The iPad is known as a great media consumption device for kicking back on the sofa to surf the ’Net, watch videos and read electronic magazines, but with a little effort, an iPad can be transformed into a powerful media creation device as well. With just a couple of readily available accessories, it’s surprisingly easy to record great-sounding audio into an iPad, even though it doesn’t have an obvious microphone input. I recently got my hands on a Samson Meteor USB Microphone and an iPad Camera Connection Kit and within minutes the microphone was live and I was recording. This is a pretty interesting solution for recording musical instruments or voices for video productions and podcasting. Read on to find out just how easy this is to get going.
Before I started this article, I had never recorded audio with an external microphone into my iPad. In fact, I didn’t even have an audio recording app on my iPad. However, after a quick visit to the Apple app store, I located and downloaded a free audio recording app (it's called AudioMemos SE) and I was good to go. The only thing I needed to do was to plug the equipment into my iPad and figure out how to get it running.
When you’re using an iPad, you don’t have to deal with pesky little things like “files” and “software drivers.” All of this stuff is essentially handled behind the scenes by your apps. The same holds true when you use an external USB microphone with an iPad. There’s pretty much no set-up process involved at all. The most time-consuming portion of my test was opening the boxes that the equipment came in (and both boxes were pretty easy to crack open).
The Apple iPad doesn’t have a USB port or a memory card reader. The only digital connectivity on the device is its 30-pin docking connector. That’s why the iPad Camera Connection Kit is required when you want to attach external hardware. Obviously, this kit does more than just enable you to connect a camera to an iPad. The kit comes with two separate 30-pin adapters, one with a “standard A” USB port and the other with an SD Card slot. The SD Card adapter lets you feed images from a camera’s SD card directly into your iPad, and the USB adapter lets you connect cameras (and other hardware) to the ever-popular tablet.
I opened up a new iPad Camera Connection Kit and removed the USB adapter. I simply attached the USB adapter to my iPad’s 30-pin connector and moved on. Next, I busted out the new Samson Meteor USB mic. The Meteor comes with a USB cable, and the only thing I needed to do was to connect one end of the cable to the iPad, the other end to the rear of the Meteor. Done.
Before I elaborate on how easy it was to use the Samson Meteor USB Microphone with my iPad, I’d like to take a moment to tell you how well designed this product is. The Meteor has a very handsome looking retro-futuristic design. I was pleased to discover that it’s made out of real metal, as opposed to a metallic-looking plastic. The folding tripod legs are very clever and useful, and it has little rubber-like nubs at the base of its feet which help to cut down on vibration noise. There’s a 5/8th thread at the base of the mic for mounting it on a mic stand. Since a USB Microphone acts as the soundcard of the computer or device it’s attached to, the Meteor has a stereo 3.5mm headphone output. The dial on the front is your headphone volume knob, with a button in the center that mutes the microphone. A blue LED light lets you know that you’re connected to the computer, and the light turns yellow when muted. The mic itself is so attractive looking that you’ll be tempted to leave it out on display to show it off.
There was no set-up involved for this microphone to work with the iPad (the Meteor is compatible with the iPad 1 and iPad 2, as well as Mac OS X and Windows XP, Vista and 7). I didn’t have to open and adjust the iPad’s Settings or anything. I plugged the Meteor USB Microphone into the USB adapter in the iPad, the blue LED went on, and I was ready to record. It doesn’t get any easier.
I launched AudioMemos SE, the free audio recording app I had downloaded. I tapped the on-screen Record button and I was rolling. Next, I launched the iPad’s stock Camera app, and switched it into video-recording mode. I started shooting video on the iPad and wouldn’t you know it, the Meteor microphone was picking up the audio for my video footage as well. The Meteor USB Microphone and the iPad Camera Connection Kit are sold bundled together as a B&H kit.
It may be painfully simple to get a USB microphone to record into an iPad, but if you strive to make a professional-sounding recording of a voice, there are many more factors you must consider (such as room ambiance, processing and critical monitoring). The best way to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs is to read the B&H InDepth Voice-Over Equipment Buying Guide.
If you have any more questions about the Samson Meteor USB Microphone or about recording audio into an iPad, we encourage you to submit a Comment below.