- - Guide for making a cheap "audio in" cable

28 replies [Last post]
formal
Offline
Joined: 08/03/2010

Sorry for the delay guys, but I had some issues with my cable and I wanted to make sure this guide was as accurate as possible.

One of the most important features of nanostudio is the ability to sample, but unfortunately using the built in mic doesn't yield the best results and not everybody wants to buy a $50-$150 dock port accessory that may or may not work on the next hardware upgrades. So here is a basic option that will work for all idevice users EXCEPT IPOD TOUCH 1ST GEN. (due to the headphone jack not supporting the 3 ring plug required).

1. First off you need to buy the correct cable. For me, I bought a 3rd party ipod video cable.
http://www.amazon.com/Belkin-F8Z361-06-Iphone-ipod-Cable/dp/B002HWRXD6/r...
You do not need to get a specific iphone/ipod branded video cable. A generic RCA to 1/8" cable work fine. Camcorders often come with this cable to output to the TV.
http://www.dvd-video-converters.com/images/tutorial/ipod-tv-1.gif

2. Next, depending on your audio sources you want to record from you will need to buy some adapters and possibly some audio cables (if you don't already have them). The links below are photos of my setup, which I find to be very flexible.

My setup allows for:
- RCA or Stereo 1/8" out
- RCA mono or 1/8" in
- Ability to monitor incoming audio

This is my parts list:
- 1 belkin ipod video cable
- 1 RCA to RCA female/female adapter
- 1/8" stereo headphone splitter
- 1 RCA female to 1/8" female adapter
- 1 RCA to 1/8" cable
http://img201.imageshack.us/img201/9636/1000554o.jpg

The next photo is a demonstration of how it could be hooked up. Usually I sample from my turntables, computer or other gear, but in this photo I am using an ipod shuffle just so everything would fit in frame. Depending on your audio source you may need a different arrangement of cable, but if you have all the adapters on the parts list that shouldn't be a problem.
*notice the two sets of headphones. One set is for master out (sony) and the other is for monitoring (ipod headphones).
http://img835.imageshack.us/img835/6637/1000557z.jpg

3. Lastly there are some IMPORTANT!! things you need to know before this will all work.
- FIRST your idevice WILL NOT DETECT the cable UNLESS you have it PLUGGED INTO THE AUDIO SOURCE FIRST!
(sorry for caps, but it took me 2 weeks and 5 restores to figure this out.... take it from me!)

- To make sure your audio source is not clipping I will use the application Fourtracks. This has a graphic input volume meter so you can adjust your source audio before you record into Nanostudio. This is kind of a pain, but you will get the best sounding samples this way.
(hopefully this will be coming an a future update for nanostudio too.. )
http://img208.imageshack.us/img208/5418/1000563y.jpg

4. Incase you are more confused now then before you started reading this, here are two youtube video (in japanese) that demonstrate/explain a setup similar to what I've done here.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlS6QvqgHHc&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3e6n72X4Xr4&feature=related

WHEW......That's all folks!

Happy Sampling :)

Aki7an
Offline
Joined: 06/18/2010

10000 thanks. I´ll try.

formal
Offline
Joined: 08/03/2010

You are quite welcome! Let me know if you have questions.

formal
Offline
Joined: 08/03/2010

Blip, can I get a sticky?

Blip Interactive
Offline
Joined: 04/05/2010

Yeah man, 'tis sticky now. Really do need to get at least a VU meter + metronome on the sampler because going the full hog with audio tracks will take some time. I was going to try a similar thing by cannibalising a headset adaptor at some point, but your solution might appeal more to those who don't have a soldering iron. Which reminds me, I'm hoping to have a little break after V1.1 and I really must finish off a Nixie clock that I bought most of the parts for 2 years ago and never got the time to actually build.

http://www.electricstuff.co.uk/nixiegallery.html

formal
Offline
Joined: 08/03/2010

I was gonna go the more expensive route and buy the Alesis Protrack, but I ended up spending about $30 on this setup. If you buy a generic camcorder cable instead of ones made for ipod/iphone you can save a lot of money too. I've seen the cable for about $6. Now I can start saving up for a line6 midi mobilizer!

rondema
Offline
Joined: 07/25/2010

I have tried this with a camcorder cable but sadly no joy :(

(iPhone 3GS using cable that came with an old Sony DV cam)

formal
Offline
Joined: 08/03/2010

Did you make sure it was plugged into the audio source with sound coming out? There's nothing special about the cable I'm using. It actually came with a dock port connector that the cable is intended to be plugged into. I bypass this and plug directly into the headphone jack.

