While the iPad has a nice microphone that records decent quality audio, I have been wanting to explore the possibility of getting even better audio using some of the external microphones I already own, such as the Snowball from Blue. The Snowball works great with Garageband for iOS, provided you have the proper adapters to connect the mic to the iPad. In order to connect the mic to my iPad mini with Retina display I needed an Apple Camera Connection Kit as well as a Lighting to 30-pin adapter. Both of these I already owned, but if you don’t have them already they can be purchased at any Apple store. Some electronics stores such as Best Buy also carry them.
When you launch Garageband with the Snowball plugged in and select the Audio Recorder as your instrument, Garageband will actually let you know if you are using the external USB mic to record (just look in the text box to the right of the VU meter.
As much as I love the Snowball, I wanted to have a more portable solution that I could take with me if I wanted to record while on the road. After doing some research online, I think I found a really nice setup consisting of the following parts that I purchased on Amazon:
- Behringer XM8500 Dynamic Cardioid Microphone ($19.99)
- Planet Waves 10 Foot Classic Series XLR Microphone Cable ($11)
- IK Multimedia iRig PRE ($35)
The IK iRig PRE is the key to the setup. It provides power to the XLR microphone by way of a 9 volt battery and connects to the iPad through the headphone jack. I can then connect my headphones to the iRig PRE if I want to be able to listen in while I record.
This setup also works well if you are blind and want to create recordings with Garageband while using VoiceOver, as you can hear the VoiceOver speech with your headphones and still use the microphone to record. Garageband has excellent support for VoiceOver and it allows recordings to be posted directly to SoundCloud from within the app. I created the following recordings to show the difference in quality between the three different options for recording: built-in mic, Blue Snowball, and Behringer mic connected with iRig PRE. All of the recordings were made using VoiceOver and Garageband on the iPad.
First, the built-in microphone on the iPad:
Next we have the Blue Snowball connected to the iPad through a Camera Connection kit.
Finally, we have the Behringer XLR mic connected to the iPad with the iRig pre using the headphone jack.
To me, I think the Snowball sounded the best, but it is not very portable due to its weird shape and weight.