4 3.5mm Mics to mixer to PC?

Hello all,

I’m participating in the Extra Life marathon this year and am trying to get a good setup going, as I have three friends joining me.

I picked up the following off Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Neewer-3-5mm-Hands-Computer-Microphone/dp/B005DJOI8I/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8 - 5 pack of lapel mics.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00PIWB2SO - 3.5mm to 1/4" adapters
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000KGYAYQ - 4-channel mixer

I also have a 1/4" cable and a USB preamp.

The idea was to run the lapel mics into the 4-channel mixer using the adapters, then run the output of the mixer (1/4") into the USB preamp, which is recognized as an input device in Windows. However, it seems there’s a problem with the adapters, because when I pop them onto the mics and run them into the PC, the sound is almost nonexistent except when the gain is pushed all the way up, everywhere. Even then it’s pretty quiet. I’ve plugged the mics directly into the PC and they all work fine.

I know this is probably a novice question so I apologize in advance for the eye-rolling, but does anyone have an idea about what I’ve done wrong here? Thanks in advance.

Two actually.

Computer Clip on Mini Lapel Microphone

These microphones have to get their power from somewhere. They have internal electronics that must be powered. I have similar microphones, but mine have a fat place in the cable where I slip a “watch battery”. From there on, the microphone looks like a simple microphone and I can plug it into any mixer where I can build the adapters.

That’s why it says “Computer…” in the title. If you plug it into a computer, the microphone gets its juice from the sound card. I bet that works just fine.

Scene shifts to the mixer.

Ultra-compact 4-channel line mixer

Microphone volume is roughly 1000 times quieter than line volume. You bought a line level mixer. You can use that to fade between, say a CD player and the sound from a DVD player. Headphone connections can usually be used as Line Level sound. That’s how I record my keyboard. Headphone out to computer Line-In.

As an added feature, it won’t supply power to run the microphones.

Before you charge off looking for a mixer that will do all those tricks, I bet you don’t find one. It’s a fairly common problem to want to connect several computer microphones to a mixer. One poster designed and built multiple battery adapters and actually got his to work. This is what one looks like (attached). Click on the image and zoom out your browser. I have two of these. That does work. I think he somehow did it without soldering.

You might well ask if I doubled the cost of the microphone (headset in this case). Yes, I did. And for that money you can get a different microphone.

OK, so that’s years gone by. What you should be doing is get everyone to record their voice on their own cellphone Personal Sound Recorder and then send you the sound files to mix down in Audacity.

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 16.46.41.png

on their own cellphone Personal Sound Recorder

In fact that does work, but you should try it once to get the feel of how to do it. It works best if the performers are separated maybe a bit more than you think is comfortable.

The spacing on Charlie Rose is not an accident.


Thanks so much for the in depth advice. So, it seems like my initial setup is a bust, at least for the time being. I have an MXL condenser mic that I could probably use to pick up everyone in the room, the only issue is that the TV will be playing game audio through speakers, so the mic will probably pick up the TV as well, which is annoying because I’m capturing game audio directly through the PC.

So, just spitballing here, would the next best solution involve a headphone splitter, then running separate headphones for everyone?

then running separate headphones for everyone?

That’s what I’d do. They make headphone mult boxes so everyone can have their own volume control.

MXL condenser mic that I could probably use to pick up everyone in the room

Probably. Does it have a part number by any chance? Some talented microphones have pattern settings. Here’s one with all the patterns (attached). You want the round one (omni-directional).

I can tell you what the next problem is going to be. The show will sound like you’re recording in a rain barrel and some of the rapid speakers may be difficult to hear on the recording. You were on the right track with the individual microphones.

There’s no filter for room ambiance and echo. Unless you have a deeply carpeted room with lots of bookshelves and cottage cheese ceilings, it’s going to sound like a kitchen.

I usually catch myself just short of saying “recorded in a garage,” but my garage isn’t all that bad with its peaked roof and hundreds of boxes of trash.

I don’t need a studio. I just need a comfortable, air conditioned, quiet room with no echoes.

Actually, that brings up another studio problem. How much noise does your computer make? That’s going to be a performer now.

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 17.54.49.png

Oh, and if you’re going to place the microphone on the table between everybody, put it on a book and towel.

If you happened to have a furniture moving quilt laying around, put that down, too.


I’m just now putting it all together.

I’m capturing game audio directly through the PC.

Have you tried any of these recording techniques, even in a simple form? Audacity doesn’t get along with most gaming systems. There’s no simple solution. We usually push people off to FRAPS or other game and commentary recording software.

It might work if you had The Game Computer over here and the Audacity computer over there. Record the gameplay on the game computer, export a sound file and melt it with the voices from the Audacity computer.