What device are you using?

If I find a generic cable locally I'll pick one up for testing purposes.

formal
Offline
Joined: 08/03/2010

If you are just using the RCA to 1/8" Video cable only the Yellow RCA need to be plugged into the audio source. The Red and White RCAs are your audio outputs.

rondema
Offline
Joined: 07/25/2010

You're fast! Just updated my first post with details. I'm sure the cable is generic.. I'm trying various things to try and suss it out...

formal
Offline
Joined: 08/03/2010

When it's all plugged in properly your screen will look like this >>> http://img830.imageshack.us/img830/7650/1000578a.jpg

rondema
Offline
Joined: 07/25/2010

Ok - the cable I am using (from an old Sony miniDV cam) is working as follows:
Red RCA = Audio in
White RCA = Audio out L (as you would expect!)
Yellow RCA = Audio out R

I wonder if this is how all of these camcorder cables work.. Anyone?
All good now, hope this helps others.
You really have to watch the levels though as the iDevice is expecting a low impedance input :@
Cheers for the help formal :)

formal
Offline
Joined: 08/03/2010

Congrats!! Glad you got it working. Ya... use fourtracks for now to get your levels right. Best work around I've got. I'd suggest not using fourtracks to actually record the audio because it saves in Stereo eventhough it's a mono signal. When you record in NS it saves the file as Mono, which save 50% of the space!

linesyouamend
Offline
Joined: 10/11/2010

Fair warning to everyone, a straight-through cable like this one will actually yield unexpected results. A properly designed cable with appropriate circuitry will prevent your device from spontaneously dropping into Voice Control or toggling iPod. Your idevice powers the headphone input (which is how the clicker on a headset works). Thus, a straight-through cable is not the correct design.

formal
Offline
Joined: 08/03/2010

You can also use it with the dock port connector it comes with. The dock port has a place for the 1/8". Maybe that would make a difference. I've had no issues yet. In the first post there is an amazon link to it.

uncentered
Offline
Joined: 06/06/2010

hi,
I went in to a electrical shop some time ago to make a cable like this (that goes through the 3.5mm jack) to use a battery powered sony condensor microphone (http://www.shopbot.com.au/pp-sony-ecm-ms908c-price-51440.html - much like this one) but it wouldn't pick up the signal (presumably because of impedances etc).
As far as i am aware this wouldn't have been an optimal solution anyway, as there are frequencies rolled off through the jack.
Would i have more luck with a mic of this ilk going through the dock? (and using one of those belkin dock AV cables)
Cheers

TurtlePilot
Offline
Joined: 08/03/2010

Whaaaaat those nixie clocks you posted blip are crazy. You should make the one with mirrors and neon lights.

kd
Offline
Joined: 07/26/2010

Sorry, but couldn't help but to chime in. If all you want to do is have a music source going into the NanoStudio, you can use this http://www.kvconnection.com/product-p/km-iphone-2trs.htm, can't you?

It's a splitter so you can both monitor (with your own preferred headphones) and input any sound source (be it mic or your iPod shuffle)

Only $22 (USD)! :)

.....Unless I am not getting the original post.. haha :)

ps. Peavey AmpKit Link can do the same thing too but also eliminates feedback since it is battery powered and knows when the incoming signal is too hot. ($29.99USD)

nigelhammond
Offline
Joined: 09/02/2010

Thanks for the link kd. Just ordered one - I went for the one with a 1/4 mic socket. Will take 2 to 4 weeks to arrive from the states. I could have been impatient but the faster delivery started at $31!

This will be really useful - being able to record and monitor without distorting the little mic that is attached to the standard itouch earphones. Instead I'll be able to plug in proper cans and my Shure SM58 mic.

kd
Offline
Joined: 07/26/2010

Hey nigelhammond,

I'm glad I could help out. There is a guy at http://developermusic.com/blog/ who made 52 songs in 52 weeks. He used his iPhone with MultiTrack application with mixture of iPhone microphone and other ones using the same adapter and it came out awesome!

Lets make some music!

tiepnu
Offline
Joined: 11/13/2010

Griffin also has an audio in/out cable for ipods

nigelhammond
Offline
Joined: 09/02/2010

Have been using the kv connection discussed. It has been great for a microphone (Shure SM58). However, I also want to be able to record musical phrases from some of my keyboards. However I can't seem to get it to work with a keyboard audio signal. The signal is just too weak. Any ideas?

