Correct adapter for my mic + recorder combo?

Hey everyone—

I’ve been doing amateur/hobbyist video for a while now and it’s high time I got more serious about knowing my audio. I had maxed out the capability of my previous audio setup (a somewhat outdated camcorder microphone with a 3.5mm stereo jack hooked to a small Sony voice recorder… better than DSLR built-in mic, but not by a whole lot), so I finally scraped together the money to buy some better gear.

I just ordered a Tascam DP-008EX field recorder and a Rode NTG-2. I’m excited to get those going, but my question is not about XLR connections.

I have a couple of lavalier mics that I got pretty cheap a while back. They use a standard 3.5mm jack. My DP-008EX hasn’t arrived yet, but it has two XLR inputs and two “unbalanced TS” inputs. I’m basically a noob when it comes to audio, and I don’t even know what a TS input is. Tried to read up on “balanced” vs “unbalanced” and everything I could find kind of went way over my head. Anyway, I’m just curious as to whether or not my lav mics are worth adapting to this new Tascam when it arrives? I’m not even sure what kind of adapter I would need. Not sure what a TS input is, but from the pictures it looks basically like a 6mm or 1/4" stereo jack?


  1. How do I plug a 3.5mm audio plug into an unbalanced TS jack? Which adapter do I need?
  2. Is it worth it or should I get an XLR lav mic, or some other kind of lav mic?

XLR is a type of connector associated with higher end microphones. The three pins are protective shield, main audio signal and a protection signal. If you have a mixer or recorder that uses all three pins, you can put a microphone hundreds of feet away from the recorder.

The other type of microphone is “computer” or home style and they have some serious restrictions for hum and buzz rejection and cable length

TRS and TS are Tip-Ring-Shield and Tip-Shield. This is a TRS cable.

You can use the connector for different things depending on what you’re doing.

The Rhode microphone takes an internal battery or phantom power from the mixer/recorder. I don’t trust technical specifications that don’t tell me which phantom power.

Phantom power is where the microphone battery is inside the mixer/recorder and the battery voltage goes up the cable at the same time the sound is coming down. Neither one knows the other is there. They are phantoms to each other. But there is more than one type.


I have a couple of lavalier mics that I got pretty cheap a while back.

Radio Shack 3013? I have one of those.
You can use those in the XLR connector, but you have to build an adapter or try and buy one. Neither is particularly easy. I have been known to cut off the 1/8" plug and solder on a male XLR connector to avoid the adapters. Each time you push sound through an adapter, you risk noise and distortion problems— particularly in field recording.


The Rode NTG-2 uses 48v phantom power. So far, so good. Koz

This adapter should plug your Radio Shack 3013 microphone into the Tascam. Switch the Tascam to MIC.

The Tascam supplies 48v phantom, so they match. They warn you that internal recorder batteries go flat faster when you’re using phantom power to the microphone.


Yeah, I checked that the phantom power was a match before buying the NTG-2. That being said, I will probably still just use it with a AA.

Anyway, thanks for the help. In terms of physical size, I was pretty sure that a standard 1/4" plug to 1/8" jack adapter was what I needed, but I wanted to be sure.

You can get into trouble if one is a TRS and the other is a TS. How that missing metal ring is handled is sometimes the difference between having a microphone work and not. You can also have troubles with buzz rejection if you get those connections wrong.

What is the microphone? There is a significant lack of reasonable lavalier “Tie-Tack” microphones. The manufacturers all want you to plug them into their multiple thousand-dollar radio transmitters and so come with custom plugs.

“No doubt you’ll also be wanting our UHF, multiple-diversity, Signal Spritzer® wireless system to go with your new microphone.”

Maybe not.


So… the lav mics just don’t work with the DP-800EX so far. I plug it in (with adapter) to either the TS input A or TS input B, and immediately lose anything that resembles a signal on whatever track I have those inputs set to record onto. Even with all my input levels cranked up to the highest I get no sound at all on a recording.

I don’t know how to tell if it is TRS. The mics I got are truly cheapies. I got two of them for like $5 shipped from Amazon. The brand appears to be “Neewer.”

As far as I can tell, the mics are stereo. They have two separate bands on the 1/8" plug. When I plug the mics into the computer and record directly into Audacity, they work. The generate a left and right track simultaneously. However, the left and right tracks appear to be exactly identical. Talking into one side or the other of the microphone does not appear to make the left and right track record different levels. So I’m guessing that it’s really just a mono mic that spits the same track into the left and right channels so it can claim to be “stereo?” (Incidentally, I’m pretty sure that that’s how my Rode NTG-2 will work—records a mono track and puts it in the left and right channels to make a stereo file, yes? Or am I off on that?)

Here are a few pictures of the equipment I’m using:

The 1/8" jack to 1/4" plug adapter from Radio Shack. It is also stereo, just like the plug on the actual microphone.

Getting ready to plug the microphone with the adapter into the TS jack on my DP-800EX.

It fits! Too bad it doesn’t make any noise if I try to use it…

Anyone have any ideas? Am I just using the wrong kind of adapter, or do I need to replace my mics and shell out some money for real lavs?

You are riding off in all directions.

The lavalier microphones are “computer” mono microphones and conform to the bottom illustration on this page.

The power to run the microphone is coming from the soundcard inside your computer. They were designed to do that. Since the new recorder/mixer has no such provision to send power to the microphone correctly, the microphone drops dead.

The Radio Shack 3013, for example, has provision for its own battery in that fat place in the cable. That will plug into anything. If you can get close enough, you can see that the plug is missing one silver ring.
This is it in a sound experiment I was designing.

It’s not unusual for the mono Mic-In on a laptop computer to be “mapped” so it appears on both left and right of a stereo show. Some computers accept either mono or stereo, so you can do whatever you wish. I have a machine that does that.

Rode NTG-2 will work—records a mono track and puts it in the left and right channels to make a stereo file, yes?

I’d be surprised if it did that in your recorder/mixer. Since it’s a nice multi-channel recorder, I’d expect it to devote itself to one single sound track. However, since it’s also a mixer, I’d be looking at the instructions to find out if you can set custom pathways to put the mic on two different channels and record a “stereo” show in one shot. It’s not outrageous for you to want to do that.

You know it’s not really stereo, right? You’re still going to have to fool with it in post production.

After the performance and before production, the music will be taking up twice the memory than it needs to.

Understand that when I deliver a single voice track, I deliver it as a 48000, 16-bit, Stereo sound file because I know that’s what the client wants with the minimum of fuss. Fuss causes you not to be called back.