iPhone/iPad interface: TRRS adapter

Discussion in 'Technical Side of Things' started by GlenP, Feb 1, 2020.

  1. GlenP

    GlenP Synchromatic

    814
    Jul 23, 2019
    WA
    If you have an iPad or iPhone with a mini 3.5mm jack, then you should be able to hook up a mono microphone and a stereo headphone using a Tip-Ring-Ring-Sleeve (TRRS) adapter, for example:

    https://www.amazon.com/Kingtop-Adapter-Tablet-Headsets-Version/dp/B01I3A47I4/

    If your device has a Lightning port, then you need the Apple adapter also:
    https://www.apple.com/shop/product/MMX62AM/A/lightning-to-35-mm-headphone-jack-adapter
    or the combo charge/audio adapter
    https://www.amazon.com/Certified-Lightning-Headphone-Earphone-Compatible/dp/B07ZC24X51/

    So, if basically you would have a mono input and a stereo output through those 3.5mm (1/8" mini jacks) and with appropriate adapters you can go from guitar to iPhone and from iPhone to amp (or stereo inputs on a pedal board or PA).

    I found that the levels on my Tele and Gretsch (Blacktop Filtertrons on Electromatic) are too hot for the audio input on the iPhone or iPad, so I have to turn my guitar volume down to about 50%-75% or it will saturate and cut out, kind of like a noise gate but with a ceiling instead of a floor.

    Here is a photo of the cables I used to go from guitar to amp, via the iPhone/iPad (either a mini jack or Lightning port)
    GB_cables_iPhone.jpg
    You can use a regular 1/4" mono guitar cable in place of the U2 wireless. The first 1/4" to 1/8" adapter only needs to be mono, but I have a stereo adapter shown here that plugs the guitar input into the mic input on the TRRS splitter.

    I have a longer 1/8" stereo cable to from the headphone side of the TRRS splitter and then that goes into a stereo 1/8" to 1/4" adapter. Then you can split the left-right stereo channels with a 1/4" jack splitter and just use one or both into a PA or stereo pedal, or just one into your amp. Of course, you could just use a set of headphones or the iPhone built-in speakers if you want.

    With that TRRS adapter you might get some cross talk between the mic and headphone, since they share a sleeve for common ground, but I have not noticed that. So, without any special audio interface, just these cables and adapters you can tap into GarageBand on your iPhone or iPad and try out those amp and pedal models.

    They also have additional track effects that includes more advanced settings for compression, reverb, and delay beyond the included pedals. I have just started playing around with it. Kind of fun for messing around with at home, not sure if I have enough confidence in my ability to play live with it at this point, it is really oriented more for recording than playing live, but you probably could get the hang of it, if you have a good sturdy stand where you can operate the iPad or iPhone. An external audio interface (iRig, etc) may offer more features and level settings, but I think all you really need is that TRRS adpater cable to get the mic/headphone jacks.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2020
  2. GlenP

    GlenP Synchromatic

    814
    Jul 23, 2019
    WA
    The amp models are actually pretty good, reasonable facsimiles thereof, one of my favorites so far is this one:

    Screen Shot 2020-02-01 at 8.44.46 PM.png
     
    thunder58 likes this.
  3. Aymara

    Aymara Friend of Fred

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    Sorry, but you definitely should get an iPad audio interface like an iRig Pro or an Apogee Jam+, because above cable / adapter solutions have the wrong impedance for guitar ... for newer iPads without headphone jack you‘ll need an interface with integrated headphone jack. One with line out is recommended for stage use to feed a PA.

    And for amp sims I highly recommend BIAS FX, which is by far the best app on iPad (also available for PC and Mac):

     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2020
  4. thunder58

    thunder58 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Age:
    61
    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    Admin Post
    .... some good info on this thread . Thanks for sharing
     
  5. GlenP

    GlenP Synchromatic

    814
    Jul 23, 2019
    WA
    That’s probably why I was getting some signal drops when my volume was wide open. I wasn’t sure if the guitar level was the same as a mic level or line level. I thought that as long as you adjust the sound input to avoid saturating the input channel then it should be fine, but I did have to cut the input level down quite a bit as well as turn the guitar volume down. I used to record from my acoustic piezo UST pickup like this into my computer, I wasn’t sure if the electric guitar with passive magnetic pickups would work like that also.

