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How to Become an iOS-Based Broadcaster

Looking to be able to do professional-level work for my clients on location without having to disassemble my TriCaster studio (or purchasing a second TriCaster to take on the road), I found apps for iPad and iPhones that let me connect everything together wirelessly and stream it to the web via my cell phone's LTE connection.


I find that good audio gets the least amount of attention in all types of live production, when actually it is the thing that deserves the most attention. With good audio, you can look away from the screen and still get the content. If you have bad audio, very often the video does not carry the entire story. You can have basic slides, but compelling audio can easily keep your audience engaged.

Making sure you have audio that is clear and present is critical. It might sound like I am over-hyping this one particular feature, but I have seen so many live streams where the video was not enjoyable because I could not clearly make out what was being said.

The ability to do streaming from a cell phone has emboldened people to think that the cell phone across the room is capturing great audio, and that is just not the case.

Getting a lavaliere microphone, such as a RØDE Lav, that plugs directly into an iPhone is the simplest way to get high-quality audio with a single-camera /single-person solution (Figure 5, below). Or consider a clip-on/plug-in directional, or short-shotgun mic. These are also handy if you’ll have the phone in some sort of gimbal stabilizer, as they are small and light, and there are no wires.

Figure 5. The RØDE Lav plugs directly into an iPhone.

A lav mic can plug into the “headphone” port using the second ring of the connector to provide mic-level audio to the phone. But if you have a phone without a headphone jack, or use the clip-on directional mic, it may need the lightning connector.

There are higher-end solutions that enable you to connect multiple microphones. The Samson Go Mic Mobile solution includes two microphones and a wireless 2.4 GHz receiver that connects directly to an iOS device through the lightning port or through the headphone jack.

There are a plethora of interfaces that enable you to plug in line- or mic-level devices to your iPad. The ones I see discussed most often are the iRig solutions, available in mono or “stereo” (actually, dual mono, as it doesn’t mix either side to center). These enable you to handle most any mic to line-level source and adjust the level so you have a good signal coming in to the “headphone” jack of the iPad (where the microphone input is, as well).

Pay particular attention to handling the audio before you feed it to your streaming solution. Make sure you have the ability to adjust the equalizer for the different microphones so they match. This is particularly important if you’re using handheld and lavaliere microphones in the same production.

Another critical part, I find, is to apply a bit of compression to your audio before handing it off to your streaming device. Phones do this with their internal mics, but when you plug in an external microphone or use a mixing board with multiple microphones, then you need to compress the audio before handing it off. This can be done either with a mixer with built-in compressors, such as the Behringer 1202USB (Figure 6, below), or by utilizing an external compressor after your audio mixer. I own the compact FMR Audio Really Nice Compressor, but there are plenty of other solutions out there.

Figure 6. The Behringer 1202USB mixer with built-in compressors

The goal with the compressor is to let you bring up the quieter parts of the program without overloading the louder parts so that you get a more even audio level throughout. You should be using the audio mixer’s individual channel levels to make sure a person who speaks more quietly is as loud as someone who speaks louder. But handling things like a loud burst of laughter requires a compressor/limiter.

The reason I recommend this is because so much streaming media is consumed on mobile devices, and not on television sets in the living rooms. You really need to make sure that the audio is as crisp and present as possible.


As with any live production—particularly one with this many moving parts—you need to test everything. This goes without saying, but it’s especially vital in this new and nuanced world of iOS video production. I’ve tested USB audio into my iPad versus analog audio. Same mic, mixer, everything. USB was the clear winner. So, I went searching for a compact USB
mixer that would fit well with my new mobile setup.

I purchased a USB audio mixer that the vendor said would be able to connect directly to a computer, and it would be powered by the computer, and provide stereo audio to the computer. But when I plugged it into my iPad’s USB adapter, I got nuthin’.

It turns out there are protocols that need to be included on these devices. These are the handshakes that not only tell the other device what is connected, but what it is capable of doing. When I plug a USB microphone into my computer, it tells me it’s a Samson USB mic because
of the handshake.

In this case, what was going to be an awesome little five-input USB mixer turned out to need its own USB power and had to be connected to the iPad via analog audio, which is not as clean as USB audio. I contacted the manufacturer, who confirmed that it was iOS-incompatible, even though that limitation was not mentioned on the company’s web pages or in the product literature. In the end, I still like the mixer because there’s nothing else as capable that’s this small, but this experience goes to show how important it is to test whether a device will work with your particular setup.

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