differ quite a bit in their sound recording abilities.  Especially problematic seems to be recording loud sounds, such as concerts, although even those capabilities are improving.

External microphone through the headset port

Most iPhones and smart phones these days come with a TRRS port for the headphones.  If your headphone jack has 3 lines (4 rings) on it, it’s a TRRS, which means it can act as a microphone as well as headphones.   Before you attempt to connect an external microphone via the headset port, make sure it is a TRRS port.

A TRRS plug on the left, TRS on the right

Note the 3 (white) lines in the plug for the ear buds from my Samsung Galaxy S3, compared with the 2 (black) lines in the plug for a lavalier microphone.  The color is irrelevant, but the number of lines is not.

Because of the differences in jacks, you cannot plug in any old microphone with a 3.5mm plug and expect it to work.  Luckily, several manufacturers have developed microphones that plug right into the headphone jack.

However, there are also differences in the TRRS jacks, in the location of the ground and mic connections:

 

Diagram of OMTP and CTIA plugs

Differences in wiring between the OMTP (Sony, older Android) and CTIA (Apple, newer Android) plugs.  CTIA is also called AJH.  Note that there is only one mic input, so all input will be mono.  Right and Left refer to headphone output.

This difference is something you need to be aware of, and make sure that any microphone, headset, or adapter is compatible with your phone.  Unfortunately, there is no way to tell from the outside which is the proper jack for your device.  However, the CTIA (Apple) version is becoming the norm, so Apple-compatible devices now work on many recent android phones.  Be sure to check the descriptions to make sure your device is compatible.  For more information on the wiring of various plugs, see here.

Rode Smartlav Lavalier Microphone for iPhone and Smartphones
MicW iShotgun
Stony-Edge SIMPLE LAV- MOBILE Condenser Lavalier/Lapel Microphone for iPhone & Android Smartphones
Professional Lapel Microphone with 39″ cable for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Smartphones and Comptuers
Audio-Technica ATR3350IS Omni Lavalier Microphone for Smartphones

I have not used any of these, but I would expect them to be substantially better than the built-in microphone on the phone.  You might want to review my page on “Choosing Microphones” if you don’t know the difference between a lav and a shotgun.  See “Comparing recording on a smartphone to a dedicated recorder” for a video on how the iRig Mic Cast works on Android and iPhones.

If you already have a microphone with a 3.5mm jack or an XLR microphone (with power supplied – the phone can’t supply 48v phantom power), you can buy an adapter that allows you to plug it into the TRRS port.   Make sure that the adapter is compatible with your phone.  My Samsung Galaxy S3 is now using the Apple standard, so I need iPhone compatible adapters.

StarTech.com Headset adapter for headsets with separate headphone / microphone plugs – 3.5mm 4 position to 2x 3 position 3.5mm M/F
Sescom iPhone/iPod/iPad 3.5mm TRRS to 3.5mm Mic Jack & 3.5mm Monitor Jack, 1′
Professional iPhone, iPad2, iPod Touch XLR Cable for XLR Microphones to be Plugged In to the iPhone with a 3.5mm Mini Jack for Connecting Microphone to Headphones
TASCAM iXZ Mic / Instrument input for iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch

Note that this does not appear to work on all devices and microphones, apparently there are some differences in impedance levels of the microphones that the phones can’t deal with.   [GEEK NOTE:  TRRS jacks typically supply 1.5-2.5v, with 1.0-1.6KΩ impedance, which varies by phone model and manufacturer.]  Some adapters are for microphones with batteries, and others specify microphones with no batteries.  And Apple wiring is just a tiny bit different than the other CTIA (AJH) wiring.  Some of these connectors also allow simultaneous monitoring if you plug ear buds or headphones into the other jack.  This is very helpful in making sure you are recording what you want, otherwise you need to watch the visual input displays (if your app has them) or wait to play back the sounds.  Even if you get the proper adapter, the microphone may not work properly with it.   KV Connection carries a wide variety of connectors that appear to take different impedances into account; read the descriptions carefully.  My advice, if you want to use a mic through the headphone port, is to get a mic designed for that use.

You also need an app that will allow you to select the external microphone.  For iOS check out iRig Recorder, Recorder Plus, Rode Rec and Audio Tool.  For Android, check out RecForge Pro, Tape Machine, Field Recorder, Smart Voice Recorder, or Audio Evolution Mobile.  These are not all free apps, but reviewers say that the paid versions of the apps are worth it.  Appcrawlr has put together a nice list of Android apps that work with external microphones, including several that allow video recording with an external mic.  A new app, called Bat Detector, allows input through the TRRS port, USB (see below), as well as the internal microphones, and displays a nice spectrogram of the sounds being recorded.  If you like to “see” what you are recording, check it out.

I recently tested a couple of different mics on a Samsung Galaxy S3 and an iPhone 5, and compared the results to a dedicated recorder.  I describe the results here (well worth the read if you are contemplating adding a mic through the TRRS port).  Also, one of my readers also tested a couple of different Android devices using a mic & mixer into the TRRS port, and posted a YouTube video here.

Note that the power to these microphones is pretty low, so they are probably not capable of recording quiet or distant sounds without adding a lot of microphone noise.    The TRRS port allows only one microphone input, so the signal will be mono no matter what type of microphone is used.  Some apps split the signal into two mono signals, but it will not be true stereo.  It is not possible to get a stereo input through the TRRS port.  They appear to function quite well in office and studio settings, but are probably not suitable for nature recording.  A pre-amp, such as the Tascam iX2 would help, but is only for XLR mics.  I would love to hear about any experiences using smartphones with external microphones.

Some Sony phones and tablets, particularly the Xperia line, use a TRRRS (note the extra “R”) port.  This allows stereo recording (!), but is completely proprietary – it only works with one microphone (Sony Stereo Microphone STM10), and works best with the Sony Audio Recorder app (available from the Play Store).  Based on videos posted on YouTube (e.g., here), it appears to have a lot of noise cancellation built in, which makes it good for interviews and close recording, but bad for ambient recordings.

Recording through the charging ports

There are fundamental differences between Apple and Android in how they handle recording through the charging ports.  Basically, iOS includes audio support; Android does not.  Google farmed audio support out to the device manufacturers, resulting in much confusion about which devices are compatible and which are not.  For a discussion of the complexities, see this link.

External microphone plugged into the micro-USB port for Android

Some smartphones, including my Samsung Galaxy S3, come with a USB host, which means the mini-USB port (charging port) is capable of sending power.  To check if your phone has a USB-host, either Google “USB host” and your phone make and model, or check GSMArena, and type in your phone make and model and check under “Comms.”  If it has a USB host, it will be listed there (it will actually list “USB host”, not just “Micro USB”).  You can also search “USB host” and it will list current phones with USB Hosting ability. There are also several apps in the play store that can check if your phone has a USB host (search for USB OTG).  If you phone has a USB host, you can use a USB OTG adapter to plug in a USB mic (you must have the correct adapter).  Again, this is low power, but is quite suitable for recording podcasts or narration overlays for video.

Below are some examples of USB microphones that reportedly work well:

Blue Microphones Snowball USB Microphone (Gloss Black)
Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone – Silver
Audio-Technica AT2020USB Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone
Samson Go Mic Portable USB Condenser Microphone

It is also possible to plug in a USB audio interface, which greatly increases the options for adding multiple microphones, instruments, and MIDI devices.  However, not all devices will support USB audio.  According to the developers of Audio Evolution:

“Some Android devices have USB host but lack certain kernel features that are needed for USB audio.  These are usually cheap ‘Chinese’ tablets, but also the Samsung Note 1 and Galaxy S2 lack it.  When your device has a Rockchip cpu inside, chances are very high it will not work.”

In addition, some USB microphones and audio interfaces need more power than the phone can supply, and so may need a powered USB hub to function properly.

The Ultramic is a full-spectrum, ultrasonic USB mic that records from 0-200 kHz or 250 kHz depending on the model. It works well with Android phones with USB host capabilities, but is too noisy for general recording.  For more about using the Ultramic to record ultrasounds, see “Options for recording ultrasounds.”

It is possible to plug a microphone with a 3.5 mm jack into the USB port, using something like an iMic 3.5 to USB adapter, or USB mixer with 3.5 mm mic inputs.  I have tried this with a couple of different lavaliers, one powered, one not (mic to iMic to USB-OTG to phone).  The signal was a little noisier than my dedicated recorder, but comparable to the TRRS port of the iPhone and much better than the Samsung’s TRRS port.

Samsung Media/ peripheral Micro USB to USB Adapter for Galaxy S3, Note II smart phone and Note Tabs
Griffin Technology iMic USB Audio Device
iLuv (iCB758) USB Audio Adapter (USB to 3.5mm Headset-Mic Adapter) Compatable with Apple and Windows PC’s

WARNING:  There have been reports of Samsung S3’s bricking after using USB OTG cables, presumably the problem is with faulty cables causing a short in the system.  I’ve just replaced my second S3 after it bricked following plugging in the OTG cable.   I currently don’t have advice on which cable to use, but I’m looking into it.  If you are interested in adding a USB mic to your smart phone, do some research beforehand on USB OTG problems.  The cable that caused the problem for me was an eForCity micro USB OTG to USB 2.0 adapter.  I have since replaced it with the Samsung-branded adapter shown above, and haven’t had any problems yet.  If you have had problems or successes using a USB mic on your phone, please let us know!

It is also possible to plug a professional mic into a smart phone, using something like the iRig Pro or the Blue Icicle (these convert an XLR to USB and provide phantom power).  Some also include gain controls so you can control the level of the recording.  I have not tried these setups, but there is information on the web about them.  They primarily seem to be used for podcasts and studio work.

IK Multimedia iRig Pro instrument/microphone interface with MIDI for iOS and Mac
Blue Microphones Icicle XLR to USB Mic Converter/Mic Preamp

Note that for both adapters shown above, you are going from mic to usb adapter to USB-OTG to phone.  That creates several potentially weak links in the chain and more places for problems.

Note:  You cannot use a usb mic with the video recorder on the phone – it defaults to the onboard mics.

Software Issues for recording with USB on Android

The USB host is a digital input, and thus has better potential for quality input (including stereo) than the TRRS jack.  However, the only Android apps I’ve been able to find that will record through the USB port are USB Audio Recorder (free), AudioFi ($5.99; demo available) and USB Audio Recorder Pro ($8.49; demo version available).  In spite of the similar names, these are different products from different companies.  They are very simple recorders.  USB Audio Recorder and AudioFi simply record and saves the file with a time/date file name.  USB Audio Recorder Pro also has a level meter and it allows you to set sampling rate and gain levels on some mics.  It does not share files directly, but they can be shared (i.e., shipped to Dropbox) by going into the folders directly on the phone.  Audio Evolution Mobile is a full-featured recording app that will use USB Audio Recorder Pro to accept USB microphones.  But note the caveats above about compatibility issues with different Android devices.

