How to record CD quality audio with your iPad

Sections: Features, How-To, iDevice Accessories, iDevice Apps, iPad, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, Originals

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iPad Blue FiRe

Apple’s iPad camera connection kit is finally available in stores and it’s useful for more than just importing photos. With it, you can connect some keyboards and some audio devices such as headsets. But why stop there? What’s stopping you from using the USB adapter to connect a Blue Yeti or other high quality microphone to your iPad and recording CD quality audio? Nothing actually.

I’ll get to the Yeti in a second, but let me first explain the iPad Camera Connection Kit. It’s a two adapter kit from Apple that allows you to connect either an SD card or a camera to your iPad. But when I see a USB port, the last thing I want to use it for is connecting a camera. So, I tried a bunch of other accessories with it. Now, what normally happens is the iPad tells you one either the device is not supported or that it draws too much power. Some accessories still function anyway, like Apple’s long keyboard. And just in case you were wondering, yes, you can connect your iPhone to the iPad and download pictures just as if it were a camera, but not much of anything else (yet?).

Also, don’t expect to connect a few things through a USB hub, as I’ve yet to get one to work. I doubt the iPad would support two USB accessories at once, anyway, and it wouldn’t even be useful for charging since the iPad’s port does not provide much power to anything.

So, you could guess I was pretty surprised when I connected the Blue Yeti to the iPad and saw its mute/live button light up. This was exactly what I was hoping for, though I was expecting it to pop up with one of the two messages I mentioned before. Now, Apple hasn’t yet made a Voice Memos app specifically for iPad, so I had to look somewhere else, which is when I remembered that Blue has their own specialized audio app for iPhone called Blue FiRe. This app is designed for the Blue Mikey mic for iDevices to record at CD quality. This app was perfect for my setup, but would it work? Well, you can hear for yourself by downloading it right here.

Not only did the iPad pass the Yeti USB mic to the iPhone FiRe app, it did so in full stereo when I had the Yeti set to stereo. Again, I’m semi-amazed that Apple would let a feature like this through to consumers without first telling us about it and then how really great it is (plus a few “booms” mixed in there for good measure). This is quite a major feature, especially for mobile musicians or podcasters on the go. The Yeti is still pretty big and the iPad isn’t that much smaller than a laptop, but the point is that it can be done.

Now if only Apple would release Garageband or Logic for iPad…

Read [Appletell reviews the Blue Yeti THX certified USB Mic]

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  • Boca Boi 786


  • Phil Earnhardt

    In a forum, someone claimed that the same Camera Connection kit would work with an iPhone or iPod Touch. Could you please try the Yeti + Camera Connection with an iPod Touch and see what happens?

  • Jake Gaecke

    Phil. Good question, I should have mentioned that the iPhone and iPod touch display a message saying that the accessory is not supported. So it's a no go for anything other than the iPad for now. I wouldn't be surprised if iPhone OS 4.0 changes this, but I wouldn't hold your breath on that one.

  • Phil Earnhardt

    Thanks, Jack. One thing I did see in a macrumors discussion was that a USB keyboard would work with the camera connection adapter. IMO, that would be a worthy thing to confirm and blog about.

  • Jake Gaecke

    I did try that out as well. It works too, I just much prefer using the Apple Bluetooth keyboard. That said, I do actually like the Apple longboard better, and you don't have to worry about batteries either. Definitely an option, but I think I'll be staying wireless for the convenience.

  • Phil Earnhardt

    iPad Touch devices don't have BT; they haven't had a kbd option (until now).

  • Dan

    This is the exact answer I've been looking for. All the apps coming out for recording, mixing, sequencing and such for musicians are making the iPad look mighty interesting to me… How ever the lack of a quality recording input device was the draw back. I can write some good stuff on my ipad but then I'd have to go to my laptop and firewire box to get a good sound on it.. I'm going to be investigating this further.

  • James

    This is a great workaround that I did not know existed and revives my interest in the iPad, but I still can't help but wonder why the heck they left out the ability to add an external mic to it anyways. So many people use that feature who are mac lovers.

  • Chris

    Lots of comments about OS 4.2 having a detrimental impact n the CCK. Have you tried the Yeti + CCK under 4.2 and does it still work?

  • Jake Gaecke

    Just tried it. Seems to work the same as before.

  • Mark M.

    Went out and picked up Yeti and Camera Connection kit, largely due to this review. Unfortunately, when I plug in mic, I get a message indicating: "Cannot Use Device – The connected USB device requires too much power."

    I have 64 GB wi-fi iPad running 4.2 OS.


  • Jake Gaecke

    Yup, iOS will display this error message, but if you try out the Blue FiRe app, it will still use the Yeti despite saying there's not enough power.

  • Phil Earnhardt

    @Jake, maybe the combination of a USB Y connector to a mini USB B. You could then connect the other USB A connector to a small USB battery or an USB AC Adapter. Not perfect, but not too bad.

