iPhone – iPad External Microphone adapters

Paul Shillito Audio 23 Comments

Here is a list of stores which I have found on my travels around the interweb. All of the proper stores make up these lead themselves so they tend to look less professional but this is the least you should worry about. Contact the supplier and see if they will help choose the right lead, the companies that are on the ball will know exactly what to tell you. If you know of any more let me know and I’ll add them to the list.

KV Connectionhttp://www.kvconnection.com/category-s/8682.htm
This is one of the best sources for iPhone/iPad external microphone adapters out there, they are based in the USA but will send world wide, when I ordered mine it arrived in about a week. Build quality is very good to, not the cheapest around but about the best you can buy, unless you know any more.

Jan 2015 EDIT – I have had a few people asking about if the iPad Air and Air 2 will work with an external mic. Well the Ipad Air and Air 2 are really just new names for the iPad range, the orginal series went up to the iPad 4 so the Air would have been the iPad 5 and Air 2 the iPad 6. Now as to the ability to use an external mic, there is little difference between the Air models and the previous ranges.

I spoke with the guys at KV connection and they said that if you had an adapter lead that is more than a couple of years old it may not work with the Air models BUT if you bought a new one now they are fully backwards compatible and will work on all the ranges from the iPad 1 all the way up to the Ipad Air 2.

Conversor’s eBay Shop –  http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/3-5mm-jack-socket-cable-connecting-audio-source-iPod-iPad-and-iPhone-/200983664024
Now contrary to the warning I give in the video, this is one of the ones on Ebay that do work, I have used one of their adapters for non powered mics and that works well, this one is for powered mic like the Audio Technica ATR3350.

Micronic.co.ukhttp://www.micronic.co.uk/store/item/734/standard-3.5mm-microphone-adapter-for-ipad-ipod-iphone-This is another one which have an Ebay store but also they have their own webstore, they cover quite a lot of different adapters for iPhone and Android products, I haven’t tried any of them but they look like they know what they are doing.

Ebay stores to be wary of : Some of the white and very apple looking products from China are the biggest problem. I bought one which was advertised as a Mic/Headphone splitter, it was cheap and looked good, however on trying it out, could I hell as like get it to work with any mic, so I decided to cut the thing open and see just how it was wired. Low and behold it wasn’t even connected to the mic, it was a dual headphone splitter for two headphones to run from one iPhone/iPad output. The fact that it didn’t have any indication as to which was the headphone output and the supposed mic input should have been a tell tale sign but that was a bit after the fact.
Ho hum we live and learn…. hopefully. 🙂


{Video Transcript}

Are you looking to use external mic with your iPhone or iPad , then spare the next few minutes , it could save you a lot of time and aggravation.

With the ability to record high-quality video many people use iPhones and iPads as a video cameras to make videos for business, home, or just pleasure. But like most devices with built in microphones, the audio can leave a lot to be desired. If you want to put over a professional image then your audio is just as important as your video, if not more so.

Like it or not if you want good audio you going to have to use an external mic and for vocal work of the most popular types is a lapel mic, Iike i’m wearing now.

Now you would think it is simple just by a lapel mic, plug it in and start recording. But like so many seemingly simple things in life it turns out not to be so. You can’t just plug any mic into an iPhone or iPad. Apple don’t use the usual connection method of a connector for mic and another for the headphones, instead they’ve combined them together into one connector.

Now unless you buy microphone that is specifically made for the iPad or iPhone your going to need one of these. It’s an adapter that allows you to plug your microphone into an iPhone or iPad. Sounds simple, yes it should be but here comes another but there are two types microphones, ones which work with an external battery like this ATR3350 from Audio-Technica. You can tell these could have a small container with a battery lives somewhere along the lead. And then there are the self-power ones these get their power from the device itself, they have a mic at one end and a connector at the other and nothing else in between.

Now the problem if you can’t use the same adapter lead for both microphones you have to get on a different adapter lead for each mic otherwise your microphone will not work.

Now just add even more confusion into the mix, the iPhones and iPads are configured to carry on using the internal mic when it doesn’t recognise the external mic correctly.

Unlike most normal audio equipment, if you had the wrong connector you normally get no sound recorded but in this case you still may get an audio recording but of a somewhat poorer than expected quality because it’s still going to be recording from the internal mic.

If you don’t know about this it will have you pulling your hair out and wondering just what the hell is going on when your iPhone continues to use the internal mic even when you have an external one plugged into it.