Using the charging port of iPhones

Several manufacturers have developed microphones that plug into the power port of iPhones and iPads.  If you want to record in stereo, this set up seems to be your best option.  These microphones have helped turn iPads into miniature sound studios.  Because different Apple devices have different configurations for their charging ports, make sure the mics are compatible with your device, although adapters may be available.

Apogee MiC 96k Professional Quality Microphone for iPad, iPhone, and Mac
Rode iXY Recording Microphone for iPhone/iPad
Blue Microphones Mikey Digital Recording Microphone for Apple iPhone and iPad
Zoom iQ5 Mid-Side Stereo Microphone for iOS
Tascam iM2X X-Y Stereo Condenser Microphones for iOS Devices

There are also converters available to allow 30-pin and lightning ports to accept USB devices, including microphones, mixes, preamps, MIDI devices, etc.  A variety of apps are available for recording through the the power ports, including GarageBand, iPhone PC recorder, StudioMini, Rode Rec and others.

Recording via Bluetooth

Because most iPhones and Android devices are equipped with Bluetooth, which allows wireless connection between devices, they can receive signals from Bluetooth microphones.  For this, you need a microphone capable of transmitting a Bluetooth signal and an app capable of receiving the signal.  Most applications of this technology have been focused on the video industry, with most Bluetooth mics being lavaliers that allow wireless transmission of dialogue.

Examples of Bluetooth microphones that couple with iPhones and Android devices:

Nolan MIC Bluetooth Wireless Microphone, Wireless Voice and Talk, Long Range, Clarity Sound for Podcasting, Distance Education, Voice Recording, Camcorder, Panel Session
Nolan LiveMIC Bluetooth Remote Microphone for Bluetooth Audio Receivers, Speakers, iPhone, iPad, Android and Smartphones, MacBook Air, Laptop, Mac and PC

Apps that can receive the Bluetooth signals include Easy Voice Recorder for Android and Recorder Plus HD for iPad.

There appear to be a lot of problems with Bluetooth microphones connecting with smart phones, in terms of microphone and signal quality.  It may be a little early for this technology yet.

What about Windows phones?

I don’t know anyone with a Windows phone, so I have been unable to do any testing.   From examining the specs of some popular HTC, Nokia, and Huawei phones, they appear to use the CTIA standard for the TRRS port, but Nokias appear to have some conflicts with iPhone headsets, which may mean TRRS microphones may not work.  None of the phones I checked had USB host capabilities, meaning USB recording option won’t work.  But all of the phones had Bluetooth capabilities.  So, sadly, it appears that if you have a Windows phone, you are limited to recording using the onboard mics or via Bluetooth.  This site discusses apps for recording on Windows phones.

UPDATE (21 July 2014):  According to reader Matt (see comments below), several models of Windows phones have TRRS ports that are compatible with iPhone-type microphones.  He recommends the Rode Smart Lav.

Tips for recording with your smart phone

  1. Recording via USB is a better option than TRRS is your phone supports it.
  2. If you are connecting an external microphone, make sure the connectors are compatible with your phone.
  3. Watch your sound levels to make sure you are picking up enough sound, but not overwhelming the microphones.
  4. Simultaneously monitoring the recording helps get the recording levels within range.
  5. Getting close to the subject picks up the sound you want and minimizes background noise.
  6. Avoid windy situations and/or protect the microphones.
  7. Sound files can be large, depending upon your sampling rate, so make sure you have enough storage space.
  8. If sound recording is going to be an important use of your phone, consider an iPhone over an Android or Windows phone.

Smartphone or Dedicated Recorder?

Although smartphones are very convenient, for field recordists, they are not a replacement for a dedicated recorder.  Dedicated recorders allow adjustment of gain and the ability to apply filters, and have more powerful pre-amps.  They have more settings for recording, including setting the sampling and bit rate.  And for nature recording, where you may want to set up your recorder and leave it record for a while – who wants to do that with their phone?

But if you use your phone for shooting video or for recording conversations, an external mic will be a great improvement over the on-board mics.  For podcasting or recording quick conversations, a small microphone added to a smartphone would be convenient and adequate.  Some of the microphones made for use with iPhones and via USB host are capable of recording in stereo; overall, iOS seems way ahead of Android when it comes to sound recording.

With the rapid gains in technology in smartphones, they may overtake recording they way they have overtaken photography.  Now if they could just improve the quality of the sound in a phone call….

Last modified September 1, 2015.

 


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197 thoughts on “Audio Recording With a Smartphone

  1. Hey everyone Heres the real truth here… I record my podcast with no external microphone, no headphones NOTHING. I have a Galaxy s4 and I simplu use the stock voice recorder that comes with it. I record in my car and I just talk into my phone….My podcast sounds BETTER than people who have all these microphones and spent hundreds of dollars on Yetti’s and headphones ect ect. I do my recording, it saves as “sounds” in your phone. Hook phone up to computer using charger wire take that file and then make it a MP3 using a free site which I can also change the birate to anything I want AND IT’S ALL FREE..You can not tell the difference from my podcast than any pdcast in the world when it comes to sound quality. I even use online audio joiner and mix in intro music and everything. don’t spend a single penny! So all these people spending big time cash on microphones it’s seriously wasting your money…Your Galaxy s4 Microphone is BETTER than any external microphone that companies want to sell you for hundreds of dollars. I won’t post any links here but seriously use your STOCK voice recorder, don’t use a 3rd party one (they all stink I tried them all) talk into your phone holding phone about 3-4 inches away from face. after you are done recording do what I described above hook your phone up to computer as if you were charging it, your phone will pop up in “my pc” and search google for ” free online converter” and convert file to mp3…You will have perfect quality and NOBODY would be able to tell difference between your podcast or Joe Rogans…..seriously

  2. Great thread! Frys has the TASCAM Handheld Recorder with Wi-Fi for $107:

    http://www.frys.com/product/8413478?source=google

    I shoot in NBA locker rooms with a Motorola Moto G and I’ve been looking for an external wireless mic. I’ll report back on how this works out for me. I like that I can potentially stream an audio source wirelessly to my my phone while also recording natively to the tascam so I have audio redundancy in case one device fails.

    https://www.youtube.com/c/buddygrizzard

    Some notes: I used a tripod and monopod last season. The tripod has too big a footprint and slows me down to set up and break down. I don’t have a very steady hand so I ended up with some camera movement even when using a monopod so this season I’ll be using this:

    https://www.amazon.com/Polaroid-VariPod-Telescoping-Monopod-Removable/dp/B00PHDKNY8/ref=pd_sim_sbs_421_2?ie=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=AKZYAS8DS5QDZQ5FSJJE

    Much smaller footprint (good for shoulder to shoulder media scrums), easy to grab it and move from the coach’s postgame availability to the locker room without setup/teardown.

    Also, I have a cell phone tripod clip I bought at frys for about $20 but I just found this:

    https://www.amazon.com/Square-Jellyfish-Spring-Version-Included/dp/B00NXRUYOE

    And ordered a pair. This is cheaper and includes its own mini tripod which will come in handy for situations like media day where the players sit behind a table.

  3. My yeti mic actually stop working on smule app after i change my phone from note 4 to note 7 on the smule app.

    The default recording app work with the mic thus i guess its the app issue. Any workaround for this?

  4. So my question is, can I video record on my Galaxy s4 using my bluetooth Plantronics Explorer 502 for the audio? I cannot find this discussion anywhere on the web.

    • Hi Carol, thanks for the question. The answer is, probably not. Most Android phones, including Samsung, default to the onboard mics when the video is activated – whether Bluetooth or plugged in. There might be some video apps that allow you to pick up a Bluetooth mic signal, but I’m unaware of any. iPhones, with some apps, are able to do this, but Android are not, with the possible exception of Sony Xperia. You might try contacting Plantronics to see if they know of a solution.

  5. Great conversations going on here. I hope someone can help me.
    I’m using Sennheiser EW100 G3 wireless mic sets and am trying to record audio to my Android devices but not having any luck. With a TRS wire coming from the Sennheiser receive pack, plugged into a Rode SC4 TRS – TRRS adapter, I CAN record to any Apple device (tried, iPhone 6, latest iPad Mini and a MacBook) without any problem.
    Using the same setup, but plugging into an Android device, I CANNOT record and the device doesn’t recognize the mic either. I’ve tried it on Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Note 3, Samsung Tab S and a Nexus 5. I’ve also tried a couple different recording apps as well.
    Today I tried a Rode Lavalier Mic into my Samsung S7 and it worked fine, but want wireless, plus have three sets of Sennheiser and want to put them to work.
    Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks in advance.
    Peter

    • Hi Peter, I don’t have an answer for you – hopefully someone else can chime in. From what I understand, if it works on Apple, it should work on the newer Samsungs. Perhaps there is a slight difference in power output of the devices that might account for the difference? What apps have you tried? The Galaxy S3 is a USB host, so using a mic to USB adapter might be another option.

      • Hi Christine,
        I’ve been traveling so finally got a chance to get back to you. Still don’t have a solution . Just heard from Sennheiser again and they are suggesting to use their PCV – 07 splitter cable. First they said to use a PCV – 05 but when I asked for assurance it would work, they tested and no go. Supposedly the PCV – 07 should work but I can’t find one to try. Further, Sennheiser says the Android plugs are OMPT Standard and Apple are CTIA, but so far haven’t been able to confirm that either.The PCV – 07 that they suggest is supposed to be OMPT.
        I’m still apprehensive about believing them, seeing as how the Shure and Rode wired lav mics I tried work on both android and Apple???
        Thanks for your help,
        Peter

        • Peter, thanks for the update. Whomever you are dealing with at Sennheiser is misinformed. All newer phones are CTIA, including Android. I don’t see the difference between the PCV-07 and PCV-05. If the 05 doesn’t work, I wouldn’t expect the 07 to. Have you tried any other adapters besides the Rode? Most are pretty cheap, it might be worth trying several and seeing if you can get any that work. Alternatively, look into the USB port. There are several TRS to USB adapters, so you just have to add an OTG cable. Will only work on Android phones with USB host, which your S7 has. Good luck, and keep us posted.

