Here is how to use a wireless mic with an iPhone.
Recently, a friend asked me how he could use an external microphone on his iPhone to shoot video.
Why Would I Want To Use a Wireless Mic With An iPhone?
The basic reason for using an external/3rd-party mic is pretty easy, since any number of companies now have good mics available specifically for iPhone/iPad use (like the Zoom iQ6, the Rode iXY, and the Blue Mikey Digital, to name a few).
All those companies, however, assume you will be close to the mic, using it as a mobile field recorder or in the studio to record music.
Why Does The Mic Need To Be Close?
Shooting video when your subject is many feet away from the mic usually yields pretty poor audio. See my article, along with a video, which shows you how to solve this problem, here: How To Get Good Audio On Your Videos.
My friend wanted to do just that: use his iPhone to record video of himself from several feet away. And to make things just a little bit more difficult, he wanted to be able to move around.
How Do You Make That Happen?
Now, if he were using a regular video camera / camcorder, I would refer him to the advice in the above article.
If it has an external mic jack, I would say to use that camcorder with a wireless lapel mic Azden WMS Pro).
If that camcorder does NOT have an external mic jack, I would say to simply record onto either a good handheld digital field recorder (like the Zoom H6) or directly into a computer through a decent audio interface (like a Focusrite Scarlett).
In all those scenarios, you’d want the microphone as close to your mouth as possible.
The Challenge For My Friend’s Video Needs
But he wasn’t using a camcorder, he was using an iPhone. At first, I thought it might be possible to plug the 1/8th-inch pin on my Azden wireless receiver directly into the iPhone’s dual headphone/mic jack – it certainly fits in there. But nope, that doesn’t work, primarily because Apple built their jack to accept very specific types of plugs which carry just the right kind of signal.
So though it might fit in the hole, an external mic will not work like that with iPhones – it needs a little help.
That help comes in the form of a humble-looking little cable about 12 inches long. Technically it is a 4-pole male connector (they have 3 strips on the pin) on one end and a female adapter on the other. There are a few out there. The one I tested in the video below is the KVConnection KM iPhone Microphone Adapter. But that doesn’t appear to be available any longer. So here is one by Rode: Rode SC4 3 inches Microphone Cable.
This little puppy (which costs $14.28) converts a normal microphone plug into the type that an iPhone wants in order to recognize the mic – a 4-pole “TRRS” (tip-ring-ring-sleeve).
You simply insert your mic’s plug into the female end of the Rode adapter, and THEN plug the Rode’s 1/8th-inch pin into the iPhone jack, and “hey presto,” “Bob’s your uncle,” etc.
You can stand across the room with the Azden lapel mic stuck to your shirt and walk around to your heart’s content. The lapel mic will beam its wireless audio signal to the Azden receiver, which is plugged into the KM adapter.
Is There A Video Demonstrating This?
Why yes there is:). In the video below, I compare the audio with video shot with my iPhone 5S, first using just the built-in mic, then with the audio that came through the wireless mic attached as described above.
If you have headphones, I recommend using them to get the full effect of how different the two audio samples sound.
By the way, there are other products that allow you to plug external microphones into iDevices. One that looks really useful is the Tascam iXZ Instrument/Mic, which you can plug XLR and 1/4-inch microphones – basically, most standard mic cables – into.
I’m glad my friend asked that question. Now I know how to plug a wireless mic into an iPhone, and so do you!