If you’re looking for a way to connect an XLR mic to your computer via a USB connection, then this article may be of interest. We’ve got 6 XLR to USB microphone adapters to investigate.

1.  Shure X2U

Front view of the Shure X2U XLR to USB microphone adapter

This high quality product is designed to plug into an XLR microphone and also has a handy port for plugging in a pair of headphones for zero latency monitoring.

It provides phantom power, so will it happily accomodate a condenser mic that needs power and it records at 16-bit resolution with up to 48kHz sampling rate. There are also some handy controls, a microphone gain control, headphone volume control and a monitor control for adjusting the blend between computer audio playback and live audio from the microphone. A tri colour LED indicator give visual feed back for signal, peak and clipping levels.   There’s also a green LED to confirm USB connection and a blue LED to indicate the presence of 48v phantom power.

Here’s a video overview of the X2U produced by Shure.

Interestingly, the X2U appears to be USB audio class compatible for use with the iPad (although you’ll need a powered USB hub as the X2U needs more power than the iPad provides).

Check out this You Tube video for a demo of the X2U being used with .

There are also a couple of options to buy the X2U bundled with either a Shure cardioid dynamic SM57 microphone or SM58 cardioid dynamic microphone.

Links and further reading for the X2U

Checkout the X2U at Amazon.

Specifications for the X2U at the Shure website Sound on Sound Magazine review of the X2U mic adapter

2.  MXL USB Mic Mate Pro

Angle view of the MXL USB Mic Mate Pro USB to XLR adapter

MXL are known for their excellent quality microphones, so the Mic Mate Pro, with its studio quality preamps won’t disappoint when it comes audio quality.

It offers control of mic gain level and you also get zero latency monitoring via the built in headphone socket, which also has a handy level control. The unit is Plug and Play (but do check requirements for your specific operating system), capable of recording at 44.1 0r 48 kHz (at 16-bit resolution) and supplies 48v phantom power for use with condenser microphones. Here’s a video review of the Mic Mate Pro and the Blue Microphones Icicle on You Tube.

Links and further reading for the Mic Mate Pro

Check out the MXL Mic Mate Pro at Amazon

MXL’s product pages for the USB Mic Mate™ Pro Microphone Adapter

3.  Blue Microphones Icicle

Angle view of the Icicle XLR to USB microphone adapter by Blue Microphones

The Blue Microphones Icicle XLR to USB adapter provide really simple operation with a single control for controlling microphone gain. The Icicle sports an integrated microphone pre-amp, drive-less plug and record operation for PC or Mac, 48V phantom power, analogue gain control and a fully balanced low noise front end. The Icicle logo and volume control surround also has an attractive blue glow to let you know that the USB is connected and working. Setting up is a snap, with the preset set sample rate of 44.1kHz (at 16-bit resolution), so there’s no messing around with settings, just plug it in and fire up your favourite recording software. Blue Microphones also report that the Icicle will also work with iPad and (camera adapter kit) but needs to be used with a powered USB hub.

Links and further reading for the Icicle

Check out the Icicle at Amazon.

Specifications for the Icicle on the Blue Microphones product information pages

4. CEntrance MicPort Pro

Angle view of the MicPort pro XLR to USB microphone adapter

The MicPort Pro has similar features to the Icicle and X2U, sporting a zero latency headphone monitoring via the dedicated headphone port, together with microphone gain controls and headphone volume controls.  It also can supply 48v phantom power. But what sets this one apart from the rest of the offerings here is its ability to work at 24-bit resolution up to 96kHz sampling frequency! So, if you’re not satisfied with 16-bit and lower sample rate audio performance, then this is the unit for you.  The MicPort Pro would certainly make an excellent companion with a high end condenser or ribbon microphone, especially given its 103.5dB dynamic range. You can also use the ‘Device Aggregation’ driver facility to use two of these devices together (or with an AxePort Pro) to achieve stereo recording. I’m not sure about the opera, but you can check out this video introducing recording with the MicPort Pro.  It certainly shows off the capabilities.

Links and further reading for the MicPort Pro

Check out the MicPort Pro at Amazon

Check out the AxePort Pro at Amazon

Manufactures product specification pages for the MicPort Pro

Review of the MicPort Pro at MonoandStereo.com

5. Maplin - Microphone to USB Lead

 

Above view of connecters for the Maplin XLR to USB microphone adapter cable

Available from Maplin for £19, this one is the cheap and cheerful option. There’s not a great deal to say about this one because it does exactly what it says on the tin, with no additional bells and whistles. Just plug in your mic, hook up to your computer and fire up your favourite recording software. If you’re looking for a low cost Plug and Play solution and don’t need phantom power, gain controls or headphone outputs, this is the one for you.

Links and further reading

Maplin product page for the Microphone to USB adapter.

6. Lindy – USB to XLR cable

Connecter view of the Lindy XLR to USB microphone adapter cable

Again, not a great deal to say about this one.  It is quite simply a USB to XLR adapter.  It does offer an integrated LED to indicate successful USB connection. Like the Maplin version above, the audio quality is probably not going to set the world on fire, but if you just want to plug in that dynamic mic you already have and record a quick podcast this could be just the thing for you, and it won’ break the bank. You can get hold of USB to XLR adapter from Lindy for around £23. It is also worth mentioning that there is also a guitar adapter version of this simple adapter lead, which may be just the thing if you just want to plug in your guitar and have a jam (you may want to keep an eye on your audio buffer size though to keep latency effects under control!).

Links and further reading

Lindy product page for their USB to XLR adapter

Other related articles on the web

I came across this informative article about XLR to USB adapters on createdigitalmusic.com

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2 Responses to 6 XLR to USB microphone adapters

  1. Aaron says:

    does the Lindy usb-xlr cable provide phantom power??

  2. Paul says:

    Sadly, the Lindy USB-XLR doesn’t provide phantom power, so any mic you use will need to be a ‘dynamic’ type that doesn’t need power, rather than a ‘condenser’ that needs additional power.

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