  6. There are many tiny adacs, the size of usb sticks, but the mic input is usually mono. The trick is to find one that does stereo

  7. iPhone SE will record using the built in mics at 96Hz 24 bit. If you lack a USB mic, high quality recoding is possible on an Android phone using a cheap ADAC and the app USB Audio recorder Pro (UAPP). The setup I have is: LG G3 phone, UAPP, ICUSBAUDIO2D ADAC, Olympus ME15s stereo mic. Some OTG cable is needed and this combo will record stereo at 96KHz 24 bit

    • Thanks for the input. Note that the phone has to be able to serve as USB host to use a USB ADAC, and many phones lack that ability. I appreciate the info on the recording chain, as I’ve been curious as to what it would take to get external stereo input into an Android phone.

  8. I wanna record my bass guitar directly on my smartphone (Xperia M4), can I just plug the effects pedal in the jack? Or I need to record it through a mic? Do you recommend some app to improve recording quality?

    • You’ll most likely need an adapter to plug into your Xperia (which might use a TRRRS port, may not be adapters for those yet). Depending upon where you are recording, you might be better off with a mic (some phones have pretty good mics, so you might start there). There are a ton of recording apps now, I would check out the app crawler link, then maybe check some guitar recording forums for recommendations. Lots of good hookups for iPhones, not so many for Android phones.

      • Well, it’s more the convenience of having the recordings in my phone. The device that I bought has one “ring” on the plug. I think my phone is TRRS (Galaxy S6).

        But a voice recorder could work just fine I suppose. Could I ask you to link a cheap recorder? I only seem to be able to find them at $45 or so.

        • $45 is pretty cheap, most I’ve seen are around $55+ (which is very cheap in the recording world). If there is a way to either forward or receive calls straight to your S6, there are apps that can record conversations. You’d have to search the app store, as I don’t know any off the top of my head. The S6 is almost certainly TRRS, and the device is TS. If you want to try the little recording device, you could probably return it if it doesn’t work. You might need a different recording app for the phone rather than the built in voice recorder. Hope that helps.

  9. I have a dual xlr to 3.5mm adapter to use with my samsung tablet for recording myself playing guitar with my camera/video app. the sound only comes through one side, I had a single mic xlr to 3.5mm and was told a dual mic adapter would fix the problem but did not. any suggestions?

    • Hi Jared, if you are using the TRRS port on the tablet, it will only accept mono. If the tablet can be a USB host (probably not), you can get a stereo XLR to USB adapter which will allow stereo input. Most video apps for Android will not allow external mic input (default to onboard mics). What app are you using?

  10. Hi, just to add my experience as I used info on this site (thank you all):
    I used Galaxy S5 with Lollipop 5.0 , USB audio recorder pro app and Blue Yeti usb microphone and it works like a charm.
    I’ve found that Blue needs 500 mA which is what S5 can provide

  11. This article is an invaluable resource for understanding and using microphones with phones and tablets! Thanks so much!

  12. Hi. Thank you for this piece. I learned a lot as I prepare to buy equipment to get set up for podcasting.
    I have a question about some of the equipment.
    Initially, I will be using my Sony Xperia Z2 as my recording device, utilising the Field Recorder app for Android. I want to purchase a good portable microphone with XLR output.
    But looking at the XLR to TRRS adapter cables, none of them seem to be compatible with a Sony.
    Do you know of any that are definitely compatible?
    Thanks again for all the information.

    • Hi Sam, thanks for the question. The Sony Xperias use a TRRRS port and, at the moment, can only be used with their own microphone. However, the Z2 appears to have a USB host, which means with a USB-OTG adapter, you can plug a USB mic (many good podcasting mics are USB), or use a USB-XLR adapter. The downside is there are only a few apps that recognize a USB mic, although more are being developed. I hope that helps, and good luck!

  13. it’s been pointed out that Sony Xperia phones/tablets (some?all?) have 2 mics or a proprietary 5 contact TRRS jack which allows 2-channel recording (with the Sony “Audio Recorder” app if not others). just wanted to let you know that with the Sony MDR-EX31BN noise reduction IEMs, binaural recording works very well. when they are plugged in, the app knows it and sets itself to binaural recording. being NR headphones, they have mics mounted on the outside of the earpieces which serve to know which sounds to dampen when NR is turned on. since you’re not doing any NR when recording, they function as regular mics. this model includes a bluetooth unit to link to the phone when listening and the bluetooth unit has a reference mic. if you try to record via the bluetooth link the ref mic is used, mono only. to record with both mics the IEMs need to be plugged into the phone directly (the bluetooth unit is left out of the process).

    its sure they are not the best mics for sound production, or even for binaural recording (they don’t sit inside the pinae), but they are the only solution i know for consumer binaural recording and for that they are fun and work well. (the only other model I’ve seen are from roland. they might be better but there is no clear way to get both channels into a phone. i believe those IEMs terminate in 2 separate TRRS jacks, L&R.)

    • Interesting! I had no idea that you could use the noise-reduction portion of headphones for recording. So as long as the earbuds are plugged into the phone, you can open the Audio Recorder app, and do some stereo recording? This would only work for Sony headphones/earbuds that have the TRRRS jack. Have you tried it in somewhat noisy environments (i.e., concerts, etc)? As recording is not the primary purpose of these mics, I’d be interested to hear how they function in different circumstances. May redefine stealth recording!

      • they have noise reduction and you record in stereo on Galaxys4 STOCK Voice recorder.
        I’m telling you people, you don’t need all this equipment if RECORDING a podcast. Now I would love to know how to RECORD A CONVERSATION for a podcast. That’s my biggest challenge. Every APP I have tried the sound quality is terrible, so I can’t have guest on my shows! I also would love to know how to get a free voicemail and phone number so people could leave comments and I can play them on the air.. If anyone has any tips please let me know!

        • Hi, there is quite a bit of info on the web about podcasting. It’s not clear from your question how you are trying to record a conversation – in person, over the phone? Google Voice can provide free voice mail and phone number. If you are interviewing in person, an external mic will help.

  14. Hi, my digital piano as a stereo-output jack (for head phone). How can I make this sound go to my android smartphone (I think its TRRS is CTIA)? I already figured out I need a mic adapter, but it needs to pick up both stereo channels (keeping them separate or fusing them, it doesn’t matter to me). What adapter would do the job?

    • Hi Steven, the TRRS port on your phone is mono only. There is no way to get a stereo signal into it (the Sony Xperias are an exception to this, but require a special microphone). You can get adapters that have a splitter, or even mics that have two inputs, but they will still be two mono channels instead of stereo (usually one signal will be ignored). You might be able to use a USB mixer, if your phone has a USB host (fewer and fewer do). You’re best bet might be to pick up a small recorder to use for mic-in, line-in, or if you are recording in a studio, to use as an external microphone.

    • In case of SOME android devices you also need a compatible Stereo (2 inputs) USB interface and recording aplication, but some recent Sony Xperias can record stereo from their own internal 2 microphones if you place them close enough to avoid surrounding noise in a quiet enviroment, then you can eq/fx in your desktop computer; I think this transfer and mastering is necesary in any case including IPhone 5/6 with Rode scenario. Anyway I still prefer my Desktop PC for recording musical instruments at my home studio or my laptop with stereo usb interface in mobile situations, being the cheapest, secure, full of options and better quality results still today as Nov 2015.

      • So with Sony Experia Z2 it uses the TRRRS jack, and corresponding plug for their Sony Stereo Microphone STM10 which is made for such experia’s. So I expect it would be possible to wire a TRRRS plug to other stereo mics to produce stereo on Experia Z2? What about the following scenarios (not focussed on wildlife sounds) with the Z2-

        (a) running two XLR plugged mics through a dual portable preamplifier such as the ART USB dual pre (which provides phantom power) with 2x TRS outputs wired to a TRRRS plug?

        (b) running an XLR shotgun mike through an iRig Pre-amp with its TRRS output into the Xperia Z2 for outdoor recording of field talks (speaker several meters away) in mono?

        (c) Can you account for the Right and left mike channels on the TRRRS plug in respect of which connectors they are on the plug?

        (d) Using the SARAMONIC SmartMixer on the Z2? It uses a specs quoted ” one 3.5 mm stereo line output to phone”. Now this is suppose to be for both IOS and android devices so we can only expect that it is not a TRRRS plug, but TRRS and therefore not producing what Saramonic infer to be a stereo audio output to the phone???

        (e) In respect to (a) and (b) will it provide the external mike audio when recording video on Xperia Z2- I have read that android phones audio recording reverts to the internal mics when recording video. If this is the case for the Z2, what apps are useful for reverting it back to the external mics?

        Thanks for giving your attention to all my questions, and any one answer will be greatly appreciated.

        Cheers

        Ric

        • Whew, Ric, that’s a lot of questions. Let me take them one by one (disclaimer: I don’t have an Xperia, so I’m going by what I found online). A: theoretically possible, IF you can find a TRRRS plug. Given that it’s currently proprietary, it may be difficult to find just the plugs. However, you might be able to steal them from the STM10, and solder the wires together. If you could find the plug, you would still have to figure out where to solder everything. B: again, theoretically possible, IF the rings lined up. According to reviews on Amazon for the STM10, the mic worked in a TRRS jack, so the rings may indeed line up. C: No idea yet, I haven’t seen any diagrams published. Maybe someone at Sony could provide the information, or it might come with the TRRRS plug, if you could ever get hold of one. D: The Saramonic is an interesting mic. My guess is that it’s a mono mic pretending to be stereo. My interpretation is the same as yours. E: According to the info from Sony, the mic is made for recording video (and there are YouTube videos documenting this). Not sure what app is used – might be an app that provided by Sony.

          Thanks for bringing up these questions. I had many of the same ones, so if anyone else with an Xperia phone or tablet and the STM10 mic wants to chime in that would be great. I would also be interested in if anyone knows a source for TRRRS plugs.

          • Thanks for all your responses Christine. yes I had been searching for TRRRS plugs and to no avail, but hadn’t considered that proprietary rights could be oh-so restrictive on such a wee-little audio plug and especially given that over 80% of it is of someone else’s prior(ity) invention. Can’t wait for the day of prior-ity invention patenting!!!

            Cheers and Ole
            Ric

    • If you want the satisfaction of doing it yourself you can make an adapter.

      You would need a stereo jack plug to connect to the piano, two resistors, a short length of two-core screened lead, and a TRRS jack plug to connect to the ‘phone.

      It would be useful if you knew the impedance of the ‘phone’s mic input.

  15. Hey I have a Lumia 1520 windows smartphone and I was wondering I can use something with it to get some sort of stereo audio output. I’m working on a video shoot with the phone and I’m a real noob with audio. Is there any device compatible with this Lumia. Thanks!

    • Hi. Are you looking to record stereo with your phone? That may not be possible with a Windows phone. I don’t think it will act as a usb host, so you are limited to the the trrs jack, which is mono only. Does that answer your question?

