This article will show you three different ways to connect a USB microphone to an audio mixer. These methods will work with any popular USB microphones.
We have two different audio mixers here to show you some different options and for the purposes of this article we’re using the Blue Yeti USB microphone. This isn’t because it’s necessarily the best, but because it is the most popular.
Quick Answer: Connect the USB microphone to the computer to provide power, then connect to your audio mixer using a 1/4″ TRS to Dual 1/8″ TS cable and configure the gain, compressor, and EQ settings. Optionally, connect the 1/4″ TRS to Dual 1/8″ TS cable to a DI box, then run an XLR cable from the DI box to the audio mixer.
Why Connect USB Microphone To Mixer?
There are a few reasons why you might want to connect a USB microphone to an audio mixer:
- Giving yourself the option to use compression, high pass filters, and EQ
- Mixing multiple USB microphones together
- Using a USB microphone at a live venue and needing to plug into their system.
Before you connect your microphone to the audio mixer, you need to set up your microphone.
USB Microphone Setup
The first step is to power the microphone. This is usually done via the USB cable, so use that to connect to your computer.
Once the microphone is connected to the computer, set your gain properly and make sure everything is configured for good output. Then you can connect to an audio mixer.
Option 1: 1/8″ TRS To Dual 1/4″ TS Jacks To Stereo Input
USB Microphone > 1/8″ TRS cable > Audio mixer stereo input
Use a 1/8″ TRS cable to connect to the audio mixer. This type of cable takes the unbalanced stereo output from the headphone jack at the bottom of the USB microphone and converts it to two unbalanced 1/4″ TS jacks, which you can then connect to your audio mixer.
Plug the 1/8″ side to the headphone jack on your microphone. Next, you have the two 1/4″ jacks; red is always right, and the other is the left. Plug these into the stereo jacks on your audio mixer. If your mixer has two 1/4″ jacks here that sum into a single volume knob, that’s called the stereo input. The stereo input takes the left and right headphone outputs from the microphone and gives them a pre-panned input into your audio mixer.
Next, make sure that your main stereo output is set to unity. This is generally indicated by a triangle on Yamaha audio mixers, or on other manufacturers by a U, infinity symbol, or a zero. It’s the best starting point for the main stereo output of your audio mixer.
Now you can turn up the volume of the channel that you just plugged into. Turn this all the way up to the unity position, and you’ll see that you’re getting some level on the audio mixer. This shows that it’s working.
From here, you can turn up your headphone output on your USB microphone to get more output. But we wouldn’t recommend going beyond fifty percent. Here’s why:
Headphone pre-amps in most USB microphones aren’t very good. And beyond fifty percent, the signal will get noisy and hissy, so take care to avoid that. If you look at the computer, you may see that you’re not getting as much level as you actually need. So we’ll need to pre-amplify this signal in the audio mixer.
Option 2: 1/8″ TRS To Dual 1/4″ TS Jacks To Line Input
USB Microphone > 1/8″ TRS cable > Audio mixer stereo input
You’ll notice that your audio mixer has combination jacks, which will accept XLR or 1/4″ cables. Look for one labeled line in, or an XLR combination input, and plug your microphone in there.
Next, we need to set up the gain. Start by turning the level for this channel up to the unity position and increasing the pre-amp until we’re getting a level around zero DB on the meter.
With most audio mixers, if you set them to zero DB, it brings the USB output of that mixer down by 12 DB. It acts like a digital analog offset of 12 DB. This provides a much healthier level, similar to what you’d get from the Blue Yeti connected directly to the computer..
Once you’re set up, it’s time to look at some of the tools on the audio mixer. These include a compressor, 3-Band EQ, and high pass filter.
Using a Compressor
First of all, you can use a compressor. Most audio mixers have compressors. The smaller analog audio mixers tend to have a one knob compressor.
The compressor is a useful tool. If you find that you’re always adjusting the volume knob throughout your recording, apply a little bit of compression and it’ll narrow the dynamic range of that input so you’re not having to do that as much.
On the Mackie ProFX10v3 audio mixer, it’s just compressing your more dynamic moments by narrowing the dynamic range. On the Yamaha MG10XU audio mixer, it also adds a little bit of makeup gain in addition to compressing the signal into a tighter threshold.
Set the compressor to around 25-30%. Generally, on a mixer like this, we don’t recommend more than 50%. If you try to go higher, it sounds quite chunky, almost digital, and really takes the personality out of your voice.
Keep in mind that this isn’t something built into the USB microphone. It’s an added feature when you go through these steps.
Using 3-Band EQ & HPF
Next, there’s the three-band EQ and high pass filter.
The high pass filter, or HPF, takes the low end out of the microphone. This is a good setting to use for talking-head style podcasts because it means you won’t be coming through the subwoofer of the listener. They’ll be able to hear your voice clearly and intelligibly.
