analog mic - soundblaster z series - monioring - and audacit

according to creative labs - i need to get an analog mic that i can plug into the microphone port on the sound card so that i can enable monitoring so that i can hear my voice through headphones when i sing into the mic. it’s been awhile since i’ve bought any equipment to use with audacity - so thought i would check with you all to see if you could suggest good analog mics that are compat with audacity. seems to me i had a lot of trouble getting the mic i have now - so would like to know from the get-go what is the best mic to get.

i am running windows7 - 64bit and audacity 2.2.1

thanks for the help! : )


Any “analog” or “3.5mm” computer microphone should work. A USB microphone will also work, but you wouldn’t be using the soundcard (for your microphone).

Analog computer mics are not generally “studio quality”, so something like that might not be appropriate for you.

Stage/studio microphones are not compatible with regular soundcards. Stage & studio microphones have a balanced low-impedance connection and studio condenser mics require 48V phantom power. If you want to use a stage/studio mic you can get a [u]USB Audio Interface[/u] with an XLR microphone input, or you can connect the mic to a mixer (or microphone preamp) and then connect the mixer’s line-output into the soundcard’s line-input.

Another option is a “Studio Style” USB mic (AKA “podcast mic”). Some podcast mics have a built-in headphone jack. There are some good quality podcast mics, but some people do have noise issues and some of them don’t have adjustable gain. The noise usually gets-in from the USB power (so it can depend on the computer). Some USB powered audio interfaces can suffer from the same issue.

so that i can hear my voice through headphones when i sing into the mic.

I don’t know about that particular soundcard, but usually the sound has to go through the computer and you get latency (delay). Sometimes you can get the latency down to an acceptable (or hopefully unnoticeable) time, but it can be a challenge.

The SoundBlaster website says, “Low latency ASIO drivers”, but Audacity (as distributed) does not support ASIO. If you’re going to use Audacity, you’ll have to use the standard Windows drivers. Although ASIO was designed for low latency, sometimes the Windows drivers are just as good. The latency is caused by buffers, and you need buffers because of the multitasking operating system… Latency is related to the “other stuff” your processor is doing because if it can’t get-back to the audio in time, you need bigger buffers and the associated longer delay.

Some audio interfaces have zero-latency hardware-monitoring, where the monitor signal doesn’t go through the computer. IMO, that’s a really nice feature. Of course, you can still include the backing track in your headphone mix. Some of those podcast mics with headphone jacks can also monitor directly.

so that i can hear my voice through headphones when i sing into the mic.

That’s the hard part. You can’t easily do that with the SoundBlaster card.

Which microphone do you have now? It may be possible to get a SoundBlaster replacement that allows live monitoring of your voice. That’s called “Zero Latency Monitoring” and several USB adapters have it.

I use a Behringer UM2. It seems to work pretty well, but it takes an XLR type microphone. There’s a natural split between professional XLR microphones and home style SoundBlaster style. They don’t cross well.

The SoundBlaster type is nearly 100% home use. XLR type are one jump up from SoundBlaster but there is no upper end. The microphones in radio stations and recording studios are all XLR type. Rock band microphones are all XLR type.

So which mic do you have now? Maybe just adding a UM2 and a cable will get you going.
Screen Shot 2018-06-13 at 05.23.16.png

There’s two other adapters which work this way, the Behringer UMC22 and the Scarlett Solo—in increasing price. There are much more higher-end adapters, too, but theyr’e actually harder to make work with single microphone singing.

This is the UM2 fully blown out into an audiobook reading station (with a quiet Mac).


All-In-One USB microphones can be made to work, too. This is a G-Track with headphone monitoring built-in.

No separate mixer or other adapter. It plugs straight into your computer. I don’t own this one. I borrowed it from a performance artist.


koz! so glad you posted the pic. i was on the phone with sweetwater today and they suggested something similar to your pic i think - a scarlett solo —>

my current cartiod mic has a usb and and xlr connection. sssooooo…i was going to post back and find out if the scarlett solo would work (i am concerned about the mic showing up/being recognized by audacity because the scarlett solo will connect via usb) and i am assuming from what you said that my current audio-technica mic with an xlr connection will work.

the only other question i have - and i just want to make sure before i purchase the solo - i am assuming that i will be able to use the scarlett for input but then keep my output setting the same in audacity for playback through my speakers?

thanks for the help! looking forward to hearing back from you!


my current audio-technica mic

This is where you tell us what it is—down to model numbers.

keep my output setting the same in audacity for playback through my speakers?

