Using a professional microphone with a laptop?

If you want to use a professional microphone (like the SM58) with a laptop you may encounter various challenges. Laptops or rather their on board sound cards (external sound cards in fact have a microphone input) – feature a 3,5 mm stereo jack.
So the first challenge is to find the right cable. The microphone’s XLR connection needs to be adapted to the stereo jack.


If this challenge is solved (you often need a soldering iron, because even in a specialist shop it is hard to find the right cable and also the SHURE RP325 adapter cable is not always available in stores) you need to make the next decision: the signal is too low or with too much contact noise. This is up to the sound card’s low input sensitivity. The microphone’s signal is too low and therefore needs to be calculated even higher in the software. This causes even more acoustic noise.

Conclusion: A direct connection is possible, but with heavy sound quality cutbacks.

Our solutions:

  • 1) You can strengthen the signal by 12 dB with a passive transformer like the Shure A96F. But the microphone gets stressed with a low-ohm connection – this influences the sound quality. Therefore you should use this solution just as a “quick and dirty” solution – especially in situations when you don’t have a plug socket around.
  • 2) You can strengthen the signal with a small mixing desk to Line level and then use the soundcard’s Line-in. Here you need an adapter cable too, to get from XLR to 3,5 mm stereo jack. This way the signal can be delivered on an adequate level.
  • 3) You could connect a USB microphone direct with the laptop’s USB port.
    The advantage: The analog-digital conversion takes place in the microphone. This way you can achieve a higher sound quality then with some on board sound cards.
    The disadvantage: The AD converter is inside the microphone. If you want to buy another microphone you need to pay for a new converter, too.
    That’s why you can buy some microphones as all-round microphones, which can be used universally like the Shure PG27USB.
    There is also a model available for especially for speech and voice-over applications, the PG42USB ideal for podcasting too.
  • 4) Use a high quality sound card: You can find them in different types with different prices. If you have something like a small home studio you should use a multi-channel soundcard.

View the product pages of these microphones on our website.
TIP: check out consumer reviews under the review tab.

Visit our website for more information About home recording: Studio & Home Recording (Dutch)



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