You want to use external audio to enhance your communication, meetings, recording voice, and live streaming experience.
But you don’t know how to connect microphone to computer or if the signal isn’t getting through.
This is the most common question we receive. Don’t worry. Hooke Audio will also provide you with the quickest and most accurate methods.
Help, DIFFERENT PLUGS
First, you probably noticed that connect a microphone to your computer has a three-pin output plug. This is unlike any other you will find on a desktop or laptop computer. There are many mics to USB adapters. Unfortunately, this simple solution will not unlock your microphone’s true potential (see box USB adapters and microphones).
The technology behind microphones is older than computers today. Microphones emit an analog signal, and their output levels can be quite low. Condenser microphones are the best type for home studio recording and require external power.
We need this:
- A power source to allow the microphone’s operation.
- A preamp to amplify the low output signal to a higher level.
- An analog-to-digital converter to convert the analog signal into bits or bytes
- A digital audio interface (such as a USB, FireWire, or Thunderbolt) delivers the bits and bytes to your computer.
Get An Audio Interface!
Some devices can meet all these requirements. These devices are known as audio interfaces, and they are available from many manufacturers. They are not available in computer shops, but they can be purchased online or at any local retailer of musical instruments.
Avoid the most expensive models. Two hundred euros is the minimum price for a good audio interface. The best models offer better sound quality and overall quality and are available for as low as 400-500 euros.
Here’s a list:
- You will need at least one XLR microphone input for stereo recordings.
- Phantom power, also known as P48 and 48V, is often used. This is a method of powering condenser mics using the microphone input.
This solution, a Neumann invention, does not require additional leads and uses standard XLR cables. Dynamic microphones that don’t require external phantom power are not affected by the phantom power supply.
- You can also add an additional audio input device to line signals or instrument signals. These are not necessary to record microphones, but they can be very helpful.
Line inputs are required for synthesizers and drum machines, and other equipment with a high output level. For guitars and basses, instrument inputs are necessary.
- You can use one or two headphones. Recording overdubs (i.e., To add instruments or vocals to tracks that you want to record, use the headphone output to muffle your speakers.
The front panel has a volume knob and monitor-outs for your speakers. Studio monitors, including inexpensive ones for home studios, are powered, speakers.
They come with built-in amplifiers. They do not usually have volume controls. The only way to control the volume is to attenuate the incoming signal.
This is what your audio interface’s volume knob does. An external monitor controller is required if your audio interface does not have monitor outputs or a volume knob.
- Check that your audio interface has a compatible digital port (such as a USB port). Check the system requirements. A majority of audio interfaces require a driver to be installed on your computer. Before you make a purchase, check the manufacturer’s website for any driver versions that may be available.
Which computer interface is best for you?
USB 2.0 is the most popular audio interface for adding peripherals to Windows and Macintosh computers.
Although USB 2.0 isn’t the fastest protocol, its bandwidth is sufficient to handle small-to-medium-sized audio interfaces.
Thunderbolt, although a fast protocol, is only available on the Macintosh platform. Thunderbolt can be pretty expensive.
Thunderbolt audio interfaces are usually sold without cables and cost between 40-50 euros per cable.
FireWire is no longer supported and should not be used for new purchases.
Interfaces for USB 3.0 are just beginning to appear. USB 3.0 is faster than USB 2.0, but it may not be compatible with other technologies (audio interfaces have been around for years; USB 3.0 hard drives are new).
A USB 2.0 interface is the best option if you are unsure of what you prefer. These audio interfaces are the most popular and cost-effective.
USB 2.0 audio interfaces may not work on USB 3.0 ports. This USB port usually has a blue plastic insert. Although theoretically, backward compatibility should exist, it is not often the case.
At least, on Windows platforms. USB 3.0 audio interface ports are generally not a problem on Macintosh computers.
Note on bus-powered audio interfaces: Some audio interfaces don’t require a wall plug or an external PSU.
They draw all the power that they need from the computer to which they are connected. This is known as bus power.
Although bus powering may seem like a practical solution, it has some disadvantages. Bus power, particularly on USB 2.0 audio interfaces, does not provide a lot of energy.
The lowest power supply consumption is the most important priority, even though it can often be at the expense of audio quality.
Bus-powered audio interfaces do not often deliver true P48 Phantom power. It is pretty standard for the voltage to be too low or that the current is insufficient to phantom power supply a condenser mic correctly.
This can lead to increased noise and decreased audio quality. We recommend that you get an audio interface with its very own phantom power supply.
Now you have both a microphone AND an audio interface. In our tutorial, How to Connect Your Mac to an audio interface, you can connect a microphone to your computer.
USB MICROPHONES & USB ADAPTERS
Some microphones already have a USB output connector. These microphones have a built-in USB audio interface. USB mic sounds like a simple solution.
However, such a USB mic does not deliver studio-grade audio quality. This is evident in the pricing. A USB mic typically costs between 100 and 200 dollars/euros.
This is less than a studio microphone and less than a USB mic audio interface. The microphone and the integrated USB audio interface cannot be very high quality.
While USB microphones can be used for basic tasks like podcasting, they cannot record more complex audio. Two USB microphones cannot record stereo since most recording software only allows one driver.
Even if you could overcome this problem (e.g., You could create aggregate devices, but the digital clocks from both USB microphones would not be synced. This would cause an offset between the channels. Monitoring is also insufficient.
Overdubbing requires that you hear both the tracks you have recorded and the source track you want to record. This problem can be solved by some USB microphones that have a headphone output.
