How to Use an XLR Microphone on a MacBook Pro – Connect External Mic to Mac


Connecting an external microphone to a MacBook
isn’t exactly a straight-forward task but it can be even more confusing when you want
to use an XLR mic. MacBooks don’t have XLR ports but you can
successfully use XLR microphones on the MacBook with a few adapters. Here’s how. These are two different XLR to 3.5mm adapter
cables. One of them works but the other one doesn’t. The main difference is the 3.5mm plugs. The one on the left is a stereo plug and the
right one is a mono plug. The mono cable only has 2 metal sections on
it. But first, in addition to the XLR cables,
you’ll need this StarTech TRRS adapter that allows microphone input into your MacBook. Your microphone won’t work without it. This small cable has two female ports and
a 3.5mm plug on the other end. The important thing to notice is that the
plug has 4 metal sections on it. If yours only has three then it’s the wrong
kind of adapter. Take the mono XLR adapter and plug it into
the TRRS adapter port that has a microphone icon on it. This mono cable is the only cable that will
work. The stereo adapter cable produces no audio
so we can toss that aside. You will also need to connect a set of headphones
to the other port because I couldn’t get audio into the Mac without it. Now connect the TRRS plug into the MacBook. Make sure the mic is connected too and here’s
what the setup looks like. For this test I’m using Adobe Audition to
record my audio. To show you that this works, I’ll tap on the
mic. You can see the waveform registering the tapping
sound in the window. It seems everything needs adapters to work
these days and connecting a mic a MacBook is no different. So if you want to use an XLR microphone with
your MacBook, you’ll need the mono 3.5mm to XLR cable and also the TRRS headphone adapter. If you found this video helpful, please give
me a thumbs up and don’t forget to subscribe to my channel for more how-to videos and product
reviews.

87 comments

Hello, I stumbled across your video and purchased all the relevant cables to set this mic I've got up. Do I need to mute the original in built mic on the Mac before I start using my XLR mic?

My problem could be my mic input is coming from a mixer. My settings on it might be wrong but I have no idea what it would be

Well done. Clean, direct to the point and fully explained in 2 minutes. So fed up with people posting 10 minute videos of unboxing and jabbering on as if they need a friend to talk to. This is exactly how it should be done.

Ah, i bought yesterday a adapter, XLR mic to 3.5 mm but, when i conect the moc to the macbook, just detected the Headset and not the mic, Helppp

How would you connect TWO dynamic mics to MacBook? Please help… I'm thinking about podcast with a co-host. What do I do?

Great Video. Seeing the only cable that works is the mono plug, is there anyway to record microphone audio in stereo to a mac?

will this work with the Shure sm57 mic? I've been trying to get this set up to work for months ! First, the 3.5mm cable you linked is no longer in stock 🙁 I ordered an alternative one, and it broke ! I have been through a lotttttt of trouble with this, and I really want it to be successful… could you try linking another cable or explaining if I need "phantom power" (i've never heard of it)? Thank you!

Does the adapter work correctly on the new Macbook Pro? I've seen some amazon reviews stating the adapter doesn't work as described (in general). Thank you..and a great easy and quick video. Breath of fresh air!

Hi! Do I need to open a software to be able to use the microphone or can I just change some settings to allow the mac to reproduce incoming sound thought the microphone?

Thank u for the video! Do u know if there's any female XLR to 3.5mm cable?My microphone has a male plug, and I can't find any right cable for it…

Okay so I've been trying to connect my Audix I5 mic to my laptop I've got it to work once before but now it's not I have it connected with a TRS to TRRS transmitter with my headset plugged in with it but its not registering as an audio device so it's using my laptop built in mic any thoughts?

I have a rockville rcm03 and it came with a stereo cord. Does that mean it just won't work with mac period, or do i buy a mono cord and use it with this mic, or is that not possible/good since this is has a stereo cord originally?

Im using everything as described, and it is not working. I have a Shure SM58 microphone, a mono to XLR cable, the StarTech TRRS adapter and connected everything as shown in the video. Do you know why it may not be working? Any troubleshoot ideas?

Couldn't you just buy a xlr to 3 ring mini jack adapter then?? Not sure if it excists but yeah. And by the way, i just got my neewer nw-700 condenser mic, and was wondering what i should buy to get it to work, (already have phantom power!) Thanks in advance for helping me out!

I connected everything just like it was shown in the video but it still using the internal mic on the mac, please help.

really appreciate this buddy just order the cable hopefully my assembly will work now I think I was using the stereo plug which came with my mic so hopfully this should resolve it .