    I have used the headphone output to go right into a PA for playing music during breaks between sets, that seems to work fine.

    I was just messing around with this to see if it would work at all. These GarageBand models sound way better than my old Digitech RP-300A mutli effect board, probably past time to get rid of that thing. I imagine the pro software tools would be even better. BIAS FX looks really cool, sounds great in the demo too, thanks for the info! Do they have a physical expression pedal that is compatible to control a Wah effect in the software? That would be useful.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2020
  6. GlenP

    GlenP Synchromatic

    814
    Jul 23, 2019
    WA
  7. Aymara

    Aymara Friend of Fred

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    The iRig 2 is totally outdated ... better buy an interface for lightning connection or USB-C, if you have one of the newest iPads. Check out the iRig Pro Duo for example:

    https://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/irigproduo/

    BTW ... you can use BIAS inside Garageband too ;) And it is far better, than the GB amps.
     
  8. GlenP

    GlenP Synchromatic

    814
    Jul 23, 2019
    WA
    Cool! I have an iPad with a lightning connector and an iPhone, but I like the larger screen on the iPad. I hope that it will silence incoming calls and messages while you are using one of those apps.

    Do you use any kind of MIDI foot controller with BIAS FX?
    Something like this one looks like it would be handy and includes the audio interface with the MIDI controller:
    https://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/irigstompio/


    I guess, kind of similar to the old Digitech ipb-10, which is discontinued. Not sure how well that particular one worked, maybe was just ahead of its time.
    https://www.digitech.com/discontinued-products/iPB-10-.html
     
  9. GlenP

    GlenP Synchromatic

    814
    Jul 23, 2019
    WA
    mic < instrument < line level Oh my!

    Seems like the iPhone and iPad input is a mic, intended for use with headsets that combine stereo headphones with a mono mic, those are the lowest input levels.

    I found that my guitar instrument level will saturate it with the Volume wide open, but if I reduce the output with the Vol pot down to 50%-75% it seems to work okay. Due to the impedance mis-match, using a dedicated instrument audio I/O interface would work best.

    But, when I use the input on my computer, that is a line-level input, but seems to have a strong enough pre-amp that works with the electric guitar instrument level. I can have my guitar volume at max, and then adjust the line level in my computer settings and it does not saturate the channel or cut out at all. (I have an older iMac with a line in port). This lets me work the guitar volume a little to change the amount of growl with some of the amp settings, they seem to respond very similar to how an amp would respond at the threshold of crunch.

    So, just to clarify, seems like the typical mobile devices have mic level inputs, but the typical computer sound card would have a line level input. The guitar instrument level is somewhere in between those, and depending on your sound card, you might need an external pre-amp or audio interface to get your guitar up to the proper line level. But on a mobile device you may saturate the channel due to the higher impedance level of the guitar as compared to a mic, so an audio interface would solve that problem also.
     
  10. GlenP

    GlenP Synchromatic

    814
    Jul 23, 2019
    WA
    I am just re-learning some of this stuff now, after a long time since doing any home recording on my old G3 Desktop in Mac OS 9 with CubasisVST (sort of a light student version of Cubase). I later upgraded to a G4 MDD and OS X to run the first version of GarageBand and rebuilt some of my MIDI bass and drum tracks, but after a move and a second kid, I never really did much home recording since then, not enough quiet around the house. I am just amazed at all the new features they have incorporated into GarageBand since then, I guess I have been living under a rock. When I was mixing down a simple four track, two MIDI (bass/drums) and two audio(guitar/vocals), on my G3 Mac (even with a G4 CPU upgrade), the screen would lag during playback, it was barely capable of keeping up with the audio, the G4 MDD could handle it much better. Those were the days.
     
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