HypnoToad
Offline
Joined: 10/07/2010

nigelhammond: some sort of headphone amp may work...

HypnoToad
Offline
Joined: 10/07/2010

Ok, I'm going to give this a go, I found my old Nokia N82 has a video cable with a 4 pole 3.5mm connector, this should work shouldn't it?

Here's a pic: http://img207.imageshack.us/img207/9349/img0015nxv.jpg

The model number of the cable is CA-75U: http://img42.imageshack.us/img42/8302/photo20jan20032c2012203.jpg

Just a quick question about the "Fourtracks" app you mentioned to set the levels...

I looked in the app store and could only find :

Fourtrack
4 Tracks lite
4 Tracks Audio recorder

I'm guessing Fourtrack is the one to get? Is there a free version at all?

formal
Offline
Joined: 08/03/2010

@ hypnotoad that looks like it should work fine. Just remember to try the different combinations of audio out/in since all cables are not the same. Since blip updated to 1.2 he added audio monitoring while recording. You no longer need four tracks, but it's still a nice app to have. Good luck!

HypnoToad
Offline
Joined: 10/07/2010

Thanks Formal, I've tried to use that Nokia cable as an audio in cable but I've had no luck so far... The iphone doesn't seem to recognice my input device!

Once I find my Multimeter I'm going to see which colour photo plugs go to which pins on the 3.5mm jack as I think the Nokia cable may have some strange wiring...

jzellis
Offline
Joined: 01/10/2011

FWIW -- I use a mixer to go in and out of my iPad. I bought a camcorder 1/8" to RCA cable at the dollar store and run the input (i.e. the "mic") line into my mixer's auxiliary send and the output pair (i.e. the "headphones") into the return. In this way I can play through live to the speakers but also send the signal out to the iDevice and bring the processed signal back into the main mix.

Depending upon how clever your mixer is, you can also plug the headphone outputs into two of your channels (say 3 and 4) and have only those running out to your main mix, which would allow you to input into the iDevice but only have the processed signal sent to your PA or amp. (If, say, you were using Amplitube as a full-on guitar effects processor for example). A lot of DJ mixers allow you to crossfade from one stereo pair to another, for example; great for monitoring your sampling while recording it.

The only issue is not blowing your iDevice's input with too hot a signal. This dude's solution is to directly solder a 1 to 2.2kohm resistor directly into the input line, which is certainly a wise idea.

http://www.ipadforums.net/ipad-diy/8253-finally-diy-guitar-input-cord.html

I know it's possible to simply use male-to-female adapters to plug an inexpensive mic or player directly into the iDevice for sampling in Nanostudio, but for my purposes, I'd rather use my nice AKG condenser mic with the XLRs running through a mic preamp...hence the mixer. Your mileage may vary, though. I'd rather not buy a relatively expensive solution when I can do it with a $1 cable and existing hardware.

danpea
Offline
Joined: 07/27/2010

As mentioned before this Passive approach won't work very well at all when plugging your electric guitar or other audio sources straight into your Idevice.

The are are number of reasons why this is so:-

(1)The impeadance your guitar presents to the Idevice won't look like the impeadance it is expecting and therefore may or may not recognise that anything is connected.

(2) due to the Impedance mismatch you will find that the top end frequencies are attenuated giving a muddy sound.

(3) If you are using a relatively high gain and have the Idevice output volume set too high you WILL get a nasty feedback. This is caused by the relatively high currents in the earphone paths leaking into the relatively low current/amplitude input path and causing the dreaded ear splitting screech. This can be easily demonstrated by using either the Amplitube or Ampkit apps.

(4) I would suggest biting the bullet and getting an Ampkit link (£25-30) if you want to get good sounding reliable result. Expensive i know but it works. I am not sure but i think the Irig link is a glorified Y adapter cable which would also be suseptable to feedback.

(5) P.s i don't work for Agile partners, the manufacturer of Ampkit or Irig, just wanted help out and share some info with you guys.

This info was checked using my Ipad, the Y cable detailed above and my Yamaha SGB2000 electric guitar.

cheers

Dan

xLiTo
Offline
Joined: 07/28/2010

I can't get any of my iOS devices to recognize the cable..is there any particular order in which I have to plug them in..tried on iPad 1, 4s,and iPhone 5.