    Blue Microphones should know about this stuff. You may want to contact them. I see there is some twitter chatter about the Yeti and iPad on @BlueMicrophones

    Good luck. Let us know what you find.

  • Jake Gaecke

    @Phil, well, the Yeti doesn't actually need any more power; it works despite the message. But you have a good idea there. If someone was concerned, or wanted to use some other accessory that did need more power, you could hook up the USB adapter to a powered USB hub… problem solved, rather crudely though.

    Blue knows. I told them when I originally posted this article, and they had actually figured it out on their own the same day.

  • Charlietrail

    @Jake, interesting article. Do you know if the Yeti withstands very loud audio sources? Eg a band practice? (i returned the Mikey cause it was clipping as soon as our drummer began playing). By the way, has anyone noticed that they have totally improved the built in mic on iphone 4 compared to 3GS?! Now i can record a practice no problem on my phone without it distorting. Would love to do the same on my ipad… Thanks

  • Jake Gaecke

    @Charlietrail, I agree, the mic on the iPhone 4 is surprisingly good, as far as built-ins go. And honestly, I'm a little surprised that you say the Mikey was clipping for you, as it has 3 gain settings, one of which is specifically for high volume levels.

    To answer your question, the Yeti has a gain knob, so you have direct control over how the microphone responds to audio levels. Plus it's THX certified, meaning you're not going to find a better mic at this price range. What I'm thinking might be of more help to you is getting a compressor in there somewhere, which unfortunately is still tricky on iOS right now. I'd recommend that you look into Amplitube for iPad. It has the option for an 8 track recorder, which is perfect for recording a band. Plus, the 8-track recorder comes with a compressor. It's a little bit of an investment, but it might be worth it. There's a free version that you can try out, so definitely give it a download.

  • Charlietrail

    Thanks Jake i'll give amplitube a look in, but i doubt the soft compressor on any app is going to help with the built in ipad mic being too hot. Think thats a hardware issue. As for the yeti though it looks nice… Will keep reading. Thanks for replying, if you do happen to record something really loud with it please fill us in here on how it copes.

  • Jake Gaecke

    I want to correct my earlier statement. It appears that I shouldn't have ignored the popup in iOS 4. Yeti no longer works directly with an iPad over the camera connection kit. I don't have a powered hub to try, but running Yeti through that may allow you to use the it with an iPad running iOS 4.+ again. Sorry for the confusion.

  • Simon t

    Yeti does not work with my iPad, running current software. Spent $100.00 on the mic, it works on my computer but NOT on the iPad. The light comes on the Yeti, but I get a warning on the iPad that the device needs too much power.
    This would have been a superb mobile recording device.
    The mickey used to work with the iPhone 3G. It doesn't work with the iPhone 4.
    Any suggestions?

  • Jake Gaecke

    Until Blue comes out with an updated Mikey, there aren't too many options. IK Multimedia has the iRig iMic, which works through the headphone port. I'm also told that the Yeti works if you plug it through a powered hub, but haven't tried it. I wish Apple would restore the old power output levels.

  • Phil Earnhardt

    @Simon t: Get a USB Y cable like World Computing/USB2AYMBPB/ . These cables allow you to provide external power via the 2nd USB port for devices like your Yeti.

    Get an external USB battery like the Duracell DR7000LI. Charge it and connect the 2nd USB of the Y cable to that.

    You should be good to go. I don't know how much current the Yeti draws. Blue should be able to tell you that. I'm guessing you should get at least 2 hours of record time with a fully-charged DR7000LI, but that is just a guess. If you're always going to have AC available, you could use an AC-powered USB adapter.

    Hope that helps. Please report back here on what results you get. This little discussion chain is a valuable source that people are googling on. Thanks.

  • Phil Earnhardt

    @Simon, the thread has the specifics on how to ensure that the Yeti will work with an iPad with various powered USB hubs.

    Note the CLICK HERE link on that page which will give you specifics on which hubs work and which won't. It has to do with the peak current that the Yeti draws and how much the particular hubs lower that current draw.

    I'm guessing that Blue is working hard to update the Yeti's design so that it draws less current and can be used without any hub.

  • Kyle

    Quoted from article:

    Now if only Apple would release Garageband or Logic for iPad…

    What's next on the wishlist…?

  • Jake Gaecke

    @Kyle, keeping in the same spirit, I'd have to say iPhoto or Aperture on iOS. Not really in the photo organizational sense, we already have that, but I'd really like to be able to make edits to photos on the go. I'm interested to see how Apple would handle it instead of a 3rd party app.

    I'd also really like to be able to do more powerful voice searches on iOS and I get the feeling that Apple is working on this for iOS 5. They bought the company behind Siri, which does many of the things I'd like to do with Voice Control, so I think this one is likely coming later in the year.

    I'm also still quite interested in the progression of Garageband on iOS. What improvements will Apple make and when…

  • Phil Earnhardt

    @kyle GarageBand is now available for the iPad. Both GarageBand and iMovie were demonstrated extensively in the iPad 2 announcement. No Logic, but several nice-looking recording apps.