Question: Can I use my microphone with an iOS or Android Device?
Answer: As we often say, the answer to so many questions in the audio world is “It depends.” And that’s the short (and, perhaps, not very satisfactory) answer here as well. The reason it depends is that although 3.5 mm (⅛”) microphone connections are the same size, the connections themselves are not created equal.
When you plug a microphone into a device such as a mixer, computer, or recorder, you always need to make certain that the specifications of the microphone and the other device are compatible. For example, while the 3.5 mm connection on an iPod and iPhone look similar on the outside, they are different on the inside. The iPod has a standard TRS (tip-ring-sleeve) connection that connects to headphones (TRS: audio left, audio right, ground, respectively). Other devices such as iPhones, iPads, and Android phones/tablets have a TRRS (tip-ring-ring-sleeve) connection. Therefore, if you plug a TRS device (such as a 3.5 mm microphone) into a TRRS device (such as an iPhone), the connection will not work properly. To further complicate things, there are two major standards for TRRS used with smartphones: Standard CTIA and Standard OMTP. Apple and CTIA, the wireless industry association, worked together to create the CTIA connection (shown below). With the popularity of Apple’s iOS devices, most other devices on the market now likewise use the CTIA pinout. For comparison, we show the OMTP standard, which is less commonly used today.
That’s enough technical jargon for now – let’s get to the microphones!
If your microphone isn’t specifically designed to be connected to an iOS or Android device, the solution is to use a proper adapter, which is a TRS (female) to TRRS (male) adapter. There are also some after-market, in-line TRRS adapters available that let you connect a microphone with a 3.5 mm plug to an iOS/Android device. The TRRS adapter will make the proper conversion. Again, always check the compatibility of all the devices involved before using.
Audio-Technica has already done the work for you and designed some popular microphone choices to connect to your iOS or Android device:
- The ATR3350iS microphone is the popular ATR3350 microphone with an included smartphone adapter. The “iS” version of this product allows you to plug the ATR3350 microphone into the in-line adapter, then into the iOS or Android device. The adapter does all the proper adapting and conversion so all you have to do is plug it in and start recording.
- The NEW AT2020USBi, debuting this week at the 2015 NAB Show and modeled after the very popular AT2020 microphone, includes not only a USB connection, but also a Lightning connection that plugs directly into an iOS device. This allows you to use the widely acclaimed studio microphone on the go with your favorite iOS device applications.
We hope this post helped clear up any confusion about microphone compatibility with iOS and Android devices. But if you need more clarification or need assistance with any of your Audio-Technica gear, please don’t hesitate to contact our Audio Solutions Department. And be sure to check back next Wednesday for another “Question of Week.”