In this tutorial we show you exactly what you need to know when you want to connect your XLR microphone into 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 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 for you to achieve your goals.

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 the USB input of your desktop or laptop computer. 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 by far 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 (amazon affiliate links):

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 you have recorded 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.

A USB audio mixer is different than 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:

These are affiliate links and I may earn a commission from Amazon (and others) on qualifying purchases.

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

Disclosure: If you purchase an item or service from an outbound link, we may receive a referral fee, which helps to support Kettner Creative.

Jordan Kettner

I consider myself to be half entrepreneur and half A/V geek. I am never content to settle for what is expected or determined by others to be the “industry standard”. Instead, I work extremely hard to break new ground and deliver value to whoever I meet.

My passion for the audio visual industry drives me to create content that will help others learn the best tools and techniques to learn how to setup their home studio.

"Recognizing opportunity is so difficult for most people because it goes around disguised in overalls, looking like hard work!"
- Thomas Edison

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