There are currently just a few lightning iOS USB microphones that can connect directly to an iOS device via Apple’s Lightning (or 30-pin dock connections). These allow you to turn your iPad or iPhone into a high quality audio recorder, with the help of the many audio recording apps for iOS. And all without resorting to using a Camera Adapter Kit!
What’s more they’ll connect seamlessly to your Mac or PC using a standard USB (1.0 or 2.0) connection.
Here we’ve rounded up 6 of the best iOS/USB microphones, each of which will provide surprisingly good performance!
|iRig Mic HD||MiC & MiC 96k||Sonic Port VX|
|Spark Digital||DGT-650||Apogee One|
Manufacturer: IK Multimedia
Bit / Sample Rate(s): 24-bit / 44.1 & 48 kHz
Compatibility: iOS, Mac and PC (and some Android devices)
RRP: $129 / £99
The iRig Mic HD by IK Multimedia is a traditionally styled microphone that’s received plenty of praise for its sound quality, versatility and ease of use. It’s condenser electret microphone capsule has a directional cardioid pick-up pattern making it suitable for a range of different recording tasks.
An upgraded version of IK Multimedia’s popular iRig Mic (which plugs in via your iOS’s headphone port). This enhanced ‘HD’ version also boasts an upgraded ‘electret’ condenser microphone capsule, improved Analogue-to-Digital sampling capabilities (24-bit up at 44.1 & 48kHz sample rates) and iOS Lightning port connectivity.
An integrated gain control provides 40dB of gain adjustment and the built-in multi coloured LED gives visual connection and audio level indication.
It comes bundled with a case, mic stand/clip, 5/8″ to 3/8″ thread adapter, USB cable (1.5m) to your a Mac or PC, and a Lightning cable (1.5m) to connect to an iOS device.
Users of older iOS device with a 30-pin dock connector will need to purchase this cable type separately.
iRig Mic HD is available in Black or Silver (although the Silver version is exclusively available at the Apple Store).
Android users may be interested to know that, although iRig Mic HD will work with some Samsung phones and tablets, when used with the correct OTG cable, another version, the iRig Mic HD-A, is specifically designed to work with Android devices
- High quality 24-bit / 48kHz sample resolution
- Direct digital connection
- Adjustable microphone gain control
- Also compatible with some Android Samsung Galaxy smart phones and tablets (using the separately sold USB to OTG cable)
- No headphone port for monitoring
- No latency free monitoring
- 30-pin dock connector iOS cable sold separately
Manufacturer: Apogee Electronics
Bit / Sample Rate(s): 24-bit / 44.1, 48, 88.1 and 96 kHz
Compatibility: iOS and Mac
RRP: $229 / £199
Apogee have put their long standing experience producing high end pro audio hardware to work with MiC and MiC 96k. Creating a highly portable, yet high performance USB cardioid condenser microphone.
MiC been acclaimed for it’s ability to capture high quality audio with warmth, character and very low noise, thanks to its built-in mic pre-amp.
MiC has been designed with vocal and acoustic instrument recording in mind, but also provides excellent all round recording performance.
There are 2 versions of MiC available; MiC and MiC 96k. They’re both styled the same, but the original MiC has 44.1kHz and 48kHz sample rates available and MiC 96k has 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, and 96kHz sample rates available. Both record with high quality 24-bit sample resolution.
MiC & MiC 96k come with Lightning and standard USB connections for connecting to your iOS device and your Mac computer (30-pin dock cable sold separately).
- High quality low noise audio recording
- Low noise built-in pre-amp
- Bus powered
- Solid Construction
- No zero-latency monitoring
- No headphone output
- No official support or drivers for PC’s
Manufacturer: Line 6
Bit / Sample Rate(s): 24-bit / 48 kHz
Compatibility: iOS, Mac and PC
RRP: $199 / £139
Building on their success with the first Sonic Port, Line 6’s Sonic Port VX integrates a host of well thought out features that will particularly appeal to guitarists, as well as anyone wanting to record live acoustic audio.
Inside Sonic Port VX are three built-in professional condenser microphones. A matched stereo microphone pair and a mono microphone. These can be selected using the switch on the side of the Sonic Port VX.
There’s also a Stereo mini TRS Aux Line input (for plugging stereo sources such as ) and a Mono (TRS) instrument input for plugging in a guitar or bass.
The Sonic port also has 2 standard TRS stereo outputs for plugging in a couple of pairs of headphones for monitoring. These outputs can also be switched to provide zero-latency monitoring!
Overall Sonic Port VX provides a very comprehensive set of features for mobile audio recording and playback. The only thing some may feel that’s missing is the ability to plug in a MIDI keyboard (like the DGT650, mentioned later in this post) but bearing in mind its design as a mobile guitarist tool, it’s not a surprising omission or one that will likely be missed by most users.
