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:
- Unbalanced XLR to 1/8″ Cable Plugged into your sound card (if available)
- 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.
Unbalanced XLR to 1/8″ Cable
In some circumstances, it may be able to use a cheap ~$10 adapter to plug an XLR microphone into the headset/microphone input of your desktop or laptop computer.
We don’t recommend this solution for the following reasons:
- The cable is unbalanced and is susceptible to hum
- This would only work for dynamic microphones (Condenser microphones require phantom power).
- Macbook’s haven’t had a headset input available since 2015
- Most PCs no longer have headset inputs available either (subject to manufacturer).
USB Audio Interface (XLR To USB)
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:
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.
How to Connect a Condenser Microphone Your Computer
If you’re using a condenser microphone then you will need an audio interface that has +48 volts phantom power, which is standard among all USB audio interfaces. Without phantom power your condenser microphone will not work.
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