When it happened to me I was lucky I have both types of mic available, so when are battery- powered one didn’t work I tried the self powered one and that worked fine and that’s when I realised it down to the type of mic that causes this problem.

There are a few suppliers out there selling these adapter cables but before you buy anything you should make sure that the company or person you’re buying from knows about this and offers two types of adapter cable, one for battery- powered mics and one for self-powered mics in that they can tell which one you need depending upon the microphone you have. Check on our website at video-alchemy.com or it is there is a link under this video click on there and we have a list of suppliers which we have already found.

There is no standard to these, Apple do not make an official adapter so they could look like this or this, so you just have to trust your supplier to give you the right one just beware the cheap ones offered on eBay and Amazon because they don’t always work.

Again look for a supplier which knows you have two different types of Leads.

So that’s it now you know what to look for in adapter that matches your microphone and hopefully your audio will sound great.

Comments 23

  1. Jimmy

    Hi Paul thanks for all the info. What I would like to ask is: I’m going to buy a Audio Techinca Pro88W R35 pro series wireless lavalier microphone so I should get the battery powered type?? I just want to be sure. Will be using with iPhone 6 .

  2. Mike Flake

    I was wondering if you are OK? Haven’t received any info from you for a while and saw your youtube videos are gone. Mike

    I have other site too, and other email address.

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  3. Robert

    Great articule but I have one question: where can I buy the right adaptor to use my Pyle wireless mic with my iPhone? I bought the adaptor to plug in the 6.5mm male plug from the Pyle receiver into the iPhone but the adaptor evidently has two black lines on the male end and I understand there needs to be 3 in order to work. What is the right name for this type of adaptor? Where can I buy one?

  4. Lucy Marley


    So I’ve bought a cheap mic from amazon which doesn’t have a battery, but is powered by the device. So I want to use it on my ipad mini 2 and record songs and gaming videos. Just wondering what adapter I need? And also if an earphone splitter the same as something like this: http://www.amazon.co.uk/3-5mm-Headphone-Earphone-Microphone-Splitter/dp/B002JV4M5C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1443100080&sr=8-1&keywords=microphone+and+earphone+splitter ? I was planning to get this from amazon but I wasn’t sure if it was the right one.


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  5. Karen Rosenthal

    Your comments are very helpful. Can you make a recommendation for me? I am looking for an affordable (under $50) external lavalier microphone to be used with my iPad Mini with Retina display. This will be used for in-room only videos for my business; my iPad Mini will be attached to a tripod. I’ve read reviews of mics and am confused as to what to get. I want a cord at least 10 ft long. What adapter will I need to attach mic to my iPad Mini?

    Thank you in advance for any assistance you can give me!

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      Paul Shillito

      Hi Karen,

      The Audio Technica ATR3350 is a good mic and you will need an adapter cable for battery powered mics like the one from KVconnectors which i list in the post. Another connector which allows both the mic and headset to work is this one http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/3-5mm-jack-socket-cable-for-AudioTechnica-ATR3350-for-iPod-iPad-and-iPhone/191059235589.
      You can also use the Rode Smart Lav+ which is highly rated and made for the IOS devices so you don’t need an adapter cable, it just plugs in.

  6. Irene Meiller

    Hello Paul,

    I am planning on doing interviews to get video testimonials with some of my clients and colleagues. Since I am new to this I decided to buy a low end wireless mic, the Pyle PDWM96. I also bought a tripod and plan on using my iPad to film the interviews. Of course when the wireless mic arrived today and did not work I started to do some research and feel grateful to have found your site! Thank you for all the valuable information you provide. I am just confused on what kind of adaptor to get for a wireless mic. It is battery operated but was not sure because it is wireless. Does that even matter? What kind of beginners adaptor, (low cost) would work for this wireless mic?

    Thank you kindly,
    Irene Meiller

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      Paul Shillito

      Hi Irene,
      If its a wireless mic then you’ll need an adapter lead for a battery powered mic. If you look at the links in this post they will show which lead you need, don’t forget if you need more help of their lead email the suppliers and tell them what your doing and what mic you have and they should be able to guide you as to which one you need.

  7. Jonathan Crosby

    Hi. Great tutorial. are you aware of a simple splitter type adapter (mic/headphone) that will work with a self powered mic? It seems the only adapter that will work is a direct in, which doesn’t allow you to monitor the recording with headphones. Thanks!

