iPhone 3G, 3GS and iTouch Software Update 3.0 Voice Memo

Here’s a neat trick I just figured out. You can set up a portable studio using iPhone voice memo, the new iPhone 3.0 Software and some basic audio equipment. The new iPhone 3.0 Software Update contains some great new features; cut and paste, MMS, Spotlight Search and Calendar and Safari improvements. There are some disappointments as well, the biggest being Internet Tethering (well, the lack thereof). Need I say more? But my favorite improvement by far is the addition of the Voice Memo App. Granted that Griffin Technologies has had iTalk out for over a year now, and it works just as well. The only draw back to Griffin’s iTalk is the need for iTalk Sync to be installed on a computer so that you can access your recordings. With Voice Memos you can record even when you’re using your iPhone to do things like check email or surf the web — and it syncs with iTunes.

In any case with either iTalk or Voice Memo in some cases you may want to get a better recording than what you can get using the basic built-in microphone or the microphone that comes with the iPhone stereo headset. Over the years I have collected a lot of audio equipment and I wanted to use one of my nicer microphones with my iPhone 3G. (TESTED: This technique will work with the new iPhone 3GS and 2nd Generation iTouch.) Unfortunately there aren’t cables that give you a real microphone connection using the iPhone input jack. (yet!) Most of the microphones and connections have to be made through some sort of dock connection at the bottom of the iPhone.

There is hope though: I was able to find a cable that made the connect possible between my iPhone and mixing board without spending money. I simply used a Mini AV cable that came with my MiniDV video camera!

This is a great solution. The one end Mini AV cable has three standard RCA plugs found on every TV (red, white and yellow). One the other end you have a four-conductor mini plug that will fit any iPhone and iTouch headphone jack. Plug the cable into your iPhone and use the RCA jacks to connect to the mixing board. I have identified the RCA jacks as follows:

  • White/Black: Audio out (L)
  • Yellow: Audio Out (R)
  • Red: Mic input

Next you will need the following to get a professional sounding recording:

  1. 1. (1) Mini AV cable from a video camera or Apple composite AV cable.
  2. 2. Mixing board or a line level attenuator to normalize the incoming audio.
  3. 3. Professional microphone and cables to connect to the mixing board or attenuator.
  4. 4. A pair of stereo headphones.

Now, connect the Mini AV cable to your iPhones headphone jack at the top of the phone.
Connecting my Apple Composite AV Cable to my iPhone
Next take the Red RCA Jack (leaving the White and Yellow unplugged) and plug it into the tape input on the mixing board.
Connect the XLR cable to the professional microphone and plug it into the first Line In on the mixing board. Make sure you test your levels using a pair of headphones. Just remember that you need a mixing board or a line level attenuator before you record because the incoming level to the iPhone is way too loud. The recoding will be in mono. If you do any post production work simply synch your iPhone with your Mac and then work with your audio in Garageband.

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