All smartphones contain some type of microphone function. Otherwise, how would the person on the other end hear you? This is fine for phone calls because most smartphones contain some type of noise cancellation technology.
But what if you want to record high-quality audio using your smartphone? Unfortunately, this is where the built-in microphones begin to fumble. Unless you plan to have the phone right up against your face, the quality is not good.
This is where the need for an external microphone comes in. So, here’s everything you need to know on how to connect an external microphone to a smartphone.
You’ve decided that you would like to take advantage of your smartphone’s computer-like capabilities to record high-quality audio with an external microphone.
There are two ways to connect an external microphone to a smartphone. The first is using a wireless connection such as Bluetooth. The second is a physical connection using a cable.
Analog to digital…
Microphones capture an analog signal. But you need to send those sounds to a digital device, in this case, your smartphone. This requires the use of an ADC (Analog to Digital Converter).
Luckily, these ADCs are tiny, and there is one already inside your smartphone. More effective ADCs can also be found in dedicated units, within cables, or also even within the microphone itself.
I will discuss four different methods for connecting external mics to a smartphone. Depending on what equipment you have available and the results you wish to achieve, the method used could vary.
The first option will be connecting wirelessly via Bluetooth. Next is another wireless option using the smartphone’s headphone jack. For the wired connection, I’ll discuss how to connect a mic to a smartphone headphone jack. Finally, is the wired connection using the charging port on your smartphone.
Wireless Bluetooth Connection
Since 2001, Bluetooth has been available in smartphones. Every smartphone currently available will contain Bluetooth capability. It is an incredibly useful tool for communicating digital data between devices wirelessly.
The way Bluetooth transmits data is by using short-wavelength UHF radio waves. Signals range between 2.400GHz and 2.485GHz and are only used over a short distance, usually within an area of around 33-feet (10-meters).
Transmitting and receiving…
Bluetooth works by inserting a microchip inside the device. This chip can act as both a transmitter and receiver. In the case of the microphone, the Bluetooth chip will transmit data, and the smartphone’s Bluetooth chip will receive data.
There are two main ways to use Bluetooth with an external microphone. First, the microphone will have Bluetooth built-in already. The second option is to add a transmitter to a microphone without Bluetooth enabled. I will include some products as an example.
This convenient and compact clip-on wireless Bluetooth microphone from Lewinner is compatible with all Bluetooth smartphones. It is perfect for vloggers, bloggers, YouTubers, interviewers, and any other audio recording applications.
If you have an old analog microphone tucked away in a draw that uses an XLR connection, give it a new life by simply plugging in the Alto transmitter, it then instantly becomes a wireless Bluetooth microphone.
Connecting a Bluetooth Microphone to an Android Smartphone
When you connect a Bluetooth device, it’s known as “pairing.” This is a simple process and only takes a moment to complete. The steps might vary slightly depending on your model of phone. Therefore, I’ve kept them reasonably broad.
- Ensure the microphone or transmitter is in [Pairing Mode].
- Open the [Settings] on your Android smartphone.
- Select [Connections] followed by [Bluetooth].
- Ensure Bluetooth is on and select the microphone or transmitter from the list.
Connecting a Bluetooth Microphone to an iPhone
Pairing an external microphone to an iPhone is just as easy and follows a very similar process. Grab your devices and follow along with these simple steps to connect an external Bluetooth microphone to an iPhone:
- Ensure your microphone or transmitter is in [Pairing Mode].
- On your iPhone, open up the [Settings] menu.
- Select [Bluetooth] and ensure it is turned on.
- Locate the microphone or receiver in the list and select it to pair.
Wireless Connection Using the Smartphone’s Headphone Jack
Some external microphones use a wireless system that can include Bluetooth or other types of radiofrequency. The transmitter will be located inside the microphone, with the receiver usually being plugged into an audio device.
Any wireless microphone system can connect to your smartphone as long as the receiver output uses a 3.5mm plug. The 3.5mm plug can then be inserted into the smartphone’s headphone jack, and it will recognize the audio signal.
If the receiver uses an output other than a 3.5mm plug, there are adapters available. Here are some examples of the different types of adapters.
For receivers that use an RCA output, usually plugged into amplifiers or PA equipment, use this cable. The JSAUX cable features gold-plated terminals for superior conductivity and double shielding for reduced interference.
Perhaps your receiver only has an XLR output. This high-quality nylon braided cable from TISINO will allow you to connect directly from the receiver’s XLR output directly into your smartphone’s headphone jack.