The mic is an MXL V63M, no toggle for patterns just the simple cardioid. I’m not going for studio quality but getting a clear recording of four people and mixing it with game audio will be a challenge. No real studio to speak of, either. It’s a living room so acoustics will be less than ideal. I’m mostly concerned with getting everything to acceptable levels. We’ll be sitting on a couch next to each other, so I’m imagining putting the mic on a table in front of us will have to do. My concern is the gain I’ll have to put on the mic to pick everyone up, and then dealing with the background noise.

This is all going to be live over Twitch.tv, so nothing that will be archived and mixed/mastered post-recording.

I would love to get the individual mics working, but at this point I’m not too sure what the solution would be with those.

I’m beginning to get a little worried about the reality of picking up four people in a room together. I’m happy to toss some money (ideally not more than $150) at the setup but I’m not sure where to start.

I have the line-in mixer, four clip-on PC mics, a USB preamp with two XLR/Line inputs, a condenser mic…

I’m beginning to get a little worried about the reality of picking up four people in a room together.
I have the line-in mixer, four clip-on PC mics, a USB preamp with two XLR/Line inputs, a condenser mic…

…and an aggressively hostile recording environment.

If someone wrote me a big check I’m not sure I could shoot this job.

A place where I used to work had an interesting design exercise. Forget the goal for a minute. Think about the worst possible conditions for the job. You’re missing simultaneous Skype. That’s it. The rest of your conditions are a nightmare sound job.

The grownups would be fitting your performers with lavalier radio microphones playing into a good field sound mixer and then into a recorder of your choice. The game would be a separate feed with headphones all around. Pretty much a giant version of what you tried to do originally. Even then, you’re going to run into the performers getting into each other’s sound feed because they’re too close to each other.

The movie people might put a boom microphone over the players and shoot it that way. The value here is the ability to shoot downward with a highly directional microphone.

None of that can be done with $150.

I’m out.



I’m not going for studio quality

That’s two.
You’re going to hit all three aphorisms sooner or later.

– 1. I don’t need a studio. I just need a comfortable, air conditioned, quiet room with no echoes.
– 2. I don’t need professional audio. I just need clear sound at good volume and no distortion or noise.
– 3. I don’t need a recording engineer. I just need someone to set me up and get me through the first few recordings and teach me how to do it myself.

Alright, thank you for all your help. One last question… would something like this work for connecting the mics?


Alternatively, I could pick up two of these: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B015GDVSJ2
They are battery powered so that might help with amplifying the signal?

This is the product page for the Rolls MX44s Mini-Mix IV
No that won’t work for your computer microphones.

That “may” work, but …
As koz wrote, thr mixer thst you mentioned is designed for “Line level” input (as is the Rolls), so it will not boost the signal level from a microphone up to the level required for a "line level input. If your USB sound card has a “microphone” input, then it may work, but don’t expect great sound quality.
If your USB sound card has only “line level” inputs then you need a mixer that has “microphone level” inputs so that it can boost the tiny mic signal to an appropriate level.

Whatever you decide, I’d recommend that you check the returns policy with the seller before you buy.

That’s a different maker version of the Radio Shack version of the AT microphone that I have.


The battery doesn’t boost the volume. That just makes it so the microphone works at all. Switch it on (with the battery installed) and it will make tiny, delicate, normal microphone signals on that plug. Then you adapt it to a microphone mixer, combine it with the other three into one mixed show, plug it into a very good quality USB adapter such as the Behringer UCA-202 and plug it into the computer for recording in Audacity.

You would think I would have pictures of all that by now. This is the final step where you plug the mixer into the computer. That’s my four-microphone mixer on the right.

My mixer is a Peavey PV-6, but it will only do four microphones (attached, at the bottom). They were hoping nobody noticed.


Many people make mixers like this. The Behringer units are supposed to be pretty good.

You still need to adapt the 1/8" plug from the microphone to the three-pin XLR sockets along the top of the mixer. From there, it’s adjust levels and mix your brains out.

The only down side to audio cable adapters like this is the inability to go long distances. You’re pretty much restricted to the six or eight feet on the shorter cables. Longer and it starts getting noisy and hummy.

I swear I have a picture of that 1/8’ to XLR adapter here…

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Here you go. Missing puzzle piece.

You can’t buy those. There are adapters that appear to be correct, but the wiring inside is custom. I made those with my tools and soldering iron. The 1/8" female is chopped from a Radio Shack three-to-one headphone adapter. It happens to have the right connections and I can make three adapters out of one purchase.

You plug your lavalier (chest) microphone 1/8" male into that, plug that into any XLR microphone mixer (make sure Phantom Power is turned off) and go.


I did better illustrations.

I don’t actually use the little silvery audio to USB adapter when I do it because my Macs have a terrific stereo connection built-in. But that’s a one-microphone setup all the way from the pop and blast filter to the computer in one shot including headphones.

I’m hiding the wires for graphic effect. You understand the microphone is plugged into number one Mic-In of the mixer even though you can’t trace the wires the whole trip in the picture. The headphones really are plugged into the mixer on the right.

And yes, there are places for three more microphones on this mixer.