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Need help finding an external audio input for iPhone for live casting. [SOLVED]


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Hi everybody

 

It's been quite some time since I last visited the forum.

 

Just got a funny request from a client. They want to broadcast live using an iPhone 11 Pro and have a presenter and a couple guests. Now they've asked me for advice because they want to use a lav mic on the presenter and a boom for the guests. The guests are going to try on new cloths, so a boom will be the best option.

 

So, the question. How do I send the audio from my SD664 to the iPhone the best way? Any suggestion is highly appreciated.

 

I guess there are bluetooth devices, but then there is always the chance of loosing the audio connection - but it might still be an option, because the transmitter can be close to the iPhone camera operator.

 

The camera operator wants to have a power bank connected to the iPhone, so the input needs to be shared with the external audio input.

 

I guess I'm going to be googling away for the next couple of hours, but any suggestion is highly appreciated.

 

Right now, I'm broadcasting a web conference in Zürich using a bunch of laptops with Microsoft Teams, and next week broadcasting live using an iPhone. Well, that's how we roll nowadays. LOL!

 

 

Have a really nice weekend

Fred

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I've used this cable to get audio into an iPhone 11 Pro and out to Facebook Live and YouTube Live (though mostly to Facebook):

https://www.belkin.com/us/p/P-F8J212/

The Belkin site seems wonky right now so...

https://www.apple.com/shop/product/HLJV2ZM/A/belkin-35-mm-audio-charge-rockstar

See picture below.

 

Typically feeding from a FOH mixer, sometimes from my bag (and sometimes from the FOH to my bag after a long cable run (so I can have some control), and then into the Belkin adaptor).

 

A couple of things:

Belkin tech support knows very little about this device.

When I contacted them to make sure it could feed audio into a phone, they said it could not. They're a consumer-products company, so I ignored them and bought it. Of course it moves audio in; it's designed to work with the iPhone earbuds and their integrated microphone. (And it looks like other support people there now know that).

 

You want to connect to it via a 3.5mm TRRS plug, not TRS.

Ya, that's obvious, but just to be sure. 

 

I have not used this device to simultaneously charge and feed audio into an iPhone, though it's designed to do that.

So test that, of course. But you know, the iPhone 11 Pro has pretty damn good battery life, even when streaming. I've done a couple hours, I think (this was in the early days of the pandemic when standard SDI/HDMI --> USB/Thunderbolt converters were sold out everywhere, so we had to phone it in. 😀).

 

Facebook Live's phone/app interface doesn't show audio levels. Same with some of the other little apps.

At least, we couldn't find them. So during prep (ha!), have someone listen to the live cast via another phone (and perhaps also a laptop)... maybe one via cellular and one via WiFi... to check levels/distortion, etc.

 

This is all memory from several months ago. Some painful memories, too. Maybe a couple dozen streams via iPhone 11. We've moved on to regular cameras (well, more regular) and streaming via a computer. Still a PITA...

 

Hope this helps a little!

 

Screen Shot 2020-09-25 at 8.56.56 AM.png

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5 hours ago, ninjafreddan said:

The camera operator wants to have a power bank connected to the iPhone, so the input needs to be shared with the external audio input.

 

Too bad. IRig Pro from IK and the Rode i-XLR deliver perfect sound. They're about the same as an external audio interface like you would use on a laptop.

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20 hours ago, Jim Feeley said:

You want to connect to it via a 3.5mm TRRS plug, not TRS.

Ya, that's obvious, but just to be sure. 

 

Facebook Live's phone/app interface doesn't show audio levels. Same with some of the other little apps.

At least, we couldn't find them. So during prep (ha!), have someone listen to the live cast via another phone (and perhaps also a laptop)... maybe one via cellular and one via WiFi... to check levels/distortion, etc.

Screen Shot 2020-09-25 at 8.56.56 AM.png

 

Thanks Jim!

 

I was considering the Apple adapter with an USB-port and a Lightning port, and use an iOS-compatible USB-soundcard from Steinberg, Focusrite or Apogee. Then I would be able to send proper audio levels into it and maybe stay clear of any "mic input processing".

 

But you suggestion is better for this broadcast, because I want it to be as light-weight as possible, for the camera operator to be able to move around freely. I plan to put a Sennheiser EK 2000 receiver on him and run a TRS-TRRS cable to the input on the adapter - and tape the sh*t out of it. :-)

 

If we're not going to move around much, I will go cabled from my SD664 to a broadcast processor to control the level of the transmission and adjust it to never clip the input of the iPhone.

 

19 hours ago, henrimic said:

If you have an 8 series Recorder, a Mix Pre or a Sonosax M2D2, you can feed the iPhone directly via the USB adapor kit.