- High quality 24-bit/48kHz sampling with high 120dB dynamic range guitar input
- Zero latency monitoring mode – routes audio from any if the analogue inputs directly to the stereo outputs
- Bus power with ultra-low draw
- Compatible with iOS, Mac and PC platforms
- Optional USB power connection (for powering the Sonic Port and iOS device)
- Free mobile POD iOS app with thousands of amps, effects and speaker presets, and a built-in tuner
- Short power connection lead
- Only bundled with Lightning cable and not the 30-pin dock connector cable found on older iOS devices, although a Lightning to 30-pin adapter can be used!
- No MIDI I/O
Manufacturer: Blue Microphones
Bit / Sample Rate(s): 16-bit / 44.1 kHz
Compatibility: iOS, Mac and PC
RRP: $199 / £289
When first release back in 2012 Blue Microphones billed the Spark Digital as ‘the first studio grade mic to offer both USB and iPad connectivity’. Supporting driverless operation for iPad, Mac and PC the Spark Digital offers a great desktop recording solution, packed with features and look great too.
It comes with complete with a shock mount/desk stand as pictured above and has a number of innovative features, as you’d expect from a Blue Microphones product.
Gain, volume and ‘instant mute’ are all controlled by the dial/push button on the front of the device.
On the rear there’s a ‘Focus Control’ selection button which provides 2 ‘sonic options’ to modify the sound pickup characteristics of the Spark Digital. When Focus Control is engaged the sound pick up is said to become a little warmer and richer.
The Spark digital was originally bundled with 2 y-cables (one USB and one dock connector type) which each incorporate a stereo headphone output to enable you to do zero-latency monitoring of your audio source.
It’s now also available as a Lightning cable version for connecting to the latest iPads.
- Headphone output for monitoring with Zero-Latency
- Compatible with iPad, Mac and PC
- Onboard gain and mute control
- Unique ‘Focus Control’ to enhance audio pickup
- Now available with Lightning cable
- Bulk of unit and stand may not suit mobile use
- High noise floor report in some user reviews
Bit / Sample Rate(s): 24-bit / 44.1, 48 and 96 kHz
Compatibility: iOS, Mac and PC
Lewitt refer to their DGT-650 USB microphone as ‘The New Digital Multi-Tool’ and a microphone with of 0dB self noise! Already a manufacturer of Pro XLR microphones the, DGT650 add to a microphone range with a good reputation.
The DGT650 comes with standard USB and Lightning iOS connection cables, together with a breakout box to accommodate addition inputs to the microphone such as line-in and and MIDI
Because the DTG650 circuitry requires power in addition to what an iPad can supply, a built-in lithium ion battery (can be charged via USB) provides extra power.
Other features include an onboard analogue pre-amp, for output to high impedence headphones and zero latency monitoring, a switchable high pass filter and 2 pad/attenuation settings to help get your audio keep level under control.
There’s even a MIDI connection that allow you to hook up a Midi keyboard and record to a midi sequencer on your iPad, Mac or PC. An interesting addition that mean you don’t have to carry around a separate Midi interface.
- High quality 24-bit – 44.1, 48 or 96kHz sampling resolution
- 4 recording modes (including mono and stereo mic recording)
- MIDI input
- Stereo line input recording
- Expensive compared to other options
- Not widely available at retailers
- Breakout box for headphone monitoring, MIDI and line in
- Build-in battery will need recharging
ONE draws on Apogee’s legendary experience in high performing audio products to produce a USB audio interface with USB microphone functionality built-in. Capable of recording 48kHz audio at 24-bit sample resolution, ONE is an incredibly versatile mobile recording tool, for your laptop and your iPad.
It’s worth noting that like the Apogee MiC there are a couple of versions of the Apogee ONE. In the case on Apogee ONE there’s a version for use with iOS and Mac, and an older Mac only version.
Connection wise, ONE will accept a standard balanced XLR microphone input, and it’ll even provide 48v phantom power too. You can also plug in a standard mono instrument like a guitar. Making ONE a good choice if you want to be able to multi-track your performances, with apps such as Auria.
Clearly aimed at singer / songwriters, wanting to record several sound sources simultaneously. It also carries the Made for iPod, iPad and iPhone Apple logo, and has been acclaimed for it’s excellent sound quality, once again living up to what’s expected from Apogee.
- High quality digital pre-amps
- Up to 96kHz / 24-bit recording
- Dual Microphone and Audio interface functionality
- Low self noise
- Short connection cable
- Some may find the break out cable a clumsy way of connecting up instruments