Are you a video maker, a professional musician, a producer, or an audiophile?
Is it your first time connecting an XLR mic to your computer, and you’re not sure how to do it or what you need to buy first?
We’ve got you!
Here is a quick tutorial on how to connect your XLR mic to your PC.
Connect XLR Microphone to PC: Steps to Follow
We’ll walk you through the process step by step!
1. Get Your Audio Interface
Yup, that’s all you need to connect an XLR mic to your computer!
If you’re new to audio interfaces, here are the basic things you should look for:
- At least 1 XLR microphone input (you’ll need at least 2 to record for stereo)
- 48-volt phantom power if you’re recording with a condenser microphone. Your PC sound card will not be able to feed the mic all the power it will need.
- USB port that is compatible with your computer
- Headphone output
- Monitor output
- Inputs for musical instruments (for when you record live events )
Using audio interfaces is the best way to MAINTAIN the sound quality of the audio that you record.
This is because audio interfaces focus on the analog signal to amplify it first before turning it into a digital signal.
If you’re new to audio interfaces, you might want to search the Focusrite Scarlett Solo on the internet and check it out.
It’s great for every beginner who wants to go serious, from podcasters and audiophiles to professional producers, and it has good customer services!
2. Connect XLR Mic to Computer
There are two kinds of XLR microphones, condenser mics, and dynamic mics.
Condenser microphones will require a phantom power supply, while dynamic microphones will not.
Here’s how to connect a Dynamic mic.
- Get the female end of your XLR connector cable to the XLR mic itself, then plug the other end into your audio interface.
- Now to connect an XLR condenser microphone, connect your microphone to the XLR port of your audio interface and turn the 48-volt phantom power button ON.
You’ll see the LED for the phantom power turn ON.
3. Check the Audio Interface Settings
After you connect an XLR mic, you want to set your audio levels on the audio interface before it starts feeding the sound to the computer software.
It’s best to adjust the volume levels on the audio interface first to your liking before adjusting it on your computer.
To do this, do a little mic test by speaking to your microphone. The LED on the audio interface will light up while you’re speaking to the mic.
4. Setup Your Microphone Input
Once the connection of your XLR microphone to your computer is set up, it’s time to fix the settings on your computer.
Go to your computer audio input settings and check if the correct microphone to your computer is selected, then fix the audio setup on the gain knob to your preference.
You can adjust your setup levels again if you still need to.
Other Things to Remember
- Make sure you turn OFF the phantom power supply switch BEFORE you disconnect your condenser microphone.
- If you’re using an XLR mic that requires high gain, your audio interface can already give you a fair amount of gain.
- You might also want to get a fathead, an inline microphone preamp that will give you an additional clean gain, so you get better audio quality!
- DO NOT use a cable that has an XLR mic cable on one end and a 1/4 inch TRS on the other.
How to Connect USB Mic to PC
Connecting a USB microphone to your computer is SUPER EASY.
All you have to do is plug directly the USB cable of your mic into the USB port on your PC. No cables or USB adapters are needed!
Which Computer Interface is Best?
Not sure which kind to use?
Let’s look at all the audio interface options for recording so you can decide!
The USB audio interface is currently the most common type to use with either a Mac computer or a Windows computer.
Most audio interfaces today are still the USB kind so you won’t have compatibility issues with this.
It also offers the most applications when it comes to home studio recording. The only con is that it is not as fast as we’d like it to be.
The USB 3.0 is a level up from the USB, so it’s WAY FASTER.
It’s one problem right now is compatibility. The USB 3.0 claims to be backward compatible, but many users still experience technical issues.
But don’t worry, this always happens with newer versions of most audio interfaces so that it will get solved on its own in time.
It’s next in line to be the most common type since the newer computer motherboards are releasing more USB 3 ports than USB.
If you’re looking for a future-proof audio interface, the USB 3.0 is a great choice.
This professional audio interface is SUPER FAST, but that’s the only advantage.
The Thunderbolt is expensive, it only works on a Mac computer, and the cable is sold separately, which will be an additional cost for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does XLR Have Better Quality Than USB?
The only advantage that USB microphones have over XLR mics is that it’s cheaper. That’s it.
In every other way, XLR microphones win.
XLR mics will also need a dedicated audio interface so you can plug as many XLR inputs as the audio interface will allow while still taking up only one USB input on your computer.
However, some USB microphones will have component flexibility if you purchase a separate USB audio interface.
You’ll be able to input more components in the audio interface, but the audio quality of a USB microphone will still be inferior to that of an XLR mic.
In short, XLR mics are more versatile, are not dependent on a computer to work, and the components are very flexible!
Most importantly, XLR mics have better clarity of sound and are overall of a different class than USB microphones.
A USB microphone is perfectly fine if you’ll just be recording podcasts and other speaking audio, but it’s not recommended for professional music recording.
And in the end, the USB microphone will still produce better sound quality than if you just connect your microphone straight to your PC sound card.
Can You Use an XLR Mic Without Audio Interface?
Yes, just get an adapter!
First, connect the mic base to one end of the 3.5mm USB adapter. Then connect the opposite end of it to the USB ports of your PC.
However, if you connect using the adapter, you will not be able to utilize the full power of your mics.
This will significantly lower the sound quality of your audio.
Does XLR Cable Affect Quality?
As long as the cable you use to connect to your computer is not torn or damaged in any way, it will not affect the sound quality of your audio.
However, a good quality cable will last longer as it is more durable.
Can I Connect Using an XLR to USB Mixer Instead of an Audio Interface?
All you have to do is plug the XLR microphone into one end of a 1/8 inch cable and connect the other end of it to the USB mixer sound card.
Turn the mixer power switch ON, then plug the sound card into your computer.
However, the audio interface is still your best bet regarding quality.
It’s better when you want to record the highest quality of sound from both one track and multiple tracks simultaneously.
What if My Computer Operating System Is Incompatible With the XLR Mic?
You need to update your old operating system on your computer. You can search on the internet for the specific update your mic requires, and
Your mic is probably a newer model that does not recognize the operating system.
Until you successfully update, the mic will not be able to connect to your computer.
That wraps up our XLR connection guide! Connecting mics to your computer is SIMPLE! Once you’ve connected your XLR mic correctly, you can work your magic from there!