If you start out with the Sing! App on your phone or tablet, you probably use a simple headset like the one that came with the device. And that is fine! The Apple EarBuds for example are pretty good for what they cost. But if you are looking for better options you will find that the professional microphones used on stage or in studios are meant to be plugged into a professional mixer, not a phone or tablet. But with a little device, you can use any professional mic in the Sing! app. There are two problems to overcome:
Audio cable jacks
Professional microphones use the XLR connector standard with three pins. Today’s phones and tablets use a 3.5-mm 4-conductor audio jack for analog audio input (microphone) and output (headphones). It is basically a tweaked headphone socket with an additional connection for the microphone to save the room for a dedicated microphone input socket. As a result, you can plug any headphone with a 3.5-mm jack into your phone, but not any microphone. The microphone cable needs to be specifically made to work with these 4-conductor phone sockets. So even microphones with a 3.5-mm phone connector, which might work for your computer or digital camera, won’t work with your phone or tablet without an adaptor—even though the jack fits in the socket. And XLR microphones aren’t meant to be plugged into phone ports at all.
Left: XLR jack
Middle: standard phone connector jack with 3 conductors for left, right, ground (“TRS”—Tip, Ring, Sleeve)
Right: Typical smartphone connector jack with 4 conductors for left, right, ground and microphone/control signals (“TRRS”—Tip, Ring, Ring, Sleeve)
Professional microphones, especially the ones used in studios, are often condenser microphones. They require a permanent power source to work. If you just plug a condenser mic in a regular mic input, you won’t hear anything at all. To make a condenser mic work with Smule, you not only need an XLR to phone connector adaptor, you also need to provide the necessary phantom power. But luckily there are several devices available to achieve this and they aren’t even that expensive.
A common choice is the iRig PRE, which I use myself. You can plug in any XLR microphone including condenser mics. The phantom power is provided by a battery which lasts for about 10 hours (or 30 for dynamic microphones). There is a gain control knob on the side of the iRigPRE. You need to play around with it a little bit to find the perfect setting, so the mic input signal in Smule is neither too high nor too low. There is an additional headphone socket on the device, so you can still hear the audio signal from your phone or tablet. However, the sound quality is not as good as when you plug the headphones directly into your phone or tablet and the buttons of the Apple EarBuds also stop working.
The iRigPRE output is an analog audio signal, so you can be sure it works with any app that supports the regular mic input port (so basically all of them). There is also the much more expensive iRig Pro I/O, which has a digital output and connects to your device through a lightning or USB cable. This should provide a better audio quality with less noise, but I haven’t tested it myself and can’t say if it is compatible with the Sing! app.
Similar to the iRigPRE, both in price and functionality is the TASCAM iXZ. The advantage of it is that the input socket does not only support XLR jacks, but also 6.35-mm jacks for guitar/line input. As with the iRigPRE you can be sure this works with Smule and any iOS device with a 3.5-mm headphone socket.
The discussion section below this article has been closed. If you have more questions regarding this topic, please use the forum. The many questions can be structured and answered better there.
Has this ever happened to you: You join a video OC and everything works fine, right until that tricky part at the end which you then mess up. So you start over only to screw it up once more. Frustrating, right? So here is what I usually do to avoid this problem and save some time.
Instead of going straight for the video join, do an audio join first. You are probably aware that you have access to a rewind function here. The markers are set automatically and as a result you might not end up where you want. The jumps might be too small or too big. So use the flag symbol instead to set a custom marker. Once you have set such a marker, the automatic markers become inactive and you can always jump to that one position you have set yourself—until you set a new custom marker later in the song.
With these custom markers you can easily practice specific parts of the song. Whenever it is your turn, set a custom marker right in front of that section. If you manage to sing the part without problems, just continue. If you struggled, hit the rewind button and try that section until it works perfectly. With this method you save a lot of time, since you only practice the tricky parts over and over again, without the need to go through the entire song. Once you have managed the audio-only practice, abort the audio join and start the video join instead.