What level and/or impedance matching (or pre-amp) circuits should be used to send a line-level audio signal into the mic input ring of an iPhone headset jack with minimal distortion and/or loss?


2 Answers 2


Line levels are 0.5-2.0V range. Mic inputs are expecting millivolts. You just need what is called an L-pad attenuator. Your drop should be 40-50 dB.

If you are using a consumer line level, you will need about 40 dB attenuation. (Professional audio line input would need about 50 dB.)

L-pad attenuator schematic

Attenuation in dB = 20 * log10((R1 + R2) / R2)

Try R1 = 10k and R2 = 100.

If you get accurate measurements of your line source and a know good mic signal for the iPhone, you will be able to calculate more accurate values. Or you can put a 500 ohm trimmer resistor in place of R2 to allow varying of the signal if the line out doesn't have adjustment.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I assume that DC coupling is probably OK. Or should there be some series caps to avoid potential ground loops in case the phone is somehow grounded? \$\endgroup\$
    – hotpaw2
    Commented Jun 4, 2011 at 21:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ You could use coupling caps or a 1:1 audio transformer if you have issues with DC coupling. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joe
    Commented Jun 5, 2011 at 16:20

I am assuming you mean the inputs through the Left/Right inputs, in the 30-pin connector. I've tried to find that info. At least you don't need an analog to digital converter.

If you mean to use the mic ring on the 4-way plug, there is sensing voltage to be aware of. It has to do with the typical volume/mute controls, for inline mics in headsets typically used with the iPhone. I learned this, due to needing to match a low-impedance guitar pickup, to that mic input. One circuit, for my use, is described at: http://groupdiy.com/index.php?topic=46767.0 and the diagram can be downloaded at: https://imageshack.com/f/ghiphonemicinputj

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