Thanks

I did what you did, but its not working I have a iMac and a Tonor mic, its a BM 700 and its not working, do I need to have the Startech TRRS adapter? cus it want shown in the video

I'm using this microphone https://www.amazon.com/Condenser-Microphone-Broadcasting-Adjustable-Suspension/dp/B01LEEWO7C/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1519590887&sr=8-5&keywords=xlr+tonor+microphone 

i have the correct adaptor and xlr cable but my mac is not picking up my microphone, does anyone know if this microphone works with the method or have any similar problems that they resolved?

Great video. I'm wondering how the XLR microphones will perform without phantom power. I used to have to plug my microphones into a small mixing board first, then into the MacBook as you've described, in order to make the microphone loud enough.

Is the mixing board no longer required?

This is one of the best how-to videos I have ever seen. I came looking when I discovered my old 2010 M-Audio interface was end of life and wouldn't work with my new MacBook Pro and High Sierra Operating System.

I had no idea that the headphone jack could also be a microphone jack, with the right adapters.

My only suggestion for improvement is for the author to remind viewers that condenser microphones require 48 V "Phantom Power."

Old hardware interfaces like my now useless FastTrack Pro provided the 48V power. The new way is to buy a separate power supply which is wired in line with the microphone. Amazon has them of course.

Great video! This was very helpful. It was shorter than most videos on this topic yet had way more detail! I wonder if you could help with troubleshooting. I have the StarTech TRRS cable and the 6' XLR Mono adapter that you link to. This is not working for me. I've also tried other TRRS cables and multiple microphones. I've verified the XLR cable and the microphone work by using it in my DSLR camera. I've tried the same adapters and mics in an iPad and an android phone but they don't work there either. I've verified the Mac, iPad, and android can use a TRRS headphone / mic combo by using one I have on hand. I feel like I'm doing something wrong since this should be working but I can't see what I have not tried yet. Any tips?

aloha and much thanks for your time in answering so many questions. of course i have one as well. my first mac and trying to hook up dxlr mic. waiting for connects to arrive from amazon. my question is, i have a wireless headset with built in mic, can you see this being a problem using the mic? by connect the external mic it should negate the one on the headset? not pressed for an answer. being here in hawaii EVERYTHING has to be shipped! so, i have til wednesday for the cables… again. thanks for your expertise and willingness to assist!

yes,that's nice ..but how to do for the boost mic?i mean that the mic can be heard when you speak and not in a recording. thank you.

Don't buy the 6ft Male XLR cable. Plugged it into the adapter when I bought it and instantly snapped. Cheap piece of garbage. Gotta go back to the store. Also not sure if this approach will work with a sophisticated XLR mic. Couldn't get enough power to my Audio Technica AT2035.

does that mono xlr jack has to be mono? i have an adapter from big 6.3mm to 3.5mm, but it is stereo and i have no sound recorded…

I wasn't able to get mine to work. I purchased the mono cord and startech adapter from links above. I plugged in headphones. Doesn't recognize it. Please help. Codio BM-700 & Macbook Pro Spring 2015 Sierra 10.13.5

I have the same mic but i have a usb adapter that i can put my mic into can u do a tutorial for that cuz mine doesnt seem to work

I tried this with a sm58 in Pro Tools. When I enabled record, it kept making a high pitch tone every time the microphone would pick up sound. Is there a way around that?

@TheRenderQ Would this work with the Audio-Technica AT2020? please answer. I'm going to get the Audio-Technica AT2020 soon for my mac and would like to know what i need? do i need the adapter and the cable? i don't know a lot about computers or microphones. So if you would be kind enough to reply that would be great. :EDIT: would this work with a Desktop mac?

Hello everybody…

i just purchased a new LIAM & DAAN Pro Streamer Microphone with Scissor-Mechanics and Co. i just plugged it into my 2011 Early macBook Pro 2011 15" (into the Line In – Jack), but i had no response whatsoever… after a little research i figured i need an adapter, a TSSR jack, but i just wanted to be sure, if i really need tis, or is there a simpler way to use my new hi tech microphone?

Here's the Mic's Data Sheet:

Frequency Range – 20 HZ – 16 KHZ
Mic Driver – Diameter Ø 16 MM
Signal/Noise Ratio – 70DB
SPL Sensitivity – 38DB – ±2 DB
Max. SPL – 120 DB
Polar Pattern – Cardioid Pattern
———————————————————
Table Clamp
Table Arm 29cm
3.5 mm Audio Jack to XLR, Female Cable
3/8" to 5/8" Thread Nut
——————————————————————-

I am not sure if i need something external to power my microphone, but if i have to, any good hints what is the best hardware?

Thanks in advance.

TRR.

I cannot find info anywhere about Macs being able to supply phantom power so please help me out. Im using a UR22mkII interface, and a Rode NT1-a setup. Since it's a condenser mic it requires phantom power, so I though I would have to buy a separate power outlet. Yet, If I switch the power supply to USB the mic works. Is this gonna hurt the Mac or can I use it to supply power?