    • I’m sorry, no. It’s not an area I work in, and it’s really difficult to determine the microphone capabilities of an individual phone (they don’t emphasize the specs they way they do with cameras). I do know that Google’s text recognition is pretty good, but I don’t know how it differs on different phones.

  16. Recording via Bluetooth would be ideal, but Android doesn’t support A2DP Sink on the BlueZ stack. Perhaps if an audio transmitter supports the Hands-Free or Headset bluetooth profile this could work (ex. SOYO-BT24G03)…

    Recording via USB OTG would be fine, but Android doesn’t support a usb audio driver. The couple of apps that exist had to develop a custom driver for it.

    Recording via the headset jack microphone, might be the best approach if you can live with the recording quality / mono. Of course if you want to go from an existing aux-out jack, you’d have to create a cable that takes the source left channel and places it in on the appropriate microphone tab of the destination jack of your phone. I didn’t find any such cable, but should be easily frankenstein’d with a breakout cable and an microphone extension cable!

    • Thank you for the comment. Is the cable you are talking about a TRRS cable? Many mics for smartphones come with those (wired for Apple, Motorola, or Sony standards), which place the mic source in the correct location.

  17. Update on Windows Mobile phones – I had a Palm Treo 850 running Windows Mobile 6.1 recording 44.1k 16 bit mono with the free 7 day demo version of RecordPad (NCH Software), I didn’t care much for RecordPad’s $40 to $60 pricetag, but the good news is that it found no hardware bar to repurposing these “obsolete” and now very cheap smartphones as recorders.

    For mics I tried the internal one and externally a Dayton IMM-6 and a ridiculously cheap eBay no-name. These are both mics designed for iPhones (and iPads?). They plugged right into the Treo and worked. With the internal mic, Ignoring noise floors, I estimated the internal mic would cover 15 to 105 dB, the Dayton 18 to 108 dB and the no-name cheapie 22 to 112 dB. If the Treo’s hardware supports variable gain before the digitizer the range could be extended further, however RecordPad doesn’t surface such features so I still don’t know if they exist in hardware.

    I haven’t yet attempted to find noise floors. I didn’t notice a noise gate or AGC but I wasn’t methodically looking. Anyhow the input sensitivity range seemed well-placed. With a larger/more sensitive/quiet capsule you could pursue quiet wilderness sound, and with a smaller/less sensitive capsule you could take on loud urban noise pollution.

    Looking at frequency spectrums, it seems that output from the internal mic went through some heavy shaping, especially cutting out low frequencies. Happly, the external input didn’t do this. I was only looking at frequency spectrums for the (fan) noise I was recording. That’s hardly a definitive frequency response checkup, however the difference between internal and external mic frequency spectrums was major and I am optimistic that the external input essentially has a flat response. Another pleasant surprise was that the cheapie eBay mic’s spectrum was very close to the more expensive Dayton mic’s. Routinely pocketing a cheapie mic would be very practical; about the size and shape of a large vitamin capsule.

    Further testing is in order, but so far so good..

    • Very interesting! I’m surprised the Treo had an Apple-compatible TRRS jack. I’m also surprised that you didn’t notice a noise gate (the noise gate in my Samsung S3 is so bad that recording anything but close voice is worthless). You’re still limited to mono on the TRRS jack, and for all other phones, the pre-amps are pretty noisy, so I would hesitate to use something like this for quiet wilderness sound, but it possibly has applications for on-the-go field recording and interviews. It sounds like the internal mic has a built-in low-cut filter, which isn’t surprising. The TRRS jacks are made for headset mics, usually with the assumption that they will only be used for phone calls. Looking forward to hearing about more testing…

  18. Some — not all — Windows smartphones have 3.5mm TRRS jacks accommodating analog microphones that work with iPhones. This is auspicious insofar as used Windows-based smartphones are often cheap enough to dedicate to unattended recording. For example eBay currently lists a lot of 10 Samsung Windows phones– said to be in working order — for $30, shipping included!

    Unfortunately there is a shortage of recording software. The Windows Mobile universe has nothing like the iTunes marketplace that offers a variety of recording apps costing from to $5 or so. I have successfully tried demos of NCH RecordPad ($40 to register) and GodSW’s WM Sound Recorder ($19). They have various quality settings including 44.1K samples/second x 16 bit but lack other niceties like volume controls for adjusting gain before the signal is digitized. How wonderful it would be if a programming project could be undertaking, producing recording and other audio software, either pro-bono or with iTunes-like pricing. Or does it already exist undiscovered?

    • David, thank you for the feedback on Windows phones. Have you been able to record without a noise gate (or override in an app)? I agree that we need much more development in the app department. I’m unaware of any programming projects.

      • Christine – that’s a good question. I’ll endeavor to find out. If there is a noise gate/AGC, hopefully these can be disabled in software, although that might require a better driver than the Windows Mobile default.

  19. I have recorded live rock concert material and birdsong using my Nokia 1020 and got excellent results, considering the differences in the source. Using my iPod Touch 4 I can plug in my Rode iXY and record at 96kHz 24 bit. I also use a Nokia 808 and audio can be recorded at 96kHz 16 bit using internal mics. These are the best options for audio recording on a mobile phone, without too many external accoutrements. It is all down to mic quality, I am sure, but mobile phones can give very good results.

    Geezer

    • Geezer, Thanks for the feedback. I haven’t heard much from the Windows crowd – what app(s) were you using to record? Likewise with the iPod – what app were you using? I’m not aware of any Android devices that can record at 96 kHz, so that’s quite a difference!

      • On ipod touch 4- iXY mic with built in DAC records at 96Hz 24 bit using Rode Rec app. On Nokia 1020 the recording app comes with the phone and does 96Hz 16 bit. Ditto the Nokia 808, both times using internal mics, which are excellent.

        PS the iPhone SE appears to record at 96/24 stereo (twin mono signals possibly) using the app Voice Record Pro 7 according to Mediainfo PC application

    • Stereo recording on Android devices is difficult. Only the Sony Xperias allow stereo recording through the headphone/mic jack, and only one mic is available. You can “line-in” through the jack using a mixer or pre-amp, but there are few advantages to using your cell phone for this instead of a dedicated recorder. One new possibility is the Tascam DR-22WL” or Tascam DR-44WL“, which wireless communicate with your Android or iOS device, allowing you to control the recorder (stereo), and even stream to your phone. USB might be another option, if your device is capable of USB host, but there are very few stereo USB mics.

      • My Xperia E3 do have 2 microphones to record in stereo with field recorder, full frequency response, only downside is input level too low so normalizing is necesary at PC. Thanks for posting my 2014 video test in your comments, I have newer recording from my choir and orchestra with E3 at https://soundcloud.com/coro-jalisco/concierto-26-de-agosto-2015 . E3 was placed unders conductor´s music stand, you can hear his feet tapping… God bless you dear friend.

        • Thank you for the comment, Abner. The sound is quite good from just your phone! A downside is the narrowness of the stereo image – mics too close together. Have you tried using 2 phones and mixing them in post to get a better stereo image?

    • I have been using the Sony STM10 with my Xperia Z3compact for a little while now and I have to say, it works like a charm. The recording app I use is Field Recorder.
      The mics seem to be of good quality. I recorded some quite demanding percussive music from my hifi speakers and compared the recording with the STM10 with that of the Roland R26. The difference was not night and day, although as expected, the noise floor of the Roland is lower than that of the STM10 / Z3 combo. The recording IS stereo, and the soundstage is actually very good. I recorded a live album off the speakers and the live feeling really came across in the Z3 recording.
      Using the automatic microphone sensitivity setting leads to disaster, especially with dynamic sounds. The gain is adjusted so fast, that the recording becomes unlistenable.
      Under settings / sounds of the Z3 the microphone sensitivity can be adjusted in 20db steps. Using a fixed sensitivity works fine.
      I am very happy with the combination. First android setup I have come across to really be useable for field recording.

      • Jacob, Thank you for your detailed update on the STM10. That sounds pretty encouraging, and much better than the little video. It sounds like it works pretty good for loud sounds? Have you tried shooting video with it? Have you tried the Sony recorder app? I hope the other manufacturers are paying attention and maybe we’ll start to see more attention paid to stereo audio input.

  20. Thanks for your comparison.
    Have you ever looked at the Sony STM10 mic for use with the Xperia Z2 and Z3 phones?
    I am curious whether this combo would be better than the iphone you looked at.

    • Thanks for the question. I don’t have the ability to test every mic and phone combination, and I don’t have experience with either of those. That’s an entirely new connector that may actually allow stereo input. I don’t know if it would be better than iPhone (iOS is better designed for sound, but it looks like Sony is making some moves here). If this works as described, it could be a game changer. Any chance you could test it and report back? Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    • i have a line-powered external usb sound card with L&R mic inputs, and i have two mics, this solved the problem of recording in stereo on my macbook air. i THINK i can plug this setup into my Xperia Z3. i really want this to work but i haven’t tried it yet.

      i will let you know.

        • > I could not find much information on the 5-pole connection, but the
          > information I did see implies that the 5th connection is power for the noise
          > cancelation circuitry rather than a stereo mic.
          >
          > Best Regards,
          >
          > Rob Neal
          >
          > kvconnection.com

          • Interesting. I guess only Sony knows for sure. There are several microphones made for TRRS ports that claim to be stereo, but are not, so I suppose that might be the case here too. At any rate, it sounds like kvconnection doesn’t have an adapter yet.

            • I had a brief email exchange with an android developer and he also did not have any definitive information on the pinout. For compatibility reasons (needs to work for normal headphones) he seems to think that the pinout of the socket could be:

              Tip: left channel Headphone
              R1: right channel Headphone
              R2: Ground for Headphone and Mic
              R3: Mic right
              S: Mic left

              I am sure at some point in time Sony will publish the specs.

  21. Thanks, Christine for this awesome post – the most complete answers & solutions I’ve found for Android users. I’ve done extensive testing recording pro-quality audio into iOS devices (mostly for podcasting – including multi-channel recording). My results are in this blog post: themobilepro.net/5waysblog post. I also have a free ebook of 5 pro-quality set-ups, and a step-by-step video guide on how to set them all up. However, I don’t want to be spammy… My main point is to echo what you’ve said about iOS having way more high-rez audio options that Android (or, let’s say, it’s just simpler, because after iOS7, every device will accept high-res audio via 30 pin or lightening connector). Not every computer interface is iOS-compliant, but most will work. Also, I’ve used the Zoom iQ5 extensively that you recommend above, and it’s awesome. If you have a chance to test one, I think you’ll be amazed the stereo-imaging and quality that can be achieved – I’d put it up against a stand-alone machine (though you’re right, there are still more controls on the digital recorders, although the Rode Rec app does allow you to control a lot). Also, on iOS devices, it is possible to connect external USB audio devices and use them with video apps. I recommend FilMic Pro app for the most control. Anyway, thank you again for your work – so helpful! Now I have someplace to send all my Android friends 😉

    • Shawn, thank you for the information! That fills a huge gap on the iOS side. I downloaded your ebook, and I think it’s excellent. Some of your podcasting gear will also work on Android (the Smartlav+, for example, or USB mics for phones with USB-host), so I think it’s a valuable resource for Android users as well.

