XLR mic completely unable to record in mono

I have a Sennheiser e935 mic. I have a cable that’s 3.5mm (1/8 Inch) Stereo Male on one end, and XLR Female on the other end. I have the 3.5mm end plugged directly into my computer’s microphone jack. I took a quick 7 second clip of myself talking, recorded in stereo, and it looked like this: https://imgur.com/a/gwR5dKl

Then I used the feature in Audacity “Stereo track to mono” to convert it into a mono track before I exported it as a .mp3 or .wav file, and it looked like this.

Straight static. Something about this particular audio recording going from stereo to mono made it completely vanish. So I try to record in mono in the first place, and it looks like this:

My computer is pretending like my microphone doesn’t exist just because I’m trying to record on a single track.

So I plug my normal gaming headset mic (A Sennheiser G4me, for context) into that same jack. Surprise! On THAT microphone, I can record stereo and convert it to mono, or I can record in mono in the first place. No problems whatsoever. So my final theory is: There’s something about my nicer mic, or the cable that I’m using to connect it to my PC, that allows me to record audio just fine in stereo, but the audio completely vanishes any time it has to be played in mono.

What the heck can I do about this?

Note in your first illustration, the upper and lower waves aren’t the same. They’re up and down mirror image. When you convert to mono, they cancel to a noise track.

Use the drop-down menu on the left > Split Stereo.

Select one of the tracks > Effect > Invert.

Drop down on the top left track > Make stereo track.

Now when you mix to mono, it should succeed. Another way to do this is Split Stereo to Mono and delete one track.

I have a cable that’s 3.5mm (1/8 Inch) Stereo Male on one end, and XLR Female on the other end.

Yes, but what you don’t have is a cable that converts an XLR microphone to soundcard. You have a Devil’s Adapter.

If you continue to want to record this way, this is the proper adapter.

It’s a mono 1/8" with the wire crosses listed in the pix.

The XLR microphone has two outputs. Pin 2 is the “main”, right-side up output and Pin 3 is the upside-down protection signal. If you have an interface or sound mixer that properly uses both, you can have 100 foot (30M) microphone cables with no sound damage.


Actually, you should use a [u]transformer[/u] to convert from balanced to unbalanced. (That one has a 1/4" plug so you’d need another adapter cable, and you may not find one with a 3.5mm plug.)

But, the preamps built into most regular soundcards are low quality so if you are going to use a good stage/studio mic and you want the best quality an [u]audio interface[/u] with a proper XLR microphone input, a good preamp, and a recording-volume knob will give you much better results.

A mixer with a USB connection will also work, or if you have a desktop/tower computer with a line-input a regular analog mixer will work. (The line-input on a soundcard bypasses the preamp so line-in is usually much better than mic-in.) You can buy stand-alone microphone preamps but those are an expensive “specialty item” and it’s cheaper to buy an interface or mixer (even if you don’t want to “mix”).

you should use a transformer to convert from balanced to unbalanced.

Can you still get those? That could be less useful if you have to pass the 5v from the soundcard up to the microphone. Some of them insist you do that.

That one has a 1/4" plug so you’d need another adapter cable, and you may not find one with a 3.5mm plug

That is actually an older design 1/8". It always bothered me that it didn’t look right. I should shoot that picture again. But that does actually work. I’ve shot things with it. But you do have to deal with the crappy sound in the soundcard and the inability to have long XLR cables.

It’s not a good design center.


Has anyone yet suggested getting a USB XLR microphone pre-amp? Behringer do a reasonable one for under $40, and that will give you much better quality than the built-in mic socket, even if you get the built-in mic socket to work.

(The Sennheiser e935 microphone does not require phantom power).

And it will let you extend the XLR microphone cable.


I do have a pix.

That’s the Behringer UM2 XLR microphone interface on the left.


Doing that, and then just manually changing the remaining track from L or R to “mono” does the trick, I think! Thanks a ton.

I’m certainly open to spending a bit more on equipment to do things the right way and get high quality audio, I just didn’t realize I needed anything more than a cable that plugs into my computer in the first place. =/