Using External Mics With Android Camera Apps (How to)

Using an external microphone with an Android device like a smartphone or tablet can greatly improve the audio quality of videos recorded with the built-in camera app. The tiny microphones built into mobile devices are convenient but lack the audio fidelity needed for professional recordings or clear vocals. Adding an external microphone provides much better sound pickup and control.

This guide will give an overview of the benefits of using external mics for Android video recording, the equipment needed, microphone types and recommendations, how to connect them, finding compatible camera apps, adjusting audio settings, and tips for getting the best results.

With some simple equipment and adjustments, external microphones enable Android users to take the audio quality of their videos to the next level. Crisp, broadcast-quality sound can vastly improve the production value of vlogs, interviews, tutorials, music videos and more.

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Benefits of External Mics

The built-in microphones on smartphones are designed to capture sound in a general manner, which often results in poor audio quality, especially during video recording. Using an external microphone can dramatically improve audio quality by capturing richer, cleaner sound compared to a smartphone’s built-in mic. External mics are designed specifically for recording audio and video, with features geared towards improving sound capture.

According to experts, external mics excel at reducing background noise during recording. Built-in smartphone mics pick up all ambient sounds nearby, but external mics can isolate the desired audio source. Directional microphones are particularly effective at minimizing distracting sounds from the surroundings.

All in all, external mics deliver superior audio quality during video recording while reducing unwanted background noise. This results in professional-sounding video with clear vocals or other audio sources. For smartphone users who record videos frequently, an external mic is a worthwhile upgrade.


Equipment Needed

To connect an external microphone to your Android device, you will need a few key pieces of equipment:

External Microphone – There are wired and wireless options available. Some top microphones include the RØDE VideoMic Me-L, Saramonic SmartMic Mini, and Movo WMIC50. Choose a mic that suits your needs and budget.

Adapter/Splitter Cable – Most external mics use a TRS connector, while Android devices use a TRRS port, so an adapter is required in between. You need a 3.5mm TRS to TRRS adapter like the Movo MC3 or Rode SC4. This allows the microphone and headphones to connect.

Android Device – Make sure your Android phone or tablet supports connecting external mics. Many modern Android models are compatible, but older devices may not work.


Wired vs Wireless Mics

When choosing between a wired and wireless microphone for your Android device, there are pros and cons to consider for each option:

Wired microphones have some key advantages:

  • They don’t require batteries or charging and will never run out of power (1).
  • They tend to be more reliable since there’s a physical connection (2).
  • There’s no chance of interference, dropout, or latency like you might experience with wireless mics (3).
  • They are generally more affordable than wireless options.

However, wired mics also have some limitations:

  • The mic cable can be inconvenient, limit mobility, and add clutter (1).
  • Cables are prone to physical damage from fraying and kinks over time.
  • You’ll be tethered to your phone which reduces filming flexibility.

Wireless microphones provide more convenience and flexibility since there’s no cable attaching you to the smartphone (2). However, wireless mics require charging, can introduce latency, dropout, or interference, and cost quite a bit more than wired models (3).

In the end, consider your budget and needs to decide if the freedom of wireless is worth the potential reliability and price tradeoffs compared to wired lav mics.

Compatible Android Models

Newer Android phones with USB-C ports or 3.5mm microphone jacks are typically compatible with external microphones.1 Many modern Android devices include these ports and will work with both wired and wireless external mics. Models with USB-C allow you to plug in mics directly, while 3.5mm jacks require a TRRS adapter or connector to work with external mics.

Some examples of compatible Android models include:2

  • Samsung Galaxy S9 and newer
  • Google Pixel 3 and newer
  • LG G7 and newer
  • OnePlus 7 Pro and newer

Older models may lack the ports or software support for external mics. Always check your specific Android device’s specifications to ensure compatibility.

Microphone Recommendations

There are several excellent external microphones to consider for Android devices. According to Engadget, top options include:

  • Rode Lavalier GO – A compact, clip-on lavalier mic perfect for interviews and voiceovers. It connects wirelessly via the Rode Reporter app.
  • Shure MV88+ – A versatile condenser mic that plugs into the phone’s charging port. It has multiple recording modes and comes with an adjustable stand.
  • Sennheiser MKE 400 – This supercardioid shotgun mic helps focus on voices and reduce background noise. It connects via 3.5mm jack.
  • Rode VideoMic Me-L – A directional microphone ideal for recording videos with clearer, more professional audio.

