How To Connect A Condenser Mic to a Computer

You’ve grown bored of using low-cost microphones and have finally decided that it’s time to invest in a higher-quality microphone. Once you’ve received your new microphone, you’re undoubtedly wondering, “How do I connect this thing?” XLR? What exactly is it? Don’t be concerned, we’ll show you how to connect a condenser microphone to a computer today.

To get started you are going to need these things…

  • A Computer/Laptop
  • A Condenser Microphone
  • An XLR Cable
  • An Audio interface

A little background before we start

What is an XLR cable?

When connecting a microphone or equivalent audio equipment (such as a monitor speaker) to an audio interface, an XLR cable is utilised. An XLR cable is a three-pin cable. They are capable of delivering great signal strength in a variety of audio applications. To put it simply, they have the ability to provide a balanced signal, which implies that the audio stream will have far less unwanted noise due to any interference. Because the original audio signal is retained and of excellent quality, it may be sent over great distances with no loss of quality.

What is a condenser microphone?

A condenser microphone is a kind of microphone that produces higher-quality audio but needs more power from an external source of audio. The audio signal produced by this power source is cleaner and of greater quality than that produced by a conventional dynamic microphone. When it comes to recording voices, percussion, and instruments, condenser microphones are the most often utilised kind.

What is an Audio interface?

An audio interface is a device that enables you to record audio that is fed into your computer by XLR cables or that is played out loud through your studio monitors and then save it to your hard drive. With an audio interface, you can take an analogue signal (from your microphone) and convert it to a digital signal that can be imported into your DAW (digital audio workstation)

Why a computer or laptop?

A computer or laptop is how we are able to get the signal from the microphone to the XLR cable to the audio interface and into our computers. We save the audio signal there so that we can easily access the recording later. This is a crucial step!

Connecting the condenser microphone to the computer

 XLR Cable to Microphone

Connect the male end of the XLR cable to the XLR jack on your microphone for now. As soon as you attach it to the microphone, double-check that it’s securely fastened. On the end of many XLR cables there is a little clamp that you may squeeze to force the lock module into place. Push the XLR cable into the microphone until you hear a “click” and then remove the cable. It is possible that you have an XLR cable that does not click – as long as the male end of the XLR cable is securely locked in, you are in business.

 Microphone and XLR Cable to Audio Interface

Then we’ll take the female (or other end) of the XLR cable and connect it into the audio interface to finish the job. This is a really straightforward procedure… It’s as simple as plugging it in and leaving it at that. Some audio interfaces do not have a true click, but instead have a little “grove”-like feeling or sensation that you perceive when the interface is properly plugged in and operational. Once you have felt or recognised this, you have completed the circuit and are ready to go to the next phase.

Audio Interface to computer

Assuming you’ve been following along, you’ll notice that we’ve now got the microphone connected to the XLR cable, and the XLR cable is connected to the audio interface as well. We will now connect the audio interface to the computer and begin recording.

There are many different sorts of connections that your audio interface may make to your computer:

  • ThunderBolt
  • USB 2.0
  • USB 3.0
  • USB-C
  • Firewire

It is quite probable that your interface will be equipped with a USB 2.0, 3.0, or USB-C port connection. The use of Thunderbolt and Firewire is becoming less prevalent these days, mainly to the introduction of USB-C.

To connect, take your cable and follow the instructions on your audio interface to connect it to your audio interface first, regardless of the kind of connection you are making. Once one of the ends (the female end) has been linked to the interface, the other end (the male end) should be plugged into the computer. Voila! Done.

Phantom Power

After that, you’ll want to activate Phantom Power. Phantom Electricity is a kind of power that is used to power condenser microphones. It is necessary to switch it on in order to get a clear and loud signal. For additional information, please see our article Does a Condenser Mic Require Phantom Power?

Configure Microphone and adjust Levels

You have made it this far. Your XLR cable is connected to your condenser microphone. You connected the microphone and XLR cable to your interface. You connected the interface to your computer and finally you engaged phantom power mode (48V). Now you can configure your recording levels.

Most audio interfaces have a gain knob on it that allows you to control the input gain that is going from the Condenser microphone to the Audio interface. Adjust this until you get a nice sounding volume. IMPORTANT! – Make sure that its not clipping!

Clipping is when a signal hits red. Once it hits red, that means that the signal is going over 0dB. Once it goes over 0dB and start clipping, any audio that goes over that is literally chopped off. Once this happens, distortion is introduced into your recording and this can not be fixed!

The solution is to adjust the gain knob and keep testing your mic by speaking into it or playing an instrument until the signal is green.

Pro Tip – Play your signal LOUD on your end and adjust so that the signal is right before red (clipping). This allows you to have rest of mind so that no matter how loud you get, it’s highly unlikely that you will clip.

Video Guide

Conclusion

In this article, we demonstrated how to connect a condenser microphone to a computer using USB cable. Despite the fact that there are multiple procedures, it is a straightforward procedure that you will not forget. It’s likely that the next time you’re in a different studio, you’ll be the one who knows how to connect a condenser microphone to a computer.

Bryan V. Root
Bryan V. Root
Articles: 460

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