How to connect a condenser microphone to a PC

These days you’re considering buying a new condenser microphone, knowing that it’s the best solution for recording vocals or acoustic instrument audio. Or you already have one available, ready to use, but you have strong doubts about the right way to connect it to your computer.

Don’t worry, I have good news for you: if you take a few minutes of your time, in the next chapters you will find all the information you need to understand how to connect a condenser microphone to your PC and, in a short time, you will be able to independently choose the option that best suits your needs. There are several methods for carrying out this operation, but it must be considered that the choice of one or the other involves a qualitatively different audio rendering.

First, I’ll give you an overview of how this particular type of microphone works, then we’ll examine the various tricks step by step and, finally, I’ll show you how to check on your computer that the operation has been completed successfully. So what are you waiting for? Make yourself comfortable, immerse yourself in reading and you will see that everything will be much less complicated than you might think. Happy reading and have fun!

How to connect a condenser microphone to PC

XLR cable

To determine the best way to connect a condenser microphone to the PC we inevitably have to take a step back. In this chapter, I’ll show you how this device works to capture audio and what the differences are with other types of microphone, in order to make the procedures described in the following steps clearer for you.

To pick up audio signals, the condenser microphone exploits the so-called capacitive variation , i.e. the propensity to grasp the changes in air pressure (caused by a voice or an instrument) through a special metal membrane. The rapid oscillations of this membrane are in turn transformed (or rather transduced ) into electrical signals. The particular construction technique of these devices makes them particularly sensitive to external stresses, and this leads to a greater frequency response and a better predisposition to capture the dynamics of sounds.

The signal that is generated by this process is, however, characterized by a very high impedance , which must necessarily be limited and clean in order to be managed externally. For this reason, condenser microphones are integrated with a preamplifier , which however must be powered in order to function: this is one of the main differences with dynamic microphones and ribbon microphones .

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Condenser microphones are therefore extremely sensitive, and give greater expressiveness to the audio, which is why they are widely used in recording studios. The downside, due to their extreme receptive capacity, lies in the acquisition and amplification of a whole series of unwanted acoustic signals, such as environmental noises and breaths. Consequently, it is essential that they are positioned on cushioned (or anti-shock) supports , and equipped with anti-wind filters in case of outdoor recordings (to prevent rustling), and anti-pop filters , for voice recording (to avoid the “shot” effect given by the pronunciation of some consonants, such as “p”).

The connection takes place via a balanced XLR (or cannon) type analog cable (for noise cancellation), characterized by a female XLR connector that is inserted into the microphone itself and, at the other end, a male XLR connector for connection to the microphone. interface (sound card and mixer for example). In recent years, various models of USB condenser microphones have appeared which, in addition to simplifying life in terms of connectivity, represent a valid alternative for certain activities, such as recording podcasts. I’ll tell you more about it later.

How to connect a condenser microphone to your computer

We have come to the point. In the following paragraphs, I will offer you several solutions to get a complete picture of how to connect a condenser microphone to your computer . Now that you have acquired all the essential notions, you will see that reading will be very smooth and, in a short time, you will be able to make the most correct and most suitable choice for your needs.

External sound card

scheda audio xlr

Connection via an external sound card is certainly the best choice for obtaining high quality audio and for professional use of the condenser microphone. A good result, in this sense, cannot be separated from the use of a reliable external sound card. I therefore suggest that you carefully read my guide on the best sound cards. You will see that it will be very useful for you if you have any doubts on this subject as well.

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The sound card is a key element in the audio recording chain, as it performs the digitization of the signal , i.e. the transformation from analog audio signal to digital. The more the interface is evolved, the more the processing will be able to restore characteristics of dynamics, expressiveness, depth and naturalness to the final result: it is therefore essential for home recording and for recording studios, for example.

The external sound card, to enable the passage of the audio signal from a condenser microphone, must have XLR inputs and a 48 volt power supply called Phantom , which can be activated by means of a special switch or selector present on the card itself. Care must be taken not to use this power supply with other types of microphones, as it could cause damage and affect correct operation. The correct order of operations to follow is therefore the following.

  • Connect the female XLR connector to the microphone.
  • Connect the other male XLR end to your sound card.
  • Turn on phantom power on the sound card.

Mixer

mixer

How do you say? You don’t have an external sound card, but do you have a mixer ? Don’t worry, below you will find the solution for this particular configuration as well. You should know, however, that the mixer has a different function than an external sound card. It is essentially an electronic device with which it is possible to mix several audio input signals, individually modifying their frequency and timbre characteristics, to produce a balanced and harmonious main output ( Master or Main ).

It can be a suitable solution, for example, in any case where the simultaneous recording of several sound sources is required or for the production of a podcast . By the way, if you’re interested in learning more, I suggest you read my guide on how to create a podcast.