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      Paul Shillito

      The only IOS interface that I know of which has a live monitoring function for head phones is the iRig http://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/irigpre/ but that works with XLR microphones. You would need to get a converter to take the 3.5mm output of your mic to a XLR connector. But there is still the chance that it might not work with the XLR input electronics.

      You can get lapel mics with XLR connectors, that would work great with the iRig and you can monitor it live with the head phone jack.

  8. Henry

    Hi Paul,

    Thanks for the tips, however I’m just a bit confused about one thing. You state that you can’t use the one cable for both type of microphones, yet the micronic link you provided states otherwise.

    Have you tried one since?



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      Paul Shillito

      Normally you cant because they are electrically different, I know that cables made for one type of mic don’t for the other type, this is what prompted the video in the first place.

      I assumed that they did but in practise it was not the case, however I have not tried the Micronic cable recently so maybe they have found a way around it. Best to ask if they will accept a a return if it doesn’t work for you.

  9. Judi

    I am looking for an external mic for a student with a physical disability to dictate into her iPad for speech recognition. She has a soft voice & the iOS earbud/mic just doesn’t pick her voice up well enough. I found the Rode SmartLav on Amazon ….it doesn’t say that it needs an adapter, but after watching your video, I want to be sure. Would you recommend this mic for this type of situation? If not, can you recommend something else? Thanks in advance

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      Paul Shillito

      Hi Judi

      The Rode Smart Lav is an unpowered mic but as it is not designed for the iPad, namely it uses the 3 ring connector and not the native Apple iPad 4 ring connector you will need an adapter. You will need one for non battery unpowered mics, have a look at the suppliers I list in this post and if your unsure ask them.

      As for the volume issue an easy way to control the level will be the positioning of the mic, if she can place it close to her mouth the input will be louder. You might have to wrap the mic in some soft cloth to reduce the breath sounds which might trip up the speech recognition software.

      There are apps like iRig recorder which can boost the volume but i’m not sure if they work with Siri, but it is free so its worth a try.

  10. Darren Ingram

    Dear Sir,
    I am recording student presentations on my Ipad 4 and recently purchased a Snowball ice microphone to use as my external microphone. I connected the Snowball to the Ipad via the lightning to camera connector. The Snowball became powered but error messages appeared about ‘this device not supported by Ipad’ appeared and the sound quality appeared to be from the built-in mic rather than the Snowball. Is another adapter required here or am I resigned to the sound quality I have? My ipad is supporting ios7 and I used the built in camera app to record. Sorry about the length of my query.

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      Paul Shillito

      Hi Darren,

      Well it should work OK but there was a recent Apple IOS update that reduced the power that is available to the lightning port. This could make your Snowball mic not work correctly even though the light is on, there is just not enough power to run it, that would also affect some devices and not others depending upon their power requirements.

      There is an easy fix for this and that is to use a powered USB hub. Plug the hub in the iPad 4 lighting adapter, then the Snowball mic in to the hub, if all is well then it should work fine and you should have good audio 🙂

  11. lieven vrijdags

    Dear Sir,
    I have an Ipad model MD 514 LL/A.
    I’d like to film with it an I saw you tutorial on youtube.
    It is very well explained.
    I’d like to buy a “Rode Smart Lavalier” mic but what adaptor (what model) do I need? I would aloso like to connect two mic’s to the I pad to record two voices at one time, like for an interview for example. How do I do this?
    Sorry for all the trouble.
    Sinsere regards,
    Lieven Vrijdags

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      Paul Shillito

      Hi Lieven,

      The Rode Smart Lavalier is a non powered mic, that is it does not have a battery. So you want the unpowered version of the adapter. You could try this one which is available on Ebay http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/STANDARD-3-5mm-MICROPHONE-ADAPTER-iPad-iPod-iPhone-/280989510896
      You could also look at the KVconnectons one but this will have to come from the USA here http://www.kvconnection.com/product-p/km-iphone-mic-ecm.htm
      To record more than one mic at the same time you will need a audio mixer. Something like the the Behringer Q1202USB usb mixer.
      I use this with lav mics which have the XLR connectors but it can take normal 1/4 inch connectors so the Rode would need an adapter to step it up from the 3.5mm to 1/4 inch size, these are easily available and cost a couple of Euros. This would allow you to connect 4 mics up at once and control the levels of each one individually.

      You would then sends the output from the mixer to your iPhone via the phono or 1/4 inch outputs so you would need an adapter lead to go from there to the iPhone, again kvconnections do one here http://www.kvconnection.com/product-p/km-iphone-micp-a22.htm.

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