You can also adjust the high band of a speaker’s EQ here. Try increasing it to help a speaker stand out, or lowering it to smooth out their voice.
The main clarity of the human voice is generally somewhere between 1-3 kHz. So adjusting the mid band on the EQ can help with enunciation and clarity. You’ll typically only need a subtle change to achieve the best results.
Lastly, you can adjust the low band of the EQ. You can use this to double up on or replace the high pass filter option.
Option 3: 1/8″ TRS To Dual 1/4″ TS Jacks To DI Box
USB Microphone > 1/8″ TRS cable > DI box > XLR cable > Audio mixer stereo input
There’s also a third way to connect a USB microphone to an audio mixer, and we’re going to discuss that now.
The cable that I recommended for the first two methods, which connects to the stereo input or first channel input on your audio mixer, is really good if you have a bunch of microphones within five or ten feet of the audio mixer.
This is because it’s an unbalanced cable and unbalanced cables get noisy and can pick up interference if you run it longer than twenty feet. It isn’t guaranteed, but you’re more at risk for fluttering noises, hissing, and sometimes you’ll even pick up a radio station with the cable.
So if you need to run cable for a longer distance, you’ll need something like a DI box. A DI box is basically a transformer that will balance the audio coming from a cable like this. Plug in the left and right cables, and in this particular instance, the DI box will summit into a single XLR cable.
Once it’s converted to an XLR cable, you can theoretically run up to a thousand feet with minimal audio quality loss. It’s unlikely you’ll ever need to run cable this far, but if you’re using a USB microphone in a live event, or if you just need to record something that’s farther away from the audio mixer, a DI box like this is a very helpful tool.
Going back to our DI box, now that the signal is converted to XLR, you just need to reset the channel and connect it to your XLR input. Once you’ve done that, you can turn the level up, and bring the gain up to the unity position, just like before. The only difference with this is that we ran it through a transformer, known as a DI box, and converted it to XLR. Now you can run cable over a longer distance.
Why You Shouldn’t Connect A USB Mic To Audio Mixer
That’s three different ways to connect a USB mic to your audio mixer, and why you might want to do this. But it’s also worth discussing why we wouldn’t recommend doing this.
To begin, let’s break down what a USB microphone is. You start with an analog microphone capsule that’s catching sound waves moving through the air and vibrating. That vibration sends a signal into a pre-amp inside the USB mic. That pre-amp converts it to a digital signal for the USB output. That digital conversion will degrade the audio a little bit.
But then we take that digital signal and reconvert it back to an analog output for the headphone jack. That’s how it arrives into your audio mixer. Then that analog signal gets processed, it gets another pre-amp, another volume knob, plus some dials and tools that you can use all the way down to the end. Then it’s converted again, back to digital, for your computer to record.
So the signal is going analog, digital, analog, a bunch of analog processing, reconverted to digital, sent to your computer. Each one of those steps will degrade your audio quality a little bit more. Normally, you wouldn’t notice, but in this particular signal chain, there are so many degradation events that the result is more significant.
That being said, this might benefit you by being able to add compression and EQ or being able to mix multiple users might outweigh that little bit of hiss from all the degradation with this complicated signal chain.
USB Microphone to Audio Mixer Pricing:
- Blue Yeti USB Mic: https://currentprice.io/blue_yeti
- AT 2020+ USB Mic: https://currentprice.io/at2020usb
- Elgato Wave 3 USB Mic: https://currentprice.io/elgato_wave3
- Yamaha MG10XU Audio Mixer: https://currentprice.io/mg10xu
- Mackie ProFX10v3 Audio Mixer: https://currentprice.io/profx10v3
- 1/4″ TRS to Dual 1/8″ TS Cable: https://currentprice.io/14_to_dual_18
- Radial ProAV1 DI Box: https://currentprice.io/proav1
- Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro Headphones: https://currentprice.io/beyer_dt_990
- XLR Cable: https://currentprice.io/xlr_cable
- TRS Cable: https://currentprice.io/trs_cable
- Mic Stand: https://currentprice.io/desk_stand
- Rode PSA1 Boom Arm: https://currentprice.io/boom_arm
USB Microphone to Audio Mixer Topics:
- 0:00 – Introduction
- 0:25 – Equipment Setup
- 0:50 – Pricing & Specs
- 1:05 – Why Connect USB Microphone To Mixer?
- 1:45 – USB Microphone Setup
- 2:25 – Option 1: 1/8″ TRS To Dual 1/4″ TS Jacks To Stereo Input
- 4:55 – Option 2: 1/8″ TRS To Dual 1/4″ TS Jacks To Line Input
- 6:40 – Compressor
- 8:03 – 3 Band EQ & HPF
- 9:55 – Option 3: 1/8″ TRS To Dual 1/4″ TS Jacks To DI Box
- 12:03 – Why You Shouldn’t Connect A USB Mic To Audio Mixer
- 14:11 – Final Thoughts