Impractical Audio Recording on the iPhone

After so many failed attempts at controlling the level input of the audio recording function on the iPhone with a portable solution, I decided to try alternative means to even see if this was possible. I KNEW it was, but I need to prove it to myself, and I did. Through the most ridiculous and impractical way possible, I was able to achieve a decent level of live recording, in an extremely loud environment known to some, in a death metal band rehearsal room.

If you’re still reading this, you must be interested in this, so here’s what I used to achieve this…

Behringer Xenyx502 Mixer

Shure Beta 58 Microphone

Mic cable

1/8″ to RCA Audio / Video cable (used with camcorders for TV output)

MONO RCA to 1/8″ Adapter

1/8″ to 1/4″ Adapter

On the iPhone, there are two way to import and record Audio. The Dock connector has Audio input, and utilized by the Blue Mikey, which can record in Stereo with the right mic and software, and the headphone jack. This silly ass set up will use the headphone jack.

The 1/8″ plug on the Audio / Video cable has 3 rings. Left / Right / and the yellow is Video. On the iPhone, the Yellow (or video) plug turns into your mic input. This is used for your Apple stock earbuds with using the telephone feature of the iPhone. Yes, it IS actually a phone too!

The Behringer Xenyx502 Mixer was purchased at Guitar Center about a year ago for about $50.00. It’s their low end, simple mixer. This mixer has 2 Main Out jacks, using 1/4″ plugs, so I needed to get the RCA to 1/4″. My local Radio Shack didn’t have this, so I needed to buy an RCA to 1/8″ Mono adapter. I already owned an Stereo 1/8″ to 1/4″ and that works fine, but if I were going to purchase this, I would have picked up a mono 1/8″ to 1/4″.

So, RCA to 1/8″ to 1/4″ to the Main Out Left port on the mixer. Simple right?

I use the Shure Beta 58 into the mixer, and the Audio / Video 1/8″ plug into the iPhone’s head phone port, and I’m then able to adjust the input level of the audio using the Main Mix dial.

Using the mixer also gave me control over the treble and bass of the input, and setting the Main Mix low, the audio input was acceptable!

The band was VERY loud, and the audio recorded as clear as could be in this situation. What made this method nice in the rehearsal room, was the Shure Beta 58 was on a microphone stand, and when panning the room with with video camera, the audio remained stationary, and consistent during the recording.

What have I learned… First, I’m an idiot with way too time on my hands. I also like to overt think and expect too much from my tech. Saying that, this is entirely possible. In a controlled environment, you can shoot nice video and decent audio of a loud band, or other extremely loud noise. This however does not work well for portability, and that’s what I really want here.

It works, really well. Now I need to find an ultra portable solution.

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7 Responses to Impractical Audio Recording on the iPhone

  1. Steinar says:

    Considering all the gear you probably carry around anyway, this doesn’t seem too impractical. Fun to figure it out nonetheless. There are some 4-track apps for the iPhone but I haven’t checked them out yet.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. metalheadreview says:

    The 4-track apps work well, and if you’re doing something more on the acoustic side, the Blue Mikey works perfectly I would recommend that for sure. I just wish it had more control.

    The issue I’m finding, is even if you can control the volume input of the internal mic on the iPhone, or even some of these other mics, you can’t adjust the mic sensitivity itself, so all I was getting was a very soft, distorted sound. I’m sure my answer is out there (or coming) and half the fun is the search!

  3. The one factor I can’t stand about the ipad is the truth that you can’t look at flash content. That’s I beleive the tabs with Android operating system are a superb substitute… even when the Android working system drains your battery like crazy.

  4. Tom says:

    Did you ever find an ultra-portable solution? Seems to me the mixer is the biggest part. Good choice on the mixer BTW. I am setting up a 2 camera shoot using this exact setup, since the mixers were good quality and really affordable.

  5. confused says:

    I have the same set up for my iPhone w/ the 802 instead of the 502. I have it working but the iPhone seems to be creating a rythmic voltage pulse that backfeeds into the mixer and flexes the speaker on whichever side its plugged in to. It flexes out for about a second then relaxes for about 3/4 of a second and repeats nonstop. I changed to my Alesis MultiMix 4 and the affect went away in the headphones but is still present in the recording. Any tips?

    • metalheadreview says:

      Does the 802 push phantom power? That could be causing the issue. The other thought, have you tried recording in Airplane mode? Sometimes with the external mics, if the phone isn’t in airplane mode, it will cause some static and noise periodically. Good luck, let m know is this works!

  6. Tom says:

    I gave up on the iPhone/microphone connection cable after learning the pinout was reversed from what you’d expect and it wouldn’t work without tearing down the cable and resoldering it. Instead I bought one of these and forgot about the problem: http://www.ikmultimedia.com/irig/features/

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