How To Connect A XLR Microphone To A PC

In Audio by Jacob GrozotisLeave a Comment

Can an XLR microphone work with your PC? How do you connect the microphone to the PC? You probably can’t see a way of doing it. After all, your PC probably came with a 3.5mm audio jack as your only microphone plug-in option. So, how do you jump that small hurdle? Well, there’s a way of doing it. The great thing is that it’s doable for everyone, even the ultimate beginner who knows hardly anything about XLR microphones and PCs. This article will show you how to do it, with no hassle.

How do you connect your XLR Microphone to a PC? In case you have already tried it out, you probably have noticed, if you have tried connecting an XLR microphone to your PC that the ports are incompatible. Therefore, you need an audio interface to solve that little hitch. The audio interface converts the analog audio signals, which the microphone harvests from the surrounding environment into a digital language to be interpreted by the PC. There are many types of audio interfaces available in online shops today. Here are two of the easiest options when it comes to audio interfaces to connect an XLR microphone to a PC

  1.  Using a USB microphone interface- Your PC’s USB ports can be used as connection ports for an XLR microphone. Since the XLR microphone can’t go into the USB port unless a miracle happens, you need to get a USB -XLR adapter. One end of the adapter goes into the USB port. The other end gets connected to the end of the microphone cable.  However, USB-port XLR microphones often only provide a slight upgrade from the normal microphones. For professional mics, you need more than this.
  2. Using an XLR-Microphone port adapter- Besides the USB Microphone interface, you can also choose to go with an XLR adapter. The adapter works by adapting your microphone’s incompatible port to the 3.5mm microphone port on the pc. It comes with a normal 3.5mm jack which goes into the normal PC microphone port. The other end of the adapter is connected to the microphone cable.

A Step-by-Step Tutorial on Connecting an XLR microphone to Your PC.

Once you have all the required hardware components in place, this is how you properly set-up an XLR microphone with your PC.

  • Connect the Microphone to the Adapter. All audio adapters have a port to connect your XLR microphone. Simply plug in the XLR microphone into the required port. Ensure that the microphone or the cable end is held tight. It should not shake, or vibrate unnecessarily.
  • Now connect the adapter to the PC. If the adapter is a USB-XLR adapter, connect it to your PC through a USB port. Alternatively, the XLR-Microphone port adapter is connected to the PC through the microphone jack.
  • Once you connect the pieces correctly, your PC does a software set-up of the hardware. This will register on your PC as a notification, showing you the type of device connected. In case this doesn’t happen, you can restart the process while ensuring that everything is done right.

Why should You Buy an XLR Microphone for your PC?

3.5MM Microphones are a little underpowered

There. I said it in the simplest way I could.

We’re not talking about power in the sense of boom voice. Not in the least. For most of us, microphone power is about the quality of the audio recording.

There’s something about normal 3.5mm jack microphones that don’t sound quite right. Well, I’m afraid you have to throw them into the trash fro a while.

For most creatives, simply being normal isn’t enough. At the least, you need to invest in some of the professional-grade gear if you want to produce the same quality content that you see with others.

It’s just fine to assume that you can get the same audio quality with a 3.5mm microphone as you would with an XLR microphone. However, I bet it won’t be the same when you realize that you probably would have done better if you had gone for the XLRs. Just in case you forgot, there’s no space for regrets in video production. You have to get everything right before letting the world see the harvest of your toil. That’s why most, if not all of the top vloggers have a mandatory XLR microphone rule for their home-shot videos. They simply can’t let the audio quality slide.

An XLR Microphone is the easiest way to get HD audio to complement your 4K videos

For some time now, we’ve all been harping about how revolutionary the 4K technology is. In fact, we have quite a few posts on how 4K videos have changed the video production scene. For more details, you should probably read this post on the true best 4K cameras of 2020. As an alternative, this article on whether you should shoot in 4k on HD will help you lots in discovering how shooting in 4k can help you achieve better videos and definitely more admiration for your work.

If you intend to shoot in 4K, you definitely have to find a way to record audio that fits the bill for a 4k video. It would be unfortunate, and disastrous to an extent, if you shot a great video, with scratchy audio.

One of the important aspects of any video is post-editing. In case you are shooting a documentary for instance, you need to get a few audio shots to wrap up the video. This is where your XLR microphone-PC connection comes in. With an XLR microphone, you will notch that great audio recording using your PC.

The set-up is quite easy

While connecting a microphone through the microphone/audio port is the easiest way to connect a microphone to your PC, such a microphone simply doesn’t cut it when it comes to recording audio in high-definition. Most 3.5mm jack microphones have several inhibitions when it comes to recording audio. Chief of these inhibitions is the fact that recording in mono-format for instance, simply doesn’t work.

Great value for money

Here’s a thing. Normal 3.5mm jack microphones have acceptable sound quality. They work right. Moreover, they record all alright. They also come in handy every other time because they’re almost always right. However, all these ‘right things about the 3.5mm jack microphones only work if you do just a little sound recording using your PC. In case you want to go professional, they won’t be applicable for a professional sound recording.

You should probably ask yourself a few questions. The first and perhaps the most important one is what microphones professional music studios use. Yes, what does DJ Khaleed, or some other bigshot music producer use to get the high-quality audio which we all get to enjoy on the radio?

Quick answer; It’s an XLR Microphone. If it’s not XLR, I don’t know what other microphone has audio quality as good as what you would get while using an XLR microphone.