      • Thanks, Christine! So glad you like the ebook – tons of work testing all this stuff, as you know! fyi…not sure if you’ve tested them or not, but the smartLav+ (released mid-year 2014) is way better than the original smartLav. I can’t even recommend the original – just super weak gain, and hissy. Also, I did test the iRig Pre (not the Pro), and I do recommend it as an Android option for spoken word (i.e. Podcasting); it’s just not high-rez – as going thru the lightning port. You can even use a splitter with it to get 2 dynamic mics for an interview (i.e. SM58 mics). They will just be, as you say, both on the same channel, because you’re going thru the headphone jack (Mono only). This is Bonus Set-Up #1 in the back of my ebook. For true 2 channel, discrete recording, you need to go thru the lightening connector. Again, thanks for your work! I hope Android will throw some attention at pro-audio with their OS. I’ve got a lot of friends who’ve had a lot of headaches trying to get pro-audio on their devices. Again, glad I can point them to this article for some sound advice (pardon the pun!).

      • Hi Christine, I know. Ktjing about recording. I’m trying to gather noise evidence against a loud neighbor and it’s the sounds recorded in my HTC one are just ok and not true to the noise level. Not spying at all. Trying to get lound thumps and bangs. Any advice?

        • Hi Dee,
          If you are trying to record the loudness of the sound, you need a sound meter. There are sound meter apps for smartphones, but if you need it for legal purposes, you will need a meter that can be calibrated which can be pricey. Does that help?

          • Hi again Dee,
            Reader David Bridgen said, “If the signals you apply to the unit don’t exceed the maximum allowable, and the amplifier is reasonably linear, the relative levels will be preserved. In other words, “this” signal will be correctly (so many)dB greater than or less than “that” signal, etc.
            The absolute value, will of course, be unknown – unless you can get a reading from a calibrated sound meter, in which case you will have to know to which recorded sound that meter’s reading applies.
            From there it would be a simple matter to read the relative amplitudes of your recordings on any meter with a dB scale, and do the arithmetic to adjust each value, compensating by using the calibrated meter’s reading as an offset from the recorded (relative) value.

            Some months ago I measured my hearing loss at home – quite easy to do. I found the frequency at which an ear was the most sensitive and used that as a reference (0dB) on the graph. Everything else for that ear being so many dB below. My curves matched the audiologist’s within a few dB, with the difference being that my 0dB was equal to the audiologist’s calibrated, and known sound pressure. If I had access to a calibrated sound source or calibrated microphone I could have corrected my reference and therefore readings to absolute values.

            As long as the loudest sound you want to record doesn’t exceed the unit’s maximum allowable level, i.e. it doesn’t get clipped, the relative values of the sounds will be preserved. If you could get a reading of a single very loud sound on a calibrated meter, with the meter located alongside the recording device while recording, and you can subsequently identify that measured sound on the recording, you can then derive absolute values for all the sounds. You would have play the recording and read the amplitude of the recorded sounds on any meter with a dB scale (connected to the audio out line), and write them down. Knowing the absolute value of the sound measured on the calibrated meter, and that sound’s value read on the other, you can then apply the difference to all the other sounds to arrive at theirt absolute value.
            It sounds more difficult than it is. The only “difficulty” being the acquisition of a calibrated sound meter for a few minutes.”

    • Very interesting post, thanks to the writer, Good job done!!
      I have few questions for you.
      I would like to write a guitar tuning application using clip microphone.
      Can it be achieve using TRRS port option?
      I read something saying about android internal signal manipulation (automatic gain control (AGC) and/or equalization )
      Source : http://stackoverflow.com/questions/24774483/audio-input-through-headphone-jack-in-android
      Will a get a sufficient quality reception in order calculate each musical notes?
      Thanks for replying (Got IT background 🙂 )

      • Hi, are you trying to record yourself or the guitar with the clip microphone (=lavalier?)? Most phones have a TRRS port; unless the mic is made for a TRRS port, you will need an adapter. Which adapter you get depends on the age and model of your phone. Lavaliers are mono (as is the TRRS port), so if you wanted stereo, you might want to try another method. Lavs are also pretty weak, and are better for recording your voice close up while rejecting surrounding sounds. Probably not the best choice for an instrument. Internal signal manipulation in the phone depends on the particular model of the phone and the app used. Given the complexity of recording with an Android phone, you might want to consider a small recorder with built-in mics. Hope that helps!

    • Thanks for the links, Sami. For folks that like to shoot video with their phones, using onboard mics, this looks like a serious upgrade, especially with the high quality of the camera. However, they are limited to mono for external mics, as they can only receive a signal via the TRRS jack or bluetooth. I did a search on phonearena, and none of the current Windows phones have a USB host, which would allow stereo external mics.

  22. For what I tested with different devices combinations and resources on the internet, bluetooth recording is limited to 8khz/mono, no matter what device/computer/microphone being used. Im still learning anyway. But you can always try for yourself for free whenever possible I suggest.

    “The following restrictions apply on input streams:

    the format must be mono
    the sampling must be 8kHz”

    Source:

    http://developer.android.com/reference/android/media/AudioManager.html#startBluetoothSco%28%29

    • Interesting! Most reports on recording with Bluetooth have been less than stellar – hopefully their app and hardware are a significant improvement. One red flag though is the 3.5 mm plug which cannot record in stereo much less 3d. You also cannot usually pair audio recording with video recording on Android (but you can on iOS). But it sound like they are using their own app for that? That’s very cool. Are you going to get one? Thanks for sharing this.

      • My recent tests recording with bluetooth are showing: 1) 8000 Hz resolution (very poor) 2) Mono only. BUT Playing thru bluetooth is good but not as good and expensive compared to regular wired headphones (Sony, Senheiser). I dont think thats going to change ever since newer usb tech toys are cheaper and available for any platform (alesis, art, creative just to mention the cheap and worth ones).

        • Hi Abner – what Bluetooth device were you using and what app? And what were you recording? So you think Bluetooth is NOT a good way to go?

          • I experimented with a Motorola S9HD and portable bluetooth speaker with mic, both to a PC/windows 7 with BT dongle. In recording settings there are no options rather than 8khz mono. The Hooke works in stereo with some cameras stereo line in, probably other stereo line in devices ,but not Android devices, at least for now. The video showing musicians playing in the subway sounds ok but bass frequencies are lost, thats why they didnt shoot a band, my guess. Just be careful with some wanna be recording stereo microphones with headsets. if you are planning professional results nothing is better than a portable mixer and a pair of good microphones connected by usb to a laptop, Ipad or some recent Android device. I mean, If you put money and time on the equation you probably spend more trying to make things work in different ways than usual. And my eyes still need a 15 inch screen at least, my new 7 inch chinese tablet usb works but is a pain in my eyes, unless I use it to record one long session to edit on computer later. Thanks Cristine.

            • BTW I tried many apps on my Android tablet and the one I liked most is called Field Recorder v4.4.1 (TRSS or internal mic). For USB I use demos from Audio Evolution and NTRACK and my Zoom G1u (only electric guitar but recording sounds stereo due to effects on the unit, not suitable for microphones) but that way I know it will work fine with other USB stereo interface like Alesis iO4 or Art Dual Pre USB. On the Ipod 2G (TRSS) I like Recorder Pro 4.1.2, mono sounds with generic lavalier almost as good as mono recording on my PC with Audiotechnica 3035, so Im very much surprised for this but mono is not my preference. So Im still using my PC for most recordings until I get one of the mentioned compatible USB interfaces to do some field recordings in stereo. 🙂 Most people trying with their android device wont find easy solutions because not all known smarthphone or tablets are capable to handle USB recording. I can only recommend SONY´s recent Xperias and they have stereo microphones in case you want to record with or without USB interface . I miss my stolen SP…

            • Thanks for all the info. Is the 8k sampling limit a function of the mic, the transmitter, or the recording program?

  23. Stereo-In Android
    =============

    this guy has done stereo recording with his android phone.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gn4H8RIE468 (not in this video, although it’s a cool video)
    i asked him what he used:

    “what usb device did you use to capture stereo with an android phone, and how is it powered? thanks!”

    “I used the Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6, which is a buss powered interface with a USB adapter. …[the phone was] using ASUS PadFone Infinity. There is an app you can download for this, which has a free version for testing. You must be careful which adapter cable you buy. I was surprised at the quality. Much better than going into a GoPro direct.”


    • Thanks for asking him how he recorded stereo. He used the Neumann head, right? I have to say though, that it appears he likes collecting equipment. There are easier ways to record someone at a piano that don’t involve a smartphone and extra connectors. But it’s good to know that this audio interface and particular model of phone work together.

      • in the video link he is recording piano with a gopro and neumann. its an experiment to see if he can shoot “very first person” outdoors in the future.

        but elsewhere in his field recording career he does stereo into android, so his answer is about that. his is the first confirmed recipe I’ve seen of a setup that works for that. id like to stream rather than record the stereo, so using android or iOS is something I’ve been trying to figure out.

  24. As someone who is retired from a professional life in electronics, from d.c. to microwaves, and still privately involved, I find this series of correspondence both interesting and fascinating.

    Christine’s first sentence of the article is “It seems like smartphones will do anything.”

    Yes, it does seem like that. The smartphone’s function as a ‘phone is often secondary to its other capabilities. It’s much more than a walkie-talkie, it’s a handheld computer.

    Yet marvellous as it is, I will never forget the old tenet of design, “make something to do only one job, and make it do that job well.”

    Perhaps forgotten in its simplicity, it has spawned the KISS and the TIT principles – “Keep it simple, stupid”, and “Think it through.” (Milestones in the evolution of the English language.)

    I wonder if, considering the many add-ons, auxiliary devices, and cables etc, which are necessary to overcome the smartphone’s shortcomings as a sound recorder, if it would be more economical, and more satisfactory too, to use a (purpose designed) sound recorder from the outset.
    It would without doubt be more convenient.

    And if anyone should produce such a device which incorporates a camera and or a telephone, what shortcomings would be evident in the latter if the major function is the former.

    • David – well said! I think in many cases, people with smartphones would save themselves time and money by just using a device designed for sound recording. Most smartphones, with the possible exception of iPhones, are not there yet. I would love to see recorders, at least consumer varieties, include some smartphone features, like the ability to add apps (so you can change some of the settings), and a built-in GPS. But, as you said, adding things like a camera and telephone would likely mean an undesirable compromise.