 

If the Lightning port is used, JK Audio has Bluetooth interfaces

 

https://www.jkaudio.com/bluetooth-devices.htm

 

 

 

Thanks, that's a really cool solution. I will read up on it and consider investing in a Bluetooth transmitter. I wonder how much latency it has? And how good the frequency response is?

 

I've looked long and hard for a good wireless headphone transmitter with good enough sound quality and frequency response, and low latency, but haven't found any yet. Maybe the JK Audio devices are the solution?

 

18 hours ago, Mungo said:

 

Too bad. IRig Pro from IK and the Rode i-XLR deliver perfect sound. They're about the same as an external audio interface like you would use on a laptop.

 

Thanks! There is an adapter with two lightning ports which should work. I will consider this solution too.

 

 

Your suggestions are highly appreciated, guys!

 

 

Have a really nice weekend

Fred

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You know, I think Henri's and Mungo's suggestions were out of stock when I needed something. I recall looking for one of those Rode i-XLR things and not finding one. Also, we had our iPhone on sticks and even without handheld movement, I taped the cable to the tripod handle for some strain relief; handheld, I'd probably want to tape the cable to the back of the iPhone case.

 

So if you can make a solution like Henri's or Mungo's work (and really: the iPhone 11 Pro battery lasts quite a while), maybe you could attach the adapter to the waist (or somewhere) of the camera operator. And me, I'd choose cable over bluetooth, especially if the distance between devices will vary. But I haven't tried using it in a production environment, and JK Audio makes cool stuff. But that just might be me; is bluetooth working for others? 

 

That's enough from me. Please report back on what you end up doing. Good luck!

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Freddan! 

Skriver till dig på messenger 

 

On my radio station we daily use iPhone to broadcast audio with. Often times we just use the built in mic, but we do have some iRig devices we use for using other mics. 

For simultaneously charging and using a device it's been tricky. The two lightning ports doesn't actually work. One port is for charging and the other can carry audio both ways, so if you want to use a charger AND am iRig device that won't help. You could solder an unbalanced cable that does the trick, I've done a lot of them and they work, but not great. They work with the lightning dongle as well. 

 

The thing is that it's a very flimsy setup no matter how you look at it. 

 

The one solution we did find just the other day is using a Qi charging pad. That way you're free to use the lightning port with a real audio interface instead of that cable. 

 

There are powerbanks with qi pads on them. 

 

So my suggestion is you use a Qi powerbank and an irig device to get a good level that you can also control. Our a pro line device like an m2d2, but the irig ones are readily available. 

 

 

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On 9/27/2020 at 9:34 PM, Olle Sjostrom said:

For simultaneously charging and using a device it's been tricky. The two lightning ports doesn't actually work. One port is for charging and the other can carry audio both ways, so if you want to use a charger AND am iRig device that won't help. You could solder an unbalanced cable that does the trick, I've done a lot of them and they work, but not great. They work with the lightning dongle as well. 

 

Olle, thanks for your help and for reaching out to me on Messenger a couple of days ago, much appreciated.

 

I spent a day googling for solutions, driving to stores to buy different cables and adapters. I ended up with an analogue and a digital solution for getting the sound into the iPhone.

 

We ended up sending 50 minutes live on the Internet by using the Bambuser streaming services - and it all worked like a charm. The client was very happy! 😄

 

I guess other users might benefit from my findings, so here's goes:

 

First, I bought a Rode TRRS-TRS cable at a local camera store. I tried it in the store using one of their Rode Link Filmmaker kits, and it worked. Wow, those belt packs are big boys. LOL!

 

But when I came home and tried the cable with my wireless systems, it just wouldn't work. Eventually I found out that it "worked" as long as my receivers were turned off, but as soon as I turned them on, Siri woke up and asked if I wanted to call "Björn" - an old friend. When I connected the Rode cable to the tape output of my SD664, it worked as it should. This led me to realize that proper termination of the cable is crucial, otherwise the iPhone reverts to the built-in microphone, and sometimes wake up Siri - not show safe at all.

 

So, even if it's possible to solder a cable and make it work by trial and error, I don't recommend it. The proper way to send sound into an iOS-device is to have a buffer in between - analogue or digital.

 

Olle suggested that I should check out the IK Multimedia iRig devices, which I did. He's been using them with great success airing nationwide radio in Sweden with reporters using them live downtown together with iPhones.

 

Just to be on the safe side, I bought an iRig Pre and an iRig Pre HD. The iRig Pre is an analogue device powered by a 9V battery and with a TRRS output - by using a lightning to TRRS adapter it worked like a charm.

