Recording to the Nexus 7 with an External Microphone

IMG_20130404_171721“How can I record to my Nexus 7 with an external microphone?” This question has been posed across the internet as Nexus 7 users search for ways to get high quality audio into their Android tablets. Fortunately, it is possible! There area actually multiple ways. Let’s take a look at the possibilities!

TRRS

This is a particularly poignant question in light of the fact that the easiest way to get audio from an external microphone into the typical Android device does NOT work with the Nexus 7 tablet. I speak of the TRRS to XLR (or whatever) adapter.

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The Nexus 7 tablet’s audio jack is not TRRS. There is no provision in the audio jack hardware for a microphone input signal. According to iFixit, the internal circuitry is not the restraining factor, but the jack itself. It is possible to replace the jack and solder the appropriate cables to the circuit board, but that is beyond the ability and/or will power of most of us. This would obviously void whatever warranty you may have had.

USB

What other input methods do we have for audio on the Nexus 7 tablet? Why don’t we look at the only other port on the device: The charging port. usb cable Bringing audio into an Android device through the USB charging port via an OTG (On The Go) cable is a relatively new development. For more on this, check out our article on recording to an Android phone or table from a USB microphone or audio interface.

The paid app currently has very limited functionality and the list of devices might not be described as extensive, but it does include the Nexus 7 tablet!

This means that you can use certain USB microphones or USB audio interfaces (even some mixers) to bring audio from an external microphone into the Nexus 7 tablet via the OTG cable plugged into the charging port.

If you are having trouble with a specific device be sure to try it while using an AC powered USB hub. Your Nexus 7 tablet may be having trouble powering the USB microphone or USB audio interface. If this is the case, the AC powered USB hub should take care of the problem. This is definitely an inexpensive option for getting getting high quality audio into your Nexus 7, but many users may not be happy with the limited functionality of the associated recording app.

Bluetooth

I must confess that I have not personally tried this method. When I do try this, I will do a full report here on the AAR blog, but theoretically speaking you could use a JK Audio Bluetooth device to bring audio into your Nexus 7 device via the Bluetooth connection.   bluedriver JK Audio has a range of Bluetooth to XLR converter devices that can be purchased in both Male and Female XLR versions, 3 or 5 pins. For most 3-pin XLR dynamic (no phantom power) microphones, you will want the JK Audio Bluedriver F3 (F = Female , 3 = 3 pins). At $236, this is not an inexpensive option, but it does come with the added flexibility of being wireless. No more dongles or extra converter cables. jka_bd_m3_mixerYou are not limited to just microphones either. You can also plug this into the output from a mixer to port the audio directly into your Nexus 7.

DIY Bluetooth (on the cheap)

If you don’t mind a less aesthetic solution, you could probably cobble something like this together on your own using the following:61PH3XO+SuL._SL1500_

For $34.13 (view list here) you can have a DIY “Bluedriver” that takes audio from an XLR microphone or mixer and sends it to your Nexus 7 via Bluetooth. It won’t be nearly as aesthetically pleasing, but for a $200 discount, I can live with that.

Conclusion

Despite the lack of the TRRS jack, there are several options to record to your Nexus 7 device with a high quality external microphone or audio source, XLR, USB, or otherwise. I hope this article is a help to you.

Which of these options would you use to record to your Nexus 7?

13 thoughts on “Recording to the Nexus 7 with an External Microphone

    1. Rob Robideau Post author

      It’s definitely not for everybody and there are many, simpler options out there. I am working on an article discussing the advantages and reasons that someone would want to take the time and effort to record to an Android device over the numerous options that are already out there.

      Reply
      1. James McBride

        I play in a band and I tried the Nexus 7 as a portable solution for recording our music during the songwriting stage. Using the Smart Voice Recorder (free download from Play Store), I set up the tablet about 10-12 feet away from the band. I played back the recordings when I got home and they were all clipping like mad. Completely distorted and unusable, even for documenting our ideas in a rough manner. So, I started looking into external microphone solutions which brought me to this blog. It’s a shame the Nexus 7 isn’t TRRS. The last solution listed seems like the best option to me. I may give this a try. I don’t fancy the idea of hauling my laptop and audio interface to jam sessions. Using a tablet to document songwriting seemed attractive to me, but unfortunately it didn’t work out tonight.

        Reply
  1. Jackie

    One of the reasons I like the Nexus to record is simply availability. Each of my kids own a nexus 7. I enjoy researching my family history, and when we are visiting family and they start telling old stories, there’s always a nexus around to start recording quickly. And it’s handy because we can record without their knowledge (until afterward, when we tell them and ask permission to use). It keeps them from feeling “weird” while telling their stories.

    Reply
  2. Gary

    For two person interview purposes – has anybody tried using two bluetooth microphones to capture both sides of the interview conversation? It would be particularly useful (to me) if they are on separate channels, in stereo.

    If you were successful, what software app did you use that could recognize two bluetooth microphones and assign one to the left channel and the other to the right channel?

    Reply
  3. Luke

    Hi all – I tried out the bluetooth idea using my HTC Sensation. I tried a couple of bluetooth transmitters and couldn’t get them to pair with the phone – which was annoying! I think this is to do with most bluetooth transmitters (that I’ve seen) are stereo and a android phone is only really looking out for a mono bluetooth input as part of a headset….SO….I’ve just ordered a very cheap universal bluetooth headset off eBay and after I’ve tested it records to the ‘Tapemachine’ App (which is amazing by the way) I’ll crack open the bluetooth thing and solder an xlr adapter to where the mic was……quite a bit of hassle, I know….but I am quite hopeful. Sadly, the TRRS lead doesn’t seem to work with the Sensation – but it seems to work with most Samsung phones….which I will probably get next time I upgrade!

    I’ll post back on here once i’ve done the test – in case anyone is interested….

    Reply
  4. Kathryn

    This is probably a stupid question, but what is the internal mic like on the new nexus 7?

    Obviously not for use with anything very important, but my ipod’s mic is pretty good quality if you feel like recording a random jam session or something and I’ve seen music videos recorded with the internal mics of iphones and ipads and you literally wouldn’t know.

    I’ve since gone swimming with my ipod which put that in retirement but I’m thinking about getting a nexus 7.

    Reply
  5. md

    How about the 2nd gen?
    Any difference with the newer device?
    I believe the MV audio input jack on the 2nd gen is a mic input as well?

    Reply
  6. Ben

    Has anybody tried that DIY solution yet?

    My concern is whether the phone (in my case an S4) would see the external mic as that for the purposes of making calls.

    The big advnatage of the Bluedriver is that it is literally a bluetooth interface for bringing caller audio into the desk and for the caller to hear the contribtors via the desk.

    At present, I just cannot find a solution like that for anything like sensible money. The bluedriver is far too expensive, in my opinion.

    I’d love to know if anyone found a way to solve this.

    Ben

    Reply

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