Although big tech companies might like to boast that their mobile phones have some of the best quality microphones in the business, a lot of the time, they can be bested by multiple, cheap market alternatives.
The problem is, these microphones can’t simply be magically rewired into your phone; you have to connect them externally; on top of this, a lot of phone brands don’t love it when you use the competition’s product.
But what if you’re desperate to record high-quality audio, and your phone’s built-in microphone just isn’t cutting? Can your operating system handle an external microphone?
Today we’re going to see if Android one of the most widely used operating systems in the world, can support an external microphone; and if it can, how would you set one up? Let’s get stuck in…
Can an Android Phone Support an External Microphone?
Most android phones can support an external phone mic, however, it depends on the exact model of phone you have, and what type of microphone you’re planning on using.
There are essentially three main ways of connecting a microphone to your phone:
#1 Connect Phone Mic via Bluetooth
#2 Connect Phone Mic via Headphone Jack
#3 Connect via USB C TO USB ADAPTER
As just mentioned, which method you use will depend on the model of phone you have, as some newer models have combined both the headphone and charging ports, so some options just won’t be applicable.
Let’s look a bit closer at each method, separately, and help you find out how to connect a microphone to your android device as I have done.
For a Bluetooth microphone to work, you’ll need both a transmitter (either within a Bluetooth microphone or externally connected to a microphone) and a receiver (a “Bluetooth chip” found inside Bluetooth devices/receivers).
Since the receiver is pre-installed on your device, the only thing you have to worry about is a transmitter.
If you don’t want to bother with the trouble of connecting a separate transmitter to the mic, ensure the microphone you have/ are going to purchase has the transmitter built-in.
Once you’ve got both the transmitter and receiver at your disposal, here is how you connect a Bluetooth mic to your phone:
Step 1: Turn the transmitter on, and
Step 2: Check that your phone is discoverable;
Step 3: Place the two within a suitable range of each other, and the microphone should show up on your phone as an option.
Step 4: Tap on it, and you’re all set!
Here is an example of a well-reviewed wireless mic from Rode, the “Rode Wireless Go”., which can be purchased on Amazon.
The main problem with using the headphone jack method is that these outputs do exactly that; output sound. The headphone jack does not allow sound input, so connecting a microphone to one will serve no use.
To get around this issue and use your phone headphone jack as an external mic input, you’ll have to purchase a TRRS adapter. These allow you to input audio from the mic into the headphone jack.
It may not be obvious at first how this adaptor works, so here is an awesome explainer video from TheRenderQ on YouTube, demonstrating how a TRSS connector works.
You may or may not notice that this is just a connector. You will still need an external phone microphone.
Now much like how Bluetooth microphones can have the transmitters already installed, the same goes for microphones for this method; some microphones will have TRRS adapters built-in, so you won’t have to worry about paying extra for the adapter.
From my experience, I have found it hard to find phone mics with the TRRS adapter already built in, but you might get lucky and find a “plug and play” option. Just be aware that you may still have to purchase a TRRS adaptor.
Here is an example of a good sound microphone from Rode called the “Rode Smarlav + Lavalier Microphone”, which boasts “broadcast quality” audio.
Connect a USB Microphone via USB C to USB Adapter
Did you know that you can connect a USB microphone to your smartphone?
I thought this was amazing when I first learned this.
This is what a USB C connector looks like. You may recognize it as the power supply for your phone.
Depending on the model of your phone, it may be possible to use the power inlet of your phone as a microphone input by using an adaptor.
Here is an adaptor that covers USB C to USB. Into the USB port, you can then connect your USB microphone.
This awesome explanation from GregglesTV on YouTube, shows how it is done! A video speaks a thousand words!
Audio Capturing Apps
One thing that I haven’t mentioned thus far, is that for almost all of these methods you’ll need to have some sort of audio capturing app installed on your device.
Of course, you can use the default audio capturing app that will typically come pre-installed on your phone, but a majority of the time, these default apps don’t have as many interesting features as ones you can download from your play store/app store.
If you want to get the most out of your external, it’s worth checking out some of these apps. Most of them are free to access, so you won’t have to worry about spending even more of your hard-earned cash on top of the pricy microphone.