Using a shotgun mic with an iPhone to record birds

I’ve used my existing microphone setup with a dedicated recorder since I picked up the equipment. While taking an online course on How to Record Bird Sounds, one of the setups they showed in the …

shotgun microphone setup with iphone

I’ve used my existing microphone setup with a dedicated recorder since I picked up the equipment. While taking an online course on How to Record Bird Sounds, one of the setups they showed in the video utilized an external microphone connected to an iPhone running Merlin. This setup allowed them to get higher-quality recordings and get Merlin’s help IDing what was vocalizing.

shotgun microphone setup with iphone

What I used in this setup:

Item
Microphone with XLR output
Apple 3.5mm-to-Lightning adapter
Rode SC4 TRRS adapter
Optional but highly recommended
Shotgun shock mount

I decided to go down this rabbit hole of researching what I would need to connect my Sennheiser ME66 microphone to my iPhone. This setup should work with any XLR microphone.

Examining this video course closer (they didn’t go into the detail of the setup), I could see they plugged the microphone into the 3.5mm-to-Lightning adapter with another dongle in between.

My microphone has an XLR output so I bought an XLR female to male 3.5mm cable and plugged it all in with the 3.5mm-to-Lightning adapter. No dice. The microphone was being powered with its battery, but the phone was still using the built-in mic when running Merlin.

I learned that the microphone cable outputs its signal as “TRS” and needs to be converted to “TRRS” for the iPhone hence the extra dongle I mentioned above in the course’s setup.

Rather than wait for another online shipment, I found a camera store nearby that sells the Rode SC4 TRRS Adapter that I needed. The folks at the store were kind enough to help me plug everything in and confirm it worked before paying.

So, in short, to get things working properly plug all the dongles and cables together THEN plug it into the phone. This should allow the phone to recognize everything properly.

A quick test of this setup shows my audio being recorded in Merlin using the external mic while ignoring the built-in one. Enjoy!