Umm… No…

If you’re listening to a backing track to get your rhythm or match harmony, Audacity has to know to play that to your Solo and on to your headphones. If you want to listen to the final mix, Audacity has to play that to wherever you have your speakers plugged in. Audacity can only deal with one “thing” at a time.

You can certainly switch it with Audacity settings, it’s not rocket surgery, but those two jobs will not be automatic.

It’s a given you need to sing with headphones. Trying to live sing with speakers is begging for problems.

Nothing wrong with the Scarlett Solo. I don’t own one, but I don’t know of any serious complaints about it. Yes, it does connect with USB.

Systems such as this do have one general “problem.” They’re designed for New Users and tend to have “gentle volume.” Recording a little quiet can most times be fixed in post production.

Recording too loud can cause overload distortion and clipping damage, and that can kill your recording.


sorry - the mic is audio-technica atr2100-usb. this mic will work once i connect it to the scarlett with the xlr cable?

i’m thinking i didn’t word my earlier question properly when i was asking about playback. so usually what i do is import music track, add new mono track, record my voice with music and then when i playback - i have the music and my voice.
and right now my mic is plugged into the computer usb port, my headphones are plugged into the sound card and my speakers are plugged into the sound card.

so if i put the scarlett in the mix - - - > change my mic to connect to the scarlett with the xlr cable - and also connect my headphones to the scarlett - - - > record the same as above, when i go to listen - - - you’re saying i will need to switch the output to the speakers (like it is displaying right now since i don’t have the scarlett in the mix)?


audio-technica atr2100-usb

Thank you. It makes us crazy when someone posts a technical question and then leaves out all the detailed information we need to solve it.

I need to read through that carefully and see what’s there.

As we go. In fuzzy general, I think you should get your existing microphone and system to work before you start shopping.



The 2100 has a headphone connection and volume control in its bottom. The instructions suggest you should be able to do overdubbing and monitoring with that connection.

So the headphones should be connected to the 2100, not the soundcard. Change the Audacity preferences so they’re playing to the 2100, not the soundcard.

When you sing, your voice should appear on the headphones correctly in addition to the Audacity music or backing track.

You still have to set overdubbing recording latency and all that other stuff, but that’s simple adjustments.

So if this works, you don’t need all the rest of that shopping list. You should get this working anyway, because if you do buy upgrades, that will have to be adjusted exactly the same way.


That’s the 2100 USB connection doing all these tricks. It doesn’t work with the XLR cable.


koz! you are AWESOME! it worked! additionally i had been dealing with a little bit of latency - like i need to go up or down 1/2 not a whole - but couldn’t - but with this new configuration NO LATENCY whatsoever! AWESOME! minor pain to switch the output settings to hear recording through speakers - but i can live with that! sound is so much more clear as well.

thanks for all of your help!

i do have one more question - would there be an advantage to getting the scarlett solo? i’m only asking because as you have stated in earlier posts you have a similar device. but is that because that is the way you can do what i am able to do with the mic? hope that question made sense.

thanks again!


would there be an advantage to getting the scarlett solo?

Just to be able to tell people you have one.

I have a UM2 because my whole pile of microphones is analog. My whole world is getting good quality legacy microphones into the computer. I have no USB microphones. I think I said up the thread I borrowed the G-Track to take that picture.

So yes, there’s a terrifically good reason I have a UM2, although I also have higher end mixer/digitizer combinations. I bought an older model MacBook Pro laptop on purpose because it has a perfect quality stereo analog input built-in.

So I’m not starting from an empty room.


There is one reason you might want to use an interface like a Solo. You are limited to one USB cable between you and the computer. It is not recommended that you extend or mess with that cable.

The XLR cable system has almost no practical length limit. Put the computer and USB interface here and put the microphone in the garage…of your neighbor’s house.

Those 80 foot runs between the rock band on stage and the audience mix console? That’s how they do that.