Common Issues With External Microphones in Android

Using an external microphone with an Android device can significantly improve audio quality for videos, livestreams, interviews, podcasts, and more. Android devices come with built-in mics, but external mics offer better sound isolation, higher quality audio capture, and more flexibility. There are several reasons people choose to use external mics with their Androids:

– Reduce background noise and echo for clearer voice and sound pickup

– Improve sound quality for professional recordings, music, and other audio capture

– Enable flexibility in microphone positioning and sound capture

Some popular types of external microphones used with Android devices include:

– Lavalier mics – Small clip-on mics that attach to clothing near the mouth

– Shotgun mics – Directional mics good for focusing in on specific sound sources

– Handheld mics – Allow flexible positioning and high quality voice pickup

– USB mics – Plugin directly to Android for studio-quality recordings

Mic Not Detected

One of the most common issues with external microphones on Android devices is the microphone simply not being detected when plugged in. This can occur with both USB and 3.5mm wired microphones. Some potential causes include:

Problems with the USB or 3.5mm ports – If the connection ports are damaged or filled with debris, they may not make proper contact with the microphone plug. Trying a different port or inspecting the ports for damage can help diagnose issues.

Incompatible microphones – Not all external mics will work properly with all Android devices. Checking for microphone compatibility issues specific to your Android model can help troubleshoot detection problems.

Software and settings issues – The Android OS may need to have external mic access enabled in the settings menu. Going into the audio or microphone settings to check for an option to enable external/wired mics can resolve detection problems.
Up-to-date device software – Updating or reinstalling Android OS updates ensures the device has the proper software to communicate with mics.

Rebooting the Android device – Sometimes simply rebooting the phone can reset the audio subsystem and allow proper external mic detection.

If basic troubleshooting does not resolve external microphone detection issues, the problem may require professional hardware diagnosis and repair. But trying different mics and cables, inspecting ports for damage, updating software, and rebooting the device can often get around mic detection problems on Android phones and tablets.


External mic not being picked up by android phone
byu/NorinBlade inaudio

Incorrect Mic Selected

One common issue with external microphones on Android devices is the phone selecting the internal microphone instead of the external one. Even when an external mic is plugged in, Android may default to using the built-in mic on the device rather than switching to the external input.

To set an external microphone as the default on an Android device:

Open the Settings app and select System > Sound > Input. Under the Input section, click on Manage sound devices. You will see a list of available mics. Your external microphone should be listed here. Select it and click on the Set as default option. This will set your external mic as the default input for recording audio and video 1.

Now when you record videos or audio, your Android device will automatically use the external microphone instead of switching to the built-in mic. Keep in mind you may need to manually select it in certain apps. But setting it as the system-wide default is the best option to avoid the internal mic being used.

Echo and Feedback

Echo often occurs when the microphone picks up audio output from the speaker, creating a feedback loop. This is a common issue when using an external mic with Android devices. One cause is microphone and speaker proximity – if they are too close, sound from the speaker can get into the mic.

Microphone placement tips that can help reduce echo and feedback:

  • Position the mic away from speakers or any other source of audio output.
  • Angle the microphone away from reflective surfaces which could bounce sound into it.
  • Use a noise cancelling microphone or enable noise cancellation settings if available.
  • Adjust microphone volume/gain settings lower if possible.

Proper positioning of the external mic relative to other devices generating sound is key. Having distance between the mic and speakers, avoiding having them face each other, and using noise cancellation can help mitigate echo issues.

Low Volume

One of the most common issues with external microphones on Android devices is that the recorded audio volume is too low or quiet. There are a few potential causes for this:

The microphone’s gain or volume may be set too low. On many Android devices, you can adjust the microphone gain in the Sound settings. Try increasing the mic gain slider to boost the input volume from the external mic.1

The app or audio interface you are using may not be providing enough mic boost or amplification. Some recording apps like Voice Recorder offer a mic boost option to amplify the input volume. You can also try using a different app or audio interface that provides better mic volume controls.2

If the mic requires plugin power, this may not be enabled on your Android device, leading to weak volume. Check if your external mic needs plugin power and if so, try using an interface or adapter that provides it.

Checking the mic gain settings, testing different apps, and enabling plugin power if needed can help resolve low volume issues with external mics on Android.

Distorted Sound

One common issue that people face with using external microphones on Android is distorted or clipped audio. This is most often caused by the microphone gain being set too high, which results in the audio signal clipping and distorting when recorded.

As noted on Android Central forums, condenser microphones in particular can easily clip and distort if the gain is not set properly. Dynamic microphones can also distort if there is too much bias voltage present on the audio input.

To prevent distortion, it’s important to adjust the microphone gain or recording levels within your recording app. The optimal level should be high enough to pick up your voice clearly, but low enough so that loud peaks do not clip. It may take some trial and error to find the right balance.