    • Along these same lines, one obvious option not mentioned so far for shooting video with an external mic is to use two smartphones. The person you are interviewing can hold the other phone just out of sight. Yes, you then have to sync the audio with the video, but the advantage is that you don’t need a lot of adapters or extra gear. Many of us now have an older phone sitting around the house that may not be great for video but is still fine as an audio recorder. This also works well where you are asking someone to show you something — their garden, art work or work environment. Have them hold the other phone to record their voice while they show you around and you shoot what they are talking about. Then edit in your b-roll.

      • Thanks, Steve, excellent suggestion. That should also work if you have a DSLR (or other digital camera, and don’t want to use the onboard mic). You might be able to improve the sound some on the recording phone by adding a lavalier through the headset port. If you want narration or dialog, you will get better sound by having the mic as close as possible to the person speaking.

  25. Is it possible to take a direct line cable (i.e.: auxiliary cable) from the iPhone to a recording device which connects to Mac via USB (with associated software), and while listening via Bluetooth headset paired with iPhone … use the recording software to save conversation in file on Mac? The software is capable, but generally uses a connection to regular phone via RJ plug to record to Mac. What I’m wondering is if it accepts the audio aux cable, will it work?

    iPhone > Bluetooth Headset > Phone to recording Device via aux cable > Recording device via USB > Mac (with recording software compatible with device) > to .wav file on Mac.

    • Craig, could you provide more details about the specific devices? I’m having trouble picturing this arrangement. Are you just trying to record a conversation, and can’t you just to that on the iPhone then transfer to the Mac?

  26. In this video the guy is recording binaural sound into his GoPro. (It’s a cool demo.) But the first comment on the youtube page he mentions getting great sound into android. he doesn’t mention stereo but thats what his video is all about, so maybe he’s doing that… i asked him via facebook but no reply yet.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gn4H8RIE468

    • The piano sound recording is too weak for an 8k Neumann microphone. I blame the camera´s mono input and low resolution frequency response. Some cameras have stereo input, 48khz resolution, 20-20k FR, even internal stereo microphones like my Samsung MMC plus (no audio inputs in this case). The app is for controlling the camera via WIFI, for what I understood, nothing is recorded on the phone. The video/audio file is then transferred to a PC for editing/posting, right?

      • I forgot. He mentions to record on his phone. For what I know, stereo recording from external microphones is only posible with some USB interfaces connected to some USB/OTG capable Android smartphone/tablets or iPads. If is mono thru TRSS you can get excellent results depending on the device resolution while recording, but I think $100 microphone and mic preamp is enough on most cases. Thank you.

        • Hi,

          Sorry for the delayed response – I’ve been on the road. For a phone, you would need an OTG capable phone. For tablets, if they have a USB cable of attaching peripherals like a mouse or keyboard, they could power some USB mics directly. I think that’s the case with the piano video you posted. And probably the way the guy with the Neumann head did it. I think he said Android, without specifying phone or tablet.

  27. Hi Friends,
    THX for the feedback ! Continuing with connecting a mic via the TRRS port:

    Any idea if and how it is possible to connect a Sennheiser ME2 (or similar Lavaliers) to an Android device (Samsung Galaxy S2 Plus) ?

    Of specific interest are hardware topics like:
    phantom power,
    pre amp,
    TRS to TRRS 4 adapter: http://www.KVconnection.com

    And here some input regarding other (Lavaliers) microphones, directly made for smartphones:

    For all smartphones and tablets
    Rode SmartLav
    http://recordinghacks.com/2013/01/30/rode-smartlav-review/

    For iPhones the (H1 style) Rode i-XY
    http://www.rodemic.com/microphones/ixy

    i found this fairly new Lavalier mic by audio-technica:
    ATR3350iS – Omnidirectional Condenser Lavalier Microphone for Smartphones
    for only US $ 26, (but not really available in Europe it seems)
    http://www.audio-technica.com/cms/wired_mics/55540ea6a5fbc94d/index.html
    http://www.amazon.com/Audio-Technica-ATR3350IS-Microphone-Smartphones/dp/B00HZA6EJO/ref=sr_1_1?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1411494988&sr=1-1&keywords=ATR3350iS

    (the new ATR3350iS is similar to audio technica’s old: Movo LV1 Lavalier, but apparently not as good as the regular ATR3350)

    i would prefer to get the higher quality Sennheiser ME 2;
    and i still speculate with getting the Sennheiser Presence Bluetooth HEADSET for my plain voice recordings….

    any input is appreciated – THX !

    “I slept and dreamed that life was joy.
    I awoke and saw that life was service.
    I acted and behold, service was joy.”
    – Tagore

    .

    • Hi,

      The Senn ME2 is meant to be used with a wireless transmitter. I’m not sure if it can be plugged straight (via adapters) into a phone. I think the Rode SmartLav or Audio-technica mics are better options. If anyone else knows more about connecting a Senn ME2, maybe they will chime in.

  28. AUDIO JACKS
    For Samsung Galaxy S2 (plus) etc. i could not find any information on the audio jack standards you mention:
    OMTP (Sony, older Android) and CTIA or AJH (Apple, newer Android) plugs.
    Any hint would be appreciated – THX !

    “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious; It is the source of all true art and science.”
    – Albert Einstein

    • Hi, the phone was built in 2013? If so, it probably is Apple compatible. One way to check is find someone with an iPhone and see if their headphones and mic (check both) will work with your phone.
      Also, regarding your earlier question about the micro-USB to HDMI, the S II plus does not appear to have a powered USB host, so even with an adapter, it wouldn’t be able to provide any power to a microphone. You might be able to attach a mixer or preamp that supplies power, but I’m not aware of any that output to HDMI.

  29. Hi there,
    THX for all the useful input – great work – much appreciated !

    First a question:
    Does anybody have any experience with Micro USB to HDMI MHL adapters to get a higher quality audio signal into e.g. a Samsung Galaxy S2 Plus ?

    Second:
    Contributing to the area of BLUETOOTH mics with some input:

    .
    Here the collected links for android bluetooth recording APPS i found on this and other sites

    Easy Voice Recorder Pro Version – very popular:
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.digipom.easyvoicerecorder.pro

    Bluetooth Voice Recorder – few users:
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.kasitskyi.voicerecorder

    Bluetooth Recorder – new:
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bluetoothrecorder

    .

    Of course the sound quality of bluetooth MICS is comparatively pretty poor, but here some of the best bluetooth headsets:
    Jawbone Era
    Sennheiser Presence
    Plantronics Voyager Legend: UC 2013, CS 2014, Voyager Edge 2014
    Bose Bluetooth Headset Series 2

    THX for allll your great work !
    with gratitude,
    burkhard

    “By our stumbling, the world is perfected.”
    – Sri Aurobindo

    “All real progress is irreversible.”
    – Nisargadatta Maharaj

    .

    • Thanks, Abner. To make sure I understand, for the guitar recordings, you did mic to mixer to TRRS? You are looking for something more portable than your PC right, what are you thinking of for a mixer or pre-amp? An iRig Pre?

      • Some ideas and recommendations on portable recording by Abner Chamate (Sept 2014):

        Recommended USB interfaces for STEREO or Multitrack recording on PC, MAC, Android or IPAD:
        Alesis iO2 $50 or iO4 (MIDI) $60 – Widely available
        EMU 0404 USB (MIDI) – Listed on Audio Evolution for Android but hard to find or discontinued
        Avid Fast Track Duo – NO MIDI – Protools Express included – $127
        Yamaha Audiogram 6 – NO MIDI – Cubase AI included – $130

        Notes: My desktop PC Windows 7 64 (AMD APU3650) has EMU0404 PCI/Yamaha mixer/Mikes where Ive done most of my works. I have a Samsung laptop Intel i5 and Tascam US600 (requires external power so there is no way to record in the jungle) to record outside my studio, no need for mixer with the Tascam, only microphones and cables. and POWER OUTLET.

        Recommended microphone for mono (TRSS external microphone): Try for yourself. You can use any mixer or iRig pre if you want to use XLR mic. I use Radio Shack with tiny preamp or any PC mic without mixer and TRSS cable directly connected to sphone/tab/Ipod touch 2G with very good results. Important note: NO NEED FOR USB MIC since it only records in mono same as TRSS in most cases.

        Recommended microphone for almost ANYTHING (I mean it): TWO SHURE SM58 – $100 x 2, or a microphone that you like with XLR connector

        Required Android Portable Device (Tablet or Smartphone)
        – Xperia U, M, SP, Z1, Z2, Z3 – Prices from $150 and up
        (Con: Small Screen, not cheap, I prefer 7″ to 21″ inches screen. Pros: can be used alone, no external mic needed for field recording).
        – Some Samsung devices (Check list at AE). Might come with stereo mics as Sony’s
        – Chinese Tablet (LONID SMARTPAD 3G in my case, Pros: $100, dual core 1.3 ghz, 7 inch, 1024×600 resolution. No internal stereo mics but you can use USB audio for stereo or TRSS mono), with this CPU (2013-2014) MEDIATEK MT8382 or MT8389 CPU (some are quad cores!), same as some known LENOVO or ASUS devices. Only make sure it has OTG capabilities.
        – Any Apple device ranging from Iphone Touch 2G (discontinued) can use TRSS mono with very good results depending on microphone/preamp been used. ANY Iphone is NOT recommended for USB audio. BETTER chance with IPADS. Used ones are cheap but not as much as Chinese tablet. They are more resistant than other devices in case you drop them.

        Recommended software for Android 4.2 or Android L (coming) : . n-track Pro (Internal, TRSS or USB). Field recorder (Internal or TRSS). Voice PRO (Internal, TRSS or BT)

        Recommended IPAD apps: Cubasis, iRig recorder, Recorder Pro (Ipod touch 2G)

        Bluetooth notes: Bluetooth speakers are marvelous, cheap if you know where to look and works with EVERYTHING this days. I got a tiny mono BT speaker with internal mic, play, rewind, forward for 250 pesos mex ($20), chinese of course. I made some test with Motorla S9HD handsfree with Voice Pro (Android or IPOD touch 2G) and I know it works but I dont have BT stereo line in trasmitter that I have seen in amazon and youtube to test and recommend at this time. Coming soon at you nearest blog or facebook…

        Some notes and other solutions: For nature sounds recording I recommend Zoom or Tascam DR07 or similar but those are not good for music recording/production. A Windows 7, 15 inch laptop/USB is usually your best option in terms of price/power for recording/editing and compatibility, and you will need a BIG screen laptop or pc, anyway to do the final transfers/editing/posting or CD burning. I know, sometimes you need to put a little more weight in your bags if you are planning to make professional recordings anywhere outside home or your studio. Things are changing very fast (2014) so I might be wrong all the way thru. 😉

        Everyone can check my work/recordings/compositions/arrangemments in youtube or soundcloud

        By Abner Chamate, Sep 20/2014
        Thanks to Cristine Haas, the people at Audio Evolution for Android and everyone around the globe and other galaxies.

