Setting up your microphone for recording on your laptop can be a bit of a problem. Sometimes it works out of the box, typically not. In this article, I will guide you on how to connect a microphone to a laptop for recording.

How to Connect a microphone to a laptop for Recording?

Whenever I buy a brand new microphone or a laptop, I always seem to struggle to get the two connected properly. Laptops are funny in a way, I have come to the conclusion that they often need to force you to use the built-in microphone.

As I like to travel a lot, there is no room to bring music and recording equipment. That is why I always have a portable setup with me, a small laptop, a lavalier microphone for video/presentations and a condenser microphone.

In this article, I will try my best to guide you on how to connect a microphone to a laptop for recording. No matter if you are using your laptop for presentations, video creation, singing or voice-over, using the built-in microphone is never a good plan.


1. Connecting a USB microphone to laptop

Probably the easiest type of microphone to set up with the laptop. A USB microphone is anything from a simple headset mic to a more advanced, condenser microphone like this one from Blue, available on

It does not really matter what USB microphone you have got, as they all are very similar and easy. If you are unable to get it working straight out of the box, keep reading to seek out how you can fix this problem. Read the two steps listed below on the way to install drivers and choose the default microphone in your operating system.


2. Connecting an XLR microphone to laptop

XLR microphones are totally different in a way, there is no XLR jack on your laptop or desktop for that matter. So as to connect an XLR microphone to any kind of laptop, you will need an audio interface. Most XLR mics need you to run them through an audio interface with Phantom Power. Therefore an XLR-to-USB converter cable will not work.

There are a couple of audio interfaces that are somewhat portable, like for instance the Focusrite Scarlett series, available on I always recommend the Focusrite audio interface to beginners as it is one of the best budget interfaces out there.

Connecting your XLR microphone to your laptop with the help of an audio interface is pretty simple. The audio interface connects with a daily USB cable to your laptops USB ports, you will but also need a power outlet for the audio interface.


3. Connecting a 3.5mm microphone to laptop

Now here is a tough one, and therefore the microphone with the most problems. Maybe you found this article via Google, and you are looking to solve the problems you may have with your 3.5mm microphone not connecting to your laptop.

Modern laptops rarely have a 3.5mm microphone port, instead, you plug it in the 3.5mm headphones port. This will, unfortunately, result in you only being able to use either microphone or headphones at the identical time. Unless in fact you have a headset with a built-in microphone and it powers through just one 3.5mm cable.

There are a lot of different causes for this, depending on what laptop manufacturer you have got, the operating system, the microphone, etc. However, most of the time it is as easy as changing your audio settings in your operating system.

As I am unable to supply a detailed walk-through for every and each operating system in this article. I will try to guide you through what works for many versions of Windows.


The solution

The first step is to check if your specific microphone comes with any standalone drivers. Some manufacturers need you to install drivers so as to get your microphone to show up in the audio settings.

If your microphone came with a CD you may find the drivers on here. You can also search the manufacturer’s website, or just google “[Manufacturer] microphone drivers”. Where you would replace the brackets with your microphones manufacturer.

Next step we want to figure out which microphone our operating system is defaulting to. By opening up the audio settings we can see that microphones are currently connected (on Windows you can simply right-click the speaker icon within the lower right corner and select Audio).

Depending on that version of Windows you may have, these settings may seem different. However, there should be a tab for recording devices. This tab can tell you which microphone is currently activated, and what different recording devices are connected. You can right-click your desired device and choose “Make Default”.

If your microphone does not show up during this list of devices. It should be that your microphone is either defected. Otherwise, you still have not installed the right drivers.



In this article, I have covered some of the most common questions and problems regarding how to connect a microphone to a laptop for recording. I have covered three different kinds of microphones:

  • USB microphone
  • XLR microphones connected via an audio interface
  • And the standard 3.5mm microphone.

If you are having issues with a specific kind of microphone and none of the above solutions worked for you. I highly suggest you contact the respective manufacturer’s customer support. They are typically super helpful and can be able to guide you through more in-depth, no matter what problems or operating system you will have.

I hope this article has been useful in solving your problems. As I am not able to cover all the various types of problems you will have, I suggest you at least strive the above-listed solutions.

If this article has been useful in any way, please don’t forget to share it with friends and family who might also be interested in this article.

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