How to Connect a Microphone to a Computer

If there was a Hall of Fame for recording FAQs, “Why do I need an external computer microphone when my laptop already has a mic?” would be the greatest of all-time. Naturally, the runner-up is, “How do I connect a microphone to my computer?”

In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of connecting an external USB or XLR microphone to your PC or Mac and give you some tips to get started recording ultra-high-resolution audio with the Yeti and Blackout Spark SL.

Why Do I Need A Microphone When My Laptop Already Has One?

Do you remember your first laptop? It was huge, right? Lots of space for a microphone. Now, look at your current laptop. Can you even find the mic? Maybe you’re wondering, “does my computer have a microphone?”

The hard truth is that screen size sells laptops, not microphone quality. When computer manufacturers compete to build slimmer devices with larger screens, microphones and speakers are the first parts to be miniaturized—and they’re designed with size, not audio quality, in mind.

The microphone built into your device (once you’ve located it) will record voice texts and the occasional FaceTime call just fine. But if you like to record music, create video content, or teach yoga classes on Zoom, a microphone for computer-based recording will empower you to connect with your audience louder and more clearly than before.

Benefits of External Computer Microphones

From the listener’s perspective, external microphones are more enjoyable to listen to, and the improved intelligibility makes the speaker sound more “professional” on the mic. That’s huge when you’re trying to reach new fans or make a strong first impression on a Zoom job interview.

External microphones, with their larger build and premium components, are suited for capturing the details of music and speech more accurately than built-in microphones. If you’ve listened to a phone interview on a podcast and noticed the dramatic difference in sound quality between the host and the caller, that’s the difference an external mic can make for you.

Now that we know why we need an external mic, let’s talk about how to connect a microphone to a computer.

The Blue Yeti brings the recording studio to your desktop with USB connectivity, high-quality audio, and onboard Volume and Mute controls for real-time monitoring.

Connecting a USB Mic to a Computer

USB microphones are equipped with everything you need to create, broadcast, or record on-the-go without carrying extra gear. The Yeti plugs directly into your computer’s USB port, and your headphones plug into the Yeti for zero-latency studio-quality playback—everywhere.

To connect a USB Mic to a computer (PC or Mac):

  1. Plug the Yeti into your computer’s USB port using the provided USB cable.
  2. Connect your headphones to the Yeti’s Headphone Output
  3. Open your recording software and create a new project.
  4. Create an audio track.
  5. Set audio track input to “Yeti USB Microphone.”
  6. Set audio track output to “Yeti USB Microphone.”
  7. Arm the audio track.
  8. Check your levels. Keep the meters in the green!
  9. Press record.

Connecting an XLR Mic to a Computer

With XLR connectivity, the Blackout Spark SL excels at capturing electric guitars in the recording studio.

While there’s no difference in construction or sound quality between USB and XLR microphones, an XLR connection is a golden ticket to the vast and inspiring world of pro audio equipment.

Unlike USB mics, XLR microphones are compatible with mixers, preamps, compressors, and other studio gear, but they need a couple extra tools—an external audio interface and XLR mic cable—to do their job.

An audio interface is a device which connects to a computer and converts a microphone or instrument’s analog signal into a digital signal for the computer to record and playback.

To connect an XLR Mic to a Computer:

  1. Connect your audio interface to your computer using the included cable.
  2. (Windows) Visit the audio interface manufacturer’s website and install the latest drivers.
  3. Connect the Blackout Spark SL to your audio interface’s microphone input via XLR cable.
  4. Open your recording software and create a new project.
  5. Create an audio track.
  6. Set audio track input to your interface’s mic input where you connected the Blackout Spark SL.
  7. Set audio track output to your stereo master.
  8. Activate +48v Phantom Power on your audio interface to power the Blackout Spark SL.
  9. Arm the audio track.
  10. Check your levels. Yellow lights mean turn down!
  11. Press record.

Once you hear the full, open sound of an external microphone, you’ll never go back to a tiny built-in mic. Check out our blog for more recording tips.