Microphone 3.5 mm jack with Windows 10

I’m guessing this is a common issue.

I have an external microphone (Samson R21S) plugged in to the 3.5mm jack on my desktop. I messed around with the settings and got Audacity (2.0.5) to record with it, but the levels are extremely low, barely registering. Quality is no bueno, obviously.

Built in audio is Realtek High Definition Audio.

I’ve used Audacity quite a lot to record streaming music, and it works great.

Is it likely I can even use this mic just using the capabilities of my PC? Do I need to get another box/interface to run it through?

I’d like to just make a decent quality voice recording.

Thanks in advance.

That’s not dreadful. You plug into the Mic-In, not the Line-In, and you need a special cable.

Note the 1/8" plug has one black band and not two.

This is a devil’s adapter.


You can get into very serious trouble with this one. See it has two black bands on the 1.8" plug? Sound files made with this one will not play on all computers.

Depending on your Windows machine, you may be able to find a “Microphone Boost” setting. Drill down into the Windows control panels for sound. Google your brains out.

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Do I need to get another box/interface to run it through?

I’d like to just make a decent quality voice recording.

Yes. For decent quality you’ll need an audio interface with a “proper” XLR microphone input ([u]example[/u]) or you can use a USB mixer with a mic input. Stage/studio mics are not properly compatible with the mic input on a laptop or soundcard.

There are also some decent studio style USB mics (AKA “podcast mics”).

NOTE - Even with a proper interface, dynamic mics put out low levels compared to condenser mics so depending on the loudness of the sound and the gain of the preamp built into the interface, you may still get low levels.

And, you can get a couple of “strange issues” if you only use one input with a stereo (2 channel) interface… If you record in stereo you’ll get one silent channel and if you record in mono your digital signal will be cut in half to allow for the unused channel to be mixed in. (Both of those can fixed in Audacity after recording.)

Still. That connection to the soundcard does work with the proper cable. Low volume can be helped with the Windows Mic Boost setting.

USB microphones do have their problems. There is no using two or more. You’re stuck with one. Audacity will only record from one thing at a time and a USB microphone is one thing.

Your microphone will plug into anything including microphone interfaces and much larger sound mixers and recording consoles to be mixed with other similar microphones.

USB microphones can have sibilance problems where SS sounds in your words are emphasized and sharp enough to cut wood. Microphone makers call this the “professional sound.” It makes my ears bleed. I am a fan of simple dynamic (moving coil) microphones—like yours.

You can have a USB microphone that doesn’t get along with its computer. That can give you noisy recordings with frying mosquito sounds.


We can fix that, but the fix removes some tones from your voice.


OK, so for the long run at least I will look to pick some equipment.

However I have a short, quick turnaround task for recording a couple announcements for the office telecon system. It does not need to be outstanding quality, just good enough to get by. Any recommendations for another mic/headset I could run out and pick up today that would be passable on my PC? I don’t think the built in room mic would suffice.


Any recommendations for another mic/headset I could run out and pick up today that would be passable on my PC?

If you have a smart phone try a recording application on your phone, then transfer the file to your computer where you can edit and adjust the levels with Audacity. The microphones & electronics built-into most modern phones are pretty good. The biggest downside is that they are non-directional so they pick-up room noise from all-around. If you have some kind of holder for the phone that will help, or maybe try setting it on a table on top of a towel, but then it can be awkward to get the proper distance. (If you’re holding it you are more likely to get handling noise.) Try to find an app that records to WAV (which is lossless).

(The mics built into laptops usually aren’t bad either but they pick-up noise from the computer fan and hard drive, etc., and the electronics are often noisy.)

…Most computer headsets are “communication quality” and not suitable for singing, voice-over, or audiobooks, etc.

And the hits just keep oncoming.

Headsets, matching headphones and microphone, tend toward “cellphone sound” and for a lot of the same reasons. Their job is to record your voice in challenging environments, so they deliver “communications sound” no bass and tight, restricted, telephone delivery. That’s how mine works and I’ve heard tell about others working the same way. It’s in a box in the garage.

You can totally get a head-mounted microphone that delivers good quality…

…but probably not at the local Game Stop. That’s from a higher end music store and that puts you back into a preamp, mixer, or interface to record it.

