Can you plug an audio interface into an Iphone?

An audio interface is a device that allows you to get audio signals in and out of a computer. It converts analog signals, like those from microphones and instruments, into digital data that can be recorded and processed on a computer. Audio interfaces provide inputs for microphones, instruments, and other devices, as well as outputs to speakers or headphones. They enable you to record vocals, guitars, keyboards, and more into audio recording software on your computer. Audio interfaces are commonly used by musicians, podcasters, streamers, and anyone wanting higher quality audio recording and output capabilities than what is built into most computers and mobile devices. They provide advanced features like phantom power for condenser microphones, headphone outputs with independent volume control, and low-latency monitoring. Using an audio interface with recording software results in professional quality audio compared to using basic computer sound inputs and outputs. They are an essential piece of gear for home studios and audio production workstations.

Connecting an Audio Interface to an iPhone

In order to connect an external audio interface to an iPhone, you will need Apple’s Lightning to USB Camera Adapter (–iPad_iPhone_Interfaces). This adapter allows you to connect USB devices like audio interfaces to the iPhone’s Lightning port. Without the adapter, it is not possible to directly connect a USB audio interface to an iPhone.

One important consideration is that some audio interfaces may require external power over USB, which the iPhone cannot provide. Audio interfaces like the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, for example, need external power to operate properly. There are a couple options for providing this power:

  • Use an audio interface with a built-in battery like the IK Multimedia iRig Pro Duo (
  • Use a powered USB hub between the iPhone and audio interface.

The Shure MVi is one example of an audio interface that can be bus-powered and does not require external power to work properly with an iPhone. Always check the power requirements of the audio interface before connecting it to an iPhone to make sure it will function correctly.

Power Considerations

When connecting an audio interface to an iPhone, one key consideration is power. iPhones can provide power to external devices through the Lightning port, but there are some limitations.

Many affordable, entry-level audio interfaces like the Focusrite Scarlett Solo are bus-powered, meaning they draw power from the connected USB port rather than needing an external power supply. However, the iPhone’s Lightning port can only output a maximum of 12 watts, compared to laptop USB ports which can provide up to 15 watts.

This means very power-hungry audio interfaces may have issues working properly or require an additional power source when connected to an iPhone. There are also differences between older 30-pin iPhones which provide less power vs newer Lightning models.

So when selecting an audio interface for iPhone connectivity, it’s best to choose a low-power bus-powered model, ideally 12 watts or less. Externally powered desktop interfaces with their own AC power supplies will work more reliably since they don’t drain power from the iPhone itself.

Audio Interface Compatibility

The iPhone supports class-compliant USB audio interfaces that adhere to the USB audio device class specification. This means the audio interface does not require any special drivers to be installed, and will work natively with the iPhone when connected (Sweetwater). Some specific audio interfaces known to be compatible with iPhones include the IK Multimedia iRig Pro Duo, PreSonus AudioBox iTwo, and RME Babyface Pro FS. The key is to ensure the audio interface supports class-compliant USB connectivity rather than requiring proprietary drivers. As long as the interface adheres to the USB audio standard, it should function properly when connected to an iPhone.

Using the Audio Interface

Setting up an audio interface to work with an iPhone or iPad requires enabling USB audio in the iOS settings. Go to Settings > General > iPadOS / iOS > and toggle on “USB Audio Device Support.” This allows iOS to recognize the audio interface when connected via a Lightning to USB cable or adapter (Sweetwater, 2023).

Many audio apps for iOS work well with external audio interfaces. Some popular options include GarageBand, Cubasis, Auria Pro, FL Studio Mobile, Audio Evolution Mobile Studio, and others. The audio interface will show up as an input/output option within these apps once properly connected and enabled in the iOS settings. Users can then route audio through the interface rather than the built-in mic/headphone jack for improved quality, latency, and features.

It’s important to note that newer iPhones and iPads may require a powered USB hub or an interface with separate power to provide enough juice over Lightning for full functionality. Pay attention to power requirements when selecting an audio interface for use with iOS devices (Sweetwater, 2023).

Latency Considerations

Latency refers to the delay between the time audio is produced and when it is heard through the headphones or speakers. This can be problematic when monitoring live audio or playing virtual instruments, as the lag is distracting. iOS devices tend to have higher latency due to audio buffering.