Some apps like Open Camera allow you to adjust the gain manually and visualize the input level. Try speaking at your normal loudness and set the level so peaks just avoid the red clipping zone. Leaving some headroom is ideal.

If distortion persists even at low gain levels, the issue could be caused by a faulty microphone, cable problems, electromagnetic interference, or an overly sensitive audio input on your Android device. Switching mics or isolating the cause can help address the core problem.

Background Noise

Background noise can be a common issue when using an external microphone with an Android device. The microphone may pick up sounds from your environment, like fans, traffic, or people talking. This can make it difficult for the person on the other end of the call to hear you clearly.[1]

There are a few techniques you can try to reduce background noise when using an external mic with your Android phone or tablet:

  • Use a noise cancelling microphone or headphone. These are designed to filter out ambient noise and prevent it from being picked up by the mic.[2]
  • Place the microphone close to your mouth so it picks up more of your voice rather than surrounding sounds.
  • Record in a quiet space without much background noise.
  • Use an app like Sound Amplifier to reduce unwanted sounds and filter noise.[3]

Some Android devices also have built-in noise cancellation features for their microphones. You may be able to adjust these settings to suppress background noise when using your external mic:

  • Go to your Android device’s Settings > Sound/Audio and look for options like Noise suppression, Noise cancellation, or Acoustic echo cancellation.
  • Enable these settings when using your external microphone to block out ambient sounds.
  • Adjust the microphone sensitivity settings to prevent the mic from picking up as much background noise.

With the right techniques and settings, you can minimize interfering sounds when using an external microphone with your Android device.

Interference and Hum

Common sources of electrical interference when using external microphones on Android devices include ground loops, RF interference from cell towers or wifi routers, and conducted interference through power lines or USB cables. This can result in an audible hum or buzz in the background of recordings.

Ground loops occur when there are multiple paths to ground, creating small voltage differences and inducing unwanted noise currents. Using a balanced microphone cable or DI box can help eliminate ground loop hums by isolating the audio ground. Additionally, using a USB isolator or wireless system between the mic and phone can break the ground loop. [1]

RF interference is tougher to fix, but solutions include moving the mic away from sources of RF like routers, turning off radios when not needed, and using shielded cables on microphones. Conducted interference through cables can be minimized by using high-quality shielded cables or opting for wireless connections.

In some cases, the phone’s automatic gain control when using an external mic may amplify background electrical noise. Adjusting recording levels manually rather than relying on automatic gain may help reduce unwanted hum pickup.

With proper grounding, isolation, shielding and gain staging practices, external mics can work well with Android devices. However identifying and eliminating sources of electrical interference is key to minimizing hum.


Latency Issues

Audio latency refers to a delay between when audio is produced on a device and when it is actually heard through the speakers or headphones. This can cause issues when using external microphones with Android devices.

There are a few main causes of audio latency on Android devices when using external mics:

  • Audio processing – Android may apply audio effects like noise cancellation that add latency.
  • Bluetooth connectivity – Bluetooth headphones/mics often have higher latency due to data transmission times.
  • App optimization – Recording apps need to be well optimized to process audio quickly and reduce latency.

High latency makes it difficult to do real-time monitoring of audio when recording, since the mic input is delayed. There are some ways to reduce audio latency for better real-time monitoring:

  • Use a wired mic rather than wireless Bluetooth to eliminate wireless latency.
  • Disable any audio effects or enhancements that may be adding latency.
  • Use pro recording apps designed for low latency like OpenSL ES.
  • Optimize app settings to prioritize low latency over audio quality.

With proper app selection and settings, external mics can achieve workable real-time latency under 20ms on many modern Android devices.


In summary, there are a few key troubleshooting steps to try when experiencing issues with external microphones on Android devices:

  • Make sure the microphone is properly connected and the phone detects it. Try different cables or connections.
  • Check that the correct microphone is selected in your camera or audio recording app settings.
  • Adjust audio levels and turn off echo cancellation or other audio processing that could cause feedback.
  • Update your Android OS and app software to see if a bug fix resolves the problem.
  • Test the microphone in different conditions to isolate the issue, like indoors vs outdoors.
  • Try isolating the phone from sources of interference like other wireless devices.

In general, some best practices for external microphones on Android include:

  • Use microphones designed for mobile devices, not DSLRs or camcorders.
  • Opt for wired lavalier mics instead of wireless to avoid Bluetooth issues.
  • Stick to reputable brands known for audio quality.
  • Record in a quiet environment when possible to minimize background noise.
  • Monitor levels using headphone output and adjust gain accordingly.
  • Consider using a mini tripod or mount to hold the mic properly.
  • Update Android and mic firmware/software when available.

Following troubleshooting steps and microphone best practices will help ensure you capture clean, professional audio with external mics on Android.

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