Android Settings for External Mics (Beginner’s Guide)

This article will provide a beginner’s guide to using external microphones with Android devices. We’ll cover the benefits of external mics compared to built-in smartphone mics, the different types of external mics available, how to physically connect them to your Android device, recommended mic input apps, how to adjust audio settings like input levels and sample rate, and tips for monitoring your audio quality. By the end, you’ll have the knowledge to set up an external mic with your Android device to dramatically improve the audio quality of your videos, vlogs, interviews, and other recordings.

Why Use an External Mic?

One of the key reasons to use an external microphone with your Android device is for better audio quality. Built-in smartphone microphones often pick up a lot of background noise and have limited frequency response. By using an external mic, you can achieve a higher fidelity sound recording with less ambient noise interference. External mics are designed specifically for recording purposes, with better quality components and directional pickup patterns. According to resources like this Quora post and this Reddit thread, external mics generally provide clearer, richer audio compared to smartphone built-in mics.

Microphone Types

There are several types of external microphones commonly used with Android phones:


Lavalier microphones, also known as lapel mics, clip onto your shirt near your mouth. They provide clear voice pickup while allowing you to move around freely. Popular lavalier mics for Android include the Boya BY-M1 and Rode smartLav+.


Shotgun mics are highly directional, picking up sound from the direction they point while rejecting noise from the sides. They capture crisp audio for interviews, events, and videos. Shotguns like the Rode VideoMic Me-L work well with phones.


Handheld mics allow you to easily move the mic near your mouth or other sound sources. Popular options like the Shure MV88 connect directly to Android phones via USB-C.


USB microphones simply plug into your phone’s USB-C port. They provide professional quality audio with plug-and-play connectivity. The Samson Go Mic Mobile is a compact USB mic option.

Connecting Mics to Android

There are a few different ways to connect external microphones to Android devices:

Headphone Jack

Many Android devices still have a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. This allows you to plug in a microphone directly using a TRRS cable 1. Look for mics with a 3.5mm connection or use an adapter for mics with an XLR or USB output.


Newer Android phones use a USB-C port instead of a headphone jack. You can connect mics like the RØDE VideoMic Me-L that are designed for USB-C 2. There are also USB-C to 3.5mm adapters to connect 3.5mm mics.


Wireless lavalier mics connect to Androids via Bluetooth so there’s no wired connection. Look for mics made specifically for smartphones like the Saramonic SmartMic Mini.

Mic Input Apps

There are many audio recording apps available for Android that allow you to use an external microphone. Some popular recommendations include:

Lexis Audio Editor – This premium app has advanced features like automatic gain control and allows you to record using external mics (Source 1). It’s great for voiceovers and interviews.

Wave Editor – An amazing free app that supports external mics and has options for sample rate, bit depth, channels, etc (Source 2). Good for field recordings.

USB Audio Recorder Pro – Paid app that lets you record using USB/Bluetooth mics. Has useful tools like trimming, compression, and exporting options.

Field Recorder – Simple free app optimized for external microphone use. Great for capturing sound effects, music, and ambience.

Audio Evolution Mobile – Full-featured DAW perfect for multi-track recording with external mics. Lots of editing tools.

For casual voice recordings, the built-in recording app or Google Voice Recorder may also work fine with most external mics.

Setting Input Levels

Setting the correct input levels is crucial for getting good quality audio recordings on your Android device. The input gain controls how sensitive the microphone is to incoming audio signals. If the gain is too high, the audio will distort and clip. If the gain is too low, the audio will be quiet with increased background noise.

Most audio recording apps have a gain control slider or options to boost the mic level. Start with the gain set around 50-60% to avoid distortion. While recording, watch the app’s audio level meter. The goal is to get the loudest parts of the speech to peak around -12 to -6 dB on the meter, without hitting the red clipping zone.

If the speech peaks are too low, gradually increase the gain. If there is audible clipping or distortion, reduce the gain. Test different gain settings while recording and speaking at the same loudness you expect during the actual recording. Choose the gain that provides the best signal-to-noise ratio without audible clipping.

