How to Record With any External Microphone on Your Phone


Author: Tosh Lubek Published: 15th March 2024

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With more mobile phone subscriptions than the global population, aspiring videographers are constantly creating content. While many phones boast impressive 4K and slow-motion video capabilities, advancements in smartphone audio haven’t kept pace.

However, achieving professional-sounding audio is possible by using an external microphone for Android and iPhones with a USB-C port and OTG compatibility. Connecting them might seem complex, but this guide will show you how to use XLR, Lavalier, and USB microphones with your device.

Until recently, smartphones came equipped with a headphone jack that doubled as a microphone input. Today, most phones are shifting towards USB-C ports, leaving many wondering how to connect external microphones.

This article is based on my experience with a Samsung Android phone with a USB-C port that supports OTG (On-The-Go) functionality, specifically, the Samsung A53-5G. So, let’s explore the different options available for using an external microphone with your smartphone.

Connect a Lavalier microphone with a Headphone Adapter

Lavalier microphones probably give you the biggest improvement in sound quality relative to the cost of the microphone. They’re also ideal for vlogging, since they’re light, small, and can be hidden on your clothing.

Here’s how to connect a Lavalier microphone to your phone using a headphone adapter.

Headphone adapters typically assume you’ll be using a Lavalier microphone with a 3.5mm smartphone jack. That’s a TRRS jack (it has three black rings). That’s ideal for Lav Mics like the BOYA BY-M1 or MOVO LV1. But if you’re using a Lav Mic with a TRS jack (it has two black rings), such as a RODE Lavalier GO, you’ll also need a TRS to TRRS adapter.

Connecting is simple. Plug the headphone adapter into the USB port on the phone and then plug your TRRS Lav Mic into the headphone adapter. With a Lav Mic that uses a TRS jack, use a TRS to TRRS adapter between the microphone and the headphone adapter.


When recording with a Lav Mic by using a headphone adapter you’ll not be able to monitor your audio on headphones in real-time.

To listen to the recording the Lav Mic will need to be unplugged from the headphone adapter and headphones plugged in. However, you could get a 3.5mm to dual 3.5mm headset splitter so that the Lav Mic and headphones can remain attached. Although this will enable listening to your recordings, unfortunately, real-time monitoring will not be possible.

Phone battery charging:

If you’re going to record for an extended period, make sure your phone’s battery is fully charged at the start of your recording session. Alternatively, consider getting an adapter that also includes a charging port.

Connect to your phone with a Zoom Handy Recorder

If you’re a videographer, musician, or podcaster, you might already own a portable audio recorder, like the Zoom H4n, H4n Pro, H5, or H6. What you might not be aware of is that these recorders can also function as audio interfaces. Furthermore, you might not be aware that they can function as audio interfaces with both computers and mobile devices.

By connecting a Zoom Handy recorder to your phone, you can record with the recorder’s built-in XY microphones or use external microphones plugged into the XLR inputs or the 3.5mm mic socket.

You will need to swap the mini-USB to USB-A cable that comes with the recorder for a mini-USB to USB-C cable (or get an adapter). Connect the Handy recorder to your phone’s USB-C port. Some recorders might automatically power up, but if this does not happen, power up in the usual way.

The recorder will boot up to the USB screen, where you should choose the audio interface option. You may also need to choose the sampling rate (choose 48kHz) and whether you want to use bus power or battery power. Choose the battery power option since this will use the battery in your Handy recorder instead of bus power from your phone.

The display on the recorder will change to the normal play/record screen and you can record to your phone. If you have plugged a condenser microphone into the XLR inputs, remember to turn on phantom power in the handy recorder’s menu.

Because the Zoom recorder is being used as an audio interface, you can plug a set of headphones into the recorder and monitor yourself in real time as well as listen back to your recordings on your phone.

Connect to your phone to an XLR mic with a Shure MVX2U

The Shure MVX2U is a mini audio interface that allows you to use any XLR microphone. It has a built-in audio preamp and phantom power supply. As well as being able to provide a signal boost of up to 60dB it also delivers some audio processing, such as a limiter, compressor, and EQ.

The MVX2U is normally used with a desktop or laptop computer, but it can also connect to a smartphone. However, the mobile version of the MOTIV app that controls the settings on the interface does not work with the MVX2U. So, you’ll need to set the gain and audio processing by using the MOTIV desktop app on a computer before connecting to your phone.

The setup is simple. Plug the interface into the XLR connector of your microphone. Then connect the MVX2U to the USB-C port of your phone using the USB-C cable. The power LED on the interface will light up as it receives bus power from your phone and connects.

Don’t forget to plug a pair of headphones into the base of the interface for zero-latency real-time monitoring and playback.

Connect to your phone with a USB to XLR cable

An XLR to USB cable is designed to connect an XLR microphone to a computer. It looks like an XLR cable where one end terminates in a USB connector, usually a USB-A connector. The connector is at the end of a large plastic shell that contains an analog-to-digital converter and LED indicator light. Fundamentally, it does what the Shure MVX2U does, converts the analog microphone signal into digital data your device can understand. However, that’s about all it does. Unlike the MVX2U audio interface from Shure, the typical XLR to USB cable provides little or no gain, no phantom power, and no audio processing. However, it is cheap.

Because XLR to USB cables have a low output signal it’s best to use them with high output microphones. Unfortunately, because they do not provide phantom power, you are limited to using dynamic microphones, which have low outputs.

To use these cables effectively with your phone you’ll need a self-powered condenser microphone. I recorded with a Sennheiser ME66 and because it is self-powered from an AA battery and has a high output, my Neewer USB to XLR cable produced a very respectable output signal that I could easily record on my phone.

Unless you already have a high-output microphone, I would not recommend using this method to connect an XLR microphone to your phone.

Connect to your phone with a USB Microphone

If you’ve got a USB microphone you can plug it into the USB-C port on a smartphone and use it directly with any recording app on your phone. The main issue you might encounter is the type of USB cable used by your microphone.

If the microphone uses a USB-C cable, you can plug it straight into your phone. However, some microphones, like the Blue Yeti, use mini-USB to USB-A cables. You can either swap this for a mini-USB to USB-C cable or use a USB-A to USB-C adapter. Although I have recommended using the Syntech adapter in the past, I now prefer using a 4-Port USB 3.0 to USB-C hub.

USB microphones that have headphone sockets will allow you to monitor your audio on headphones in real-time, as well as letting you listen to playback from your phone. Cheaper USB microphones, like the Fifine 669B, don’t have a headphone socket, so to listen back to your recording you’ll have to unplug the microphone.


As you can see, even if you only have a USB-C port on your smartphone, you are not limited to recording with the phone’s internal microphones. You can use your phone to record with Lavalier microphones, USB microphones, and even professional XLR microphones. It’s just a case of having the correct interface or adapter.

Portrait of Tosh Lubek

About the author: Tosh Lubek is a multi-award-winning broadcaster, writer, and video producer, with 40 years of experience in professional broadcasting and has been using Canon video and stills cameras since 2010. He has worked with radio and TV broadcasters, advertising agencies, and direct clients on a variety of projects including radio and television advertising, online video production, corporate videos, award ceremony motion graphics, and theme park sound design. Tosh has won numerous awards, including a Radio Academy Awards Gold Sony, a Gold, Silver, and Bronze World Medals in the New York Festivals International Advertising Awards. Since about 2007 he has been creating YouTube videos. Tosh has been a sponsor of the “video booth” at HashTag Business Events across the UK.

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