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In order to connect a condenser microphone to a mixer it is essential that the latter has a 48 volt phantom power supply , as seen previously for sound cards. I strongly advise you, before proceeding with the connection via mixer , to lower all the input and output volumes in advance, to avoid sudden changes that could damage the sound card of the PC.

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First you need to get a cable capable of connecting the stereo output of the mixer to the mono input of your PC’s integrated sound card. There are basically two methods. The first involves the use of a cable equipped at one end with two male RCA connectors , to be inserted into the stereo out outputs of the mixer (those marked in white and red), and at the other with a 3.5 jack connector mm to be inserted into the microphone input of the PC (note that many computers have a single socket for headphones and microphone).

The alternative is represented by the use of a special cable equipped with an adapter with two TRS Jacks at one end, to be connected to the Main Out input of the mixer, and a 3.5 mm jack connector at the other, to be inserted into the computer microphone jack. Then connect the mixer to the mains and then turn it on.

Now you can connect the condenser microphone by inserting the male XLR connector into the appropriate input. Finally, activate the 48-volt Phantom by pressing the appropriate button or selector on the mixer. To monitor the audio signal you will then need headphones , to be inserted into the Phones socket of the mixer.

Phantom amplifier

Phantom amplifier connection diagram

The market offers more and more interesting solutions to meet everyone’s needs. Connecting with a Phantom amplifier is undoubtedly a convenient, simple to implement and low-cost solution, even if it is not suitable for professional use. In fact, these devices can often generate annoying hiss that cannot be controlled at the source. It will therefore be necessary to intervene via the audio recording software to limit its presence.

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The Phantom amplifier does nothing but produce the energy necessary for the operation of the condenser microphone through the connection to the mains, then transfers the audio signal to the computer through a special connector.

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In fact, the amplifier has two XLR sockets , one for input , to which the male XLR connector coming from the microphone is connected, and the other for output . The female XLR connector of a special cable must be inserted into the latter, with a 3.5 mm jack connector at the other end to be connected to the input of the PC sound card.

USB condenser microphone

USB condenser microphone

Another possibility is to purchase a USB condenser microphone . This type of microphone is internally equipped with capsules that exploit this technology, and with a USB output instead of the traditional XLR. The consequence is, of course, a strong loss of quality and depth in the audio, so it is not a product suitable for a home recording studio, or for recording acoustic instruments in general.

If, on the other hand, your need is to acquire audio for voice-over , podcast or live on Twitch applications , to name a few, we are exactly on the right track. In fact, we can consider it as a hybrid capable of guaranteeing good sensitivity and frequency response, typical of this type of microphone, with a certain cleanliness of the final audio, obtained thanks to its immediate conversion into digital.

Connection is extremely simple, as it is sufficient to connect the supplied USB cable to the microphone on one side and to the computer socket on the other, without using the awkward intermediaries seen in the previous paragraphs, used to obtain Phantom power. The microphone is normally recognized immediately by the operating system, in plug & play mode , allowing you to use it immediately without difficult configurations.

Check the connection on your computer

Windows sound settings

Have you followed all the instructions for connecting your condenser microphone to your computer, but you still hear nothing, or are you hearing too softly? Now I will show you how to check the connection on the computer through the audio settings, both for the Windows and macOS operating system .

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If you’re using Windows 10 , click on the Start button (the flag icon located in the lower left corner of the screen), then select the gear icon , to access the operating system settings . So, go to System > Sound .

From the screen that appears, you can manage your audio input and output devices. In the Input section, check that the correct output sound card is selected, otherwise click on the down arrow of the drop-down menu and select the desired one by clicking on it.

From here you can also check the level of the incoming signal, under Test the microphone , below which a dynamic indicator will visually help you determine the incoming volume. Check that the right sound card is also present in the Output section or select it from the appropriate drop-down menu that appears by clicking on the down arrows.

Lastly, by clicking on the item Properties of the device , you access a screen where you can change the volume of the microphone. Under Volume you can operate the appropriate selector which, by holding down the left mouse button and dragging the cursor back and forth, allows you to raise or lower the volume.

macOS sound settings

On macOS you can get the same results just as easily: click on the Apple menu located at the top left, then select the System Preferences item from the menu that opens.

Next, go to Sound . From here, in the Input tab , verify that the correct sound card is selected, or choose one from those available. Through the Input Level indicator you can visually check the incoming audio, while through the Input Volume setting you can click on the white selector and, holding down the left mouse button, drag the cursor forward or backward, to raise or turn down the volume.

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Hey Guys this is Mohammed Asif Who has a passionate blogger, Student, and die-hard Lawyer fan of John Cena and loves to read various books and novels. I share guides on windows, tech, apps, ios, and other Categories.

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