Some microphone receivers use a plug that looks very similar to what’s found on headphones, only larger. They can often be found on musical instruments and use a 6.35mm plug. This JSAUX cable should do the trick.
Connecting Directly to the Smartphone’s Headphone Jack
Probably the simplest method for how to connect an external microphone to a smartphone. Assuming that your smartphone still has a headphone jack. As mentioned earlier, new iPhone models do not include a standard headphone jack.
Some Android phones have also begun to follow suit with the removal of the headphone jack. Don’t worry, though, as the next section will offer some more options. For now, let’s take a look at connecting directly to the 3.5mm audio jack known as the “headphone jack.”
It’s that easy…
I told you this one is easy. Take the 3.5mm jack at the end of the microphone, and plug it into the headphone jack on your smartphone. That’s it! You’re ready to go. Of course, life’s not always that easy.
Not all microphones have a 3.5mm jack at the end of their cable. Don’t forget you can always use the TISINO XLR to 3.5mm cable or the JSAUX 6.35mm to 3.5mm cable I mentioned earlier. However, to save yourself the trouble, here are some microphones with a 3.5mm output.
Handheld microphones work great for musical performances, presentations, and interviews. This affordable yet quality omnidirectional microphone can plug directly into your smartphone.
Perfect for presenting and recording voice memos is this compact and lightweight lavalier microphone from ESTIQ. It can be clipped to a shirt or blouse, allowing hands-free operation by plugging directly into your smartphone’s headphone jack.
Condenser microphones are best used for recording voiceovers, podcasts, and are also great for singing. This awesome condenser microphone from EIVOTOR can plug directly into your smartphone’s headphone jack for fast and simple performance.
Connecting to a Smartphone’s Charging Port
More and more smartphones are now being released without a headphone jack. Due to this, more and more products are being released that can be connected directly through a smartphone’s charging port.
For iPhone users, Apple utilizes a Lightning connection for their charging ports. Most Android smartphones now use a USB Type-C connection as their charging port. Some microphones and adapters cater to both connection types. Here are some examples.
Starting with the most simple option is this lavalier microphone from Movo called the iLav. It simply connects directly to your iPhone’s charging port and provides high-quality audio immediately using plug-and-play.
For Android users, take a look at the YCDC lavalier microphone that uses a USB Type-C connector. You can plug directly into the charging port of your smartphone and immediately enjoy omnidirectional microphone input.
iPhone users can use an adapter to gain the use of a 3.5mm headphone jack. However, if you use your charging port for a microphone or adapter, then you can’t charge your phone at the same time. This product from DESOFICON provides both a 3.5mm jack and Lightning jack.
Once again, Android users don’t need to miss out. This cool little adapter from NIMASO plus into your smartphone’s charging port. You then gain a 3.5mm headphone jack, along with a USB Type-C jack for charging your phone at the same time.
Connecting a professional analog microphone with an XLR output to your iPhone is also possible. Using this XLR to Lightning cable from Saramonic, you can enjoy performance-quality sound on your smartphone.
Android users can also enjoy the performance-quality professional sound from an analog microphone. Comica provides this XLR to USB Type-C cable that can connect seamlessly from your microphone to your smartphone.
Phantom Power Supplies
Using a microphone with an XLR output is likely to require a phantom power supply. XLR microphones often receive their power from the amplifier they are connected to. So, here is an example of a phantom power supply to overcome this issue.
By plugging this power supply from Aokeo into a power outlet, it can provide the 48 volts the microphone requires. The microphone’s XLR output connects to the power supply, which has its own XLR output for connecting to your smartphone.
Looking for a Great Microphone?
We can help you find what you need. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best External Android Microphones, the Best External Microphones For iPhone, the Best iOS Microphones, the Best Condenser Microphones, the Best Lavalier Microphones, and the Best Microphones For YouTube you can buy in 2021.
Also, have a look at our comprehensive reviews of the Best Cheap Microphone Under $50, the Best Wireless Microphones, the Best Live Vocal Mics, the Best Computer Microphones, the Best Interview Microphones, and the Best Dynamic Microphones currently on the market.
How to Connect an External Microphone to a Smartphone – Final Thoughts
As you can see, there are many different methods and options for connecting an external microphone to a smartphone. And no matter what microphone, smartphone, or connection type, chances are they can connect.
Microphones come with various connection types. As a result, there is an adapter available for just about everything. Luckily all these products are highly affordable, of great quality, and readily available.
I have covered all the main connection types and equipment. So, you should now be experiencing improved audio using your smartphone along with an external microphone.
Until next time, make yourself heard.