USB microphones work with the iPad! (New post)

Okay, let’s try this again.

My iPad Camera Connection Kit arrived this morning and I couldn’t wait to try a trick I read about in Glenn Fleishman’s great review of the Kit over on TidBITS: if you use the Kit’s USB dongle to hook up a standard USB microphone, iPad audio apps will use it as an audio input-output device without further ado.


iPad USB Audio demos by Ihnatko

It’s really that simple. My fave iPhone audio recorder (Recorder Pro) didn’t even blink; it recorded 44.1k audio straight away. It worked fine with my Blue Yeti mic (the premium mic I record my podcasts with) and Skype worked just fine with my USB headset.

The lone failure was my iUke. It’s ukulele with an integrated USB audio pickup. It’s possible that this is merely an exotic device, or that I just could get its levels dialed in correctly. There’s only one of these on the planet (it was custom-built for me by the iGuitar guys) so perhaps this isn’t a problem that will affect a great many users.

I wanted to try out something else Glenn mentioned. USB keyboards work just fine, too. The iPad sniffs that “This hardware isn’t supported” but nonetheless, it managed to screw up its courage and allow the keyboard to work just fine in Pages…including its function and command keys.

Cool beans!

That doesn’t mean that the iPad suddenly has a standard USB audio port. You’re limited to just the devices for which the iPad has built-in drivers. I suspect that the fact this is all evidence that internally, the iPad sees its stock keyboard and any dock sound devices as standard USB devices requiring nothing more than a basic driver. USB storage devices aren’t recognized by the iPad (except as sources of pictures and video, which is what God intended the Kit to serve). My mouse and my tablet didn’t do anything. And if anybody ever tried to create a printing app that exploited the Camera Kit and included drivers for HP, Epson, etc. I bet Apple wouldn’t approve it.

Still, this elevates the Camera Kit big-time. And it makes the iPad into an even better “road warrior” ultralight. I knew going in that it would let me post photos and videos from my DSLR and my Flip camera — an all-too-common reason why I’d drag my MacBook with me on a simple three-day trip — but now I know that I can Skype into a live podcast and deliver high-quality audio. Done and done.

29 thoughts on “USB microphones work with the iPad! (New post)

  1. Andreas_Sch

    Enjoyed the Uke playing. Thanks for sharing this information. I just might have to figure out a way to afford one of these iPads. With an external mic and the Faber Acoustical apps, I can see some real possibilities when setting up sound systems. Yes, I know USB mics are not calibrated, but for anything outside of a lab, they are good enough.

  2. Ken H.

    “I knew going in that it would let me post photos and videos from my DSLR and my Flip camera — an all-too-common reason why I’d drag my MacBook with me on a simple three-day trip…”

    Does this mean that the Flip Camera is supported? As in, I can shoot video and then use it/view it on the iPad? If so, then will ReelDirector (iPhone app) work to edit clips and create finished video works?

  3. bud

    Raf, Andy VIDEO Skypes into MacBreakWeekly, but it would seem a natural thing to do on the audio only PadPundit podcast.

    Oh, by the way Andy, I can’t hear the SoundCloud audio sample here, Safari 4.0.5 in Leopard on my 13 inch Macbook.

  4. bud

    Oddly enough, the act of posting a message loaded up the USB Uke, and the message. Before that, I couldn’t get it to load.

  5. biocow

    I was wondering if the kit would work with other things, specifically an iSight. If it does how about 2 devices with a USB hub?

  6. biocow

    I was wondering if the kit would work with other things, specifically an iSight. If it does how about 2 devices with a USB hub? Or maybe a camera with built-in mic? You’d have a portable video podcasting device?

  7. Tony Taylor

    Have you tried the HP printing app from the iPhone on the iPad? Also I think that there is a general printing app on the iPhone for WiFi printers has this been tried? I would have tried these myself but living in the UK we haven’t been graced with a shipment yet. Must be Leo ordering so many.
    At lease we have an election to keep us amused. NB a month of campaigning is about enough, you Americans should try it.

  8. Andy Hendriksen

    This is fantastic. With a Blue Yeti, the camera connection kit, and a program like StudioTrack could make the iPad a seriously capable portable recording device. I’m very excited, Thanks Andy!

  9. Suzanne

    I just wanted to say I love that you have a USB ukulele. I’m not sure why, but that pleases me to no end and just seems right somehow.

  10. Ihnatko Post author

    @matthew – Nope, it doesn’t work with the iPhone.

    @Doc – Thanks!

    @Tony – I haven’t tried a USB printer…I’d be pretty shocked if it worked!

    @Suzanne – It’s a big improvement over the old RS-232 ukulele, I promise you.

    @Ann – Aww. Thanks!

  11. Jeremy Cesena

    I’m a musician who is loving the potential of my iPad for music creation and live performance. Does anyone know of any USB instrument cable boxes that are compatible with the camera kit? I NEED to be able to plug my keyboard into this to record in the app.

  12. Glen farrell

    I got the camera connection kit. So far working: beta 58a + mxl USB to XLr adaptor. Logitech headset mic seems to work for record. Not working rode nt5 condenser + mxl USB adaptor. Almost working akg 535eb + said mxl, at least until iPad gave unsupported accessory and then audio programs crashed and iPad rebooted.

    Also not working… Old sonic port USB adaptor circa 1999. Maudio fast track pro(needs driver)

    I suspect any P48 xlr to USB adaptor will likely have issues, as the 5v to 48v operation (in the adaptor) means 5mA from phantom on xlr now becomes roughly 50mA at the USB side.

    Take home message…. I would not come to a recording session with my iPad as the only recording device. A dynamic mic would likely be ok.

  13. Glen farrell

    @Jeremy, I would suspect that an xlr /usb adaptor and passive di would likely do it. You might be able to use a xlr/USB adaptor and suitable cable if the is no phantom power on the xlr on it can be switched off. I’m going to try a griffin USB adaptor as well as a diamond sound tube as soon as I can figure out which laptop bag they are in.

  14. Glen farrell

    I meant if THERE is no phantom power on the xlr OR it can be switched off. Autocorrect again.

  15. Kevin Long


    Didn’t you see that thing about the 4g iPhone? You won’t be Skyping into podcasts on your iPad. You’ll be using the front facing camera on your phone.

  16. Ray Thompson

    Great stuff, Andy! I tried my RODE Podcaster, but got the “too much juice” message — it draws too much current for the iPad. Just got the Yeti, and also had a chance to confirm that the new Alesis AM3 microphone works. The latter is a good choice, as it’s fairly small and stereo.

  17. Nanny

    There is another solution to hook up professional microphones to your iPhone / iPod / iPad. makes very nice cables for this purpose, which already are in use by the pro’s. Their cable is blocking the bias voltage that is supplied by the iPhone to make sure all microphones work. Phantom powered mic’s need to bring in their own supply off course, as the iPhone/iPod/iPad will not provide any.

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