Is there a recording app in your phone? Figure out where the microphone is and lay the phone microphone up on a serving tray or something about that size, take the whole thing out to your car, park in a quiet neighborhood and record the messages that way. The car will give you an echo-free environment. The phone also doesn’t have computer noises.

That’s another thing you’ll need to worry about. Sounding like you’re recording in a bathroom. Does your room have polished wooden floors and plain white walls? Kiss of death.

I’m not kidding. This is an interview I shot in a noisy restaurant by laying the phone on the table in front of the speaker.

I don’t have a sample of recording in the car, but one of the production people used to routinely crank out good voice recordings that way.


My results so far:

Picked up a Logitech USB headset and tried it. It works, but you’re right, poor quality.

My cellphone does not have a built in voice recording application. So I recorded a video with the camera, transferred it to my PC and ran it through Audacity. Much better. Can be improved by tweaking the room setup etc. Thanks, I would not have thought of that!

I did locate the mic boost setting in Windows 10, cranked it and tried the Samson mic again plugged into the mic jack. Volume was much higher, sounds pretty decent now but there is still a bit of background “hiss”, probably a little too much for my liking.

The cell phone option should be good enough, the Samson would be better if I can tweak the settings sufficiently.

Thanks again

there is still a bit of background “hiss”

And that’s the soundcard. Soundcards are made cutting as many corners as possible. Nobody is going to pay extra for low-noise parts.

I recorded a video with the camera

Good idea. I have zero experience with the video services on my phone.

Try this. Instead of holding it up in front of you, lay it on the table close to you with the microphone up. nobody cares what the video is doing. That should increase the voice volume and quality assuming the table isn’t noisy.


So I created the recordings. They’re each a a little less than 5 seconds.

I recorded in mono and exported them as MP3 because I thought it sounded a little better. Then I was told they need to be WAV. So I opened the MP3’s in Audacity and exported as WAV.

The files are just over 400K each. And wouldn’t you know it, there’s a 400K limit for this project.

400K seems a little large for a 5-second voice recording.

Any way to fix that?

400K seems a little large for a 5-second voice recording.

If you now that that there are 8 bits in a byte, and if you know the file format details you can calculate the size of uncompressed (WAV) files.

For example, if you have a 16-bit, 44.1kHz file, that’s 88.2 kilobytes per second. (441 KB for 5 seconds)

A stereo file is twice the size. CD audio (16-bit, 44.1kHz, stereo) works out to about 10MB per minute.

For compressed files, the bitrate is expressed as kbps (kilo_bits_ per second) so you can simply divide by 8 to get the kilo_bytes_ per second.

…If you have a music file with embedded album artwork, of course that adds to file size.

OK, I recorded again and lowered the default sample rate from 48000 to 22050. Cut the file size in half and I don’t really hear a lot of difference.

You won’t hear much difference on a speech recording.
When the sample rate is reduced, it limits the frequency range to half the sample rate. For a sample rate of 22050, the upper frequency limit is 11025 Hz.
Speech is almost entirely below 8000 Hz, so most of the sound can still be recorded, though you may notice a slight dullness to “S” and “F” sounds.

Don’t fall in love with doing production in MP3. MP3 files always produce some sound damage and you can’t stop it. When you make a WAV from an MP3, what you’re really doing is making a perfect quality WAV file of the MP3 damage.

When you make an MP3 from an MP3, the damage gets worse. Make the MP3 when you want to listen to your show on your Personal Music Player when you’re jogging around the neighborhood.


we’re going to assume that one of them re-enabled the microphone<\a](https://cuzgeek.com/best-microphones-for-asmr/">microphone<\a)> Boost option inside the Levels pane. If this scenario is applicable, we’ve created a guide that will help you modify the Microphone Boost level.

Here’s what you need to do:

Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Then, type “mmsys.cpl” and press Enter to open up the Sound window.
Inside the Sound tab, click on the Recording tab, select the microphone that you’re planning to increase the volume of and choose Properties.
Inside the Microphone Properties screen, go to the Levels tab and you should be able to adjust the Microphone Boost slider as you want.