According to, the Rode Lavalier GO is one of the best Android microphones because of its portability, sound quality, and wireless capabilities.

Connecting the Mic

Connecting an external microphone to your Android phone is straightforward. Here are the step-by-step instructions:

Wired Microphones

1. Make sure your wired microphone is compatible with your Android device. Most Android phones support mics with a 3.5mm TRRS plug.

2. Locate the headphone jack on your Android phone, typically at the bottom or top edge of the device.

3. Plug the 3.5mm connector from the external mic directly into the headphone jack.

4. Open your camera or video recording app and look for a mic icon. Tap on this and switch to the “External Mic” option.

5. Adjust levels and configure any settings in your recording app to optimize for the external mic input.

Wireless Microphones

1. Turn on the wireless transmitter and connect it to your lavalier or clip-on mic.

2. Pair the wireless receiver with your Android device, usually via Bluetooth.

3. Configure the paired device in your phone’s Bluetooth settings as a microphone.

4. Open your camera app and switch to the external mic like with a wired connection.

5. Position the mic close to your mouth for best sound quality.

6. Adjust levels and configure the app audio settings to use the wireless mic.

Compatible Camera Apps

There are several camera apps for Android that allow you to connect and use an external microphone for better audio quality in your videos. Some of the most popular options include:

Open Camera – This free, open source app has extensive controls and supports external mics on most devices. It’s one of the most fully-featured camera apps available.

Horizon Camera – Designed for content creators, this app offers auto-focus tracking, waveform monitors, and inputs for external mics like 3.5mm jack mics.

Filmic Pro – Used by professional videographers, Filmic Pro allows high-quality video recording with external mics across various Android devices.

Cinema FV-5 – This advanced video camera app provides color grading, seamless external mic support, and custom audio controls for pro-grade recording.

Most newer Android smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S and Note series, Pixel phones, LG phones, and Sony Xperia phones support connecting external mics through the 3.5mm jack or USB-C port. Be sure to check your Android model’s specs to confirm mic support.

Audio Settings

Once you have your external microphone connected, you’ll want to adjust the audio settings in your camera app to get the best sound quality. Here are some tips for optimizing the audio settings:

Open the settings or options menu in your camera app and look for audio or microphone settings. Make sure the app is set to use the external microphone as the audio input source rather than the built-in mic.

Adjust the input volume or gain so your voice is loud and clear without peaking or distorting. Start low and increase as needed. The optimal level usually falls around 75-85% of max volume.

Enable audio monitoring if available so you can listen to yourself through headphones as you record. This helps ensure proper volume and positioning.

Set the sample rate to 48 kHz for best audio quality. 44.1 kHz is also acceptable.

Choose a lossless audio codec like PCM whenever possible. AAC is a good lossy compression choice.

Turn off automatic gain control and noise reduction features, as they can cause unpredictable changes in volume.

Use wind screens, mic isolation mounts, and shock mounts to reduce noise, vibrations, and wind interference.

Perform test recordings in different environments to fine-tune your optimal settings.

Monitoring your audio with headphones and adjusting the gain and distance from your mouth will help you dial in the best sound. With proper gain staging and audio capture, you’ll be ready to record great quality voiceovers and audio with your external mic.

Tips for Best Results

The environment and mic technique can make a big difference in your audio quality. Here are some tips for getting the best results:

Choose a quiet location without background noise. A room with soft furnishings can help absorb sound reverberations. Outdoor locations are difficult due to wind noise (1).

Get close to the audio source, usually within 1-2 feet. Position the mic near your mouth if speaking, or point it towards the sound you want to capture (2).

Avoid handling noise by using a mic stand or grip. Try to stay still while recording.

Speak clearly and project your voice. Modulate your speech for an optimal volume level.

Monitor your audio with headphones to make live adjustments.Watch your phone audio levels and make sure they don’t peak.

Consider using mic accessories like windscreens, shock mounts or pop filters for improved quality.

With some preparation and practice, you can achieve great sounding audio with an external Android microphone.

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