The buffer size has a direct impact on latency. Smaller buffer sizes lead to lower latency but can cause audio dropouts and glitches. Larger buffers provide more reliable performance but increase latency. Finding the right balance usually requires some experimentation.

Here are some tips for reducing audio interface latency on iOS devices:

  • Use an audio interface designed specifically for iOS, like the iRig Pro Duo.
  • Connect headphones or powered monitors directly to the interface.
  • Close unneeded apps that could be using system resources.
  • Optimize buffer size settings within the iOS app or DAW.
  • Use a DAW like Auria Pro or Cubasis 3 with advanced latency settings.
  • Connect the interface to a power source to ensure maximum performance.

With optimal configuration, latency can usually be reduced to less than 10 milliseconds. Be prepared to experiment with buffer sizes to find the best balance for reliable performance.

Microphone Use

To connect an external microphone to an iPhone, you can either use a wired microphone or a wireless microphone that connects via Bluetooth. Wired microphones will generally connect through the iPhone’s Lightning port or headphone jack using an adapter or specialized microphone cable. Popular options include professional microphones like the Shure MV88 or the Rode VideoMic Me, as well as lavalier microphones that clip onto clothing.

The iPhone’s built-in microphone records in mono. But with an external stereo microphone, you can capture high-quality stereo audio. Using a stereo microphone provides more spatialization and realism for things like music recordings, interviews, and ambient sounds. Models like the Shure MV88 have dual condenser capsules for true stereo recording. Make sure the app you use for recording supports stereo inputs for full advantage of the stereo microphone.

Additionally, external microphones typically have better sound quality, lower noise, and higher clarity compared to the built-in iPhone microphone. They provide more control over the sound with gain adjustment and often have onboard audio processing like compression and limiting.

Guitar and Bass

Connecting an electric guitar or bass to an iPhone is straightforward with the right audio interface. Devices like the IK Multimedia iRig 2 provide a 1/4″ guitar input that allows you to directly plug into your iPhone or iPad. The iRig 2 converts the instrument signal into a digital signal that can be processed by apps on your iPhone.

One of the benefits of using an iPhone for guitar/bass recording is the availability of amp/cabinet simulator apps. These apps emulate the sound of guitar amps and speaker cabinets, allowing you to get studio-quality guitar tones directly on your iPhone. Popular options include AmpliTube, Bias FX Mobile, and T-RackS. With quality amp/cab sim apps, you can record studio-ready guitar tracks anywhere using just your iPhone and interface.

MIDI Connectivity

Connecting an iOS device like an iPhone to a MIDI controller or synth can greatly expand your mobile music production capabilities. Many audio interfaces and MIDI interfaces are class-compliant, meaning they can connect to an iPhone or iPad using a Lightning to USB cable or adapter without requiring any additional drivers or software.

This allows you to use MIDI controller apps like IK Multimedia’s iRig Keys or Arturia’s KeyStep to play software instruments in various iOS synth apps or even control DAWs like GarageBand. The MIDI data is sent directly over the USB connection to the iOS device where it can drive internal or third-party synth engines using either the Core MIDI framework or virtual MIDI ports.

Latency should not be an issue when using class-compliant MIDI over USB. The main limitation is that iOS does not allow multi-client MIDI routing in the way macOS and Windows does, so virtual MIDI ports are necessary to route MIDI between apps. As long as your audio interface or MIDI controller is class-compliant, you can unlock the many possibilities of mobile music production and performance using MIDI with your iPhone.


To summarize, yes you can plug an audio interface into an iPhone, but you’ll need to keep some key things in mind.

First, make sure your audio interface is compatible with iOS devices and is designed to be powered through the iPhone’s Lightning port. Popular models that work well include the iRig Pro Duo I/O and the Shure MOTIV series interfaces.

You’ll also want an interface with low enough latency for real-time monitoring when recording vocals or instruments. The Apogee One is a great choice here. Using the newest iPhones with a Lightning to USB 3 camera adapter can also help reduce latency.

For microphones, dynamic mics often work better than condensers, since they don’t require phantom power. The Shure MV88 is an excellent iOS-compatible condenser though. Electric guitars and basses can be plugged in directly using the right adapter cable.

While full MIDI connectivity is limited, you can get basic MIDI input and output with interfaces like the iRig Pro Duo I/O. However, using external MIDI devices with an iPhone takes some workarounds.

Overall, with the right audio interface and adapters, you can definitely plug into an iPhone for professional-grade music recording and production on the go.

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