Introduction: Why Should You Record Audio with a Phone Mic + Headphones?
Ever wanted to record audio with your phone mic + headphones? Now you can! By simply plugging the headphone jack into your phone, you can now use your favorite apps to record and edit your audio. This is a great way to get authentic acoustic recordings! Let’s start off with this recording first, before you try to do any kind of editing/editing apps.
I do not encourage the use of recording apps for more than simple voice recordings, but you can use them instead of a simple mic and headphone.
A lot of Android phones have a built-in mic, but some phones have headphones with a mic built in as well. This is kind of an old trick that people still remember about, but I thought it was neat to show my students at the start of the year how this old trick can be used on today’s phones.
I used this recording to teach them about recording and editing audio. Unfortunately, I do not have the app they used, but there is a lot of good audio editing apps out there. The one that we used was called “Soundboard” (free).
You will need:
* Your phone with headphones that can be plugged into your phone’s headphone jack. Make sure you know which jack it is! Or if you are unsure, contact your phone’s manufacturer. [Android phones use the 3.5 mm headphone jack. iPhones use the lightning jack]
What is the Best Phone Mic for Recording Audio?
Cheaper headphones, of course. I’ve been using these JBL THX headphones for a couple years now, and they are great. You can use any pair of headphones that have a headphone jack, or you can buy a USB headphone mic that clips onto this. I’ll be using the JBL THX-J2 on the phone mic + headphones setup in this tutorial. You’ll need to buy an adapter if your phone doesn’t have an audio jack though. The adapter for the iPhone 4 is a spendy $8, but it works marvelously if you want to record from your phone with headphones. Even if you don’t use the iPhone 4, I highly recommend a USB mic, preferably one with a nice carrying case. If you don’t have headphones for your phone that can plug into it and you want to record audio from that, you will need to buy an adapter for your headphones: The Audio Technica N-72 is a economical stereo mic that fits headphone jacks nicely. Then when you purchase this cable , it will connect it directly to the phone’s audio jack. It also comes with a nice swiveling stand, which I’ll show how to use in this tutorial.
What you will need: Computer
The setup I am using is the JBL THX-J2, a USB audio cable, and a pair of headphones. Start by plugging your computer into your phone’s audio jack and powering on the phone. With my iPhone 4, the headset icon shows up onscreen when it’s connected to my computer. If yours doesn’t show up, you may have to reboot.
Audio recording setup in iTunes. Your setup will probably look like mine:
I don’t do this tutorial from start to finish, but I’ll give you a general idea of what I do each step of the way.
How to Get the Most Out of Your iPhone Audacity App?
Audacity by Ignorant Design — This is the official app. It is a steeper learning curve, but it has the best audio editing features out of the three apps. The app can be downloaded for free here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/audacity/id273907340?mt=8 BeatMaker by Iconion — This app was my favorite for recording samples and chopping them up as I pleased with easy-to-use controls and a simple interface. The app can be downloaded for free here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/beatmaker-pro-music-recorder/id425084533?mt=8 And now there is a free version of the app (no ads or UIs, though there is only one recording type). Thank you Iconion for making this available! http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/beatmaker-lite/id505527035?mt=8 SampleTank 3 by IK Multimedia — This app is for making whole tracks and mixing them, so it’s a bit more advanced. The app can be downloaded for free here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sampletank-3-by-ik-multimedia/id464691968?mt=8
The three apps mentioned above are all great apps, but they have their limitations. The free version of BeatMaker is not able to make loops, only one track at a time, and has no sample library facilities. The free version of Audacity has no library features. SampleTank 3 allows you to export as MP3s but does not allow multiple tracks or saving WAV files. The full version of SampleTank 3 can be had for about $40.
How to Use Headphones or Earbuds as Microphone for Mobile Recording?
Connecting your phone with headphones, even without mic, is a great way to record. If you want to use your ears as a mic, but don’t want to learn an app, I recommend plugging in earbuds for this. You can pick up any pair of earbuds that comes with its own headphones. They are cheap, and they work. You have to be careful when using earbuds as a microphone for another reason: you can’t make any other sources sound in the headphones. The only way around this is to use the phone’s internal mic for external recording if you want your voice to be recorded.
If you want to use your earbuds as a phone mic, or if you have a budgeted set of earbuds that you’d like to use, follow these steps.
1. Plug your usb cord into the headphone jack on your phone.
2. Now plug the earphones into the headphone jack on your computer.
3. Record as you would normally, including the time it takes to get your mic level, and plug in to the computer.
4. Now go into your computer’s recording tab and uncheck “Recording Audio from Microphone”
5. Use the earphones as normal for general listening and make a recording with the phone’s internal mic for external playback later.
6. Finally, when you are done recording, plug the headphones back into your phone and unplug them from the computer.
7. Now, you should have everything you need to record with in one recording without any outside interference.
Conclusion: What are the Benefits & Drawbacks of Using an iPhone Mic and Headphone Recording Setup?
I’ve been using this phone mic + headphone setup for years, and these are the benefits I can think of: the ability to use headphones for recording the audio, and the ability to edit with sound-editing apps. The drawbacks are difficult to list, because I have not heard of any in my time. This is a great way for beginners, or for folks who want to save money on headphones as an alternative to buying a USB mic/recorder/iPhone stand alone microphone setup.
I was extremely surprised that the sound quality is better than I expected. I assumed it would be low-quality and difficult to edit, but I’ve had great results in my time using this. The only issue is a problem with noise, but that can be solved with a noise gate app or by using the iPhone’s built-in Voice Memos app.
Even though I’m not an audio expert, I have been doing this for years without any problems. I am reasonably sure that this setup is safe to use. I am not sure; I have no idea how safe it is.