        • Abner – thanks for the detailed input! Just some minor corrections (or differences of opinion) for nature recording: Shure SM58’s are better for studio than outdoors. Zoom and the cheaper Tascams are a bit noisy for nature recording, better are Sony or Olympus (at the lower end) or Sony, Marantz, or Fostex (mid) or Sound Devices (high end). Some of my other pages in the Equipment section discuss microphones and recorders for nature recording, which requires the quietest and most portable equipment. I’ll be adding more info on building quiet and inexpensive stealth mics soon.
          Keep us posted as you have the opportunity to test different equipment.

          • Thanks so much for the invitation!
            And other thoughts:

            Yes, we are both almost right, every person, specially professionals, has its owns requirements and taste. Why not using SM58 for field recording? I dont know, you dont explain much but I understand your point. In any case we both agree about Sony´s, but do you mean Xperias SP/Z2 or more specialized equipment? On last thing, we are dealing with a lot of situations here, specially financial for everyones interest not the best of the best money can buy, wich only Movie companies have that kind of resources or few rich people. My point is, let anyone do some decent recordings, we have the technology right now and is not always necesary to spend thousands of dollars in equipment, unless you want and you have it. Thanks. My humble opinion.

            • Abner – I agree completely. Not everyone needs professional gear. It’s important to know the limitations of individual components, so you can get suitable gear for your needs. Dynamic mics tend to be very sensitive to moisture, so are less suited to outside recording than condenser mics. The SM58 might be fine for a quick interview or even a short outdoor recording session. But I often leave my mics out all night long, which would not be good for a dynamic mic. By Sony, I meant their small portable recorders, like the PCM-M10 or PCM-D50. As you’ve demonstrated, with the proper (not necessarily the most expensive) gear, you can do some very nice recording. Technique is very important, too. Like professional camera gear doesn’t make you a good photographer, professional recording gear doesn’t make you a good recordist.

  30. bravo! love that last piece. quite nice, i probably wouldn’t even notice it was mono outside of this context. why don’t you record in stereo? if i send you my binaural mics, would you record a piece and send them back? I’m in japan now but ill be in the states later this yr. (just a light padded envelope will do. they are lighter than apple earbuds.) then we could hear what it’s like to play from the player’s point of view.

    here’s what it sounds like around here today. https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/1798721/sbux4.mp3 (headphones required)
    i start with the mics on the table. at 1:30 i put them in my ears.

    • Wow, thanks for the support and offering! We can get in touch in facebook by my name Abner Chamate. BTW, last recording in video is in stereo and processed, the other two are monaural, but my two cents penny is using two devices at different position when stereo is required, assuming mono recording is frequency response decent (something between 100hz and 15000 khz, that depends on microphone and mixer or preamp, someone recommended iRig pre wich a dont have).
      About your recording in stereo: 1) Im too bad at japanese 🙂 2) Your stereo mic sounds very natural for people talking, recording instrument is another story but I can try 3) Not all devices can record in stereo directly, SONY XPERIA U and SP are very good for ambience and stereo recording since I once had them (I broke and I lost one in each case) not the TRSS connection, as mentioned by Cristine, but everithing can change in few months.
      One last thought, very sensitive devices/mic multidirectional configurations are not suitable for music since they are picking all noises and sounds from around, is better directional mics, and when you have two or more you can decide where to place them and how much input level from each one you want. If you are recording a bird or a monkey/human, for example, one microphone is probably enough but most cellphones and tablets have limited frequency response so when you record is not picking all the frequencies from such animals or nature sounds and that usually sounds very cheap and noisy but not much in your recording.
      Thanks again and hope to be in touch.

  31. Thanks for the advice. Since you’ve heard of the Sabrent thing, do you think it will work on my ipad2 for stereo recording? i would go find the connector if so. Better than carrying the laptop into the field.
    otherwise i’ll check what other usb mic/mixer is known to work with iPad. any suggestions on that?

    • Hi, actually I hadn’t heard of the Sabrent before you mentioned it, but it looks pretty cool. According to the manufacturer, it requires Windows to run, so it appears to be just “Apple-magic” that it runs on your Mac ;). I did a quick search, and it doesn’t appear that it will work with an iPad (but again, it wasn’t supposed to work with the Mac). Check for apps that will accept an external sound card and try it, or you might try it with GarageBand. There are a number of websites/forums dedicated to recording on iPads. I’m not trying to brush you off, but I think you might get better answers from them.
      To start, check out this site, it covers input devices and apps for recording: http://www.songwriting.net/blog/bid/113349/Songwriting-Tip-Turn-Your-iPad-Into-a-Recording-Studio. Also Google “iPad audio interfaces.” From what I’ve seen, it looks like the connector you want it the Camera Connector. Good luck, and keep us posted.

  32. Good article but some things are outdated even at this moment, few weeks after this article. To be short, some chinese tablets, Mediatek chipset 8312, 8389 and maybe allwiner A20, A23, CAN record from some usb audio devices, I checked AUDIO EVOLUTION list and some working android devices DO HAVE those chipsets, although Davy Wentzler from AE told me they only use expensive devices (with Qualcomm, Tegra, Exynos chipsets, meaning SONY, SAMSUNG, ASUS). I remember having ART USB interface that worked but my newer TASCAM US600 is not. So, I tried TRSS on my ZTE v829 and I get signal into any app but a lot of noise. So, more, maybe Bluettooth Transmitter can be use with VOICE PRO but still no test from youtubers to clarify this option safely and musically. I´m musician and recording engineer, still using my pc for most recording but is a good idea for recording concerts if I can use my cheapo tablet or zte. I´ll be in touch. Thank you.

    • Thank you for the information. Yes, it’s impossible to stay completely current with phone and tablet technology – it’s changing so fast! I rely on readers to provide info on devices that I cannot test. Apparently, Google left audio up to the device manufacturers who seem to view it as a low priority, and have not developed any standards. So it’s difficult to tell when you choose an Android device (possibly Windows, too), what the audio capabilities will be. I hope that changes, soon, with decent USB and bluetooth support, and the apps to go with them.

      • Oops, I never meant stereo with one android device but two at almost same time with the same connections thru TRSS and combining both sources in PC editing program. Anyway my ZTE recording test sounded awful compared to Pocket Neo so one of the channels (zte device) would ruin a good recording. I still have to try more devices to experiment to couple with the Pocket. Almost everyone has. if you prefer no to spend a lot of money into some Apple or Samsung. Next try is my Ipod touch 2G, already getting mic signal to tune my guitar with handsfree set, since that model does not even come with internal microphone. And another broken but working chinese tablet, will be put into test. Last try before condemed myself to my laptop is to buy another cheap tablet or maybe my wife gets rid of her Iphone 4 to buy Iphone 6 ?Thanks for so good information.

        • Thank you for you input from testing. I would love to see a summary of your tests – if you don’t have a website I could link to, I’d be happy to create a page on mine (with credit to you, of course). Very interesting that you got such different results with the different devices.

    • I’m recording stereo on my macbook air with this Sabrent USB-SND8.
      http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001D1PWGM/
      Id RATHER record on a my phone, or at least a tablet (android, win, or any).

      i tried plugging this into my Galaxy Note1. the hardware buttons for volume and mute work, but recordings did not access the external mics. i looked through the recommended android apps for recording with external mics (above) and learned from audio-evolution.com faq that my Note1 does not support usb hosting. however, its an extensive faq and you can learn from them which phone + usb hardware will allow stereo recording. they list some known compatible combinations. thats the function of their Audio Evolution software after all. (the HTC One seems to be a phone with dual mics.)

      Tape Machine allows selecting a bluetooth mic as external. has anyone heard of stereo bluetooth mics? that option would be fine for me if they existed… theres many listed in alibaba but judging by the pics i think its just the chinese confusing mic/speaker.

      But do you think there is a tablet that i can plug this into?

      Do you know of any external hardware that can be plugged into an iPad to record stereo?

      ultimately we are only a year or two away from an out of the box phone solution with dual mic inputs i bet. so not sure about continuing this quest…

        • Hi Gnorman, You’ve definitely run into the frustrations of recording on Android. I think the Sabrent will work with a later model Galaxy Note, provided you can find one with powered USB, etc. I have few troubles with USBAudioRecorderPRO and a MEMS usb mic on my Samsung Galaxy S3 (it works most of the time). If you have the option of obtaining a new tablet, I would be tempted to go with the iPad. A lightning to USB connector will work with either a USB mic or mixer, athough for some models you may need to add external power. Fewer concerns about kernels and chipsets. Many professional musicians use iPads (check B & H Photo or other music supply houses for a sample of all the accessories available for iPad recording). I’m not a big Apple fan, but until Google decides to take care of audio within Android (instead of pushing it off on the device manufacturers), we are going to be stuck with the question of “will it” or “won’t it” work on each individual device.
          But if you decide to stick with Android, check the devices carefully on PhoneArena, and make sure it says “USB host”, not just “micro USB.” And then go back and check the compatibility list with AE. As far as Bluetooth, my understanding is that the connections are not stable, in addition to lack of stereo devices. I think the primary use of Bluetooth microphones is for lavalier-type recording, that is, providing voice audio for video and/or podcasts, where stereo is not needed. Good luck, and please keep us posted when you find something that works!

  33. Im thinking about using my android which support usb otg with usb sound card with mic input and Tascam TM-2X, will this configuration works? Will i record the stereo sound input? Pls reply.

    • Erick, you are crossing into unknown territory here! 😉 IF your usb sound card supports a stereo input, then theoretically this should work. You are still very limited on the USB apps to record with, though. I would make sure that any equipment you buy is returnable, as it might not work or you might not like the results. If it does work, please let us know. Getting external stereo input into Android devices is quite a challenge. Just out of curiosity, which Android device are you using, and which USB sound card?

        • Hi Erick, Phonearena doesn’t list the Moto G as having USB OTG – are you sure the usb port is powered? That Diamond Sound Tube sounds like quite a device! One other thing to watch for is the impedance and power requirements of the mic. Since the Tascam is designed for DSLRs, which don’t supply much power, you want to make sure that the Sound Tube doesn’t overwhelm it. Not likely, given USB is also a low power source, but you are connecting a few things here that weren’t exactly designed for each other. Of course, if the USB port isn’t powered, then the Sound Tube won’t work. You could still use the Tascam with the TRRS port (with an adapter), but the signal would be mono, so not worth it. Anyway, theoretically this might work. Best of luck, and let me know how it goes.

