How to Use a USB-C Port for External Audio

External audio sources such as microphones are a great way to boost the quality of your production. If your main switching device does not have a headphone jack or Lightning port, you can route external audio into the device using the USB-C port. This article covers the different ways to bring external audio into your main switcher for use in live productions.

In this article:

How to Determine if Your Device has a USB-C Port

The USB-C port is the oval-shaped port on the bottom edge of your device that you use to charge the device. An image of a USB-C cable is displayed below.

The following iOS devices are equipped with USB-C ports:

  • iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation or later)

  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation or later)

  • iPad Air (4th generation or later)

  • iPad mini (6th generation)

Note: If your device does not have a USB-C port, you'll need to follow these instructions for using a Lightning port.

Required Interfaces, Cables, and/or Adapters

  • Mobile Interface: A mobile interface is an audio interface designed specifically for mobile devices that converts an external audio signal into a signal that your Apple device can recognize.

  • 1/8" (3.5mm) TRRS cable and USB-C to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter: You can use Apple's USB-C to Headphone adapter to connect audio via a 3.5mm TRRS cable. This will be limited to mono audio only.

  • USB: You can use an Apple Digital A/V Multiport Adapter to connect a USB audio source such as a USB mixer or interface.

Connecting an External Microphone

To connect an external microphone, you will need a mobile interface such as a Saramonic SmartRig or IK Media iRig.

To connect an external microphone:

  • Connect one end of an XLR cable to the microphone.

  • Connect the other end of the XLR cable to the interface's input jack.

  • Connect the interface's output cable to the lightning port on your iOS device.

    • Your main switching device will now recognize the interface and microphone as the main audio signal for your production.

Connecting an External Audio Mixer

An external mixer can be connected to your main switcher. External mixers are essential for bringing multiple audio sources (i.e. microphones, laptops) into the production.

Connecting a USB Mixer

USB mixers have the capability to connect directly to an iOS device using an Apple Digital A/V Multiport Adapter. Using this adapter is the recommended way to connect any USB mixer, given that it has an added benefit of being able to charge your device while using external audio.

To connect a USB mixer:

  • Connect the external audio sources (i.e. microphones, laptops) into your mixer.

  • Connect your mixer's USB output into your iOS device using the USB input on your Digital A/V Multiport Adapter.

  • Connect the Digital A/V Multiport Adapter to the iOS device.

Connecting an Analog Mixer

You can also connect analog mixers to your iOS device using an Interface.

  • Connect external audio devices like microphones and laptops into your mixer.

  • Connect your mixer's output into the interfaces input. Most mixers have a section labeled "main outputs" that are either 1/4" outputs, XLR outputs, or sometimes both. Depending on which mixer you have, you will need the appropriate cable to hook into your preamp.

  • Connect the interfaces output into the Apple device's USB-C port.

Using a Mono Signal on a Stereo Mixer

Many mixers have both left and right audio outputs for stereo, but many preamps are not stereo. By default, plug your output cable into the left output of the mixer. Some mixers default to mono if nothing is plugged into the right output. Be mindful that if you have a microphone or other audio signal that is panned to the right and you are only using the left output, you will not hear that signal on your video.

Keyword(s): USB-C, port, external, audio, mixer, adapter, microphone

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