Adjusting the gain properly makes a big difference in recording quality. Listen back to test recordings to double check the audio sounds clear and undistorted. Refer to your microphone or recording app’s documentation for specific instructions on setting levels. Getting the right input gain upfront prevents problems later.


Monitoring Audio

One advantage of using an external microphone with your Android device is being able to monitor the audio in real-time. This allows you to hear exactly what the microphone is picking up as you record, similar to monitoring headphone outputs on dedicated audio recorders.

However, the ability to monitor externally connected mics depends on the app you are using. Some video recording apps like Camera MX have built-in monitoring so you can hear the live audio while filming. PowerDirector also allows real-time monitoring.

However, the native camera app on Android does not support real-time monitoring of external mics. You can only listen to recordings after filming them. There are some workarounds like using a headphone splitter cable, but it’s not as seamless as dedicated monitoring features in third-party camera apps.

Overall, being able to monitor audio inputs in real-time is a useful feature for ensuring quality recordings. Seek out video recording apps with built-in monitoring if this capability is important to your workflow.

Setting Sample Rate

The sample rate determines how many samples of audio are taken per second and affects the quality of the recording. Common sample rates for external mics on Android include:

  • 44.1 kHz – The standard sample rate used for CD audio. Provides good audio quality at a manageable file size.
  • 48 kHz – A common native sample rate for many Android devices. Slightly higher quality than 44.1 kHz.
  • 96 kHz – Captures very high quality audio but results in large file sizes.

In general, it’s best to match the external mic’s sample rate to the native rate of your Android device. Using a sample rate above 48 kHz is not recommended for Android since it may get resampled and waste storage space without providing better quality.

Setting the sample rate depends on the audio recording app being used. Some apps like Open Camera allow you to directly choose the rate in settings. If your app lacks sample rate options, you may need to use a USB audio interface or external DAC that supports your desired rate.

Audio Compression

When recording audio on Android devices, it’s important to use the optimal audio compression settings to get the best quality recordings. Two key factors that determine audio quality are bitrate and codec.

Bitrate refers to the amount of data encoded per second of audio. Higher bitrates allow for better quality audio, but result in larger file sizes. For external microphones, it’s recommended to use a bitrate of at least 128kbps. Many Android devices will default to 64kbps or 96kbps, so you’ll want to increase the bitrate in your recording app’s settings.

The codec determines how the audio data is encoded and compressed. Common codecs for Android include AAC, MP3, FLAC, OGG, and WAV. AAC and MP3 are lossy codecs that compress the audio by removing some data, while FLAC, OGG, and WAV are lossless formats that preserve all the original data. For professional external mics, lossless codecs like FLAC and WAV are recommended to maintain audio quality.

When recording with an external mic, avoid overly aggressive compression settings that could degrade the audio. Aim for at least 128kbps bitrate and a high-quality lossless codec like FLAC or WAV if your Android device supports it. This will ensure you capture crisp, clear audio from your external microphone.

To adjust compression settings, open your recording app’s settings and look for options to change the bitrate, sample rate, and codec. You may need to download a more advanced audio recording app to access these settings. Testing different combinations will help you find the ideal compression that balances quality and file size.


In summary, using an external microphone with your Android device can significantly improve your audio quality for videos, podcasts, music recordings, and more. While Android’s built-in mics are decent, a dedicated external mic provides far superior sound.

The three main types of mics are dynamic, condenser, and lavalier. Dynamic mics excel for vocals and live events, condensers capture intricate details for studio work, and lavaliers clip on for ideal mobile use. Connect mics to your Android’s USB-C or 3.5mm ports using the appropriate cables or adapters.

Specialized audio apps like Open Camera and Audio Evolution Mobile enable advanced audio controls. Adjust the mic’s input levels to optimize the signal without clipping or distortion. Monitor your levels in real-time with headphones. Set the optimal sample rate and bit depth for your project. Consider using a compressor to even out volume inconsistencies.

With the right gear and software settings, you can record professional quality audio on any Android device. Just follow the tips in this guide to configure your external mic properly. Your listeners will appreciate the improvements in clarity, richness, and overall sound. Let your inner audiophile shine through!

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