Can you plug your phone into an audio interface?

What is an Audio Interface?

An audio interface is a hardware device that lets you connect musical instruments, microphones, and other audio equipment to a computer. It converts the analog signals from the equipment into digital data that can be recorded and processed on your computer (Source:

Specifically, an audio interface has inputs like XLR, 1/4″ TRS, or USB to connect mics, instruments, and other gear. It then converts the audio from analog to digital via an analog-to-digital converter (ADC). This digital data can then be sent over USB, Thunderbolt, or other connections to your computer (Source:

An audio interface also works in reverse, taking digital audio from your computer and converting it back into analog with a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) so you can monitor the audio on speakers or headphones. This bi-directional conversion is key to how an interface enables recording, processing, and monitoring audio on a computer.

Why Use an Audio Interface?

Audio interfaces provide better sound quality and lower latency compared to basic internal sound cards. They utilize higher quality audio components and converters, providing cleaner audio playback and recording. The drivers and architecture are optimized for pro audio work rather than generic personal computing, resulting in improved performance (Source:

Audio interfaces also have near zero latency monitoring, allowing you to hear your live audio input without any noticeable delay. This allows for easier tracking and overdubbing. Basic sound cards can have latency well over 100ms, making real-time monitoring more difficult (Source:

In summary, the optimized drivers, converters, and routing in audio interfaces provide lower latency along with higher quality audio input and output compared to basic sound cards.

Can You Plug a Phone into an Audio Interface?

Yes, you can plug a phone into an audio interface, but you will need the right adapter cable to go from the phone’s headphone jack to the inputs on the audio interface. This is because phones use a TRRS jack (Tip, Ring, Ring, Sleeve) whereas audio interfaces use a TRS jack (Tip, Ring, Sleeve).

To connect a phone to an audio interface, you need a TRRS to dual TS adapter cable. This converts the combined headphone/microphone jack on the phone to separate dedicated headphone and microphone jacks that you can then connect to the audio interface’s inputs.

With the right TRRS to dual TS adapter cable connected, you can plug your phone into an audio interface just like you would a microphone or instrument. This allows you to record audio and music directly from the phone into your recording software.

Adapter Needed – TRS to TRRS

In order to connect a phone to an audio interface, you will likely need an adapter cable. This is because most phones use a TRRS jack, while most audio interfaces use a TRS jack.

TRRS stands for Tip, Ring, Ring, Sleeve. It has three conductor bands and a sleeve – a tip, two rings, and a sleeve. The fourth conductor allows TRRS jacks to carry both a stereo audio signal and a mono microphone signal. This is why phones and mobile headsets use TRRS.

TRS stands for Tip, Ring, Sleeve. It has two conductor bands and a sleeve – a tip, a ring, and a sleeve. TRS jacks are designed for stereo audio signals only. Most audio interfaces use TRS connections.

To connect a TRRS jack on a phone to a TRS jack on an audio interface, you need a TRRS (male) to TRS (female) adapter cable. This converts the combined audio/microphone signal from the phone’s headphone jack into a stereo audio signal that can be plugged into the audio interface’s input.

TRRS to Dual TS Cable

This is an adapter cable that splits the combined TRRS jack on your phone into separate TRS audio and TS mic jacks. It has a single TRRS connector on one end that plugs into your phone’s headset jack, and on the other end it splits into two TS connectors – one for headphones and one for a microphone.

The TRRS jack on most smartphones combines audio output and input into one connector. But most audio interfaces and mixers use separate TRS jacks for headphones and TS jacks for microphones. So you need the TRRS to dual TS cable to split the signals coming from your phone into dedicated outputs.

Cite: (Amazon)

This allows you to connect your phone’s audio and mic to an interface just like you would a regular microphone and headphones. The headphone output can be routed to monitors or headphones, while the mic input goes into the interface for recording vocals, instruments, or other audio from your phone.

Other Required Adapters

In addition to the TRS to TRRS adapter, you may also need other adapters depending on your phone and audio interface connections:

For iPhones and other Lightning-connector devices, you’ll need a Lightning to 3.5 mm adapter to convert the Lightning port to a standard 3.5mm headphone jack.