However, you can’t record more than one source. You will also need to reconfigure the entire system for speakers.
Some adapters convert microphones to USB. This adapter allows you to use high-quality microphones.
It won’t unlock all the potential of a good microphone because the stereo recording is almost impossible, monitoring is complex and poor sound quality.
Technically speaking, connect a microphone-to-USB adapter is an audio interface that has limited capabilities. It costs around 100 euros, and you shouldn’t expect studio quality.
Connecting Basic Computer Mics
1. The microphone’s jack should be examined. Most basic computer microphones have one of two types of jack: a 1/8 TRS type jack which is the same as a pair of headphones or a flat USB jack. Both of these types of jacks can be used with most computers.
Skip to the next section if you are using an XLR mic or a quarter-inch jack.
2. Find the appropriate port of microphone to your computer. Most desktop computers have visible XLR mic ports at the top or bottom of their towers. This port will usually be pink and feature a microphone image. You can plug in an 8-inch jack to this mic port to test sound.
- If you have a USB Jack on the microphone’s end, most computers have at least two USB ports either on the side or back of the computer. Plug the USB jack into any of these ports.
- Laptops, and other modern computers, don’t have microphone ports because they are usually equipped with internal microphones. However, it is possible to plug in the headphone port of most computers and change your sound settings later.
3. Use the recording software you prefer to test your microphone. You can test your microphone’s settings and levels by going to your audio input sound options. Make sure the device you have just plugged into is visible and selected for use. Start a recording program, and try to use the microphone.
- Windows users can use the Sound Recorder. Mac users should use Quicktime or GarageBand.
- If you are not receiving a signal, skip the last section to find troubleshooting tips.
Connecting Professional Mics
1. The microphone’s jack is located at the microphone’s end. Condenser microphones and professional equipment will require adapters or converter cables before they can be plugged in.
They can be expensive and vary in price depending on what type of microphone you are trying to plug into your computer.
- If there is a triangle of prongs at the microphone’s end, it’s an XLR mic. You’ll need a cable to convert the XLR jack to the eighth-inch port or a converter box that will convert it into a USB.
- If the jack is less than a quarter-inch, such as a guitar cable, an adapter cable will be required. This cable can convert to USB or, more often, eight-inch sizes. Then plug it into either the mic port or headphone port. These cables are typically quite inexpensive, costing only a few dollars.
2. Make sure you have the correct converter. Before you connect the microphone to your computer, they will need to be connected with an adapter. These microphones have higher quality, so it is advisable to purchase adaptors to ensure that the signal stays strong.
- XLR mics can be adapted relatively cheaply with cables or a USB converter box, but some users find that this can be crackly losing some of the presence of good microphones. For the best sound quality, invest in a mixing board with a USB output.
- Quarter-inch to eighth-inch converter cables is widely available and pretty cheap to buy. You can find them at any electronics store or online electronics retailer.
3. Use the recording software you prefer to test your microphone input. You can test your microphone’s settings and levels by going to your audio input sound options.
Make sure the device you have just plugged into is visible and selected for use. Start a recording program, and try to use the microphone input.
- Windows users can use the Sound Recorder. Mac users should use Quicktime or GarageBand.
- If you are not receiving a signal, skip the next section to find troubleshooting tips.
Troubleshooting Common Problems
1. Make sure you are setting the sound input correctly to connect a microphone. If you are not receiving a signal, go to your computer’s sound settings. Make sure the right device is selected and that the appropriate levels are set.
- There are no drivers on a mac. All you have to do is go into System Settings, click on Sound, then select Input to select microphone. You should make sure the microphone is turned on, not the built-in one.
- Go to the Control Panel, click on Hardware & Sound, then click on Sound. It should open another window. Click on recording at the top. You should then see your microphone. It isn’t selected if it doesn’t have the green checkmark. Click on the device and click properties. The settings can be changed to Use This Device, and the device will then automatically use it the next time it is plugged into your computer.
2. Adjust the audio input volume. You can adjust the volume of most computers. It will be necessary to set the volume a little higher for mics with lower quality, but not too high. It is best to keep it in the default range of about 50%.
- On Macs, this can be done in System Settings under Sound
- This can be done on a PC in Hardware & Sound under Sound
3. Make sure your computer and speaker volume is checked. You should double-check that the external speaker or headphone output is plugged in properly.
4. Make sure you have the correct settings for your microphone. You must ensure that the microphone is turned on and the cable is plugged in flush. Also, make sure you have any other settings set correctly depending on your microphone.
- Condenser microphones and speaking mics may have several toggle settings. Some might be louder or offer a wider sound range than others. You can switch between them to find the one that sounds best for you.
5. You should check the settings in the program you are using. You should also check the input settings of different audio processing programs.
Even if your system settings have been changed, some recording software might still be set up to pick up audio from an external microphone or internal mics.
- Example: If you use Skype, go to Tools>Options>Audio Settings and choose your microphone. If your microphone is not listed or still does not work, you should check if it needs drivers or software.
6. Restart your computer. Sometimes you will need to close the program that you are trying to use or restart your computer to allow it to recognize any new hardware you have plugged in.
If the microphone doesn’t work, you can try another microphone or a different computer. This will help you determine if it’s the microphone or the computer.
Why is my mic not connecting to my PC?
Can I connect my mic to the desktop computer?
How can I connect my Bluetooth microphone to my computer?
Can I connect a wireless mic to my computer?
The sections above were descriptions that help you determine which way to connect a microphone. Be sure to follow the instructions on how to get it connected to your computer.
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