An XLR microphone gives you great, versatile audio quality. In case you’re thinking about price, you should be happy to note that not all XLR microphones are expensive. In fact, some of them are as cheap as $50. However, I wouldn’t recommend going that low down that price list, unless you have absolutely no other option apart from buying bottom of the barrel accessories. On most occasions, moderately priced XLR microphones( between $150 and $300) give great value for the money.

Common Issues While Setting Up Your XLR Microphone With Your PC

No signal

This is the most common problem with USB set-ups.

You probably did everything right. You plugged in your microphone into the right USB port. However, the PC simply refuses to recognize the presence of the new device. It goes on running as if nothing happened.

Now, I’m no tech expert. But I know my way around PC troubleshooting options pretty well. If your PC shows no signal of the new XLR microphone, there might be two issues, which you definitely should solve before going on.

Incompatible Operating system

In case your computer doesn’t recognize the signal from your XLR microphone, you might be using the wrong operating system. Some of the newer XLR microphones are quite picky. While most of them work across all the android, Microsoft, and Apple platforms, a few of them can’t be used across them.

Besides being platform picky, your operating system can also be too old for the new XLR microphone( Hello Microsoft XP fans.) This means that it simply won’t click together.

For incompatible operating systems, you have two options. Dump that computer, or upgrade your operating system.

 Outdated audio drivers

Whenever you plug in any new accessory, the first thing your PC does is to check whether the device has any existing drivers. If not, it will automatically set up new device drivers in order to run the device.

While this whole process happens in milliseconds, it often fails to happen when you have an updated driver software.

To check whether your drivers are the stumbling blocks, do the following.

  1. Restart your computer. This automatically updates any of the drivers that are yet to be updated on the PC. For more effectiveness, you can restart the computer with the microphone connected. In case this doesn’t work, go onto the next thing.
  2. Troubleshoot all the device drivers from the device manager. To troubleshoot your computer, go onto the PC’s “settings’ section and click on the “troubleshoot option.”
  3. Check on the specific drivers from the driver manager. Simply go onto your PC’s device manager. The device manager can be accessed from the settings on the computer. Alternatively, you can simply search the ” device manager” from the search tab.  Once you have accessed the device drivers, check whether your microphone has an “alert” icon attached to it. If this is the case, it means that your device has issues with set up. Alternatively, the device driver might be missing altogether. You can solve this by redoing option 1 above

I know that all these hacks might sound a little technical for the people who are not a techie. However, drivers are perhaps the easiest thing to workaround. In case this small tutorial on resolving software issues with your microphone seems a tad bit too lit, how about reading this tutorial on how to set up and test microphones. Though it’s specific to Microsoft PCs, it works across the board for all other operating systems.

Audio Mixer Issue

According to Microsoft, the audio mixer is almost always the weak link when connecting an XLR microphone to a PC. This is because an audio mixer is more or less a bridge between the XLR microphone and the PC. This interface often breaks down, or simply fails to do what it’s supposed to.

Should you face issues with your Audio mixer, try the following hacks to resolve them;

  1. Try connecting the mixer to a different PC for a start. Sometimes, the issue might be your PC and not the mixer. Yes, the audio has been labeled as the black sheep of the whole unit, but it’s not always the issue.
  2. If the audio mixer works on the alternative PC, check the audio settings on your PC. Often, a PC might totally reject a new accessory because the audio settings are not properly configured.
  3. Update the device drivers for the audio interface manually. Simply do this by restarting the computer with the mixer in place.

Buzz on the microphone

On average, two out of ten XLR microphones produce an aggravating buzz when connected to a PC. Here’s the thing. This mostly happens with newbies. In fact, a few great XLR microphones have been on the receiving end of horrid, if not debilitating reviews because of continuous microphone buzz.

While I know that the microphone shoulder the blame once you notice a buzz on the recording, that is not always the case. More often, the issue is your set up. For instance, if the microphone is not screwed tight, you can’t escape the buzz. The buzz can also be a result of using a preamp in the setup. Moreover, it might also come from recording in a room that is not silent. For the extremely sensitive condenser microphones, for instance, even the slightest of noise in the room would lead to the buzz. In the alternative, the issue can also arise from shaky cables.

How to resolve microphone buzz

Since the microphone buzz is caused by multiple reasons, the following things will help you avoid dealing with it;

  • Change your USB port connection if there’s a buzz already. A faulty USB connection will cause vibrations down the audio cable.
  • Ensure that you always record in a super-silent room. Any background noise will cause the microphone to vibrate. For music recordings, for instance, placing the microphone on a steady table, or a good microphone stand will help you in reducing the buzzy vibrations.
  • Use audio software that is compatible to the hardware components of the set-up.
  • Always use cables without any cuts. Damaged cables will pick vibrations from the surrounding air, which will in turn cause your microphone to buzz.
  • For XLR microphones, turning down the gain on the preamp on the interface will reduce the buzz sound. While each interface has its own sound( a product of the device’s internal working rather than faults) this sound shouldn’t be audible. Turning down the gain will reduce the buzz considerably

Conclusion

An XLR microphone is one of the most crucial pieces of audio-equipment for a professional audio recording. It works great in professional audio studios. However, it is also a must-have for a simple DIY studio; in case you own the desire to produce high-quality audio.

In case you are thinking of setting up a DIY studio, this article on setting up a home studio on a budget will help you lots. While it doesn’t give you a how-to on setting up your microphone, a proper studio set-up will set the tone for proper audio recordings. For instance, you won’t have to worry about microphone buzz if you have a silent studio with soundproofing.

Have a great recording journey, will you?

About the Author

Jacob Grozotis

Jake(me) is a fan of photography, traveling writing, and free food. He has been behind the camera for more than ten years of his 29-years of life.

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