Praying that you respond out of generosity. So i have mt audio technica at2020 and a 48v phantom power supply. I only have a mackbook air that i would like to set up the microphone on. Im not sure how to connect the 48v to my macbook

@therenderq i have the RØDE NT1-A mic. I just got the startech headset splitter adapter and the 6ft XLR 3P female to 3,5mm Mono male cables. I plugged everything in the right way but it didn't work, and I got no sound. what should I do??

Great vid and excellent explanation. One question tho. Lets say i want to mirror my macbook with my apple tv, will the sound come of normally? Thx

I have an MXL 770 condenser and a mac book pro, if I bought the items in this video would it work? I already tried and failed with a previous set up and can't afford to waste anymore money

Help, I have a senheiser mic and i've tried on 3 different apple products but none of them work!

Edit: nvm I found the problem
Second edit: problem still not fixed, help

Thanks, I have done what you said, but my mac only shows 'built-in microphone' as the sole input source… any idea? 🙂

The proper way to do this is to use a usb digital interface such as the Focusrite Scarlet Solo. Running all those adapters will leave you prone to obnoxious noises from the connections when they move. Less expensive, just use a DI direct box, and buy a cable with 1/4" mono to 1/8" mono. Lastly, why did you leave out macbooks with microphone inputs built in?

Hi! Can I use this awesome set up when I'm doing a live stream on Youtube from Macbook? I tried to go live today but kept getting this horrible squeaking sound and also the audio sounded like crap. Thanks so much!

Thanks for this helpful explanation! If I'm using a phantom power source (ex. Behringer Micropower PS400 Ultra-Compact Phantom Power Supply), what wires do I need to have to use it with a condenser microphone and my Macbook? I haven't bought any of this yet, but I just want to make sure I'm going to buy the right stuff to connect…

(MXL Mics 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone) –> (XLR Cable,CableCreation 3 FT XLR Male to XLR Female Balanced 3 PIN Microphone Cable,Black) –> (Behringer Micropower PS400 Ultra-Compact Phantom Power Supply) –> ??? –> (6Ft XLR Male to 3.5mmm Mono Male Cable) –> (StarTech.com Microphone and Headphone Splitter – Male to Female version?) –> headphone jack in Macbook.

Thank you so much if you end up answering this!

The TRRS cable you linked doesn't work for newer versions of macbook pro; several people had a similar issue in the Amazon reviews.

I don't understand, this does not work. At first I bought the wrong cables, but then afterwords I bought the SAME cables as shown in this video and the mic does not work.

Edit: Turns out my XLR mic requires an external power supply. That might’ve been an important thing to put in your video as I didn’t realize some XLR mics needed external power.

I'd like to add some more information to this video, that may otherwise be the cause for more confusion if not communicated.
There are two main standards of TRRS splitter cables on the market today:
One is the CTIA standard, which is used by Apple, newer Samsung devices, HTC, newer Nokia devices, Blackberry and is also used in Dell and HP Laptops with TRRS connectors and other brands.

The other Standard is called OMTP and is mostly used by older devices by brands like Samsung, Nokia and others.

OMTP polarization:
Tip = left Headphone Audio
Ring = right Headphone Audio
Ring = Microphone
Sleeve = Ground

CTIA polarization:
Tip = left Headphone Audio
Ring = right Headphone Audio
Ring = Ground
Sleeve = Microphone

So basically, these two standards differences are the flipped ground and Mic polarization.
THIS, is the reason to many people being/getting confused, since many adaptor sellers on the internet don't communicate which exact version (CTIA or OMTP) they sell.
The link to the startech adaptor doesn't either communicate wether it is CTIA or OMTP, but i read on Startech.com's website, that ALL their TRRS adaptors are CTIA ones.

I ran into the same problem, ordering a TRRS splitter adaptor in order to use it on my iMac 27 inch late 2013 model. With no success. since the adaptor i bought obviously were an OMTP one and not the needed CTIA version. I got super confused, since all the videos here on Youtube, related to the "microphone connecting to Apple devices" leave out the CTIA / OMTP detail and i was wondering if i'm too dump to connect the stuff properly or the adaptor/iMac being damaged.
I then cross checked if the adaptor works with my Android devices from Samsung. Namely the Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy Tab S 10.5, which both didn't work either on the mic side when plugged.
Now i found out that it's all about the OMTP TRRS adaptor i bought being the wrong one.

Also important to know is to FIRST plug the headphones and Mic into the TRRS adaptor and THEN to plug the TRRS adaptor into the iDevice.
There seems to be only one exeption from this connecting order rule:

The Audio Technica TRRS adaptor, that has to be plugged into the iDevice FIRST, and THEN the headphones and Mic are to connect.
What i also encountered was that not all microphones require a mono connector. So this may depend on the microphone model and type.

I hope i could help out people still being confronted with this problem.

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