Still dont get mic set up...

Hello guys, I just signed up today!. I read the faqs and the wiki and i still need help :blush: I have a very nice condenser mic and want to record into my laptop with it (windows). the talk of preamps was just confusing…cant a XLR to an 1/8 inch connector work? I dont see any “line in” inputs, all i have is a “mic” input. Previously I had a cheap usb mic plugged in and the quality was aweful. I want to use the better mic but the wiki said the eighth inch input was a bad idea. Can anyone help me out a bit?

The problem isn’t that you can’t get away with this…

…it’s that I had to make that one at home. I don’t think anybody makes it as a commercial product. The wiring formula is in the illustration.

Your sound card needs to have the “+20dB” boost option and you have to have a really good sound card in an electrically quiet computer.

We record many of our training sound clips like that.


Thank you! I dont know anything about my sound card unfortunately, would I be better off getting a xlr to usb converter? What gives better sound? Im sorry for the newbness but I am quite a newb haha.

As a fuzzy rule, external USB equipment is better only because it’s further away from the computer. Computers generate a lot of electrical noise. Try operating a portable radio next to your computer.

We reviewed several USB devices…

I have a formal if small sound mixer and a Mac, so none of this applies to me. Each of the Windows Elves has a favorite way to record live microphones. They’ll be along.

You do need to worry about phantom power which is a usually completely foreign concept for a newbie. The microphone sends its tiny sound signal down the cable to the USB thing, or the mixer, or the computer. Nothing strange there. Phantom Powered microphones require the computer/device/mixer to send battery back up the cable – effectively the “wrong way” – to run the microphone. You have to match them. If your microphone requires phantom power, then your sound device is required to provide it.

It’s called phantom power because they use an electronic trick to make it so the battery supply going one way and the sound going the other on one cable don’t interfere with each other. Each is a phantom to the other.


I did some more reading about phantom power and it looks like I’m screwed, this is the mic I have it says it needs 48 volts +/- 4 volts phantom power. That means I need to find an external preamp / one of those boxes that you can plug equipment into?
Thank you for all the help, I’m afraid I don’t know much about the recording half of music :mrgreen:

Just as an illustration, this is my mixer. Note a little pushbutton just to the left of the Master Level fader that says +48v Phantom.

That turns on the phantom power to all four microphones. Not all microphones need or want it so provision is made to turn it off.

So while you’re shopping, that’s what you need to look for. Something that says it will supply +48v Phantom Power to the microphone. This is not that unusual, but as you start getting into smaller and smaller, and cheaper audio devices, that can get left out. It has to say so explicitly. Don’t assume it’s there.

We did reviews of USB sound devices, but apparently didn’t review any microphone amplifiers.


Thanks a lot for all the help. I got my uncles old carvin set up into the laptop till i save up for a mixer. So far it sounds a little better than the the crappy usb mic, its a bit quiet though.

How did you connect the Carven to the laptop? Bells rang there.

This is one of the first places people fall down when they try to use an external mixer. You can plug a stand-alone mixer into almost any Mac and most large Deskside PCs, but most Windows laptops are missing the stereo Line-In connection that’s needed. Most Windows laptops have a Mic-In socket and you can get into trouble plugging a mixer in there. Some laptops can do this with one socket and some laptops have all three sockets on the side – Pink for microphone-in, blue for stereo line-in, and green for headphone-out.


I used a 1/4 inch to 1/8 inch mono adapter and plugged the mic into the mic port, no pink and green on my laptop. Im running windows btw.

<<<plugged the mic into the mic port,>>>

Wait. You said you plugged the Carvin mixer into your computer.


Carvin cm68 mic with a xlr to 1/4 cable, then i put a 1/4 to 1/8 mono adapter on that. That i plugged into the port next to my headphone jack. Its got a tiny pic of a microphone next to it, its the only port other than usb and headphones. NO mixer yet, maybe when the tax dollars come in!

OK, so this microphone works, but it’s a little quiet? If you had a mis-wired adapter, you would either have great distortion, or no sound at all, so that part is probably OK.

This type of microphone demands the +20dB gain booster tool. Did you find that tool somewhere in the sound setup panels or Windows Control Panels? If your sound card doesn’t have that, then you will always have a microphone with “restrained” volume (which is easily fixed in Audacity).


That did pop up I set it up all the way but its still half the volume of the crappy rockband mic I was using. No problem tho , I just use the amplify effect on about 6 and its much better. Thank you for all the help, Im very pleased with this forum. :mrgreen:


It’s not a ‘set it up all the way’ kind of tool. Boost is either on or off. It doesn’t have options.

[X] +20dB Gain Boost