The iRig Pre HD is a soundcard with a USB micro output, powered by the iPhone.

 

The iRig Pre HD has better sound quality and can take occasional clipping better than the iRig Pre, and only needs to be powered by two LR6-batteries when phantom power is engaged.

 

Both iRig units have headphones output, so it's easy to listen to the sound sent to the iPhone. Any clipping will be audible on a pair of headphones.

 

The DoP asked for the possibility to simultaneously have a power bank connected to the iPhone, so I bought a Belkin dual lightning adapter. BUT, it didn't work with the iRig Pre HD soundcard, because the soundcard just wouldn't power up. So, I returned the adapter and bought an Apple lightning / USB adapter - lightning to USB A and lightning connections. While I managed to get it to work by using the provided USB A to USB micro cable, it took up to 30 seconds before the iRig Pre HD showed a steady blue light. So, I will return that adapter as well.

 

Testing different cables and adapters together with my iPhone made me come to the conclusion that you really can't assume anything when interacting with an iOS-device - EVERYTHING has to be thoroughly tested before using it in action.

 

Of course the DoP was using a gimbal, and I had to bend the lightning cable and tape it up to make it run free of the gimbal. I plan to buy a one meter lighting to USB micro cable with angled connectors - it will make them easier to tape down and the cable run freely together with a iPhone on a gimbal.

 

I sent the mix to a broadcast processor, and then wireless to the DoP.

 

At first, I ran an AES/EBU cable from the mixer to the broadcast processor, but quickly realized that I had to be 100% mobile, so I added a wireless link from my mixer to the broadcast processor - sacrificing some sound quality in favor of mobility.

 

If you think a DoP with an EasyRig can move fast, it's nothing compared to a DoP with an iPhone on a gimbal. LOL!

 

Another interesting think was that we filmed in portrait format - for the iPhone generation. Which meant lots of headroom above and below the persons in the frame, impossible to boom you might think. But, the cool thing was that I could stick the boom in next to the camera, at head height, due to the portrait framing. It worked pretty well, and just felt a bit odd to begin with. 😄

 

I did consider the BlueTooth solution, which would have been super cool for the DoP and a digital link for the sound, but I didn't have the time to order any product, and the 150ms latency for high quality audio transmission...well, that's almost four frames delay. I can't imagine there's any option in iOS to compensate for the delay.

 

For anyone planning to film using an iPhone and send audio to it, my advice is to do the foot work, try different options properly, and don't assume anything before testing it.

 


Have a nice Sunday

Fred

iRig Pre HD.jpg

iRig Pre.jpg

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  • ninjafreddan changed the title to Need help finding an external audio input for iPhone for live casting. [SOLVED]
16 minutes ago, Christian Spaeth said:

Wow, glad it worked out for you! A scenario like this with the fiddly lightning connector and adapters as crucial interface would give me major headaches!

 

And it was for me as well, until I found two working setups. Man, I spent a day googling and finding the products, and half a day tweaking it all together with my broadcast processing. In the end, I pretty much just connected it on site, hooked up the stuff to phone and then the DoP did two tests using the streaming service, checking angles, lights and picture framing with the client - and it all worked like a charm.

 

The good thing with the iPhone gimbal setup, is that the DoP is very steady on the hand, so as long as the lightning cable doesn't get stuck in something, there is very little chance of disconnecting it - naturally both ends of the cable was taped. With angled connectors, it's possible to secure them even better with tape.

 

Then there was the fact that I really couldn't control listen to the actual broadcast, because of the delay, but I checked it on a laptop before we went on-air. During the broadcast, I listened to the wireless transmission to the DoP, using an extra belt pack receiver. There was a level meter on the iPhone screen and the lower part of the screen showed the live chat, so I figured that if anything would happen to the sound, people would let us know pretty instantly, and of course the client was closely monitoring the broadcast.

I did have the iRig Pre ready in my back pocket, so in case of any iOS-anomalies, my plan was to just disconnect the lightning cable and connect the small lightning to TRRS adapter and the iRig Pre - going "analogue".

I stress tested it on my iPhone, and it took just a second or so for the phone to switch between the built-in microphone to the iRig.

Live it would have taken us ten seconds or so, to fiddle with the cables, and change setup. And during that time, the iPhone would have aired the built-in microphone instead of silence.

 

16 minutes ago, Christian Spaeth said:

But one thing is still unclear to me - did you call Björn in the end??

 

Thanks for asking!

 

No, I didn't because I was so into finding a working iOS-solution, and at that particular time pretty stressed out about it. But I plan to reach out to him in the near future - he's a great guy! 😄

 

 

Have a nice Sunday evening

Fred

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