Brand New Mic. Need help with using it?

Hi, i just purcahsed a new microphone. I got a Behringer Ultra Voice XM8500. I also brought a XLR - Female to 3.5mm jack lead. This was so the Microphone could go straight into the laptop so I could use it. Unfortunatley that didnt work and looking online I have realised I need a Pre Amp. This is my question -

Im getting confuzed with the difference between a Pre Amp and an Audio Interface. They both come up in my searches. Im also not sure what ones with work with microphone.

Im under a budget, this is only for practicing on. I want to be able to use this microphone so I can sing live into it and hear what Im singing and then also record myself so better hearing afterwards. Im using audacity with my microphone as well.

Ive looked at this -

Im not sure If I can use it though with the equipment Ive got so far.

I need this to be budjet friendly, really my budjet is no more than £25.00 and really Id like it cheaper. If I had known this I would not have bought it as im not trying to make a home studio for my self.

If there is another solution such as a Karaoke Microphone which has a lead into the laptop and it will work. Or getting a USB microphone. I think there are ones called Condenser microphones. Im looking for the cheapest solution, so what ever will work please.

If your wondering im using a Windows 7 Laptop with core i5. Thankyou.

That looks amazingly like a Shure SM58 rock concert microphone, I’m sure on purpose.

Anyway, the signal at the bottom of the microphone is reeeeely tiny, so you need an amplifier to make it loud enough to be useful. The shortform for this is a MicPre. Now you have a nice healthy voice signal and you need to digitize it, turn it into a digital signal so the computer and Audacity can chew on it. That’s what the interface does. You can get both in the same box.
These seem to work reasonably well.

This seems to be overkill if you’re just practicing or rehearsing. You are well along the Home Recording pathway.

I have one of these and it seems to work reasonably well.

It’s USB, so the microphone, MicPre, and USB interface is all built in. Here’s a sample.

You didn’t say what you were rehearsing.


Hi, thanks for the reply.

Yes its just for practicing at the moment, but then I will probably start using the equipment for more serious work then.

Thanks for that, Thats still a bit expensive for me to be honest though. I am looking for a cheap. I want to keep the microphone ive got so I definatley need a Preamp for a microphone. I was looking at this one on ebay. What do you think, any good? Its cheap enough. Im just wondering what lead I would need with this as I already have got one which I wrote in the first post. Im just wondering if that would fit.

Well, yes that is a MicPre. Only a Mic-Pre. No power supply and no box. Are you good with soldering and electronic tools? It doesn’t have a digitizer and it doesn’t directly connect to your microphone.

Just thinking about this, you already have an adapter cable that’s wired wrong. All you need is someone who can take your cable apart and change the wiring. If it’s a molded cable, it will be a lot harder, but this is the cable and wiring you need to get your existing laptop Mic-In to work with your microphone.

You probably have an extra ring on the 1/8" plug side like these…

So the task is connect the ring to the shield and you can do that either inside the 1/8" plug if you can get in, or run a tiny jumper wire between pins 1 and 3 inside the XLR connector. The XLR shold have numbers beside each hole.

So that’s it. Find a ham radio operator and they will either be able to solder this for you for the price of a doughnut or know somebody on their radio network who will.

When you get further along, you can buy a real mixer for multiple microphones and internal or external USB adapter. No more fancy wired adapter cables.


OK. I figured out a way to do it in common adapters and cables.

The guitar people frequently have a microphone 1/4" plug for their amplifiers, so they use a cable like these…

All you need is to adapt the plug size with either one of these…

…and go straight into your soundcard.

Computer soundcards are nothing to write articles about, but most of them do work. Be careful about not putting stress on the laptop socket. The first time the dog steps on the cable you could damage the laptop.

Pay particular attention to the 1/4" plug end of the cable. It’s only tip and sleeve, a mono plug, no other rings. Pay attention to the picture.


Right that sounds too difucult. Im no good with soildering. if I need to buy a new cable then thats fine.

I just need to know if that preamp from ebay will do the job I need. Or I need to buy a different one.

No. That amplifier adapts an unbalanced microphone that you don’t have to a high-level line-in that you probably don’t have, either, and uses an external power supply that you have to buy.

Those are the cheap MicPre and USB adapters. That’s a lot of electronics to jam into a simple device.
This will do what you want, too.

I’d go with whoever can supply that cable and one of those adapters. That should get your existing sound card running for very little cash.

I am assuming your original cable is wired wrong. On the 1/8" plug end, does the connector have the extra ring half-way down or not?

Does it look like this…
or this?

Or alternately, point me to the web page.


I just need a cheap Preamp dont I?

and my lead looks like this but I have no problem getting another one.

I just need a cheap Preamp dont I?

There’s a cheap preamp inside your soundcard/laptop, assuming a Windows machine. I don’t know that we ever said that in English words. Most Macs don’t have one.

That’s actually the correct lead. Where did you get it? Those are extraordinarily hard to find.

So our real job is finding out why your laptop doesn’t accept it.

Did you plug it into the pink connection Mic-In? Make sure it’s plugged firmly all the way in.

Then launch Audacity and use the Device Toolbar to select Mic-In or whatever your machine calls it.

Either press record or just click once inside the Audacity red recording meters and they will wake up and monitor the sound without going into record.


I got mine off eBay. Its an XLR to Female Cable.

Yes Ive plugged my Mic right into the Mic Jack on the laptop.

Nothing comes up and according to Audacity there is no Microphone to record with. Usually it would say the Microphone in the laptop but I disabled that as I read a tutorial how to get my new Mic working. So the Microphone within the laptop is disabled but nothing happens on Audacity with the new one, and the computer does not recognize the Mic.

Ive read on a lot of sites that this is because the Microphone is too powerful for the laptop so a Preamp is needed for it to work.

You need a preamp to get the very tiny microphone signal boosted up far enough so the Line-In connection has enough to work with – on your Mac. Windows Laptops, almost across the board, have no Line-In. Just Mic-In with its own preamp which should be perfect for your new microphone.

Can you record from your laptop built-in microphone? Turn it back on and see if that works if you haven’t already.Then you can turn it back off.

Dig into your Windows Control Panels > Sound and see if there isn’t a setting to select or turn up the volume on your external Mic-In connection. One of our Win7 machines also has a little sound meter next to the setting, but I’m going to lose you here because I’m not at work.

It’s a good bet that since you have a cable that appears to be OK and the mic is new, it’s only a matter of getting the Windows settings right to let Audacity record. Audacity is a complete slave to whatever Windows is doing.