  34. An interesting article. I discovered it while searching for a typical microphone input impedance figure for a Smartphone’s headset jack. It might be of interest to some people if you mention it. (I’m still looking.)

    • Thanks for the comment, David. I did run across those figures at one time. I look again and try to post them. Hopefully they are standardized and don’t differ among phones!

  35. Not only with RecForge but also with EasyVoiceRecorder and Hi-Q MP3 Recorder. Without activating equalizer and limiter of Field Recorder I could notice only little difference in sound quality. But with these features I found a setting for my phone which is really close to my old Zoom H2. Aditionally, I prefer the more classical user interface of Field Recorder which is quite close to a real hardware recorder.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Stefan! I downloaded the app and it looks quite interesting. Have you tried it with external mics?

      • Yes, I own a MicW i456 which is really nice. I also use it with my Nexus10. It has a cardioid directional pattern and you perfectly hear how it attenuates sound from from the side and back. There is also a Rode mic which is said to work very well with Android devices but I’ve no experience with it.

  36. Thank you for your great hints! Only one addition: You don’t mention Field Recorder for Android which is on sale just now. I bought it and besides the great sound (yes I’m a fan) the website, albeit only in German, explains with nice pictures how to make the TRRS adapter with additional headphones plug DIY.

  37. A little more info for you from the Windows phone camp. I have had a series of them, going as far back as the original Samsung 917 Windows Phone 7. Now have a Lumia 520 Windows phone 8. Waiting (not so patiently) for the Lumia ICON to come to ATT……

    All of them have had standard TRRS connections wired the same as Apple. I’ve never had a problem with any iPhone TRRS adapter I’ve tried for various mics (that provide their own power). I’ve also found that the R0DE SmartLav works great on my Windows Phone. It’s my go- to at this point.

    The app selection for recording is thin, but there are a couple of good ones. Unless you’re looking to do multi-track or heavy editing right on the phone you’ll be fine.

    My two complaints about the setup are:
    1. The 520 is a really low end phone, and tends to drop samples when recording in stereo at 44.1kHz or higher. I never record in stereo, but this still bothers me. See my a fore mentioned desire for the ICON.
    2. Getting your stuff off the phone either requires that you sync to cloud storage and then back down to your PC, or it requires a couple manual steps on both the phone and the computer. Again, this doesn’t really affect my workflow so much as it’s pointlessly annoying.

    • Matt, thanks so much for the information, I’ll update that section of the page. The TRRS is a mono jack (stereo outputs but mono input). I wonder if the problem with dropouts is software trying to do something that the hardware can’t?

    • Hi,
      Mics for cameras and camcorders have slightly different connections, so I’m not sure the adapter would work. It might be worth a try, though. If it doesn’t work, try a mic designed for a regular recorder, of possibly see if KVConnection has the adapter you need.

  38. Hi! Very nice text! It answers almost all my doubts!
    I will buy a Tascam iXZ to use with my Galaxy S4 and multitrack recordings.
    If it works fine I will tell you here about my experience.
    Do you have any information about using of midi keyboard controllers with Android?

    • Hi Glaydson, please let us know if the iXZ works with the Galaxy S4. On their website, they only mention Apple products. I don’t have any experience with midi and Android. Overall, I’ve been quite disappointed in Android’s abilities for sound recording, and I think most people who want to record are using iPhones and iPads.

  39. Hi, since TRRS only has one mic channel, the setup pictured for this product is pointless, right?
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K109QX6/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_S_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=KDRLBLDSXBTF&coliid=I3CF4XJ3A5YXU

    I would like to use these mics, so I would need a micro-usb gadget for my Samsung Note1. I believe this angle is missing from your informative article. You list only mics with micro-usb interface, but I think i need just the interface… Have you heard of one?

    • Hi, You are correct about the binaural mics and the TRRS port. Depending on the app, you might get two mono channels or just one, but it won’t be true stereo. Not sure what the designers were thinking.

      If there is a micro-usb to usb adapter for the Note, then you can use something like the iMic or iLuv adapters (pictured in the article), but both of those are mono signals (extra port is for monitoring through headphones). You can try something like a Behrenger UCA202 Audio Interface (which has left and right channels separate), but I think it needs more power than your tablet can supply. I don’t know of a good solution for getting stereo into an Android device yet.

  40. Hi, I’ve got the Samsung note 3 and i use the standard camera app in voice activation mode basically hands free so i shout out cheese or smile, i do a lot of self takes which means the phone is 5ft to 6ft away and the built in mic dosnt pick up my voice from that distance when outside. So my question is there a mic out there more powerful to pic up my voice than a standard built in mic I can just plug n’ play would be great if you could help me out..thx

    • Wow, I just learned something new my phone can do! I played with the voice activation on the camera app, and it does seem to be distance sensitive. I tried plugging a mic into the TRRS port and the USB port, and it didn’t register it at all, so it’s likely that it won’t work with an external mic. I did find the voice activation to be pretty finicky, and it wouldn’t work if the camera was having trouble auto-focusing. Have you tried other voice activation apps? Have you checked the settings in the phone to see if you can increase the mic settings, perhaps turning noise reduction off or on might help? Would using the self-timer function on the camera app be a better option?
      Sorry I couldn’t be of more help. Please let me know if you find something that works.

    • A good microphone + Mixer or iRigPre works with ANY ANDROID or IOS with microphone input (TRSS OMTP or CTIA). Tested with very cheap Samsung Pocket Neo with professional results MONO only. I will try soon with identical setup with ZTE v829 cellphone and get stereo recording when needed but requires some mixing on PC with Cubase or Vegas. Thats my portable solution at this time 🙂

      • Thanks for the input, Abner. But you should be able to get only MONO on TRSS (no matter what you put in), as only one of the rings corresponds to mic input, and you would need two rings for stereo. Some apps will record 2 x MONO, but it’s not true stereo. As I understand it, the only way to get stereo into a smartphone is via USB (with stereo mic or mixer) or Bluetooth, if there were such a thing as a Bluetooth stereo mic. But it sounds like you’ve found a way to get a good signal via TRSS, even if its MONO.

    • Sandra,

      I’ve been waiting for someone to ask that question 😉

      I don’t have a good answer for you, as I haven’t been able to find much on the specs of the phones. The Nokia Lumias are reportedly very good on sound recording with their on board mics.

      Check the earbuds that came with the phone. If they are TRRS, you might be able to get a microphone to work through the headset jack. The other thing to check is if the charging port is a micro-usb that can supply power. Then you should be able to hook up a USB-OTG cable for a USB mic. And I think the Bluetooth mics should work, if you can find an app that will accept Bluetooth input.

      I’ll be posting the results of some preliminary testing of mics into different types of phones soon (no Win phones, unfortunately). What the results show so far is that you are better off getting mics designed for smartphones rather than using adapters for regular mics. And the USB port works better than the headset jack.

      Here is a link I found that discusses audio apps for Windows phones:
      http://allaboutwindowsphone.com/features/item/19210_Recording_sound-7_audio_captur.php

      If you are able to do any recording (even with onboard mics), please report back. I would love to include some info on Windows phones.

        • Hi Sandra,

          I revised the page some, with a little info about Windows phones. It appears that mics through the TRRS may or may not work, the phones don’t act as a USB host so USB mics are out, but they are Bluetooth compatible. So Windows phones seem even worse than Android for audio recording.

  41. how, about smartphone on-board analog-to-digital conversion system of signal.
    witch conversion may possible ? for various smartphone – 44,1 kHz, or 96 .. 192 ?
    and is they can record with 24 bit. ?
    there possible a case when software codec accept record in 24 bit 96 khz, but hardware not can.
    and we may have obtain a file witch characteristic not correct.

    • Hi Nick,

      Good question. The limited info I’ve been able to find on audio codecs for smartphones indicates potential but they haven’t done much with it yet (perhaps this is different with Apple products, I’m still checking). Most Android phones seem to be limited to 44.1/16. In addition, they seem to insist on building in hi-pass filters and noise-gates, which may improve phone calls but hamper the sound recordist. So perhaps the best way to get sound into the phone, with user-adjustable settings, is through an external interface that provides its own sound card. This should be possible with a USB audio interface and a USB-OTG or other USB adapter for iPhone. The Ultramic does this, with the MEMS microphone acting as its own soundcard, and so can sample at 200 kHz and 16 bits. It’s too noisy for most audible recordings though.
      I don’t know if there is enough demand for the manufactures to upgrade the audio codecs, and few apps are designed to record beyond the limits of the onboard mic.
      Does that answer your question?

  42. Great article. And I would be glad to see that you observe the development in the next months. Compared to photography the audio recording in android is still poor.

    • Thanks, Ernst. I agree. I hope to be doing some comparisons soon with the Sony PCM-M10 and Samsung Galaxy S3 (and iPhone if I can get my hands on one). Initial reports indicate the Samsung Galaxy S2 was pretty noisy, and I expect to find the same with the S3.

  43. “they may overtake recording they way they have overtaken photography”.
    Well, just for the same reason, practicality and ease of use. They allow you not to carry a hundred devices with you, they work decently out of the box allowing amateurs to get satisfying results instead of having to set everything up knowing what you’re doing, they are compact and such. But they will never get the same quality. Just like there are a lot of Compact Digital cameras (let alone Reflex ones) which can beat the Lumia 1020 in taking photographs.
    Great article by the way.

    • Thanks, Luca. I agree completely. Perhaps in the way smart phones have turned everyone into a photographer (even if not professional quality), they can turn everyone into a sound recordist, and make them more aware of the sounds around them.

    • Apogee has made the One with battery power and Duet -needs dc power for ipad, ipod, iphone and mac which deliver studio quality recordings used by many professional musicians -professional sound studio on the go
      Much better than most wrongly labeled 24bit handheld recorder which actually perform only at max.16bit
      Check ken rockwell’ s and apogee’s websites

      • Thanks for the comment. Yes, Apple is really light years ahead of Android when it comes to recording. Apple built the iPod, iPhone, and iPad with audio in mind, and their are now plenty of apps and accessories to support them for recording, mixing, and playing audio. On the other hand, Google left audio up to the individual phone manufacturers, apparently none of which are concerned about audio, with the possible exception of HTC. The only concession appears to be making the TRRS jack compliant with Apple standards. But the TRRS jack is limited to mono, so for Android (and Windows) to become serious about audio, more attention needs to be paid to the power port (making powered usb universal) and writing audio access into the OS.

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