Condenser microphone and Audacity

Recently I bought a condenser type microphone that has both a USB and the standard small phone jack…I think it’s 4.5 mm.
When I plug the USB into my computer with or without also plugging in the phono plug there is no popup letting me know the computer recognizes it.
I am told this might be normal with a condenser microphone and I will need to use Audacity to get it to work.
I am trying to make some simple audio files but so far there is no sound registering and as I only ever used a cheap plug-in $2 mic in the phono plug before this one has me completely baffled.
If there is anyone out there who knows both Audacity and how to integrate the microphone to it I would be very grateful for any advice or help.
Thus far I haven’t managed to record even a squeak out of it…very frustrating.

What is the microphone?

Condenser microphones need power from somewhere. They’re not stand-alone like Rock Band Microphones.

I have condenser microphones that I put a tiny battery in. USB microphones work from the 5 volts that comes up the cable from the computer. Larger condenser microphones work from the Phantom Power that the sound mixer makes. The power has to come from somewhere.

In general, they all turn the battery into voice signals and send them back to the computer or mixer.

Again in general, the computer has to be aware of the microphone before Audacity gets it. See if there’s anything in here to help.

You should also be aware that Audacity checks for new devices and microphones when it starts.. So starting Audacity and then plugging in the microphone doesn’t count. You can force a check with Transport > Rescan…

So who made the microphone?


When I plug the USB into my computer with or without also plugging in the phono plug there is no popup letting me know the computer recognizes it.

You won’t necessarily get a pop-up window, but after connecting the USB it should show-up in the Windows Control Panel. And if Windows sees it, it should show-up as one of the input options for Audacity.

If it’s not showing-up in the control panel, you’ve got a driver or hardware problem.

It’s unusual for a microphone to have both 3.5mm and USB connections. If it’s a “studio style” or “podcast” type microphone with a 3.5mm female socket, that could be for headphones.

And, if you have a laptop with a combination mic & headphone jack, headphones will work normally but it takes a special plug for the microphone. Have you used this same computer with an external mic before?

I only ever used a cheap plug-in $2 mic in the phono plug

Just FYI - It’s a phone plug/jack, not a phono plug. :slight_smile: The larger 1/4-inch (6.3mm) version was originally used in telephone switchboards (like you may have seen in old movies or TV shows). Phono connectors are also known as RCA connectors, and that’s what you find on the back of your CD/DVD player, or TV (and on phonographs/turntables).

Thank you everyone for replying so quickly…I am awed!!
To answer the questions in the order they were posted here goes…it is I believe a ‘studio’ type microphone…unidirectional with 2 controls on the mic itself…echo and volume as rotating knobs.
the 2 wires coming out of it…are a USB commector and a small MALE plug…like an earbud plug…not the 1/4 inch guitar size nor is it an RCA type…I know both of those…
When I plug it into my computer…just the USB plug nothing happens and starting Audacity beforehand gives the same responce…nothing happens.
The computer is a Dell with Vista…desktop.
I have used, as I said , a cheap little small-plugged mic not long ago…plugged onto the mic jack in the front of my computer but the sound was poor and very low volume. That is why I purchased this one…believing a better mic would give better and louder sound.
I have taken a picture of the mic and resized it for here…hope this helps someone help me…I’m COMPLETELY lost.
The brand name is not marked and the box only said ‘Studio Microphone’…very scant and mostly Chinese instructions…what else is new
I hope the picture turns out

I believe I’ve seen that one before…

It’s powered by USB, but the audio signal goes via the 3,5 mm jack plug. So you need a mic input on your computer and you loose a USB port for power.

Can you still send it back?

I believe I’ve seen that one before…

It’s powered by USB, but the audio signal goes via the 3,5 mm jack plug.

Interesting… I’ve never seen that before… That would explain why it doesn’t show up as a USB device but it doesn’t explain why you’re not getting an audio signal through the analog input.

The big downside to that is that you’re still using the “cheap” mic preamp built into your soundcard. The mic input on a soundcard is designed to work with “computer mic” and it’s the wrong interface for any good stage or studio mic. A [u]podcast mic[/u] has a built-in preamp and a built-in ADC (basically a built-in soundcard) so you don’t need the analog connection and you’re not using your regular soundcard.

A [u]USB Audio Interface[/u] has one or more XLR connectors and balanced low-impedance inputs for use with an analog stage or studio mics, and it usually provides phantom power for studio condenser mics. And of course, it’s got it’s own good-quality preamp and ADC, so again you’re not using your regular soundcard.

Can you still send it back?

I’m with him.

It has two strikes against it. It uses the very possibly noisy power from the USB connection and the inexpensive, low quality voice or music connection in your sound card.

We don’t often condemn a microphone like this, but there are no benefits to this model.

Run away.


I’m not sure about this. I only held one in my hand and had to extract that info from a tiny mostly Chinese leaflet. It was so cheap (15 €?) that I was considering buying it as a housing for a DIY mic. But the non-standard XLR connector made me decide against that idea.

So I’ve never used one.

Later I found the Neewer brand, that is a real mic and still cheap enough to cannibalize. I’ve bought a couple of those and found that they are decent electrets. The housing isn’t ideal for DIY, but at least it has a standard topology and XLR connector. It’s amazing they can make the metal work for the tiny amount of money they want for it…

Thank you for the answers…it’s obvious that most of you know what you’re doing and I don’t…no surprise there.
The quick and dirty answer is I can’t return it except at my shipping cost which is prohibitive from Canada…we’re EXPENSIVE…so it would be about the same amount that I paid for it so quick answer…even though it will most likely be no better or not much better than the cheapie mic, is there some way I can make it work just to find out for myself exactly HOW bad it is?
If it’s never going to work…even poorly…then I might just as well bin it but having purchased it…cheap I agree…I would still like to make it work…stubborn I guess, so can anyone help me to get it sputtering at least?