This tutorial shows you exactly what you need to know when you want to connect your XLR microphone to your computer (PC or Mac). For each method, we use a Shure SM58, Shure SM7B, and AKG C 3000 B microphone so you can hear the benefits of each method, complete with a demonstration on the computer.

Connect XLR Mic To Computer

Are you looking to connect an XLR microphone to your computer (Mac or PC)? There are many great reasons that you may want to do this:

  • Studio Recording (Garageband, Protools, Ableton, Logic, etc.)
  • Video Conferencing (Zoom, Google Chat, FaceTime, Skype, etc.)
  • Live Streaming (YouTube, Twitch, Periscope, etc.)

Generally speaking there are two ways to achieve your goal:

  1. XLR To USB Cable/Adapter
  2. USB Audio Interface

We’ll go into both options and let you know why we think the USB Audio Interface is the best way to achieve your goals.

Related: Best XLR Cable For Your Microphone

XLR To USB Cable / Adapter

XLR To USB Cable

In some circumstances, it may be possible to use a cheap ~$20 cable to plug an XLR microphone into your desktop or laptop computer’s USB input. In our tests, this solution has worked well for handheld dynamic microphones like the Shure SM58.

That being said, we don’t recommend this solution for the following reasons:

  1. It doesn’t offer a lot of gain. This can make it tricky for dynamic microphones like the Shure SM7B.
  2. This would only work for dynamic microphones (Condenser microphones require phantom power).

USB Audio Interface

USB Audio Interface

The USB Audio Interface is the most robust and reliable solution for you to connect your XLR microphone to your computer.

On the low end, there are several options for $100-250 that will fit your needs:

PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 Audio Interface

Both of these options essentially do the same thing. They will give you:

  • Two XLR inputs
  • Independent volume control
  • Main output control
  • Headphone jack
  • Phantom Power for Condenser Mics
  • USB port to connect to your computer

With this option, you can also multitrack your recording. This means that if you’re using ProTools, Garageband, Logic, or Ableton, you can record both inputs at the same time to separate tracks. This will allow you to adjust the volumes of both tracks (guitar & vocals, for example) after recording them both at the same time. 

The USB Audio Interface is a great solution for both Mac & PC Computer users.

Related: Audio Interface vs Audio Mixer | What Should You Buy? 

USB Audio Mixers

Yamaha MG10XU Audio Mixer
Yamaha MG10XU Audio Mixer

A USB Audio Mixer is another great way to connect your XLR microphone to your computer. With a USB audio mixer, you get the same connectivity as an audio interface, but you get more hardware-based control of your microphone inputs.

Mackie ProFX10v3 Audio Mixer

A USB audio mixer is different from a normal audio mixer because they have an audio interface built-in. Typically (on small audio mixers), this audio interface will only send the final (stereo) mix to the computer. So you can have several microphones and instruments mixed into your computer.

A USB Audio mixer is more common for:

  • Live Events
  • Live Streaming
  • Video Conferencing
  • Hybrid Events (Broadcasting a live event online).

Some common USB Audio Mixers Include:

Related: How to connect Audio Mixer to Interface

XLR To Computer Topics / Chapters

  • 0:00 – Introduction
  • 0:21 – Microphones For Test
  • 1:22 – XLR to USB Cable / A/D Converter
  • 3:55 – USB Audio Interface
  • 6:51 – Comparing Both Options
  • 7:45 – Final Thoughts