For USB-C phones like newer Android models, you’ll need a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter to connect to the audio interface’s standard 3.5mm input.

Having the proper adapters for your specific phone and audio interface connections is crucial for getting connected and enabling audio input and output.

How to Connect

Plugging your phone into an audio interface requires using the proper adapters to convert the TRRS headphone jack on your phone into dual TS jacks that interface with the inputs on your audio interface. Here are the steps:

  1. Connect your TRRS to TRS adapter to the headphone jack on your phone.
  2. Connect the TRS end of the adapter to a TRS to dual TS cable or splitter.
  3. Connect the dual TS jacks on the splitter to two input jacks on your audio interface.
  4. Make sure the input channels are activated in your recording software.
  5. Set the gain/level controls appropriately so your phone’s output doesn’t overload the interface inputs.
  6. You may need to adjust software monitoring/latency to hear your phone’s output in real-time.

With the proper connections made via the adapters, your phone should now be interfacing with the audio interface inputs allowing you to record or monitor the audio.

Recording and Monitoring

One of the main benefits of connecting your phone to an audio interface is the ability to record high quality audio and monitor it with minimal latency. Most modern audio interfaces have very low latency monitoring, allowing you to hear the input signal from your phone in real time without any noticeable delay. This is important for recording vocals, instruments, or any other audio where timing is critical and you need to hear yourself without lag.

To record from your phone into your DAW, you’ll simply need to select the audio interface input as the recording source. The audio interface will convert the analog signal from your phone into a digital signal that can then be recorded. Many audio interfaces also provide direct monitoring capabilities, letting you listen to the input signal pre-conversion so you hear yourself with zero latency.

With proper drivers installed, audio interfaces allow recording at very high bit depths (24-bit or 32-bit) and sample rates (up to 192 kHz), capturing the full frequency and dynamic range available from your phone. This results in clean, professional recordings. The superior AD/DA conversion and mic preamps in an audio interface provide better sound quality compared to using your computer or phone’s built-in audio.

So if high quality, lag-free recording and monitoring is needed, connecting your phone to an audio interface is an excellent option. Just be sure to use cables/adapters to route the signal appropriately and select the right input source in your DAW.

Using Phone as Audio Interface

In addition to using a phone just for recording into an audio interface, some Android devices can actually function as the audio interface themselves when connected to a computer. This is made possible through USB OTG (On-The-Go) cables that allow the phone to act as a host device.

When connected to a computer via an OTG cable, many modern Android devices running Android 6.0 or higher can send and receive digital audio over the USB connection. This allows the phone to function as the sound card, taking over the roles of an external audio interface. The phone needs to support USB audio class 2.0 to work as an interface.

With an OTG cable and the proper drivers and apps, the phone can handle audio input and output between a computer and peripherals like microphones, headphones, monitors, etc. Apps like USB Audio Player PRO enable advanced audio over USB functions. The phone essentially operates as a basic external sound card in this setup.

There are some limitations though – latency may be an issue during recording and playback monitoring. The quality of the phone’s audio components will also factor into the quality and performance. But with the right Android phone and app, this can provide a basic mobile audio interface solution.

Limitations to Consider

There are a few limitations to keep in mind when connecting a phone to an audio interface:

Hardware Differences

Phones and computers have different hardware that can impact connectivity and compatibility with audio interfaces. Phones often lack the dedicated sound cards and drivers that computers have for high-quality audio input and output. The audio jack on phones is typically designed for headphones, not professional microphones and gear. There may be impedance or gain staging issues.

Limited Driver Support

Most audio interfaces rely on specific ASIO or Core Audio drivers to function properly and achieve low latency monitoring. But Android and iOS devices have limited driver support compared to Mac/Windows computers. The phone may not fully recognize the audio interface, limiting functionality. Per this Quora post, audio interfaces often don’t work to their full capabilities with mobile devices.

Overall, while connecting a phone to an audio interface is possible with the right adapters, it may not provide the same seamless experience or quality you’d get using an interface with a laptop or desktop computer. Carefully check compatibility and expect limitations.

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