iPod Hack: Use the iPod Headphones as a Microphone

Posted April 18, 2006 by Anthony in iPod

Yes, the iPod headphones are actually low quality microphones.


I found this this to be quite interesting. There is one thing of which you might want to take note–there are 2 models of headphones that apple has made. I have the older one with the longer jack. The newer headphones have a much shorter jack area. I don’t know if it will work with the newer headphones. (I got mine a little bit before the video iPod came out).

I discovered this while I was in diagnostic mode. To get your iPod into this mode follow the instructions in this recipe: http://www.tech-recipes.com/rx/1314/put_your_ipod_photo_nano_video_or_mini_fourth_generation_in_diagnostic_mode.

1. Once you are in diagnostic mode select IO. Go down to the option “Audio” and select it. Select “Mic”.

2. When you select “Mic” the screen on your iPod should say RECORDING. While it says this just talk into your headphones. Remember to talk loudly because they do not record in the best quality.

3. After a while the RECORDING screen will go away to reveal a screen that reads “ACTION to play”, and “MENU to exit”

4. Insert your headphones into your ears. Press the center button and you will hear whatever you said into the headphones. You could also just hook them up to your computer and open up the sound recorder, but they record in such low quality that you just can’t hear yourself well through the default windows sound recorder.

Quite frankly, I am not quite sure why I decided to try to talk into my headphones while my iPod was recording, but I was sure surprised when it actually worked!

Please remember about which type of headphones I have, though. I don’t think it matters what you use to record it because it recorded on my iPod and computer, but the sound quality was much better when I recorded on my iPod.

The Conversation

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  • sound Q

    your headphone is just a diaphragm at the end of a wire. Any diaphragm, depending on how it’s wired can work both ways depending on the flow of energy. Ipod jacks only have one jack, therefore, they made it dual purpose. You could, which would be recommended, just plug a computer mic or a line level mixer to achieve a better quality sound.

  • jelle

    exactly,
    we did this with our casette tape boxes in the 80’s, same trick, has nothing to do with iPod’s or Apple for that matter. Still funny, yes.

  • Shannon

    What is diagnostic mode? Can I use your information with the iPod touch?

    • Chris

      There is a diagnostic mode for the iPod Touch, but no one has figured out how to enter (or exit, for that matter) it. I saw once to hold Home and Sleep for 10 seconds, then let off the Sleep button while still depressing Home for another 10 seconds, but that didn’t work for me.

  • Anonymous

    dont the new ones have that option? im allowed to record without anything..

  • Anonymous

    so it will work on the ipod touch?

  • Buug6

    Are you sure the sound was not actually picked up by the mic on the iPod while you were speaking to the “earphone”. If you know anythin about electronics you will understand the circuit will not allow recording through earphone, period. This piece is a good April Fools joke, and I am surprised so many felled for it.

    • Annonymous

      You officially fail. It actually DOES work. Try it out for yourself, and then ull se its not a joke.

    • xxannonxx

      ofcourse it works, i thought everybody knew this, its npt rocket science, i’ve been using my earphones as a computer mic for ages now., quality isnt as good on the receiving end, but sure as hell does the trick

  • bamf

    i use my ipod for the same thing !

  • shanaenae

    sorry, not a hack, just common sence. sorry to disapoint u

  • KB

    However, the iPod earphone/mike does not appear to work with one’s computer. At least not the ones that came with my 3rd gen. I just tried both the earphone/mike that came with my iPod Touch, as well as a new little mike I bought for the iPod – and when I tried them out plugged into computer’s mike jack, I could not record.