I have a cheap 3.5mm clip on microphone from amazon that is mouse quiet when plugged in directly to my sound card. I checked the levels and even used mic boost (then turned it off immediately). I've found that I get a lot of hiss and hum this way as well.

My plan is now to get a USB audio interface like this one and connect the microphone to it via an RCA converter cable. Will this setup fix the microphone volume problems?

  • 2
    It would fix any noise from the onboard sound chip, but nothing inherent in the mic itself. A cheap, unpowered mic like that is going to have a high noise floor.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 12, 2014 at 9:00
  • That patch cable, btw, looks like it will be adapting your mic level output to a consumer line level input… not the way to improve the signal/noise. I've never used a mic with a mini-jack so I have no clue what the impedance on those things is likely to be.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 12, 2014 at 17:02

4 Answers 4


With music equipment, the general rule is buy the best you can afford. Otherwise you loose your savings in upgrading and or having sub standard equipment.

Read reviews and talk to people about what works well for them and why.

If your interface would be multi purpose then as Tetsujin said, It would reduce noise from soundcard. But if its just for this one purpose, upgrade your mic. You could even get a USB mic cutting the soundcard requirement (its inside the mic)

My general rule of thumb, if the mic has a 3.5mm jack its usually naff and wouldn't even sell at a junk yard sale.

  • That's not always true. There are pro-quality recorders, designed with small size and portability as priorities, which use 3.5mm jacks, and there are microphones that suit them.
    – Laurence
    Mar 31, 2017 at 22:57
  • And the rule is not to mindlessly throw money at the music store. There's as much of a 'sucker' market in the audio recording field as there is in the hi-fi one. Those who believe expensive=better are catered for. Sensible people buy competent equipment then concentrate on what REALLY matters - the quality of the performance they're recording.
    – Laurence
    Jun 2, 2017 at 23:24

Some 3.5mm mics are electret condenser and supposed to be powered by the sound card (they have an internal single-FET preamp). Check whether your sound card has some setting for powering a mic.


No. The interface you suggested is designed to take a Line level signal (maybe the output of a small mixer) into the computer. This is not what you require. If your computer has a socket labelled "mic" it will be possible to obtain an inexpensive microphone that suits it, giving acceptable level (if only moderate quality). The sort of thing you might use for a Skype call. If you want musical quality, buy a mic that has an XLR connector and an an audio interface with an XLR socket. Be aware whether the mic requires phantom power and whether the interface provides it.


I suggest you test it on a USB interface/mini-mixer or even a proper mixing/PA desk before buying anything else. The microphone might just be inherently poor and you'd be wasting your money.

You haven't said what you want it for but for instance I have a USB Skype headset which works just fine although if you want to record high quality singing maybe not.

What is the intended usage?

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